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Firelight Media opens call for fund to support BIPOC filmmakers affected by COVID

Harlem-based non-fiction prodco Firelight Media has announced the open call for the Spark Fund, which will provide support to established independent documentary filmmakers who self-identify as Black, Indigenous and/or people ...
November 1, 2021

Harlem-based non-fiction prodco Firelight Media has announced the open call for the Spark Fund, which will provide support to established independent documentary filmmakers who self-identify as Black, Indigenous and/or people of color, and whose work on humanities-themed projects was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The one-time opportunity is being underwritten by the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Sustaining the Humanities through the American Rescue Plan (#SHARP) Grantmaking initiative, and will provide stipends, as opposed to project support, to the selected filmmakers.

The Spark Fund will provide 36 stipends of US$50,000 to selected filmmakers over a year-long period. The stipend is not a proper project grant, but is meant to relieve financial hardship and work disruptions brought on by the pandemic. To be eligible, filmmakers must be working on a humanities-themed project, and the fund is seeking applicants whose projects are aligned with the NEH’s “A More Perfect Union” initiative. The call for proposals will be open from Monday (November 1) through December 29. More on eligibility requirements and application details can be found here.

“Firelight Media is pleased to be among the organizations selected by the National Endowment for the Humanities to distribute this essential funding to individuals working in the humanities, and we’re especially grateful to be able to direct these funds to established BIPOC filmmakers,” said Marcia Smith, president of Firelight Media, in a statement. “Documentary filmmakers play an indispensable role in educating the public on American history and culture, yet they are often financially insecure. Filmmakers of color in particular face structural barriers to building a sustainable career in the film industry, even when they have a demonstrated track record of celebrated and impactful documentaries. With the pandemic, the financial challenges to independent filmmakers have only grown. This funding will help the selected filmmakers get their lives and their projects back on track.”

Firelight, along with the Sundance Institute and the Independent Television Service (ITVS), received one of three grantmaking awards aimed at supporting media professionals whose careers and projects have been affected by COVID-related financial losses.

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