Contact: Greg Longstreet, Film Independent
Tel: 310.432.1287 or


Fox and Historically Black Colleges and Universities Media Alliance
Partner to Provide $10,000 Production Grant to Clark Atlanta University Alumna Nekisa Cooper

LOS ANGELES (March 14, 2013) — Film Independent, the nonprofit arts organization that produces the Spirit Awards and the Los Angeles Film Festival, has announced producer Nekisa Cooper as the recipient of the inaugural Fox Film Grant. This grant is being awarded as the result of a new multi-year partnership between Film Independent and the FOX | HBCU Media Alliance (FHMA), an initiative created by Fox’s media and entertainment businesses in association with the Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

“We are so happy to be partnering with the FOX | HBCU Media Alliance, and also to continue our support of the remarkable Nekisa Cooper,” said Josh Welsh, Film Independent’s Co-President. “We look forward to meeting more talented filmmakers from the Historically Black Colleges and Universities and bringing them in to Film Independent’s Project Involve program.”

Cooper, a 2009 Project Involve Fellow, will receive a $10,000 production grant from FHMA for her feature film Bolo, a Southern crime thriller about a Memphis police detective who investigates a murder in her community, which in turn challenges her notion of home, human nature, and the difference between right and wrong. The film, produced by Cooper and directed by Dee Rees, will be the pair’s second collaboration. The two had previously worked together on Pariah, which won the John Cassavetes Award at the 2012 Film Independent Spirit Awards.

“FHMA is extraordinarily proud to award this first fellowship to Nekisa Cooper, a gifted young filmmaker who embodies everything we hope that the FHMA will represent, “said Nicole Bernard, Senior Vice President of Fox Audience Strategy. “Her cinematic vision is remarkable and we look forward to seeing her new project come to fruition. We also hope that her success will send a message that emboldens more HBCU students and alumni to apply for the FHMA Film Fellowship through Project Involve.”

The FHMA (which is overseen by Fox’s Audience Strategy unit) leverages the collective resources unique to Fox’s multi-dimensional entities – film, television and sports – to promote professional advancement and other opportunities for African-Americans in media and entertainment. Based in Los Angeles, FHMA has chapters in Washington, D.C. and New York City, led by influential HBCU alumni from the media and entertainment industry. Howard University, Hampton University and Morehouse College currently serve as institutional partners. However, membership in the Alliance is open to all current HBCUs, their students, faculty and alumni that work in the media and entertainment sector.

As of this year, members of FHMA are invited to apply to Film Independent’s Project Involve and are eligible for the FOX | HBCU Media Alliance Film Fellowship, a $10,000 unrestricted grant. FHMA will provide its members with an application fee waiver code for submissions received on or before April 10, 2013.

Now celebrating its 20th anniversary, Project Involve is a nine-month program dedicated to fostering the careers of talented filmmakers from communities traditionally underrepresented in the film industry. During the program, participants create short films, receive one-on-one film industry mentors, access to production-based master workshops taught by top film professionals, career development training, industry networking opportunities and more.

Upon completion, participants become Film Independent Fellows, receiving year-round support including access to Film Independent’s annual film education offerings, on-staff Filmmaker Advisor, and the Los Angeles Film Festival. Past Film Independent Fellows from Project Involve include Effie T. Brown (Rocket Science), Sheldon Candis (LUV), Jon M. Chu (G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Justin Bieber: Never Say Never), Nekisa Cooper (Pariah), Cherien Dabis (Amreeka, May in the Summer), Javier Fuentes-León (Undertow), Aurora Guerrero (Mosquita y Mari), Melissa Lee (Circumstance), Tina Mabry (Mississippi Damned). Previous mentors include Gregg Araki (Kaboom, Smiley Face), Nicole Holofcener (Please Give, Friends with Money), Spike Jonze (Where The Wild Things Are, Adaptation), Kasi Lemmons (Talk to Me, Eve’s Bayou), Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight Rises, Inception), Alexander Payne (The Descendants, Sideways), John Singleton (Four Brothers, Boyz n the Hood), and Rodrigo Prieto (Argo, Brokeback Mountain).

Film Independent’s Project Involve program is supported by the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the National Endowment for the Arts, HBO, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Time Warner Foundation and Fox Audience Strategy.

Film Independent is a nonprofit arts organization that champion independent film and supports a community of artists who embody diversity, innovation, and uniqueness of vision. Film Independent helps filmmakers make their movies, builds an audience for their projects, and works to diversify the film industry. Film Independent’s Board of Directors, filmmakers, staff, and constituents, is comprised of an inclusive community of individuals across ability, age, ethnicity, gender, race, and sexual orientation. Anyone passionate about film can become a member, whether you are a filmmaker, industry professional, or a film lover.

Film Independent produces the Spirit Awards, the annual celebration honoring artist-driven films and recognizing the finest achievements of American independent filmmakers. Film Independent also produces the Los Angeles Film Festival, showcasing the best of American and international cinema and the Film Independent at LACMA Film Series, a year-round, weekly program that offers unique cinematic experiences for the Los Angeles creative community and the general public.

With over 250 annual screenings and events, Film Independent provides access to a network of like-minded artists who are driving creativity in the film industry. Film Independent’s Artist Development program offers free Labs for selected writers, directors, producers and documentary filmmakers and presents year-round networking opportunities. Project Involve is Film Independent’s signature program dedicated to fostering the careers of talented filmmakers from communities traditionally underrepresented in the film industry.

For more information or to become a member, visit

FOX Audience Strategy develops and implements transformative strategies to catalyze cultural shifts in the entertainment industry. The cornerstone of their mission is to embrace a multi-pronged approach by working from the inside-out to drive behavioral change and advocating diverse perspectives as well as engaging global audiences of our multi-cultural world.