Firelight Media Announces 2022 Open Call for its Documentary Lab

Firelight Media
2 min readMay 2, 2022


18-month fellowship provides filmmakers with customized mentorship, as well as funding, professional development workshops, and networking opportunities

Firelight Media, the premier destination for nonfiction cinema by and about communities of color, is pleased to announce the open call for its flagship Documentary Lab, an 18-month fellowship program that supports filmmakers in the United States from racially and ethnically underrepresented communities directing their first or second feature-length documentary film.

The Documentary Lab provides filmmakers with a $25,000 grant toward their projects as well as customized mentorship from prominent leaders in the documentary world and professional development opportunities. More than just a workshop, the Documentary Lab creates an exclusive network of storytellers that receive ongoing support from a project’s conception to its completion.

Over the last decade, the Documentary Lab grew from a mentorship program to a robust artist development initiative that has supported over 100 emerging filmmakers and granted over $600k toward productions and distribution. Documentary Lab fellows and alumni have had tremendous success in the past year: 2021 Fellow Jessica Kingdon’s Ascension was nominated for an Academy Award® for Best Feature, the first Oscar® nomination for a Documentary Lab alumni film; 2022 Fellow Isabel Castro’s Mija premiered at Sundance Film Festival and was recently acquired by Disney; and 2015 Fellow Melissa Haizlip’s Mr. SOUL! was nominated for a Peabody Award. Alumni have also earned significant support from prestigious foundations for their filmmaking: 2013 Fellow Cristina Ibarra was named a 2021 MacArthur “Genius” Fellow and 2019 Fellow Ja’Tovia Gary was named a 2022 Guggenheim Fellow.

Firelight Media looks for applicants who make artful and innovative documentary films that focus on underrepresented communities and provide new narratives about the most pressing issues of our time. The Documentary Lab accepts applications from filmmakers of color based in the United States. Currently, the organization does not accept filmmakers who are based internationally for this program.

Applications will be accepted beginning on Monday, May 2, 2022, through Monday, June 13, 2022.

For more information about application requirements and the selection process, and to access a recording of the 2021 Open Call Webinar, visit the Firelight Media website here.

Major funding support for Firelight Media’s Documentary Lab is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, with additional support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Open Society Foundations, the Wyncote Foundation, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the Park Foundation, the New York Community Trust, and the NY State Council on the Arts.

Learn more about Firelight Media and its program by visiting



Firelight Media

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