Firelight 2020 Year in Review: Program Highlights

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Firelight’s concludes today with highlights from Firelight Media’s array of artist programs.

When the pandemic hit in the spring, followed closely by the national reckoning with questions of racial justice in the U.S., Firelight Media sprang into action. First, we surveyed our community of filmmakers to ask them what they needed, and then we did what we do best: provided our community of BIPOC filmmakers with resources, support, and solidarity to help them continue their work.

Below are a few highlights from Firelight Media’s 2020 programming, including a new cohort of our flagship Documentary Lab; new funds for emerging and mid-career filmmakers of color, including our first international fund; and a new digital event series launched in direct response to the pandemic.

These program offerings are thanks in part to generous contributions from our supporters. Donations of any amount are greatly appreciated.

We thank you for your support, and we look forward to the year ahead — may it be in all ways better than the year behind us.


As COVID-19 lockdowns began, Firelight Media remained open and operated remotely. In partnership with the International Documentary Association (IDA) and ITVS, we provided rapid-response resources and information to our community of filmmakers who were immediately impacted by the pandemic.

Firelight Media directly responded to the immediate needs of our community by offering dozens of free online technical assistance seminars and one-on-one expert consultations to help hundreds of underserved filmmakers to apply for emergency funding.

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In June, Firelight Media pivoted from a planned in-person public program series to launch , a digital conversation series created by and for BIPOC filmmakers. The series, which will continue in the new year, includes curated conversations that explore the challenges, strategies, and experiences of creating and distributing work during a time of crisis.

Beyond Resilience programming takes a global and historical view of films created by filmmakers of color during critical periods of disaster, seeking to learn from the filmmaker, their community, and the resilience born from collective experiences.

View all episodes in the series.


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In August, Firelight Media announced the inaugural recipients of the. This newly dedicated fund resources talented storytellers from racially and ethnically underrepresented communities in the United States, as well as filmmakers from Mexico, Brazil, Puerto Rico, and Colombia with a particular interest in those who identify as being of indigenous and/or of African descent.

The Fund is named in honor of William Greaves, the longtime mentor of Firelight Media’s co-founder, Stanley Nelson. Greaves’ legacy in the documentary field includes producing the seminal television newsmagazine Black Journal and 200-plus documentaries throughout his 60-year career.

See the inaugural William Greaves Fund recipients.


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Along with the William Greaves Fund, Firelight Media announced the recipients of the new . The Impact Campaign Fund addresses a resource gap in the nonfiction space for impact and audience engagement-related projects by and for communities of color in the U.S.

The Impact Campaign Fund supports the creation of audience engagement and impact campaigns associated with films made by current or former Firelight Media fellows. The Fund is intended to support projects that are socially relevant, address or engage underrepresented issues or communities, and are accountable to the impacted communities their films represent.

See the inaugural Impact Campaign Fund recipients.

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Clockwise from top left: Christopher Everett, Jude Chehab, Ivy MacDonald, Sierra Urich, Ivan MacDonald, Brittany Shyne, and Jota Sosnowski.
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Clockwise from top left: Tadashi Nakamura, Isabel Castro, Nyjia July, Eloise King, Zack Khalil, Robie Flores, and Adam Khalil.


In November, Firelight Media announced its new cohort of Documentary Lab fellows. The new class brings Firelight’s Documentary Lab community to over 100 fellows across its 11-year history.

The projects the new fellows bring to the Documentary Lab range from stories of generational Black farmers in the American South, the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Montana, and personal stories centered around family, immigration, ancestry, identity, and more.

Learn more about the 2020–2022 Documentary Lab fellows.

We are Firelight Media look forward to expanding our programming even more in the year ahead. If you are able to give, we would greatly appreciate your support in the form of a year-end donation.

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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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