Announcing the 2024 BAVC MediaMaker Fellows

Published On: April 2, 2024 |

BAVC Media is excited to announce the latest cohort to take part in its longstanding documentary film fellowship program. Participants in the 2024 BAVC MediaMaker Fellowship will receive $10,000 in unrestricted funding, mentorship, industry access, feedback sessions, and workshops during an immersive 9-month experience. 

This year’s fellows are: Jamal Ademola (Ellas Vinieron de Las Nubes / They Came From the Clouds), Chelsi Bullard (Unfiltered), Caron Creighton (Wood Street), Julia Hunter (This is Me Loving You), Patrick G. Lee (Untitled KQT Project), Ivan MacDonald (When They Were Here), Khai Thu Nguyen (The Full Thao), Pallavi Somusetty (Coach Emily).

The program will feature two intensive convenings in San Francisco, a slate of virtual workshops throughout the year, and all-access travel to the International Documentary Association’s biennial Getting Real conference in Los Angeles and the Camden International Film Festival in midcoast Maine. 

“We’re so excited about the cohort we have built for 2024 after an intense review process. These filmmakers have already achieved so much, often with very little support. We’re honored to be able to guide them through the important next steps in their journey. Our goal is for each filmmaker to walk away from this experience not only with a vision and a plan to complete their film, but relationships that can support them through their careers.”

– Brittney Réaume, Associate Director of Artist Development at BAVC Media.


Founded in 1976, BAVC Media (Bay Area Video Coalition) is a community hub and resource for media makers in the Bay Area and across the country, serving several thousand freelancers, filmmakers, job-seekers, activists, and artists every year.

The BAVC MediaMaker Fellowship was established in 1991 through a grant from National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and is currently supported by grants from NEA, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and Kenneth Rainin Foundation with additional MediaMaker programs supported by the Perspective Fund and Film SF. The Fellowship invests in independent, emerging and mid-career artists working on social-issue documentary projects. The program is known for betting on artists and projects as a “first-in” supporter.

Previous MediaMaker Fellows

Previous MediaMaker Fellows Robie Flores (2020) and Contessa Gayles (2021), just premiered their debut features, The In Between and Songs From the Hole, both supported by the Fellowship, at SXSW. Other recent Fellows include Silvia Del Carmen Casaños (Hummingbirds), Lagueria Davis (Black Barbie), Kevin D. Wong (Home Is a Hotel), Hadley Austin (Demon Mineral), Denise Zmekhol (Skin of Glass), Taimi Arvidson (From This Small Place), Reid Davenport (I Didn’t See You There), Eugene Yi (Free Chol Soo Lee), Rodrigo Reyes (Sansón and Me), A. Madsen Minax (North By Current), Emily Cohen Ibañez (Fruits of Labor), Maya Cueva (On the Divide), Erika Cohn (Belly of the Beast), Elizabeth Lo (Stray), Chelsea Hernandez (Building the American Dream), Ashley O’Shay (Unapologetic), Raúl O. Paz Pastrana (Border South), Emelie Mahdavian (Midnight Traveler), Jacqueline Olive (Always In Season), Laura Green (The Providers), Bridget Auger (We are not Princesses), and Tessa Moran (The Guardians).

BAVC MediaMaker Fellowship success stories

Films that were supported by the MediaMaker Fellowship have premiered at renowned international film festivals, been acquired for theatrical and streaming distribution, won prestigious awards, broadcast on public television, garnered acclaim from critics, and made a measurable impact in the world. Here are just a few success stories from the last year: 

