Firelight 2020 Year in Review: Awards & Honors

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As Firelight marks the end of its 20th anniversary year, and as we bid farewell to 2020, we are pausing to highlight the incredible resilience of the Firelight community, even in a pandemic year.

In yesterday’s “” post we highlighted new films by Firelight alumni that debuted at festivals, in theaters, and on broadcast television in 2020.

Today, we highlight of some of the many awards and honors garnered by our Firelight community this year.

The updating list includes awards and recognition for new film releases, funding support for works-in-progress, and industry leadership awards, and includes accolades for emerging filmmakers from our Documentary Lab as well as mid-career filmmakers from several of our artist programs.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the final post in the series, which will highlight news from Firelight Media’s programs in 2020.

Congratulations to the Firelight community for this much-deserved recognition!

FIRELIGHT DOCUMENTARY LAB FELLOWS & ALUMNI

  • Won Grand Jury Prizes for her documentary feature Landfall at DOC NYC, Florida Film Festival, Milwaukee Film Festival, Boston International Film Festival, and Guanajuato International Film Festival
  • Received Honorable Mention at the New Orleans Film Festival and a Cinema Eye Spotlight Award Nomination for Landfall
  • Landfall was selected for the Stay Focused Initiative, Cinema Eye Honors (2021)

  • Awarded Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund Grant for Driver, Tribeca Film Institute
  • Awarded Enterprise Documentary Fund Grant for Driver, International Documentary Association (IDA)

Warrior Women nominated for a Peabody Award for Documentary

Fruits of Labor selected for JustFilms Grant, Ford Foundation

Black Memorabilia (2018) selected to screen in the Retrospective program at the Salem Film Festival

An Act of Worship selected for JustFilms Grant, Ford Foundation

The In Between selected for JustFilms Grant, Ford Foundation

— Awarded Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund Grant for Ain’t I A Woman, Tribeca Film Institute

Storming Caesars Palace selected for JustFilms Grant, Ford Foundation

  • MR. SOUL! awarded Best First Documentary Feature at the Critics Choice Documentary Awards
  • MR. SOUL! nominated for five Critics Choice Documentary Awards, including Best Documentary Feature, Best Archival Documentary, Best Narration, and Best Historical/Biographical Documentary
  • MR. SOUL! nominated for Outstanding Debut Feature, Cinema Eye Honors

The Neutral Ground selected for JustFilms Grant, Ford Foundation

  • Selected as Sundance Institute Momentum Fellow (2021)
  • Coded Bias selected for JustFilms Grant, Ford Foundation

Awarded Creative Capital Grant for Nosferasta

— Selected for Film Independent Documentary Lab

  • Nominated for Lynn Shelton’s “Of A Certain Age” Grant
  • Selected for Film Independent Documentary Lab for Mama Bears

  • Documentary short film This Is The Way We Rise from the the IN THE MAKING series selected to screen at Sundance Film Festival (2021)
  • This Is The Way We Rise awarded Best Short Film, Thin Line Fest
  • This Is The Way We Rise awarded Best Short Film, Walla Walla Film Crush
  • Documentary Lab film Out of State (2017) added to the Criterion Channel

  • Down A Dark Stairwell awarded Les Blank Award for Best Documentary Feature and Special Recognition for Documentary Featuring Editing, Ashland Independent Film Festival
  • Down A Dark Stairwell awarded Best Documentary, 2020 Indy Film Fest
  • Down A Dark Stairwell received Truth to Power Best Documentary Award, Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival
  • Down A Dark Stairwell received Grand Jury Award for Best Documentary Feature, Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival
  • Down A Dark Stairwell selected for Audience Award, San Diego Asian American Film Festival
  • Down A Dark Stairwell selected for Stay Focused 2021 Initiative, Cinema Eye Honors (2021)
  • Down A Dark Stairwell selected for JustFilms grant, Ford Foundation

