Where Are They Now? BGDM's Inaugural 2021 Grantees

Nat Ruiz Tofano • October 1, 2022

Where Are They Now? BGDM's Inaugural 2021 Grantees
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A Black masc person with short curly hair. A film still of an animated charcter in the forest, with text over that reads, "Inner Wound Real".

Carrie Hawks’ short animated documentary Inner Wound Real had its world premiere at the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival. It has several upcoming screenings including Gaze International LGBTQ+ festival, Atlanta’s Out on Film, New Orleans Film Festival, and Reeling:The Chicago LGBTQ+ International Festival, and more. The film has secured Educational Distribution with Good Docs. They are also looking forward to holding their first in-person mental health screening workshop with Brave Space Alliance in Chicago. In addition, Carrie has accepted a full-time faculty position as Assistant Professor of Illustration at Parsons School of Design at The New School (one of their career transition goals during their Sustainable Artist grant!). And they will be attending Wayward Artist Retreat in Canada in mid-September to focus on their creative pursuits.

A Black woman with long white braids holds an award. A Black trans woman hugs a younger trans person, smiling.

Luchina Fisher received the Spark Fund Award from Firelight Media and the National Endowment for the Humanities for her untitled personal documentary film that she had returned to while in our grants program. She also was one of six filmmakers selected for this year's Queen Collective by Tribeca Studios, Procter & Gamble and Queen Latifah. Her short film, Team Dream, about friends Ann and Madeline and their journey to the National Senior Games, premiered at the Martha's Vineyard African American Film Festival, where it received a standing ovation. She is now taking the film on the festival and awards circuit. Luchina also had the opportunity to direct a four-part short doc series for Tommy Hilfiger, The New Legacy Challenge, following three Black and BIPOC designers as they competed for an opportunity to design a capsule collection for the brand. On a more somber note, Luchina shared that we lost Gloria Allen, the subject of her film MAMA GLORIA, on June 15. She died at the age of 76, just weeks after attending the GLAAD Awards, where the film had been nominated for Outstanding Long Form TV Journalism. Her death was covered by national media around the world, including The New York Times, People and the Economist. Recently, Luchina accepted a posthumous Joyce Warshow Lifetime Achievement Award at the SAGE Awards & Gala on behalf of Mama Gloria. Luchina remains committed to making sure the world meets and knows Gloria Allen.

A Black woman with hair reaching her shoulder posing while holding a camera. An image of blackstar film festival.

Ashley O'Shay Mills’ new documentary feature in development Southmont Drive has received a handful of pitch opportunities since finishing the BGDM grant program, including the Spotlight Your Town Initiative by SeriesFest & Nat Geo as well as the BlackStar Pitch 2022. Ashley and her team have also recently completed a work sample and are planning another research trip to the South this fall as they continue to fundraise.

A Black woman with long dark braids and a tan top. A Martiniquan woman with hair pulled back in a jean vest. A Black woman with

Nadja Thomas & Cariba Party continue to push along in the production of their Untitled film, filming scenes, talking to sources, following research, and are committed to seeing it through in the next two years.

Laura Kamugisha just finished the production of her short documentary Formes de Résonance and is starting post-production. She recently received funding to develop a scripted series of eight 30 minute episodes! She will also begin the production of a short fiction film in the Spring of 2023 based on her arrival in Canada with her mother after the Rwandan genocide that took place in 1994.


An Afro-Latina woman in a black shirt with a large curly afro. An Afro-Latina woman standing on a beach, with long dark braids,

Rebeca Huntt’s first feature documentary Beba had an amazing festival circuit and theatrical release in 2021-2022. The film was acquired by Neon, and is available for streaming on Hulu and Disney+. She is now working on her first narrative script, and is excited to be working as Assistant Director for Mexican filmmaker Carlos Reygadas.

An Indian woman with medium length dark hair holds a camera. Two women stand in a kitchen, one of them filming, while two small

Chithra Jeyaram is excited to share that the 2022 Chicken and Egg (Egg)ccelerator Lab and NYC Women in Film Fund have graciously supported her feature documentary work-in-progress Our Daughters. After six weeks of production in 2022, the film is in post-production and she and her team are working hard to have a rough cut by the end of the year and are looking for rough cut labs and finishing funds. Chithra has just begun teaching for the third semester as adjunct faculty at NYU. A narrative short Look Like You, that she edited, won the Audience Award at the 45th Asian American International Film Festival and is on the festival circuit. She is also producing a short doc called Thirumathi Nangai that was a finalist at Tasveer Fund in 2021. Chithra is also working earnestly towards work-life balance and making time for personal care and seeing some good positive shifts there.

An East Asian woman in a blazer with medium length dark hair.  A blonde woman stands up to speak at a forum meeting.

The feature documentary that Jean Rheem is the Editor of, Untitled Muscogee (Creek) Nation Doc, was selected this year for Gotham’s Documentary Feature Lab & the NBCU Original Voices Fellowship. Jean is hoping to finish the edit of the film this year in time for festival submissions. She is also excited for the recent opportunity to write an article for BGDM titled “What Happens When Things Go Wrong?” where she is in conversation with fellow 2021 grantee Luchina Fisher about facing roadblocks in your projects and how to overcome them.

A woman with medium-length curly hair. Side profile of a man with a beard stands in front of a painting with the same silhouette

Sara Nodjoumi has partnered with HBO for her film Untitled Nicky Nodjoumi Project, a film about her father. She just came back from Istanbul where she filmed one of their final scenes for the film, and will now get back into editing for the next few months. She’s taking a break from hustling for new projects and gigs so that she can fully commit to bringing this film to the finish line this year.

Nat Ruiz Tofano

Nat Ruiz Tofano

Nat Ruiz Tofano (they/them) is a queer and mixed Mexican- and Chinese-American documentary filmmaker, raised in and currently based in the Bay Area, California. They are committed to decolonizing and reimagining documentary film, and centering stories from BIPOC and Queer communities.

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