  • Light of the Setting Sun 回光返照 (Vicky Du MMF 2019) will premiere at Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in Durham NC this April. Light of the Setting Sun is a poetic family portrait of what’s been left unsaid in which Vicky, a Taiwanese American filmmaker, questions her family’s silence around the cycles of violence that have persisted since the Chinese Communist Revolution of 1949. 
  • Songs From the Hole (Contessa Gayles, MMF 2021) premiered at SXSW in March 2024. Contessa’s documentary visual album, Songs from the Hole, follows James “JJ’88” Jacobs through a musical opus of Hip-Hop and Soul, inspired by his innermost struggles as both a person who has committed and experienced violent harm, as he serves a double-life prison sentence. The film interweaves the collective storytelling of its non-fiction participants with imagined representations of memories, dreams and spiritual dialogues set to its protagonist/writer’s original music. You can read an interview between Robie and Contessa, who happen to be friends as well as program alum on BAVC Media’s blog. 
  • The In Between (Robie Flores, MMF 2020) also premiered at SXSW in March 2024. Robie’s film follows the return to her hometown Eagle Pass on the Texas/Mexico border, wanting to turn back time. She collides with unruly experiences of adolescence – quinceañeras, Rio Grande river excursions, teen makeovers and beyond – that invite her to soak up the details of the home her brother adored and she ignored. What emerges is a playful dance between a personal and collective coming-of-age portrait of kids on the border and Robie herself as she rediscovers the possibilities of joy in the aftermath of grief, while offering a nuanced and unexpected portrait of the border. 
  • Black Barbie (Lagueria Davis, MMF 2019) was acquired by Shondaland and Netflix! Look for a new cut of the film streaming soon. The film had its 2023 festival premiere at SXSW in the States, Hot Docs internationally, went on to screen at SF Doc Fest, Indie Memphis, and New Orleans Film Festival among others. 
  • Demon Mineral (Hadley Austin, MMF 2021) premiered at DOKfest 2023 where it was nominated for the DOK.edit Award and went on to screen at International First Peoples’ Festival in Montreal, the Mill Valley Film Festival, Slamdance 2024, and other festivals around the world. Listen to an interview with Director Hadley Austin and Producer Dr. Tommy Rock on KALW.
  • Home is a Hotel (Kevin Wong, MMF 2016) premiered at the 2023 SFFILM Festival, where it won both the Audience Award and McBaine Bay Area Documentary Award. Home is a Hotel continues to screen across the country. 
  • Skin of Glass (Denise Zmekhol, MMF 2021) screened at esteemed architecture festivals in Venice, Barcelona, Prague, and Rotterdam and premiered in the U.S. at the Mill Valley Film Festival
  • Hummingbirds (Silvia Del-Carmen Castaños, MMF 2022) premiered at the 2023 Berlinale where it won the Grand Prix for Best Feature Film in Generation14plus and was nominated for the Teddy Award. Hummingbird’s U.S. premiere was at the True/False Film Festival where it was the opening night film. Jason Gordber at called Hummingbirds “a film of deep honesty that’s carefully crafted…one of the best films of this ilk I’ve seen,” and The Guardian listed it as one of their “Best of This Year’s True/False Documentary Festival.” You can see an impressive list of selections, awards, and praise for the film here
  • Sansón and Me (Rodrigo Reyes, MMF 2017) was broadcast nationwide on public television in September 2023. This is a huge milestone, especially because the film will be seen in prisons across the entire country. Sansón himself, after 10 years of work, was finally allowed to see the finished film thanks to the support of a special program inside his facility. 
  • I Didn’t See You There (Reid Davenport, MMF 2020) had it’s national television broadcast premiere January 16, 2023, on season 35 of POV on PBS and was released on VOD February 20, 2024. The film is now available to buy or rent on Apple TV, Amazon, or Google Play/YouTube. While captions are available on all platforms, an audio described version of the film read by Reid himself, is available exclusively on Apple TV. This release comes on the heels of almost two years garnering awards and accolades including the Truer Than Fiction Award at the 2023 Independent Spirit Awards.
  • Free Chol Soo Lee (Eugene Yi, MMF 2017) premiered on Independent Lens on PBS on April 24, 2023. The film, which has received wide acclaim, is distributed globally by MUBI. BAVC Preservation also digitized archival media for Free Chol Soo Lee.

The 2024 BAVC MediaMaker Fellowship Selection Committee was comprised of:

  • Paige Bethmann, 2023 BAVC MediaMaker Fellow
  • Jess Kwan, Vice President, The Concordia Fellowship, Non-Fiction
  • Justine Nagan, Head of Production, Actual Films
  • Andre Perez, Filmmaker & Social Impact Consultant
  • Brittney Réaume, Associate Director of Artist Development, BAVC Media
  • Paula Smith Arrigoni, Executive Director, BAVC Media
  • Dawn Valadez, BAVC MediaMaker Fellowship Co-Director
  • Debra Wilson, Filmmaker & BAVC Media Board Member
  • Jin Yoo-Kim, BAVC MediaMaker Fellowship Co-Director

BAVC Media thanks the over 30 readers who helped to sort through applications and is deeply appreciative of the selection committee that collectively helped to build the final cohort.

The 2024 MediaMaker Fellowship is supported by the MacArthur Foundation, Kenneth Rainin Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, and NBC Universal. Support for the MediaMaker Connect Mentorship and Residency Program  is provided by the Perspective Fund and Film SF.

The MediaMaker Fellowship is devoted to supporting documentary filmmakers using bold cinematic language and innovative impact strategies to grapple with critical issues of our time. Our cohort is a collaborative, community-driven space that places diversity, representation, and ethical relationships with storytelling at the forefront of our practice.

Learn more about the MediaMaker Fellowship here.