June 10, 2022

Black Filmmakers on Telling Our History | Beyond Resilience Masterclass

African American history has largely been shaped by white storytelling. It's worth questioning: What is Black history when told through the lens of Black storytellers?

Join an intimate conversation between legendary documentary filmmakers Stanley Nelson, Sam Pollard, Dawn Porter, and Roger Ross Williams – all masters of their craft – as they discuss how authorship and perspective shape the narratives they tell, and how they’ve found success in making historical films for us, by us. Moderated by Cameo George, Executive Producer of PBS American Experience.

*Accessibility Notice: This event recording includes live ASL interpretation and closed captions.

Beyond Resilience Masterclasses, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities, will focus on deeply-researched historical documentary films by and about BIPOC communities. This Masterclass will be conducted via Zoom Webinar, enabling participants to submit questions throughout the event through an extended Q&A session. Registrants are encouraged to submit questions for the panelists in advance via this RSVP page as well.

The Beyond Resilience Series is sponsored by Open Society Foundations. Beyond Resilience is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. This project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.

About Firelight Media

Firelight Media is a premier destination for non-fiction 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, Groundwork Regional Lab, and the William Greaves Fund. Firelight Media also produces digital short films, including the recently announced collection HOMEGROWN: Future Visions.

About the National Endowment for the Humanities

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at: www.neh.gov.

Participant bios:

Roger Ross Williams is an award-winning director, producer, writer, and the first African American director to win an Academy Award for his short doc, Music By Prudence. His film Life Animated was nominated for an Academy Award, and won 3 Emmys in 2018, including the Award for Best Documentary. He’s created films for Amazon, Facebook Oculus, Netflix and more via his production company One Story Up.

Dawn Porter is an award-winning documentary filmmaker whose work - which includes historical docs John Lewis: Good Trouble and The Way I See It  - have appeared on HBO, PBS, Discovery, and Netflix among others.  She is currently directing and executive producing an Apple TV multi-part documentary series with Oprah Winfrey and Prince Harry, which focuses on both mental illness and mental well-being. Dawn was also a Firelight Doc Lab Fellow. 

Samuel D. Pollard is an American film director, editor, producer, and screenwriter of films including MLK/FBI Eyes on the Prize, and Bamboozled. His films have garnered numerous awards such as Peabodys, Emmys, and an Academy Award nomination. And in 2020, Sam was honored with a career achievement award by the International Documentary Association. Spike Lee, whose films Pollard has edited and produced, described him as being "a master filmmaker." Henry Louis Gates Jr. characterizes his work in this way: “When I think about his documentaries, they add up to a corpus — a way of telling African-American history in its various dimensions.”

Stanley Nelson is the foremost chronicler of the African American experience working in nonfiction film today. His films, which include Freedom Riders, Crack, and Black Panthers have garnered him numerous awards and nominations, including an Academy Award nomination for Attica. Stanley received a Presidential Medal of Honor in 2013 from President Obama, and has also been named a MacArthur Fellow.

Cameo George is Executive Producer of PBS’s historical documentary strand American Experience American Experience. extensive history in the film and media industry includes previous roles overseeing the development of ABC News Originals, serving as the head of Video and TV for OZY Media, and serving as a producer for Firelight Films.

Program Notes:

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January 25, 2024

The Optics of Islam | Beyond Resilience

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December 7, 2023

The Documentary System is Broken. Now What? | Beyond Resilience

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November 1, 2023

Palestinian Voices | Beyond Resilience

Beyond Resilience, with support from Field of Vision, is proud to be a community partner for the Arab Film & Media Institute's 'Palestinian Voices' program.

November 15, 2023

Navigating the Ethical and Business Landscape of Artificial Intelligence | Beyond Resilience

A conversation about the evolution of artificial intelligence and its impact on documentary filmmaking, presented with DOC NYC PRO.


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