Firelight Media Announces Second Cohort for PBS/Firelight William Greaves Production Fund

Firelight Media
5 min readJun 11, 2024


The Fund, which supports mid-career filmmakers from underrepresented communities, is also seeking proposals for its next cycle.

An image of a dark-skinned, bearded man holding a horse by the reins at nighttime in front of a brightly-lit stable.
Film still from ‘Backside,’ directed by Raúl O. Paz Pastrana

Firelight Media, the premier destination for nonfiction cinema by and about communities of color, has announced the second cohort of filmmakers selected for production funding through the PBS/Firelight William Greaves Production Fund, which supports mid-career filmmakers from underrepresented communities. The organization has also released the RFP for the Production Fund’s third cycle.

The PBS/Firelight William Greaves Production Fund is designed to address the persistent structural challenges many underrepresented filmmakers face after producing their first films so that they can remain in the field. 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 groundbreaking television news magazine Black Journal along with 200-plus documentaries throughout his 60-year career.

The PBS/Firelight William Greaves Production Fund, established in 2022, provides resources to documentary productions created by mid-career filmmakers from underrepresented communities in the United States that are intended for distribution on PBS through finishing funds or co-production funding. The filmmaker must own at least 50% of the copyright and maintain editorial control of the project. For more details about the application process, view the Firelight Media website.

Films selected for the second PBS/Firelight William Greaves Production Fund include personal narratives of disenfranchised families; contemporary stories of Black and Latinx resistance; and historical portraits of Canadian and Puerto Rican liberation movements. One film selected for funding, Juan Carlos Dávila Santiago’s Zenón, is the first film supported by Firelight Media’s William Greaves Research and Development Fund to receive co-production funding through PBS and Firelight Media, having also recently received $150,000 in funding through Black Public Media’s PitchBLACK Awards.

“We are proud to continue to expand the community of filmmakers supported through the PBS/Firelight William Greaves Production Fund,” said Firelight Media Co-Founder and Lead Mentor Stanley Nelson. “The filmmakers selected for the second cohort of this fund are visionary, talented, and deeply committed to the communities their films represent. I am especially proud that three filmmakers are alumni of the Documentary Lab — Jason DaSilva, Ashley O’Shay, and Raúl O. Paz Pastrana — with new films in production. We are grateful to PBS for their continued support for this program and their dedication to supporting underrepresented stories and storytellers.”

“PBS gives opportunities to filmmakers who have stories to share that reflect the lived experiences of our audiences,” said Sylvia Bugg, Chief Programming Executive and General Manager, General Audience Programming at PBS. “We are excited to continue our partnership with Firelight Media to create an expanded pipeline of diverse content and creators across platforms.”

The second cohort of the PBS/Firelight William Greaves Production Fund and their film projects are:

  • Jason DaSilva, Untitled
    This documentary examines the history of legal disparities and inaccessibility faced by parents of color living with disabilities within the U.S. The film asks the question, Do we truly live in a just democratic system if parents with disabilities are treated unequally?
  • Juan Carlos Dávila Santiago, Zenón
    This documentary is about the life of Vieques (Puerto Rico) fisherman and revolutionary Carlos “Taso” Zenón. For decades, Taso fought against the military occupation of his native land, fighting the U.S. Navy both on land and sea — it was the fisherman’s slingshot against the military’s cannons.
  • Ilse Fernandez, Exodus Stories
    A documentary film following the high-stakes journeys of three Central American immigrants who join the historic 2018–19 mass migrant caravans, fleeing threats and violence and seeking refuge in the U.S. at a time when asylum is under siege. Their indomitable immigrant spirit fuels their hope for a better life — but will it be enough?
  • Luchina Fisher, Hiding in Plain Sight (working title)
    This documentary tells the unsung and unseen story of Black queer presence in the music industry through the stories of popular and lesser-known artists who shaped the music and culture we enjoy today.
  • Michèle Stephenson, Untitled
    Exploring a dynamic and untold history of Black resistance and student organizing, this documentary examines two pivotal events that shook 1960s Montreal, leaving an impact and lessons that continue to resonate today. Told exclusively through the eyes of the students and young people who lived through these events, their story reframes Canada’s role in the global Black liberation movement and highlights how ideas and political discourse cannot be contained by borders.
  • Ashley O’Shay, Southmont Drive
    This documentary reflects on the legacy of a Black family from Tuskegee, Alabama, centered on filmmaker Ashley O’Shay’s late grandfather, Melvin Lewis. Having lost their patriarch’s home, the film weaves together memories of his living descendants, examining a Black family’s plight in the small town South and determination to remain connected.
  • Raúl O. Paz-Pastrana, Backside
    Following a racing season at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, this observational documentary paints an intimate portrait of the unseen “groom” BIPOC workers that sustain the elite horse-racing industry, showing how wealth, class, and race come together in the U.S.

The application for the next cycle of the PBS/Firelight William Greaves Production Fund is open now through July 8, 2024. For more information and to apply, click here.

About Firelight Media

Firelight Media is a premier destination for nonfiction 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, underrepresented filmmakers; Groundwork Regional Lab, which supports filmmakers in the American South, midwest, and U.S. Territories; and the William Greaves Research and Development Fund for mid-career nonfiction filmmakers from racially and ethnically underrepresented communities. Firelight Media also produces digital short films, including the forthcoming series In the Making and HOMEGROWN: A Part Of/Apart From.

About PBS

PBS, with more than 330 member stations, offers all Americans the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and digital content. Each month, PBS reaches over 42 million adults on linear primetime television, more than 15 million users on PBS-owned streaming platforms, and 56 million people view PBS content on social media, inviting them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature, and public affairs and to take front-row seats to world-class drama and performances. PBS’s broad array of programs has been consistently honored by the industry’s most coveted award competitions. Teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade turn to PBS LearningMedia for digital content and services that help bring classroom lessons to life. As the number one educational media brand, PBS KIDS helps children 2–8 build critical skills, enabling them to find success in school and life. Delivered through member stations, PBS KIDS offers high-quality content on TV — including a PBS KIDS channel — and streaming free on and the PBS KIDS Video app, games on the PBS KIDS Games app, and in communities across America. More information about PBS is available at, one of the leading dot-org websites on the internet, Facebook, Instagram, or through our apps for mobile and connected devices. Specific program information and updates for press are available at or by following PBS Communications on Twitter.



Firelight Media

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