We are pleased to announce a new program, the Black Filmmakers Initiative, which will provide festival-related cost assistance to Black LGBTQ+ filmmakers, as well as three new cash prizes for Black LGBTQ+ filmmakers participating in this year’s festival.

NewFest’s Black Filmmakers Initiative has been created in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and in recognition of the need to remove structural barriers and create more opportunities for queer Black artists and amplify their voices.

The Initiative will take a four-pronged approach to empowering Black LGBTQ+ filmmakers and communities:
1) provide funding for Black LGBTQ+ filmmakers to start or continue existing film projects; 2) help with covering festival submission fees to ensure that all Black LGBTQ+ filmmakers can submit their projects to NewFest; 3) provide funding for travel-related costs for Black LGBTQ+ filmmakers to attend NewFest events; and 4) contribute free tickets to Black-led organizations to attend NewFest events & programming.

“NewFest is very proud of its diverse programming, but there is no question that we as an organization, and the industry at large, can do more in combating systemic racism and injustice, and can do a better job of representing all aspects of the LGBTQ+ community,” said NewFest Executive Director David Hatkoff. “By subsidizing festival-related costs that can prevent Black filmmakers from getting their work exhibited or from utilizing professional development opportunities, and by putting cash directly into the hands of filmmakers to make or complete their projects, The Black Filmmakers Initiative is our way of taking steps toward changing the industry pipeline process and contributing to a more equitable ecosystem.”

NewFest’s Black Filmmakers Initiative is generously supported by sponsors Ralph Lauren Corporation, Blackstone and Vimeo.

The new awards presented by the Black Filmmakers Initiative at NewFest include the Directorial Feature Debut Black LGBTQ+ Filmmaker Award, awarded by NewFest to a Black LGBTQ+ filmmaker whose directorial feature debut is being presented at NewFest’s 32nd edition of the festival. This award comes with a $2,000 cash prize, and the inaugural recipient is Olivia Peace for her film TAHARA.

NewFest said, “Through Peace’s lens, TAHARA insightfully navigates the tribulations of a young queer person just coming into her own. Even when the path seems utterly unknowable, Peace compassionately depicts a light at the end of the teenage tunnel, eliciting impressive performances from her ensemble, and creating a cohesive, transportive film that seamlessly interweaves stop-motion animation, improvisation, social media, and animated daydreams. NewFest awards this grant with the hope that Peace will continue her empathetic, visually creative storytelling, and bring their vision to other LGBTQ+ passion projects and to the world.”

“I’m excited to put this award money towards making a new piece, and I look forward to a festival circuit that is easier for my community to navigate. This initiative is a step in the right direction, and I hope that next year, there are even more talented Black filmmakers screening their work at NewFest.“

Additionally, The Emerging Black LGBTQ+ Filmmaker Award, decided upon by a jury of Black LGBTQ+ film industry professionals, will be awarded to three directors whose short films screened during NewFest’s 32nd edition of The New York LGBTQ Film Festival. Each recipient will receive a $1,000 cash prize and a Vimeo Pro account. The recipients of these awards will be announced at the Festival’s award ceremony on Saturday, October 24.

More details on eligibility requirements and how filmmakers can apply for future opportunities will be released in the weeks to come.

NewFest’s New York LGBTQ Film Festival is currently running through October 27 and more than 120 new films are accessible to ticket holders nationwide via NewFest’s on-demand platform throughout the festival. Individual tickets and all-access passes are all available at newfest.org.

Supporters of the Black Filmmakers Initiative

Debut Feature by a Black Filmmaker Award Recipient

Olivia Peace