Emerging Filmmakers Highlight Diverse Artists in New American Masters Series “In the Making”

Nov. 16, 2020

Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah sits in a room full of instruments and art.

The award-winning public media program American Masters and Firelight Media present “In the Making,” a new documentary short film series following the lives and journeys of rising artists who are people of color and who bring insight and originality to their craft. The entire series is now streaming on pbs.org/americanmasters and the PBS Video App, with episodes premiering Wednesdays on the American Masters YouTube channel.

Trailer: In the Making | American Masters | PBS American Masters

Funded in part by CPB, the series features eight cinematic and character-driven shorts by BIPOC filmmakers, most of whom graduated from Firelight Media’s Documentary Lab, and explores the artistic process of up-and-coming creatives through non-fiction storytelling. The short films are:

Damon Davis: Apologue for the Darkest Gods  – Filmmaker Elissa Blount Moorhead provides a look into the art of award-winning, post-disciplinary artist Damon Davis, the St. Louis native whose work spans illustration, painting, printmaking, music, film and public art that explores the African American experience. 

Bunky Echo-Hawk: The Resistance - Filmmaker Ben-Alex Dupris explores how the reality and resistance of Native Americans inspires the work of Pawnee artist Bunky Echo-Hawk, igniting discussions about environmentalism and Native American rights, among other topics. 

Anik Khan: Street Level – Filmmakers Sofian Khan and Joseph Patel explore the music of Anik Khan, the Bangladesh-born, Queens, New York-raised hip-hop artist whose music sketches the immigrant experience with rare poetic flare and incisive depth. 

Amyra León: Strange Grace – Filmmaker Malika Zouhali-Worrall introduces Amyra León, the musician, poet, and author who channels deeply personal experiences of pain and healing into raw, majestic performances that celebrate love, Blackness and womanhood. 

Jamaica Heolimeleikalani Osorio: This is the Way We Rise – Filmmaker Ciara Lacy documents Jamaica Heolimeleikalani Osorio, a Kanaka Maoli wahine poet and academic, and her continued work towards justice for Hawaii’s native population. 

Maia Cruz Palileo: Becoming the Moon – Filmmaker Ligaiya Romero explores the life and work of Maia Cruz Palileo, the multi-disciplinary, Brooklyn-based artist who examines themes of migration and the permeable concept of home in her works, inspired by the oral history of her family’s arrival in the United States from the Philippines. 

Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah: The New Chief – Filmmakers Amitabh Joshi and Erik Spink spotlight Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, the Grammy-nominated, modern jazz musician from New Orleans who defies the expectations of jazz while challenging how music is taught in universities nationwide. 

Vincent Valdez: The Beginning is Near – Filmmaker Ray Santisteban highlights Vincent Valdez, the San Antonio, Texas-born artist who emphasizes themes of social justice, memory and ignored or under-examined historical narratives in his work. 

“We are proud to see the work of these filmmakers highlighted on American Masters,” said Kathryn Washington, Vice President of Television Programming. “‘In the Making’ underscores our commitment, through our support of Stanley Nelson’s Firelight Media Documentary Lab, to foster diversity of talent in public media, both behind and in front of the camera.”

“Supporting emerging BIPOC filmmakers has always been central to Firelight Media’s mission – a mission we could not fulfill without the vital and continued support of CPB. We are proud to partner with American Masters on this series of films showcasing so many dynamic and diverse artistic voices,” added Stanley Nelson, co-founder of Firelight Media.

Firelight Media was co-founded 20 years ago by filmmaker Stanley Nelson and philanthropy executive and award-winning writer Marcia Smith. Its flagship Documentary Lab mentors emerging filmmakers of color with one-on-one support from a project’s conception to its completion. They help provide funding, professional development workshops, and networking opportunities. With CPB support, the Documentary Lab has grown into a robust artist development initiative that has supported over 100 emerging filmmakers and brought 37 films to the PBS broadcast schedule.

“In The Making” is available for streaming on all station-branded PBS platforms, including pbs.org and the PBS Video app, and on Firelight Media’s website at firelightmedia.tv/in-the-making. The series will also be available to stream in the U.S. and Canada on Topic’s streaming service via Topic.com, as well as Topic channels on Apple iOS, AppleTV, Android, Amazon Fire TV and Roku, in addition to Amazon Prime Video Channels, Apple TV Channels, and Roku Premium Channels.

To learn more, visit: pbs.org/americanmasters, http://facebook.com/americanmasters, @PBSAmerMasters, http://youtube.com/AmericanMastersPBS, http://instagram.com/pbsamericanmasters, #InTheMaking