Firelight Media x DOC NYC 2021

Firelight Media is proud to be prominently featured throughout DOC NYC 2021! Firelight Founder Stanley Nelson and Firelight-supported filmmakers will have feature-length and short documentary films screened in theaters and online throughout the Festival, including in the prestigious Short List programs, and Documentary Lab alumni and staff will be honored for their work in the documentary field.

DOC NYC is the largest documentary film festival in North America. For the last nine years, DOC NYC has screened the documentary feature that went on to win the Academy Award and 24 of the last 25 Oscar-nominated documentary features. DOC NYC is also an Academy-qualifying festival for short films. In 2021, DOC NYC celebrates its 12th edition and will take place in a hybrid format (online and in-person).

Read on to learn about all of the Firelight Media-related happenings at this year’s Festival, and we hope to see you at an in-person or virtual DOC NYC event soon!

Visionaries Tribute — Peter Nicks, Documentary Lab Alum

Peter Nicks

Peter Nicks, acclaimed filmmaker and alum of Firelight Media’s Documentary Lab, will be honored with the Robert and Anne Drew Award for Documentary Excellence. The award honors a mid-career filmmaker who excels in observational filmmaking.

Nicks is known for his immersive documentaries like The Waiting Room, The Force, and Homeroom, which explore health care, criminal justice and education in Oakland, California. Nicks also recently co-founded Proximity Media with fellow Oakland-based filmmaker Ryan Coogler.

Documentary New Leaders — Chloë Walters-Wallace, Sahar Driver, Rahi Hasan & Tracy Rector

Left to right: Chloë Walters-Wallace, Sahar Driver, Rahi Hasan, and Tracy Rector

Firelight Media’s own Chloë Walters-Wallace, Director of Regional Initiatives, is being honored as a Documentary New Leader. The program honors figures in the American documentary industry whose work to date and potential for leadership will bring greater inclusion and equity to the field.

Other Documentary New Leaders honorees include Firelight Media Impact Producer Fellowship alumni Rahi Hasan and Tracy Rector and frequent Firelight Media collaborator Sahar Driver. View the full list of honorees here.

40 Under 40 Honorees — Firelight-supported Filmmakers

Clockwise from top left: Sian-Pierre Regis, Iliana Sosa, Ashley O’Shay, Rodrigo Reyes, Isabel Castro, Habiba Nosheen, C.J. Hunt, and Chelsea Hernandez

Now in its fourth year, DOC NYC’s 40 Under 40 list shines a spotlight on emerging talent. This year’s list includes eight Firelight-supported filmmakers, including Ashley O’Shay, Iliana Sosa, Rodrigo Reyes, Sian-Pierre Regis, Isabel Castro, CJ Hunt, Chelsea Hernandez, and Habiba Nosheen.

View the full list of 2021 40 under 40 honorees here.

DOC NYC Short List — ‘Attica,’ ‘Ascension,’ ‘Homeroom,’ and ‘Lynching Postcards’

DOC NYC has named three feature films and one short film from the Firelight Media family to its influential Short List program.

Attica, the highly acclaimed documentary about the 1971 prison uprising directed by Firelight Founder Stanley Nelson and co-directed by Traci A. Curry, will screen as part of the prestigious program. Homeroom, directed by Firelight Media Documentary Lab alum Peter Nicks, which follows the senior class of Oakland High School through the tumultuous year of 2019–2020, is also on the list and will be screened throughout the festival. Also featured on the Short List is Documentary Lab alum Jessica Kingdon’s documentary debut Ascension, an impressionistic portrait of China’s industrial supply chain that depicts a thriving capitalism in a communist state.

Left to right: Film posters for ‘Attica,’ ‘Ascension,’ ‘Homeroom,’ and ‘Lynching Postcards’

For the short film Short List, Documentary Lab alum Christine Turner’s new film Lynching Postcards: Token of a Great Day is featured. The film examines the horrific history of lynchings as cultural events and celebrations that included souvenirs and postcards and is a production of Firelight Films in association with MTV Docs.

U.S. Competition — Sonia Kennebeck’s ‘United States vs. Reality Winner’

Film still from Sonia Kennebeck’s ‘United States vs. Reality Winner’

Documentary Lab alum and William Greaves Fund grantee Sonia Kennebeck’s documentary United States vs. Reality Winner will have its New York Premiere at DOC NYC as part of the U.S. Competition. The film profiles Reality Winner (her actual birth name), a U.S. Air Force veteran who became a whistleblower in her 20s by leaking classified documents about Russian cyber-warfare attacks on the 2016 U.S. elections.

Shorts Competition — Nailah Jefferson’s ‘Descended from the Promised Land: The Legacy of Black Wall Street’ & Anissa Latham’s ‘Missing Magic’

Featured in the Shorts Program at DOC NYC is Documentary Lab alum Nailah Jefferson’s Descended from the Promised Land: The Legacy of Black Wall Street, a documentary short films that looks at the lingering economic, psychological, and emotional impacts of the Tulsa Massacre through the lens of descendants.

Also featured in the Doc Shorts Program is the NYC Premiere of Anissa Latham’s Missing Magic, part of Firelight Media’s HINDSIGHT series with Reel South, the Center for Asian American Media, and WORLD Channel. In Missing Magic, a young poet grapples with his city’s racist history while protests against police brutality spread across the country.

If/Then x The Redford Center Nature Access Pitch Competition

If/Then x The Redford Center Nature Access Pitch at DOC NYC, Nov. 16

Firelight Media’s Chloë Walters-Wallace, director of regional initiatives, will serve as a judge for the If/Then x The Redford Center Nature Access Pitch competition. Six filmmaking teams pitch their short documentary works-in-progress that reveal powerful stories of equitable access to nature, healing, and the outdoors.

Featured in the pitch competition will be Documentary Lab alum Laurie Sumiye, who will be pitching her documentary Makana o ke Mele (Gift of Song), which transports audiences into a memory of Native Hawaiian conservationist Mili Browning, who was exposed to nature through an innovative Hawaiian outreach program, ʻImi Pono no ka ʻĀina.

DOC NYC PRO — Audience Engagement and Distribution Day, Nov. 17

Audience Engagement & Distribution Day at DOC NYC

Firelight Media’s Chloë Walters-Wallace, director of regional initiatives, will be featured on a panel about how to define and find success in the landscape of distribution.

Sian-Pierre Regis, Documentary Lab alum and Impact Campaign Fund grantee, will also be featured on a panel about choices in distribution and what considerations filmmakers make as they vet options and potential partners.

To learn more about Firelight Media, our community of filmmakers, and our programs, visit

To learn more about DOC NYC, visit



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Firelight Media

Firelight Media

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