Firelight 2020 Year in Review: Film Premieres

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2020 was an extraordinarily challenging year, between the dual crises of the global pandemic and the national reckoning with questions of racial justice in the U.S. As film festivals and film campaigns were forced to rapidly adapt their plans, our community displayed incredible resilience and ingenuity to ensure that their films reached their intended audiences.

Despite all of these many challenges, the Firelight Media and Firelight Films community managed to premiere a vast array of new documentary work — 32 titles and counting.

We surveyed our community of filmmakers — comprising current fellows and alumni of our Documentary Lab, recipients of our inaugural William Greaves Fund and Impact Campaign Fund, alumni of our Impact Producer Fellowship and FRONTLINE/Firelight Fellowship, as well as crew members from recent Firelight Films titles—to collect new works released this year. Below is an updating list of 2020 film premieres.

Congratulations to the Firelight family on all of this great work!

IN THE MAKING

IN THE MAKING is a new series of short documentaries by filmmakers of color — most of whom are Firelight Media Documentary Lab alumni — featuring 8 emerging BIPOC artists. Launched in October, all episodes from the series are available to stream now via FirelightMedia.tv, PBS American Masters, and Topic.

  • Damon Davis: Apologue for the Darkest Gods, dir. Elissa Blount Moorhead
  • Bunky Echo-Hawk: The Resistance, dir. Ben-Alex Dupris
  • Anik Khan: Street Level, dirs. Sofian Khan and Joseph Patel
  • Amyra León: Strange Grace, dir. Malika Zouhali-Worrall
  • Jamaica Heolimeleikalani Osorio: This Is The Way We Rise, dir. Ciara Lacy
  • Maia Cruz Palileo: Becoming the Moon, dir. Ligaiya Romero
  • Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah: The New Chief,dirs. Amitabh Joshi and Erik Spink
  • Vincent Valdez: The Beginning Is Near, dir. Ray Santisteban

FILM PREMIERES FROM FIRELIGHT LEADERSHIP

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Film posters for Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool, 30 for 30: Vick, and Through the Night.

Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool, dir. Stanley Nelson, broadcast premiere on PBS, now streaming at PBS.org and on Netflix

30 for 30: Vick, dir. Stanley Nelson, broadcast premiere on ESPN, now streaming via ESPN+

Through the Night, dir. Loira Limbal, Official Selection for Tribeca Film Festival, now streaming in virtual cinemas throughout the U.S.

FILM PREMIERES FROM DOCUMENTARY LAB + IMPACT PRODUCER FELLOWSHIP ALUMNI

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A selection of 2020 film posters from the Firelight community.

30 for 30: Be Water, dir. Bao Nguyen, broadcast premiere on ESPN, now streaming via ESPN+

Betye Saar: Taking Care of Business, dir. Christine Turner, New York Times Op-Docs premiere at Sundance Film Festival, now streaming via New York Times

Border South, dir. Raúl O. Paz-Pastrana, broadcast premiere on WORLD Channel, now streaming via WORLD Channel

Buffalo Girls, dir. April Dobbins, short film now streaming on Vimeo

Building the American Dream, dir. Chelsea Hernandez, broadcast premiere on PBS, view on PBS

Coded Bias, dir. Shalini Kantayya, premiered at Sundance Film Festival, now streaming in virtual cinemas throughout the U.S.

COVER/AGE, dir. Set Hernandez Rongkilyo, documentary short now streaming via Cinema Politica

Down A Dark Stairwell, dir. Ursula Liang, premiered at True/False Film Fest, premiering on PBS Independent Lens in Spring 2021

Duty Free, dir. Sian-Pierre Regis, premiered at DOC NYC, stay tuned for updates

Enemies of the State, dir. Sonia Kennebeck, premiered at Toronto International Film Festival, stay tuned for updates

The First Rainbow Coalition, dir. Ray Santisteban, broadcast premiere on PBS, now streaming on PBS Independent Lens

John Lewis: Good Trouble, dir. Dawn Porter, broadcast premiere on MSNBC, now streaming

The Killing of Breonna Taylor, dir. Yoruba Richen, broadcast premiere on FX, now streaming on Hulu

Landfall, dir. Cecilia Aldarondo, Official Selection for Tribeca Film Festival, find festival schedule here

MR. SOUL!, dir. Melissa Haizlip, theatrical premiere, now streaming in virtual cinemas throughout the U.S.

Seadrift, dir. Tim Tsai, broadcast premiere on Reel South

Siqueiros: Walls of Passion, dir. Lorena Manriquez, now streaming via WORLD Channel

The Sit-In: Harry Belafonte Hosts The Tonight Show, now streaming on NBC’s Peacock

The Way I See It, dir. Dawn Porter, now streaming

Unapologetic, dir. Ashley O’Shea, now streaming at virtual events and festivals

Firelight Films Crew Premieres

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Film posters for Black In Space: Breaking the Color Barrier, Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool, and 30 for 30: Vick

Long-time Firelight Films staff and crew members, including Yusuf Kapadia and Aljernon Tunsil, had editing credits on Firelight Films premieres this year, and Laurens Grant, long-time Firelight Films producer, directed a new film for the Smithsonian Channel:

Black In Space: Breaking the Color Barrier, dir. Laurens Grant, broadcast premiere on the Smithsonian Channel, now streaming via Smithsonian Channel

30 for 30: Vick, editors Yusuf Kapadia and Aljernon Tunsil, broadcast premiere on ESPN, now streaming via ESPN+

Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool, editor, Yusuf Kapadia, broadcast premiere on PBS, now streaming at PBS.org and on Netflix

FIRELIGHT PREMIERES 2021 PREVIEW

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Film posters for the upcoming documentaries Crack: Cocaine, Corruption & Conspiracy, A Woman’s Work: The NFL’s Cheerleader Problem, and How It Feels to be Free

Firelight is proud to present a sneak preview of new films from the Firelight community announced for early 2021!

Crack: Cocaine, Corruption & Conspiracy, dir. Stanley Nelson, premiering on Netflix worldwide on January 11, 2021

How It Feels To Be Free, dir. Yoruba Richen and executive producer Lacey Schwartz Delgado, premiering on PBS on January 18, 2021

A Woman’s Work: The NFL’s Cheerleader Problem, dir. Yu Gu, premiering on PBS January 4, 2021

For more information about Firelight Media and its programs, visit FirelightMedia.tv. For more about Firelight Films, visit FirelightFilms.tv.

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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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