Firelight Media Announces Recipients for the 2022 William Greaves Research & Development Fund

Firelight Media
5 min readFeb 28, 2023

Now in its third year, the international fund provides mid-career filmmakers with financial support for research and to develop materials needed for fundraising.

Firelight Media, the premier destination for nonfiction cinema by and about communities of color, is pleased to announce the recipients for the 2022 William Greaves Research & Development Fund. The William Greaves Research & Development Fund (previously known as the William Greaves Fund) was founded in 2020 to support mid-career documentary filmmakers from racially and ethnically underrepresented communities. The Fund is designed to address the persistent structural challenges many filmmakers face after producing their first films so that they are able to remain in the field and continue to create vital stories focused on underrepresented people and topics.

The William Greaves Research & Development Fund comprises grants ranging up to $40,000 each to support research and development on a feature-length nonfiction film. The funds may be used for research and to develop film treatments, presentation decks, sizzle reels, and fundraising materials, or any other essential needs that grantees have — from healthcare and childcare costs to any other necessary resources which Firelight Media sees as fundamental to producing creative work.

The 2022 grantees include filmmakers from Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, and the U.S. Their film projects include personal narratives, investigative storytelling, and experimental films, exploring subjects including the effects of climate change in Latin America, the racial divide in one of the first Spanish cities founded in Mexico, the lives and works of performance artists, and the “sandwich generation” — middle-aged adults tasked with bringing up their own children while caring for their parents.

“Firelight Media is proud to continue our support for BIPOC filmmakers from across the U.S. and Latin America, with a special emphasis on filmmakers of African and/or Indigenous descent, through the third year of our William Greaves Research & Development Fund,” said Leticia Peguero, Senior Vice President of Firelight Media. “These ten filmmakers represent just a fraction of the incredible talent from these regions. We hope that these unrestricted funds will enable the filmmakers to develop their dream documentary film projects while also providing essential care for themselves and their families.”

The William Greaves Research & Development Fund 2022 grant recipients are:

  • Giselle Bailey, Untitled (U.S.)
    “Untitled,” created in collaboration with Stephen Bailey, is a hybrid documentary feature about Black social movements in America.
  • Michel Carvalho, Boy (Brazil)
    Boy is a feature-length documentary about the daily life of Black male escorts in the city of São Paulo. Through observational language, personal diaries, and lyrical moments, the film reflects on desire, coloniality, and the (hyper)sexualization of the Black man.
  • David Hernandez, Buscando las marcas del Asho ́ojushi (Searching for the Marks of the Asho´ojushi) (Colombia)
    A prophecy, told by Jose Epieyu, comes up in the midst of research for the documentary Buscando las marcas del asho´ojushi (Searching for the Marks of the Asho´ojushi), becoming the foundation for a journey that Marbel and David undertake to learn the beliefs and stories around traditional Wayuu tattoo.
  • Michelle Ibaven, Ruptures (Mexico)
    Ridden by confusion, fear, and grief, Carmen has no option but to be brave. Eight years ago, she suffered an acid attack by her ex-partner that left her with a stinging imprint. Following his recent arrest, Carmen thoroughly examines the violence she faced in order to transcend it.
  • Ann Kaneko, 45/45 (U.S.)
    Spanning three generations of a Japanese American family, 45 years separates filmmaker Ann Kaneko from her mother and from her daughter and 90 years’ distance separates grandparents and grandchild. 45/45 weaves together a tapestry of images and observations, chronicling and celebrating growing up and growing old. Parents and children reverse roles as the “sandwiched” daughter, who doubles as filmmaker and caregiver, shares insights about the uncanny resemblance of life’s beginning and end.
  • Olivia Luengas, Brigade 2045 (Mexico)
    Amidst an unprecedented wave of wildfires surrounding one of the largest cities in Latin America, a group of forest firefighters, dedicated in body and soul to their work, gather the strength to face danger in a context of social degradation and climate crisis.
  • Glenda Nicácio, Para Elisa (For Elisa) (Brazil)
    For Elisa is a biographical documentary about the pulsating life of Elisa Lucinda, an actress, singer, poet, writer, and journalist, who is considered to be the most popular Brazilian poet of her generation.
  • Lourdes Portillo, Looking at Ourselves (U.S.)
    Looking at Ourselves is a hybrid film that is part experimental documentary and part investigative journalism. A meditation on being, belonging, and place, the film comprises intimate conversations between the filmmaker and performance artist Guillermo Gómez-Peña, who share their own immigration journeys, reveal what immigrant artists bring to their adoptive countries, and traces how they use art to transform trauma into a legacy of creativity, resilience, and community building.
  • Yoruba Richen, Insurrection 1898 (U.S.)
    Insurrection 1898 brings to life the events surrounding the coup d’état in Wilmington, NC, in which white supremacists overthrew the multi-racial government of North Carolina’s largest city through a coordinated campaign of violence and intimidation intended to undermine Black political and economic power and impose white control and led to the death of as many as one hundred fifty Black residents.
  • Juan Antonio Méndez Rodríguez, a.ka. Xun Sero, De Aspecto Indígena (Appearing Indigenous) (Mexico)
    De Aspecto Indígena explores and exposes the racism that nests in one of the first Spanish cities founded in Central America: San Cristóbal de Las Casas in Chiapas, Mexico.

The Research and Development Fund was named in honor of William Greaves, who produced the seminal television newsmagazine “Black Journal” and over 200 documentary films during his sixty-year career. Greaves came to be regarded as the father of Black nonfiction cinema and mentored countless filmmakers during his life, including Firelight Media co-founder Stanley Nelson. The William Greaves Research & Development Fund upholds Firelight Media’s mission to support underrepresented filmmakers throughout different stages of their careers with the Documentary Lab, the organization’s flagship mentorship program focused on developing emerging filmmakers. Last year, Firelight Media also expanded its support for mid-careers filmmakers through the creation of the PBS/Firelight William Greaves Production Fund; the filmmakers selected for that fund will be announced later this spring.

The William Greaves Research & Development Fund is supported by institutions including the Perspective Fund and the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation. For more information click here.

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 emerging filmmakers in the American south, midwest, and U.S. territories; and the William Greaves Research & Development Fund, for mid-career nonfiction filmmakers from racially and ethnically underrepresented communities, among others. Firelight Media also produces digital short film series, including the forthcoming season two of In the Making, with PBS American Masters, and a collection of regional short films, Homegrown: Future Visions, with the Center for Asian American Media.



Firelight Media

Firelight Media is a nonprofit organization that supports, resources, and advocates on behalf of documentary filmmakers of color.