Firelight Media, the premier destination for nonfiction cinema by and about communities of color, is pleased to announce the 2021 grantees for the Impact Campaign Fund, its artist support program which 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 seven films selected tell layered stories about timely political and social issues, including the fight over Confederate monuments in New Orleans, intersectional movement building, several stories about activism by women of color, and personal stories around sexual abuse and undocumented immigration.
“Firelight Media is incredibly proud to support this powerful slate of films, each of which is poised to spark or deepen important conversations and actions among and between communities of color, ” said Firelight Media President and Co-Founder Marcia Smith. “We continue to believe in the important role that these storytellers play in social movements and we are committed to helping them develop thoughtful and strategic campaigns with the support offered through this Fund.”
Firelight Media’s 2021 Impact Campaign Fund supports the creation of audience engagement and impact campaigns associated with films made by current or former Firelight-supported filmmakers. Firelight Media sought out applications for projects that are socially relevant, address or engage underrepresented issues or communities, and are accountable to the impacted communities their films represent. Firelight Media selected seven projects, awarding each with grants ranging from $10,000 to $25,000 and the opportunity to gain impact and engagement strategy support and advising. Recipients will use the grants to build engagement campaigns to cultivate and captivate wide diverse local, regional, and national audiences.
The projects selected for the 2021 Impact Campaign Fund are:
- SILENT BEAUTY by Jasmin Mara López
Silent Beauty is an autobiographical exploration of López’s family’s history with child sexual abuse and a culture of silence.
- STORMING CAESARS PALACE by Hazel Gurland-Pooler
Storming Caesars Palace is the untold story of Black women who took on Presidents, the Mob, and everyday Americans, challenging the pernicious lie of the “Welfare Queen.” Activist Ruby Duncan and a band of ordinary low-income mothers launch one of the most extraordinary feminist, anti-poverty movements in our history, providing a blueprint today for an equitable future.
- THE NEUTRAL GROUND by CJ Hunt (director) and Darcy McKinnon (producer)
The Neutral Ground documents New Orleans’ fight over monuments and America’s troubled romance with the Lost Cause. In 2015, director CJ Hunt was filming the New Orleans City Council’s vote to remove four confederate monuments. But when that removal is halted by death threats, CJ sets out to understand why a losing army from 1865 still holds so much power in America.
- MANZANAR, DIVERTED: WHEN WATER BECOMES DUST by Ann Kaneko (director) and Jin Yoo-Kim (producer)
From the majestic peaks of the snow-capped Sierras to the parched valley of Payahuunadü, “the land of flowing water,” Manzanar, Diverted: When Water Becomes Dust poetically weaves together memories of intergenerational women. Native Americans, Japanese-American WWII incarcerees, and environmentalists form an unexpected alliance to defend their land and water from Los Angeles.
- FRUITS OF LABOR by Emily Cohen Ibañez
A Mexican-American teenager dreams of graduating high school, when ICE raids in her community threaten to separate her family and force her to become her family’s breadwinner.
- AN ACT OF WORSHIP by Nausheen Dadabhoy
An Act of Worship is an exploration of the last 30 years of Muslim life in America. Weaving together present-day vérité footage with home videos and audio reflections sourced from Muslim communities across the country, the film tells the story of of women activists who came of age after 9/11 and revisits pivotal moments in US history from the perspective of Muslims, opening up a window into their world through collective memory.
- HEAVEN: CAN YOU HEAR ME by Terrance Pitts
Heaven: Can You Hear Me explores the solidarity and sisterhood of a group of Black women in Philadelphia whose lives have been changed forever by gun violence.
The Impact Campaign Fund, which began in 2020, upholds Firelight Media’s mission to support BIPOC filmmakers throughout different stages of their careers along with the Documentary Lab, the organization’s flagship mentorship program focused on developing early career filmmakers, and the William Greaves Fund, which supports mid-career BIPOC filmmakers in the research and development stages of their second or third feature-length documentary.
Major support for Firelight Media’s Impact Campaign Fund has been provided by the Perspective Fund. The Impact Campaign Fund has been supported in part by the Andrus Family Fund.
About Firelight Media
Firelight Media is a premier destination for non-fiction 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 filmmakers in the American south, midwest, and U.S.-controlled Territories; and the William Greaves Fund for mid-career nonfiction filmmakers of color. Firelight Media also produces digital short film series, including In the Making, with PBS American Masters, and the forthcoming Hindsight series with Reel South and the Center for Asian American Media. In addition to a focus on excellence in filmmaking, Firelight Media develops strategies, partnerships, and materials to reach and engage diverse audiences and maximize the impact of documentary films.