March 8, 2023

FRONTLINE (PBS) Names 2023 FRONTLINE/Firelight Media Filmmaker Fellows

FRONTLINE, the award-winning PBS investigative documentary series housed at GBH in Boston, and Firelight Media, the premier destination for nonfiction cinema by and about communities of color, have named Kevin Shaw and Débora Souza Silva as the 2023 recipients of the FRONTLINE/Firelight Investigative Journalism Fellowship.

This fellowship was created to support independent filmmakers of color interested in journalistic documentary filmmaking, and it champions the need for more diverse voices, perspectives and experiences within that field. In its fifth year, the program will continue to include funding for the research and development of nonfiction short films that shine a light on underreported issues in the United States.

During their fellowship, Shaw and Silva will each receive a three-month research grant and will be provided with reporting and editorial support as they develop investigative story ideas. FRONTLINE and Firelight Media will then provide funding for each fellow to produce a short film. After a festival run, each filmmaker’s documentary short will be distributed on FRONTLINE’s streaming platforms.

  • Kevin Shaw is a director, producer and cinematographer who has created award-winning content for national television networks examining race, culture and sports in America. Shaw was a segment director and cinematographer on America to Me, and additional cinematographer on City So Real, from Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Steve James, where they both debuted at the Sundance Film Festival and aired on Starz and Hulu respectively. Shaw’s debut documentary, The Street Stops Here, aired nationally on PBS and ESPN in 2010. The following year, Shaw’s film Big Ten Network won the Edward R. Murrow Award for Sports Reporting Excellence. His cinematography talents were recognized in 2015 with a National Sports Emmy for ESPN’s FIFA World Cup Show Opens and Teases. Later that year, Shaw produced a documentary about the relationship between megastar Shaquille O’Neal and his collegiate coach, Dale Brown, Shaq and Dale, which premiered on ESPN.  Shaw’s current directorial work, Let the Little Light Shine, premiered at the True False Fest in March 2022 and debuted on PBS’ award-winning series POV in December 2022. Shaw’s next directorial work is titled One Golden Summer.

  • Débora Souza Silva is a documentary filmmaker whose work examines systemic racism and inequality. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, on PBS, BBC, Reveal News, KQED, and Fusion. She is a recipient of the Les Payne Founder’s Award from the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) and The NYT Institute Fellowship. She started her career as a TV reporter in Brazil before moving to California to pursue a Master’s in Journalism at UC Berkeley. In 2016, Silva was awarded a fellowship with the Center for Investigative Reporting; in 2018, she was a filmmaker in residence at SFFILM. Silva is a recipient of the Garrett Scott Documentary Development grant, the Glassbreaker Films grant, a Tribeca Film Institute grant, fellowships with the Investigative Reporting Program, Firelight Media’s Documentary Lab, Chicken and Egg’s (Egg)celerator Lab, and Athena Works-in-Progress. Her work has also been funded by Sundance, the International Documentary Association, Fork Films, Perspective Fund, Catapult Film Fund, Berkeley Film Foundation, DocPitch, Sisters in Cinema, and California Humanities.

The 2022 FRONTLINE/Firelight Media fellows were Ursula Liang and Cristina Ibarra. Liang’s upcoming documentary, Two Strikes, is about the U.S. criminal justice system. Ibarra’s upcoming documentary, Whistleblower, is about U.S. immigration policy.

Other past fellows have included Jacqueline Olive, PJ Raval, Andrés Caballero, Assia Boundaoui, Juliana Schwartz Preston, and Roopa Gogineni.

“Over the past five years, our FRONTLINE/Firelight fellows have produced documentaries that pull back the curtain on critical issues impacting underserved communities across the country,” says FRONTLINE Executive Producer Raney Aronson-Rath. “We are delighted to continue our fellowship with Firelight Media in its third year, and we are looking forward to working with Kevin and Débora, two incredibly talented filmmakers who have already made an impact with their past work with public media, and will continue to do so throughout their fellowship.”

“We are thrilled to welcome Kevin and Débora as FRONTLINE/Firelight fellows, both of whom are alumni of our Documentary Lab and grantees of our Impact Campaign Fund,” said Leticia Peguero, Senior Vice President of Firelight Media. “We are equally excited to continue our collaboration with FRONTLINE, which provides filmmakers with the support and mentorship they need to craft investigative documentaries with journalistic rigor.”

Read more at FRONTLINE.

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