Announcing the 2023 MediaMaker Fellows

Published On: April 7, 2023 |

The BAVC Media MediaMaker Fellowship is one of the longest standing programs in the US for investing in diverse emerging documentary filmmakers. We’re celebrating 7 New Fellows for 2023!

BAVC Media is honored to introduce its new cohort of BAVC MediaMaker Fellows for 2023. Each participant will receive $10,000 in unrestricted funding, mentorship, industry access, feedback sessions, and workshops during an immersive 9-month experience.

2023 MediaMakers

This year’s fellows are Paige Bethmann (Remaining Native), Aurora Brachman (Dear You), ilana coleman (The Inventory), Tommy Franklin (You Don’t Know My Name), Cyrus Moussavi (Somebody’s Gone), Hannah Myers (Daddy) and tashi tamate weiss (Kizuna).


“We’re thrilled to welcome this year’s BAVC MediaMaker Fellows and their projects. These outstanding filmmakers are not only imaginative nonfiction storytellers but incredibly thoughtful of every aspect of the process. We intentionally structure the fellowship to provide opportunities for filmmakers to experiment, take risks, and grapple with complex problems with the support of their cohort. We hope at the end of the program they can take these experiences and relationships with them through the rest of their careers.”

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


→ Learn more about the 2023 MediaMaker Fellows


Program Details

BAVC MediaMaker Fellowship is an artist development program that provides nonfiction Directors with critical mentorship, access to industry contacts, structure for workshopping projects in an inclusive and collaborative environment, and the opportunity to create lasting bonds with other filmmakers. The 2023 program will include two intensive convenings in San Francisco, a slate of virtual workshops, and all-access travel to the Camden International Film Festival in Maine and the New Orleans Film Festival in Louisiana, all of which will feature intimate feedback sessions, workshops with seasoned experts in the field, opportunities to make industry connections, and a built-in support network. The Fellowship will conclude in January, 2024 with a pitch and celebration.


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, Kenneth Rainin Foundation and NBCUniversal. The program 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.

Leadership Changes

Since 2020 Rodrigo Reyes has led the program as Co-Director, first alongside Niema Jordan, and then Dawn Valadez. With the launch of Sansón and Me and production started on a new film, Rodrigo’s career is taking off in exciting directions and as such, he’s stepping down from his role. He will remain as an advisor and ally of the program. Before he stepped into this role Rodrigo served on BAVC’s Board for two years and was a MediaMaker Fellowship alumni himself. During his tenure, Rodrigo brought a strong commitment to the art of cinema and guided filmmakers to find their voice and advocate for their vision. He has been invaluable as an advocate for the program in the field and for the Fellows in the industry. 

New Co-Director, Jin Yoo-Kim, will now serve alongside Dawn Valadez in creative leadership of the Fellowship. Jin brings her experience as a Director, Producer, and Impact Producer. She is a Bolivian-born Korean American filmmaker who directed and produced for Take Out With Lisa Ling, produced and impact produced Manzanar, Diverted: When Water Becomes Dust, co-produced and impact produced A Woman’s Work: The Nfl’s Cheerleader Problem, co-produced K-Town ‘92, and impact produced for Try Harder!, Waking Dream, Blowin’ Up. She was an impact mentor for the 2022 A-Doc x Haverford Impact Lab for Liquor Store Dreams, a regional board member for DPA, a 2022 US – South Korea NextGen Creative Fellow and a 2022-2023 Sundance Women to Watch Adobe Fellow. Jin was also a 2020 Sundance Creative Producers Fellow, a 2020 Film Independent X CNN Original Series Docuseries Fellow, a 2020-2021 Redford Center fellow, and a 2020 Film Independent Doc Lab fellow, and a 2017 Firelight Media Impact Producing Fellow

Recent Success Stories

Over the last year, despite facing an unpredictable media landscape and new challenges that reverberated from the COVID -19 pandemic, 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 recent success stories: 

