Non-fiction production company Firelight Media announced the recipients of its Spark Fund on Thursday (March 17). The initiative was created to support established independent filmmakers who identify as Black, Indigenous and/or people of color, and whose humanities-themed works were disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and will provide 36 stipends of $50,000 to selected filmmakers throughout one year.
Firelight Media announced it is awarding the Spark Fund to: Adriana Bosch, Assia Boundaoui, Charles Kennedye, Chico Colvard, Colleen Thurston, Débora Souza Silva, Đoan Hoàng, Farihah Zaman, Garland McLaurin, Grace Lee, Juanita Anderson, Keith McQuirter, Kimberlee Bassford, Luchina Fisher, María Agui Carter, Marissa Aroy, Melinda Raebyne, Miao Wang, Michèle Stephenson, Orlando de Guzman, Phillip Rodriguez, Raúl O. Paz-Pastrana, Ray Santisteban, Rico Speight, Robinder Uppal, Rodney Evans, Rodrigo Reyes, Rory Crittenden, Sofian Khan, Steph Ching, Stephen Maing, Thomas Allen Harris, Vaishali Sinha, Vee Bravo, Yvonne Welbon and Zeinabu Davis.
The recipients, who come from across the U.S., were selected from more than 200 applicants, and were picked with the help of two selection committees: one to choose the finalists, and the other to choose the recipients. The committees were made up of humanities scholars, filmmakers and programmers.
The fund is underwritten by the National Endowment for the Humanities, through its Sustaining the Humanities through the American Rescue Plan Grantmaking Initiative.
“We are grateful to the National Endowment for the Humanities for recognizing the critical role that filmmakers play in educating the public about the humanities, and for this opportunity to provide significant financial support to established BIPOC non-fiction filmmakers in continuing their work despite the challenges they have faced throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Firelight Media president Marcia Smith in a news release.
“Mid-career filmmakers of color face significant obstacles to sustaining their work even in ordinary times — the pandemic exacerbated this problem. It is truly an honor to help this talented group of filmmakers get back to work on films that will enliven and enrich our democracy.”