— New documentary feature Homeroom selected to screen at Sundance Film Festival (2021)

  • Named Sundance Institute Momentum Fellow (2021)
  • Always In Season selected for JustFilms Grant, Ford Foundation

  • Unapologetic awarded 2020 Impact Kickstart from Working Films
  • Unapologetic selected for JustFilms Grant, Ford Foundation

  • Named Documentarian of the Year, Mind the Gap
  • Awarded Best Historical/Biographical Documentary for John Lewis: Good Trouble, Critics Choice Documentary Awards
  • The Way I See It awarded Best Score, Critics Choice Documentary Awards
  • The Way I See It, which had its broadcast premiere on MSNBC, was the highest-rated non-news, non-live program ever in the network’s 25-year history
  • John Lewis: Good Trouble selected for JustFilms Grant, Ford Foundation
  • Vernon Jordan: Make It Plain selected for JustFilms Grant, Ford Foundation

  • CALL HER GANDA received the 2020 NLGJA Excellence in Documentary Award, Association of LGBTQ Journalists
  • IN PLAIN SIGHT selected for JustFilms Grant, Ford Foundation
  • Kapwa selected for Documentaries for Social Change Fund, CAAM

  • Duty Free awarded 2020 Impact Kickstart from Working Films
  • Duty Free selected as runner-up for Audience Award at DOC NYC

The Sit In: Harry Belafonte Hosts The Tonight Show selected for JustFilms Grant, Ford Foundation

The First Rainbow Coalition nominated for ABC News VideoSource Award, IDA Documentary Awards

Awarded Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund Grant for After Sherman, Tribeca Film Institute

SEEDS selected for JustFilms Grant, Ford Foundation

What We Leave Behind selected for JustFilms Grant, Ford Foundation

  • Awarded Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund Grant, Tribeca Film Institute for Black Mothers
  • Award Creative Capital Grant for Black Mothers

Nominated for Best Editing for Through the Night, IDA Documentary Awards

Impact Producer Fellowship Alumni

— Received Documentary New Leaders Award, DOC NYC

  • ReceivedDocumentary New Leaders Award, DOC NYC
  • COVER/AGE awarded Best Short Documentary, Workers Unite Film Festival
  • COVER/AGE selected for Emerging Documentary Shortlist, March on Washington Film Festival

  • Received a Redford Center Grant for Manzanar, Diverted: When Water Becomes Dust (producer)
  • Selected as a Sundance Creative Producing Fellow 2020–2021
  • Selected for Film Independent Documentary Lab for Manzanar, Diverted: When Water Becomes Dust

GROUNDWORK REGIONAL LAB ALUMNI

  • Received Southern Documentary Fund Development Grant
  • Received grant from the South Carolina Humanities Council

Won the If/Then South Pitch Competition

FIRELIGHT LEADERSHIP

. In January 2021, Firelight Media will be presented with The Pioneer Award, which acknowledges those individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to advancing the nonfiction form and providing exceptional vision and leadership to the documentary community.

  • Freedom Riders (2011) added to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress
  • Honoree, National Black Writers Conference
  • Outstanding Achievement Award, Hot Docs
  • Named a 2020 Trailblazer by Realscreen
  • GRAMMY Nomination, Best Music Film for Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool

  • Appointed to Board of Directors, International Documentary Association (IDA)
  • Selected as Keynote speaker, New York Women In Film and Television’s (NYWIFT) 2020 Creative Workforce Summit

  • Received Special Jury Recognition for Ethics of Care for Through the Night, DOC NYC
  • Received Documentary New Leaders Award, DOC NYC
  • Through The Night named a New York Times Critics Pick
  • Selected as Sundance Institute Momentum Fellow (2021)
  • Selected for Stay Focused 2021 Initiative for Through the Night by Cinema Eye Honors

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Firelight Media is dedicated to supporting documentary filmmakers of color and cultivating audiences for their work. We’re #changingthestory.

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