  • 2011 Fellow, and 2018 MediaMaker Alumni Award Winner, Jackie Olive received a 2022 Peabody Award for Always in Season Island, an interactive project developed at BAVC Media.
  • 2020 Fellow Reid Davenport won the Truer Than Fiction Award at the 2023 Independent Spirit Awards, the Grand Jury Award at the 25th annual Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, and the U.S. Documentary Directing Award at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival for his debut feature I Didn’t See You There. I Didn’t See You There was named “One of the Best Movies of 2022” by Manohla Dargis at the New York Times among other acccolades. On January 16, 2023, I Didn’t See You There was first broadcast nationwide on season 35 of POV on PBS.
  • Free Chol Soo Lee, a film first supported by BAVC Media in 2017 when Co-Director Eugene Yee was a Fellow, was acquired by global distributor, streamer, and production company MUBI, after first premiering at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival and gonig on to recieve wide acclaim. BAVC Preservation also digitized archival media for Free Chol Soo Lee, which will premiere on Independent Lens on PBS on April 24, 2023.
  • 2022 Fellow Silvia Del Carmen Castaños’s debut feature, Hummingbirds, had it’s world premiere at the 2022 Berlinale where it won the Grand Prix for Best Feature Film in the Generation 14plus section 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.” BAVC Media will be celebrating the film at the San Francisco at the SFFILM Festival on April 16.
  • 2019 Fellow Lagueria Davis premiered her film Black Barbie at SXSW 2023 which will premiere internationally at the Hot Docs 2023. The Hollywood Reporter called the film “energetic and informative,” and Black Girl Nerds called it “simply spectacular.” You can read our interview with Lagueria upcoming on our blog. 
  • In 2022 Rodrigo Reyes premiered the film he shaped as a MediaMaker Fellow in 2017, Sonsón and Me. First in the U.S. at Tribeca in June 2022 and then internationally at the 2022 Sheffield DocFest, the UK’s leading documentary festival, where it won the Best Film Award. Since then, Rodrigo has been traveling with the film, teaching workshops, and engaging in conversations around documentary ethics and creative practice across the continent. Sonsón and Me will air later this year on PBS’s Independent Lens. Reyes’s previous feature, 499, was also added to the Criterion Channel in 2022. 
  • 2016 Fellow, Kevin D. Wong, completed his BAVC MediaMaker supported film, Home is a Hotel, in 2023. It is set to premiere at the SFFILM Festival in April.
  • At least three other BAVC MediaMaker Fellowship films are recently complete and are expected to premiere later this year. 

Other Filmmaker Programs

The announcement of this year’s MediaMaker Fellowship cohort comes on the heels of the establishment and expansion of several national programs for filmmakers at BAVC Media. 

After receiving a generous American Rescue Plan grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, BAVC Media is continuing with the second year of a 2-year initiative called “MediaMaker Versed”. Funds are used to hire independent artists from diverse backgrounds to provide hands-on learning opportunities for media makers of all ages and skill levels to connect, spark and sustain careers in the media arts on a free or below-market basis. Keep an eye out for new courses for independent media makers throughout the year. 

BAVC will once again offer one-on-one mentorship to 15 filmmakers as part of the MediaMaker Connect Mentorship Program. This year, because of generous support from Perspective Fund, the program will be funded at a level that will allow for true program sustainability and future growth. In 2020 BAVC piloted this program to help Fellows overcome stumbling blocks to complete their projects, to forge connections between filmmakers at different stages of their careers, and to help emerging filmmakers get the support that they need to compete for grants and labs. 

Finally, BAVC Media will be entering in a collaborative partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts to take over the stewardship of the The Film & Media Arts Field-building Initiative from the Sundance Institute. The initiative is focused on creating space for knowledge exchange and relationship-building, with an emphasis on promoting regional networks, equity, and career sustainability for individuals working in the film and media arts industry.

All of BAVC’s filmmaker support programs invest in artists and organizations that have been historically underrepresented in film and media, including those who identify as BIPOC, low income, queer, trans, non-binary, women or femme, and those with disabilities. 

The 2023 BAVC MediaMaker Fellowship Selection Committee was comprised of:

  • Emily Cohen Ibañez, 2019 BAVC MediaMaker Fellow
  • Kiyoko McCrae, Program Director at Chicken & Egg Pictures
  • Isa Nakazawa, Director of Community Engagement, BAVC Media
  • Jen Rainin, Founder, Frankly Speaking Films & CEO, Kenneth Rainin Foundation
  • Rodrigo Reyes, BAVC MediaMaker Fellowship Co-Director, outgoing
  • Brittney Réaume, Associate Director of Artist Development, BAVC Media
  • Kevin Truong, 2022 BAVC MediaMaker Fellow
  • Dawn Valadez, BAVC MediaMaker Fellowship Co-Director,
  • Jin Yoo-Kim, BAVC MediaMaker Fellowship Co-Director, incoming


→ Learn more about the 2023 MediaMaker Fellows