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FRONTLINE and Firelight Media Announce 2020 Class of FRONTLINE/Firelight Investigative Journalism Fellows

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April 8, 2020

In its second year program expands to include four fellows for research and development funds

BOSTON, MA — April 8, 2020 — FRONTLINE, PBS’s award-winning investigative documentary series, and Firelight Media, the premier destination for non-fiction cinema by and about communities of color, announced the 2020 recipients of the FRONTLINE/Firelight Investigative Journalism Fellowship. This Fellowship was created to support independent filmmakers of color interested in journalistic documentary filmmaking and aims to address the need for more diverse voices, perspectives, and experiences within that field.

Following the success of the first FRONTLINE/Firelight fellows — Juliana Schatz Preston’s documentary short Waiting for Tearah (2019 Double Exposure Film Festival) made its debut on FRONTLINE’s digital platforms and Roopa Gogineni whose original podcast Muzamil’s Day debuted on FRONTLINE’s podcast platform. In its second year the program has been revamped and expanded to include four fellows who will research and develop non-fiction shorts or immersive projects that shine a light on underreported issues in America. They are Assia Boundaoui, Andres Caballero, Jacqueline Olive, and PJ Raval.

The selected filmmakers will each receive a three-month research and development grant and will be provided reporting and editorial support for their investigative story ideas. FRONTLINE and Firelight will then select one-to-two concepts to greenlight for production on their digital short, and provide funding up to $60,000. After a festival run, the documentary short or immersive project will be distributed on FRONTLINE’s digital platforms.

“We are so pleased to continue our fellowship with Firelight Media, and to shine a light on the important issues that impact underserved communities in America during these uncertain times,” says FRONTLINE Executive Producer Raney Aronson-Rath. “We welcome Assia, Andres, Jacqueline and PJ to the team, and look forward to working with them to tell their stories.”

“We are so pleased to again partner with FRONTLINE on this unique fellowship,” said Firelight co-founder Stanley Nelson. “It’s the greatest privilege that we, at Firelight, have the ability to create mentorship and support programs for underrepresented documentary filmmakers, and given the current crisis, developing diverse voices in the field of investigative journalism feels more timely than ever.”

Boundaoui, is an Algerian-American filmmaker and journalist, whose debut short film about hijabi hair salons for HBO premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Her award-winning feature-length directorial debut, The Feeling of Being Watched, a documentary investigating a decade of FBI surveillance in the director’s Muslim-American community, had its world premiere at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival and national broadcast on PBS POV.

Caballero, is a filmmaker, journalist and public radio producer, who co-directed Gaucho Del Norte (2015), an observational documentary that follows the journey of a Patagonian immigrant sheepherder recruited to work in the American west. He is also a 2016 MacArthur Documentary Grant recipient for The Interpreters, a feature length documentary about Iraqi and Afghan interpreters who worked with U.S. forces and who are now trying to rebuild their lives in the aftermath of war.

Olive’s award-winning debut feature documentary, Always in Season, premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival where it won the Special Jury Prize for Moral Urgency — it was later broadcast on PBS’s, Independent Lens, in February 2020. She recently received the Emerging Filmmakers of Color Award and was profiled as one of Variety’s “10 Filmmakers To Watch.”

Raval is a queer, first generation Filipino American filmmaker whose work explores the overlooked subcultures and identities within the marginalized LGBTQ+ community. He was named one of Out Magazine’s “Out 100” and his film Call Her Ganda was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award and broadcast on POV on PBS in 2019. Also an accomplished cinematographer, Raval shot the Academy Award‐nominated documentary Trouble the Water.

ABOUT FRONTLINE

FRONTLINE, U.S. television’s longest running investigative documentary series, explores the issues of our times through powerful storytelling. FRONTLINE has won every major journalism and broadcasting award, including 91 Emmy Awards and 22 Peabody Awards. Visit pbs.org/frontline and follow us on TwitterFacebookInstagram, and YouTube to learn more. FRONTLINE is produced by WGBH Boston and is broadcast nationwide on PBS. Funding for FRONTLINE is provided through the support of PBS viewers and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Major funding for FRONTLINE is provided by The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Ford Foundation. Additional funding is provided by the Abrams Foundation, the Park Foundation, the John and Helen Glessner Family Trust and the FRONTLINE Journalism Fund with major support from Jon and Jo Ann Hagler on behalf of the Jon L. Hagler Foundation.

ABOUT FIRELIGHT

Firelight is a premier destination for non-fiction cinema by and about communities of color. Firelight produces documentary films, supports emerging filmmakers of color, and cultivates audiences for their work. Firelight films have garnered multiple Primetime Emmys, Peabodys, and Sundance awards. Among them, Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool, The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, and Freedom Riders. Firelight’s programs include the Documentary Lab, an 18-month fellowship that supports emerging filmmakers of color; and Groundwork, which supports early stage filmmakers in the American south, midwest, and U.S. Territories. In addition to a focus on excellence in filmmaking, Firelight develops strategies, partnerships and materials to reach and engage diverse audiences and maximize the impact of documentary films.

CONTACT: frontlinemedia@wgbh.org | 617-300-5312

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