On March 29, 2021, Brown Girls Doc Mafia announced the recipients of the inaugural BGDM Sustainable Artist Grants and the BGDM Black Directors Grants. These grants aim to further nourish and sustain some of the most vital, distinctive voices in documentary today.
“In the last five years, Brown Girls Doc Mafia has created a vibrant online community of over 4,500 members, launched the BGDM Member Directory for discovering BIPOC women/non-binary filmmakers and executives, and implemented numerous programs advocating for members' access, visibility, creativity, growth, sustainability, and power in the documentary film industry,” said BGDM Founder & Director Iyabo Boyd. “Today, we are absolutely thrilled to be able to add grantmaking to our portfolio of initiatives that bolster the creative and professional development of this community and spur change in the documentary field at large.”
This year’s BGDM Sustainable Artist Grant grants were awarded to Mireya Guzman-Ortiz, Rebeca Huntt, Chithra Jeyaram, Sara Nodjoumi, and Jean Rheem. The BGDM Sustainable Artist Grant provides five filmmakers in Brown Girls Doc Mafia — at the emerging, established, or veteran levels — resources to focus on their creative work and develop their careers. These unrestricted Grants support BGDM members whose filmmaking talents dovetail with their clarity of purpose as an artist, engagement and dedication to community building, and strong potential to make a meaningful contribution to an evolving and expanding documentary field.
The BGDM Black Directors Grant, powered by The Bertha Foundation, were awarded to Luchina Fisher (Untitled Gary & Gia Documentary), Carrie Hawks (Inner Wound Real), Laura Kamugisha (Hyphen), Ashley O’Shay (Southmont Drive), and Cariba Party and Nadja Odi Thomas (Untitled Documentary Feature). The BGDM Black Directors Grants support documentary projects by Black directors from within BGDM whose demonstration of craft, storytelling ability, and unique point of view reflects and uplifts some aspect of the Black experience or perspective. Additionally, there was a special interest in stories engaging with the racial justice uprisings of 2020.
Grantees will receive $10,000 in financial support, mentorship from a network of business and craft consultants, and curated industry connections. Grantees will experience mentorship together as a cohort throughout the grant year, and each grantee will take part in sculpting their curated mentorship in collaboration with BGDM leadership. For both grants, BGDM sought filmmakers at a crucial juncture in their creative lives, with a clear understanding of how financial and professional support, as well as individually curated mentorship, could propel them to the next stage of their career.
The two grants shared a jury composed of Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) nonfiction makers, curators, writers, academics, and industry leaders including: Chloe Gbai (IF/Then Shorts at Field of Vision), Sabrina Schmidt Gordon (Filmmaker/Co-Chair, Black Documentary Collective), Pedáza-Botero (Filmmaker), Abby Sun (Writer/ Curator), Nicole Tsien (Co-Producer, POV/ BGDM Advisory Board), and Farihah Zaman (Filmmaker/ Curator).
The jury shared, “The holistic approach ingrained in BGDM's grantmaking process required profound thoughtfulness and vulnerability from the applicants. Entrusted with these applications, we had frank, eye opening reflections on what BIPOC female and non binary filmmakers from across a range of age, ethnic backgrounds, practices, sexualities, gender identities, experience levels, and nationalities need to artistically flourish in an environment of systemic marginalization. Reviewing the work of our members has been a joyful reminder of the strength and diversity of our community, and we would like to share our immense respect and gratitude to all those who applied.”
These grants will be annual, and are supported in part by The Ford Foundation JustFilms, The John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, National Geographic Documentary Films, The Bertha Foundation, Neon, Catapult Film Fund, Our Time Films, Breakwater Studios, and Sundance Film Institute.
Read more about our 2021 cohort of BGDM Grantees below.