2023 Firelight Year-in-Review: Program Highlights

Firelight Media
5 min readDec 12, 2023

Celebrating an extraordinary year of Artist Programs at Firelight Media.

2021–2023 Firelight Media Documentary Lab Fellows at a retreat in New Orleans.

As 2023 comes to a close, the team at Firelight Media is reflecting upon another year of expanded support for BIPOC documentary filmmakers through our Artist Programs.

This year, in addition to refining our ongoing programs like the Documentary Lab, Groundwork Regional Lab, Impact Campaign Fund, and Beyond Resilience, we’re thrilled to have launched new program partnerships to increase support for emerging and mid-career filmmakers — the PBS/Firelight William Greaves Production Fund and the Hulu/Firelight Kindling Fund.

All told, Firelight Media has supported dozens of new filmmakers of color this year, in addition to expanding support for filmmakers from our community.

See below for highlights from 2023 across our Artist Programs — and stay tuned early next year for announcements about our William Greaves Research & Development Fund and short film series!

Support Firelight Media

You can join Firelight Media in supporting BIPOC documentary filmmakers by making a tax-deductible contribution through our End-of-Year Fundraising Campaign. All donations will support our programs and operations and help our filmmakers in changing the story about communities of color.

Donate now

Beyond Resilience

Firelight Media’s Beyond Resilience series had a banner year, culminating in an Anthem Award Nomination for Community Engagement (vote for us here!)

Our Beyond Resilience series comprises curated conversations, virtual and in-person film screenings, and commissioned essays that explore the challenges, strategies, and experiences of creating and distributing documentaries during periods of social transformation.

Events in our 2023 Beyond Resilience series took place at forums including BlackStar Film Festival, DOC NYC, and South by Southwest Film Festival. Virtual programs brought together veteran and emerging filmmakers, programmers, visual artists, and industry leaders. In total, the season reached more than 7.5k viewers and counting!

View our Beyond Resilience event playlist on YouTube here:

Documentary Lab

Firelight Media’s Documentary Lab team hosted retreats for our current fellows in New Orleans and Seattle this year, engaging with invited industry guests, established filmmakers, and the local filmmaking community.

Our Documentary Lab program seeks out and develops emerging filmmakers of color who make artful and innovative nonfiction films. The 18-month program provides filmmakers with customized mentorship from prominent leaders in the documentary world, as well as funding, professional development workshops, and networking opportunities.

See a behind-the-scenes view of the New Orleans Documentary Lab retreat here:

FRONTLINE/Firelight Fellowship

The FRONTLINE/Firelight Fellowship, presented in partnership with PBS’s award-winning investigative documentary series FRONTLINE, supports Firelight-supported filmmakers interested in investigative documentary filmmaking.

Earlier this year, Firelight Media and FRONTLINE named Kevin Shaw and Débora Souza Silva as the 2023 recipients of the FRONTLINE/Firelight Investigative Journalism Fellowship.

Meet the 2023 FRONTLINE/Firelight Fellows:

Groundwork Regional Lab

Our Groundwork Regional Lab, which supports early-stage filmmakers in local communities across the U.S. and U.S. territories, hosted labs in Maryland, Hawai’i, and Seattle this year. The labs brought together the local filmmaking communities, local film organizations including PBS station partners, and invited film industry guests.

See a behind-the-scenes look at Groundwork Maryland:

Hulu/Firelight Kindling Fund

This year, Firelight Media launched the Hulu/Firelight Kindling Fund, a first-of-its-kind partnership between Hulu, Firelight Media, and our sister organization Firelight Films. The Kindling Fund is designed to resource up to three Firelight-supported filmmakers per cycle to develop an original non-fiction documentary feature film or limited series for a first look by Firelight Films and the Hulu streaming service.

Meet the inaugural Hulu/Firelight Kindling Fund recipients here:

Impact Campaign Fund

Firelight Media’s Impact Campaign Fund, launched in 2020, was established to support audience engagement and impact campaigns for projects led by Firelight Media-supported filmmakers that are socially relevant, address or engage underrepresented issues, and are accountable to the communities they represent.

The seven documentary film projects selected this year include stories about the personal and community impacts of incarceration and solitary confinement, lyrical meditations on life on the U.S.-Mexico border, and visually and sonically inventive portraits of protagonists, including a blind, undocumented immigrant and an incarcerated musician.

Meet the 2023 Impact Campaign Fund grantees:

PBS/Firelight William Greaves Production Fund

2023 also marked the launch of the PBS/Firelight William Greaves Production Fund, which resources documentary productions by mid-career filmmakers from diverse communities in the United States that are intended for distribution on PBS through finishing funds or co-production funding. The Fund is designed to address the persistent structural challenges many filmmakers face after producing their first films, so that they can remain in the field and continue to create vital stories focused on underrepresented people and topics.

Meet the inaugural PBS/Firelight William Greaves Production Fund recipients:

About Firelight Media

Firelight Media is a premier destination for nonfiction cinema by and about communities of color. Firelight Media produces documentary films, supports filmmakers of color, and cultivates audiences for their work. Firelight Media’s programs include the Documentary Lab, an 18-month fellowship that supports emerging filmmakers of color; Groundwork Regional Lab, which supports early-career filmmakers in the American south, midwest, and U.S. territories; and the William Greaves Research and Development Fund for mid-career nonfiction filmmakers from racially and ethnically underrepresented communities. Firelight Media also produces digital short films, including In the Making and HOMEGROWN: Future Visions, both of which are now streaming on the PBS YouTube Channel and the PBS App.



Firelight Media

Firelight Media produces documentary films, supports nonfiction filmmakers of color, and cultivates audiences for their work. We’re #changingthestory.