Docs

Exclusive: ‘American Masters’, Firelight Media, Topic launch BIPOC short film series

PBS arts strand ‘American Masters’ has partnered with Harlem-based prodco Firelight Media, founded by Peabody- and Emmy award- winning filmmaker Stanley Nelson, to launch a documentary short film series dubbed In the ...
October 13, 2020

PBS arts strand ‘American Masters’ has partnered with Harlem-based prodco Firelight Media, founded by Peabody- and Emmy award- winning filmmaker Stanley Nelson, to launch a documentary short film series dubbed In the Making.

Launching Wednesday (Oct. 14), In the Making will feature eight cinematic and character-driven short films from emerging BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) cultural artists that spotlight other BIPOC cultural artists working across a range of disciplines.

The majority of the inaugural cohort have previously graduated from Firelight Media’s Documentary Lab.

In the Making is a production of Firelight Media in association with Thirteen’s ‘American Masters’ for WNET. Executive producers for Firelight Media are Stanley Nelson, Marcia Smith and Loira Limbal, alongside Michael Kantor for ‘American Masters’.

Support for In the Making is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

In the Making‘s debut lineup includes Ben-Alex Dupris’ Bunky Echo-Hawk: The Resistance, which explores how the spirit of resistance inspires the work of Pawnee artist Bunky Echo-Hawk (pictured); Sofian Khan and Joseph Patel’s Anik Khan: Street Level, examining the music of the Bangladesh-born, New York-raised hip-hop artist whose music traces the immigrant experience; Malika Zouhali-Worrall‘s Amyra León: Strange Grace, painting an intimate portrait of musician, poet and activist Amyra León; and Ciara Lacy‘s Jamaica Heolimeleikalani Osorio: This is the Way We Rise, which documents Osorio’s continued work towards justice for Hawaii’s native population.

Additional short films receiving their digital premieres include Ligaiya Romero’s Maia Cruz Palileo: Becoming the Moon, exploring the life and work of the interdisciplinary Brooklyn-based artist who examines themes of migration and the concept of home in her works; Amitabh Joshi and Erik Spink’s Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah: The New Chief, which spotlights a modern jazz musician currently redefining the genre; Elissa Blount Moorhead’s Damon Davis: Apologue for the Darkest Gods, providing a look into the art of post-disciplinary artist Davis; and Ray Santisteban’s Vincent Valdez: The Beginning is Near, which highlights Valdez and his artistic works and emphasizes themes of social justice, memory and under-examined historical narratives in his work.

‘In the Making’ will be available from Oct. 14 via the ‘American Masters’ website and the PBS Video App with episodes premiering on the ‘American Masters’ YouTube channel on Wednesdays.

The film series will also be made available this fall to American and Canadian audiences via a distribution partnership with Topic, First Look Media’s streaming service.

“This series offers us a chance to feature up-and-coming artists and to continue to expand our digital presence,” said Michael Kantor, executive producer of ‘American Masters’, in a statement. “Thanks to Firelight, In the Making also showcases the next generation of filmmakers. I think all our audiences will be wowed by these creative bright lights, and Topic is a great additional home for these incredible stories.”

“Supporting emerging BIPOC filmmakers has always been central to our organization’s mission, and we are so pleased to be working with a wonderful new partner, Topic, to present this series of films showcasing so many dynamic and diverse artistic voices behind and in front of the camera,” added Stanley Nelson, filmmaker and co-founder of Firelight Media.

About The Author
Jillian Morgan is a special reports editor at realscreen with a background in journalism and digital marketing. She joined the publication in 2019 after serving as the assistant editor to trade publications HPAC and On-Site. With a bachelor of journalism from the University of King's College in Halifax, she also works as a freelance writer and fact-checker.

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