Press Release (ePRNews.com) - BERKELEY, Calif. - Nov 21, 2019 - The Berkeley FILM Foundation, the Bay Area grantmaking organization funding local filmmakers who push boundaries and inspire change, announced that celebrated East Bay filmmaker Cheryl Dunye will receive the foundation’s inaugural Award for Justice & Inclusion in Film. The award was established this year to recognize visionary local filmmakers whose careers have paved the way for future generations of Bay Area filmmakers, especially filmmakers of color, women, students, people with disabilities and LGTBQ filmmakers.
“We are honored to give Cheryl Dunye the inaugural Award for Justice and Inclusion in Film,” said Berkeley FILM Foundation President Abby Ginzberg. “Through her extraordinary body of work—from The Watermelon Woman to Queen Sugar—Cheryl embodies the type of bold filmmaking that the Berkeley FILM Foundation seeks to support. Cheryl Dunye is a model for young Bay Area filmmakers from all backgrounds who believe they have an important story to tell.”
“Making movies is hard work under the best of circumstances,” said Cheryl Dunye. “But there are extra barriers for queer women of color and filmmakers with diverse backgrounds and experiences. The work of the Berkeley FILM Foundation is so important because they elevate local voices that need to be heard. Sometimes a small grant at the right time is all it takes to help a pioneering young filmmaker move their project forward. I’m honored to receive this award and proud to support the efforts of the Berkeley FILM Foundation.”
In addition to honoring Ms. Dunye at its 10th Anniversary Celebration, the Gala for Justice & Inclusion in Film, on Saturday, November 23rd , the Berkeley FILM Foundation will also announce an effort to expand its grantmaking to filmmakers across the Bay Area.
“Great films have the power to change people’s minds and reshape the world,” added Abby Ginzberg. “We’re seeking financial support from the Bay Area community so we have the ability to provide much-needed funds to a greater number of local filmmakers. The filmmakers we have funded over the past ten years are a diverse and exciting group of people, representing everyone from Academy-Award nominated documentarians to first-time and student filmmakers who will be part of the next generation of storytellers.”
The Berkeley FILM Foundation’s 10th Anniversary Gala takes place November 23rd 2019 at SFJAZZ, 201 Franklin Street in San Francisco. For more information and tickets, please visit: https://berkeleyfilmfoundation.org/
About Cheryl Dunye
Cheryl Dunye is a world renowned African American director, writer, and actress. She first emerged as part of the “Queer New Wave” of young filmmakers in the early 1990s. Her first feature film, THE WATERMELON WOMAN, won the Teddy Award for Best Feature at the 1996 Berlin International Film Festival. The film is now considered a classic. For its 20th anniversary in 2016, the film was restored and re-released widely. It now resides in the permanent cinema collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
Dunye’s second feature, HBO’s STRANGER INSIDE, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2002 and was nominated for four Independent Spirit Awards including Best Director. In 2004, she directed MY BABY’S DADDY for Miramax, which had a budget of $12M USD. Her more recent independent features THE OWLS (2010) and MOMMY IS COMING (2012) have both screened at top-tier festivals and garnered her a new generation of fans and followers across the globe.
In recent years, Dunye entered a new wave of her career as a director for episodic television first by joining Ava Duverney and Oprah Winfrey for two episodes on Season 2 of OWN’s QUEEN SUGAR. Just this year, she was invited back to serve as the Producing Director of QUEEN SUGAR Season 4.
About the Berkeley FILM Foundation
The Berkeley Film Foundation is a grant-making and educational program that supports filmmakers who work in the San Francisco Bay Area.
· Since 2009, the Berkeley Film Foundation has awarded 166 grants totaling $1.7 million to independent filmmakers in the East Bay. Over 60% of BFF recipients have been women filmmakers and more than 43% of the grants awarded to date have gone to recipients who are part of an ethnic community, disabled, LGBTQ, or seniors. Two major winners this year are Rodrigo Reyes, whose moving documentary UNTITLED follows the unlikely friendship of two Mexican migrants incarcerated in rural California, and Debora Souza Silva’s BLACK MOTHERS which traces the journey of two women working to disrupt the cycle of racist police violence within our judicial system.
· BFF has also awarded more than $150,000 to 46 student filmmakers in the East Bay. These include Serginho Roosblad, who received a grant while attending UC Berkeley’s School of Journalism for his film THE MAZE, a poignant history of the land underneath the MacArthur Maze.