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Meet the 20 Mediamakers Selected for the new Sundance Institute Humanities Sustainability Fellowship

12/05/2022

-- Pilot Program Directs Individual Support to Pandemic-Affected Nonfiction Storytellers

The nonprofit Sundance Institute announced today the names of the mediamakers selected for the new Humanities Sustainability Fellowship, a year-long program providing 20 U.S.-based under-resourced nonfiction mediamakers whose work and livelihood have been grossly affected by the pandemic with direct, unrestricted stipends to supplement their income. Funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), each Fellow will receive $60,000 in installments over the course of 12 months, along with the support from paid humanities advisors who will guide through the granting term (April 2022-March 2023) with mentorship, project advice, and other tailored non-financial support to deepen the humanities content and approach of the work. Fellows will also be offered professional development opportunities throughout the term, including a Creator+ Collab membership.

Led by Hajnal Molnar-Szakacs, Director of Institute Granting, the Fellowship selected individuals at all phases of their careers producing and/or directing humanities-focused feature-length documentary films and nonfiction emerging media. The cohort includes 10% lifelong career mediamakers, 60% mid-career and 30% early career. The Fellows are based in New York, California, Wisconsin, Illinois, Puerto Rico and Missouri and at the time of application their current projects were primarily in production (55%) with 30% in development and 15% in post-production. The Fellows selected identify as 70% female, 15% male and 15% nonbinary they are 10% African American, 15% Asian, 15% Biracial, 25% Caucasian, 5% Latinx, 15% Middle Eastern, and 10% Native American.

This fellowship is a bold rethinking of what supporting artistic practice can look like, and we are so honored to be one of three nonprofit organizations selected by the National Endowment for the Humanities in piloting it, said Carrie Lozano, Director, Documentary Film and Artist Programs. While project-based funding will always remain core to our work, direct individual support is another element in our mission to expand the community we serve and explore new ways to serve mediamakers. Two years into the pandemic, there's been a shift in the national consciousness that recognizes personal stability is deeply intertwined with innovation at work-completing projects and succeeding at taking on additional ones is much harder when you're under-resourced or stretched thin! Sundance Institute has had a front-row seat to witnessing the challenges those within the nonfiction space have faced in sustaining their creative practice, and as such it's thrilling to roll out a new funding model for a group of exemplary mediamakers whose careers we want to champion.

The National Endowment for the Humanities commends Sundance Institute for its work administering American Rescue Plan funds to assist nonfiction mediamakers affected by the pandemic, said NEH Chair Shelly C. Lowe (Navajo). These fellowships will provide crucial support to talented professionals in film and digital media working to bring important, untold stories about culture, history, and community to the American public.

The year-long Fellowship kicked off in April 2022. The selection committee for the program included: Cristina Azocar (Professor of Journalism San Francisco State University), Mar a C lleri (Assistant Professor in the Department of Gender, Women's & Sexuality Studies University of Maryland, Baltimore County), Imani M. Cheers (Director, Producer, Interim Senior Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education Office of the Provost, Associate Professor of Media and Public Affairs George Washington University), James Fleury (Lecturer in Film and Media Studies Washington University in St. Louis), Shaleece Haas (Filmmaker, Journalist), John L. Jackson, Jr. (Filmmaker, Walter H. Annenberg Dean of the Annenberg School for Communication, Richard Perry University Professor University of Pennsylvania), Emelie Mahdavian (Filmmaker, Assistant Professor University of Utah Department of Film & Media Arts), Cash (Melissa) Ragona (Associate Professor of Art History/Critical Theory & Independent Curator, School of Art Carnegie Mellon University), Ignacio M. S nchez Prado (Jarvis Thurston and Mona Van Duyn Professor in the Humanities, Professor of Spanish, Latin American Studies, and Film and Media Studies Washington University in St. Louis) and Poh Si Teng (Producer, Journalist, Filmmaker).

The fellows selected for the 2022 Sundance Institute Humanities Sustainability Fellowship are:

Elizabeth Ai is a director, producer, and writer. She's a fellow of Berlinale Talents, Center for Asian American Media, Film Independent, Firelight Media, and Sundance Institute. Elizabeth and her team are currently in production with New Wave and simultaneously developing the dramatic series adaptation.

Nesa Azimi is an independent filmmaker living in New York City. She has worked on staff as a director and producer for Rain Media, PBS Frontline, Fault Lines on Al Jazeera, National Geographic, and the Cine Institute of Haiti. Driver will be her first feature film.

Stephanie Black is an award-winning filmmaker whose credits include feature-length documentaries H-2 Worker; Life & Debt and Africa Unite.

Shirley Bruno's work celebrates neglected histories by way of rumors, dreams, collective memories both real and imagined. An alumna of Le Fresnoy and London Film School, her work screens internationally at film festivals, museums, and galleries. Shirley currently lives and works in Brooklyn and support for her work includes Creative Capital, Jerome Foundation, NYFA, NYSCA.

Zaina Bseiso is a filmmaker and curator working in documentary and experimental cinema. She's interested in diasporic relations to land, mystic
LINK: https://www.sundance.org/blogs/meet-the-20-mediamakers-selected-for-th...
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