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FILM INDEPENDENT SELECTS SIX FELLOWS FOR INAUGURAL
AWARDS $180,000 IN CASH GRANTS
Netflix Joins in Support as Founding Sponsor
LOS ANGELES (July 14, 2021) — Film Independent, the nonprofit arts organization that produces the Film Independent Spirit Awards, announced today the six Fellows and their projects selected for its inaugural Amplifier Fellowship. The Amplifier Fellowship is a highly customized program for Black artists on the verge of career breakthrough, providing year-round support with granting, mentorship and professional coaching.
The 2021 Film Independent Amplifier Fellowship is supported by Founding Sponsor Netflix, the brand behind award-winning projects such as Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, When They See Us, Mudbound and Da 5 Bloods.
Over the course of the program, the Amplifier Fellows will receive creative support to propel a selected project forward both creatively and strategically, as well as customized mentorship pairings including a Netflix Executive as an Industry Advisor. Each Fellow will also receive professional coaching in partnership with Renee Freedman & Co, and financial and business advisement and coaching in partnership with The Jill James. Each Fellow will also receive a $30,000 unrestricted grant to provide sustainability and/or support their creative endeavors.
“The six inaugural Fellows transcend form, medium and genre, but all share immense artistry, a wholly original voice, and desire to create change through their work. We are thrilled to support this incredibly talented group of storytellers,” said Angela C. Lee, Associate Director of Artist Development, Film Independent.
The 2021 Amplifier Fellows and their projects are:
Elegance Bratton, Writer/Director
Elegance began making films as a US Marine after a decade spent homeless. Today, he holds a BS from Columbia University (2014) and a MFA from NYU Tisch Graduate Film (2019). He wrote and will direct the feature, The Inspection, which is being produced by Gamechanger and A24. The film was selected as a part Film Independent Producing Lab and Fast Track (2019). He is the creator and executive producer of the Viceland television series My House. Pier Kids, his feature documentary debut, has played at 50 film festivals worldwide, won many awards, and will be a part of POV 2021 series. Elegance is the 2021 recipient of the Film Independent Truer Than Fiction Spirit Award.
Walk for Me
Logline: Walk for Me is a reverse coming out narrative about Hanna, a black trans woman who after becoming a legendary voguer in the ballroom scene realizes that she is actually not a woman or even really a man and must come out and risk losing her chosen house family.
Contessa Gayles, Director
Contessa is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and journalist, and Emmy-nominated producer. She tells stories about identity, movement and social change, with a focus on race and gender.
Life + Life
Logline: An incarcerated musician struggles for healing and peace as he comes of age in this documentary-musical odyssey composed behind bars.
Haley Elizabeth Anderson, Director
Haley Elizabeth Anderson is a filmmaker, writer and photo-based visual artist from Houston, Texas. She recently graduated from New York University’s Graduate Film Program as a Dean’s Fellow. Her work often explores coming-of-age experiences, race and the ever-growing class divide often in a documentary/narrative hybrid aesthetic.
Logline: Homeless and wandering the streets of New Orleans, 18-year-old Trey searches for his older brother Marcus, a graffiti writer, and leaves on a train-hopping journey across America to find him. Coyote Boys is a contemporary odyssey through fringe communities, centered on rootless youth experiencing loss and loneliness, trying to find alternative ways of surviving 21st century America.
Huriyyah Muhammad, Producer/Director
Huriyyah is the producer of the critically acclaimed feature film Farewell Amor, which premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival in U.S. Dramatic Competition and was released in 2020 by IFC Films. She is also an award-winning writer, director and producer whose projects have been invited to the Sundance Film Festival, AFI FEST, Tribeca Film Institute, Austin Film Festival, London Film Festival, New Voices in Black Cinema, American Black Film Festival and many others. She is also the recipient of the 2020 Sundance Institute Creative Producing Award for Farewell Amor.
Logline: A biographical drama, set in 1968, of comedian Lincoln Perry aka Stepin Fetchit, former Hollywood millionaire, now aging, bankrupt and “cancelled” by the civil rights movement. Lincoln struggles to reclaim his legacy and reconcile his place in the changing racial landscape of America by landing a starring role opposite Flip Wilson in the TV hit that would years later become known as Sanford and Son.
Mamoudou N’Diaye, Writer
Mamoudou N’Diaye is a Brooklyn-based Mauritanian-American comedian; TV and film writer; filmmaker; activist/creative consultant for issues of racial justice, climate justice, and mental health; DJ; and former 7th-grade teacher.
Logline: When invoice after invoice goes unanswered, putting everyone in various financial binds, a group of four freelancing friends decide to take matters into their own hands – plan a heist, get their money by any means possible, and don’t get killed. Along the way, they stumble onto a union-busting billionaire’s nefarious plans for not only them, but all of Brooklyn, forcing them to come together with whatever skills they have and make a stand; perhaps their final.
Mel Jones, Producer/Director
Mel Jones is a multi-talented producer, director and writer. Her credits include Justin Simien’s Dear White People and Gerard McMurray’s Burning Sands. Jones made her directorial debut at Sundance with Leimert Park, a MACRO/Homegrown digital series, and is currently expanding into TV and film directing. She also directed a pilot for BET and Issa Rae’s company, Color Creative.
Logline: A modern romance about two relationships, but only one couple. Damien (29) and Sam (27) broke up eleven months ago, but have agreed to go on a second “first” date. Cutting between their two relationships, we see the one hoped for in the present, and the one that failed in the past.
Film Independent Artist Development programs promote unique, independent voices by helping filmmakers create and advance new work through Project Involve; Filmmaker Labs (Directing, Documentary, Episodic, Producing and Screenwriting); the Fast Track finance market and Fiscal Sponsorship, as well as through Grants and Awards, which provide over one million dollars annually to visual storytellers.
For more information on any of the Labs or the projects that have been developed in them, please contact Angela Lee, Associate Director of Artist Development, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional information and an application form can be found at filmindependent.org.
ABOUT FILM INDEPENDENT
Film Independent is the nonprofit arts organization that champions creative independence in visual storytelling 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.
In addition to producing the Spirit Awards, Film Independent produces Film Independent Presents, a year-round screening series for its members that offers unique cinematic experiences for the Los Angeles creative community and the general public.
Through 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 filmindependent.org.