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October 16, 2020 7:15pm

The American Film Institute (AFI) has teamed with AMC Network to establish the Black Production Fund, which will provide grants for thesis productions by Black fellows in their second year at the AFI Conservatory.

AFI made the announcement today in the midst of its 2020 virtual festive. The Black Production Fund, as well as recently announced Thomas P. Pollock Endowed Scholarship for promising diverse AFI Producing Fellows, is part of AFI’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives dedicated to increasing Black voices in storytelling.

In addition to the find, AMC Networks is streaming a selection of AFI Conservatory films on UMC, the VOD platform dedicated to showcasing Black film and television. FIlms available include The First Stone from director Kaisan Rei (AFI Class of 2016), Gummi Bear, directed by RJ Dawson (AFI Class of 2019), and Yellow Girl And Me, written and directed by Isabella Issa (AFI Class of 2019).

“At this pivotal moment in America’s history, the revolutionary power of visual storytelling to inspire change has never been more critical – and there is no better way to support underrepresented voices than to help fund the films they make to tell their own stories,” said Susan Ruskin, Dean of the AFI Conservatory and EVP of the American Film Institute. “This support for our Fellows with their thesis films is transformational. We want to thank AMC Networks for their leadership in creating opportunities for Black storytellers.”

“AMC Networks is proud to support the Black Production Fund – a vehicle to break down barriers for Black artists to tell stories that build a more inclusive culture,” said Josh Sapan, CEO of AMC Networks. “With UMC, we are also proud to provide a home to showcase some of these outstanding projects.”