Meet the Six New Diverse Voices in Docs Fellows at Kartemquin

Kartemquin Films and the Community Film Workshop of Chicago has announced the six new 2022 Diverse Voices in Docs (DVID) fellows. 

Welcoming the 9th cohort, DVID is a professional mentorship program for Midwestern documentary filmmakers of color, created by Kartemquin Films and the Community Film Workshop of Chicago. Fellows are chosen from a pool of applicants with a demonstrated commitment to social issue documentary.

The 2022 fellows are: 

Amber Love, Cindy Martin, Jason Rhee, Cynthia Martinez, Donnie Seals, and Sadia Uqaili.

The 2022 Fellows are Amber Love, Cindy Martin, Jason Rhee, Cynthia Martinez, Donnie Seals, and Sadia Uqaili.

“After a year spent in conversation and reflection with our alumni and community, we are excited to relaunch the DVID program renewing our commitment to our fellows and their needs,” said DVID Creative Lead Anuradha Rana. “We aim to provide the creative and professional scaffolding that amplifies their voices, creates a space to question and reflect on their creative choices, and illuminates a path to a sustainable career.”

In the DVID program, fellows receive hands-on support from experienced Kartemquin and Community Film Workshop staff, award-winning filmmakers, and invited experts before pitching to a panel of major funders, which in previous years has included representatives from ITVS, Sundance Institute, Doc Society, POV, Black Public Media, and WTTW Channel 11. The program culminates with a graduation showcasing the fellows’ work and featuring a keynote speaker.

The 2022 Diverse Voices in Docs Fellows and Projects, in their own words

Amber Love (she/her) is a filmmaker and festival programmer based in Chicago, IL. Her work has explored Afrofuturism, familial memory, and Black heritage, and her short films have premiered at the Camden International Film Festival, played Indie Memphis and the Milwaukee Film Festival, and been supported by IF/Then. Her forthcoming short film about a family of Black community leaders in Lansing, MI is funded by Firelight’s Homegrown initiative. Amber is also a 2019 NeXt Doc Fellow and a 2020 Sundance Art of Editing Fellow.

Amber’s project One Another: Though friendship is often seen as secondary to family and career, for many, friendship forms the bedrock of our support systems. What do the roles that friends play in life tell us about our wants and needs as a society? As a deliberately crafted collection of stories, associations, and provocations, One Another offers an exploration of friendship, one of the most ubiquitous and under-examined relationships we enter into.

Cindy Martin (she/her) is a Documentary Filmmaker in Chicago committed to enhancing voices from BIPOC, women and other underrepresented communities. The daughter of Filipinx immigrants, Cindy learned storytelling from her writer father. She received a Bachelor’s in Broadcast Journalism from the University of Illinois, specializing in Psychology and Politics. She lived in London for 16 years and worked for news outlets: Reuters, Associated Press, Getty Images and ABC News and later moved to Los Angeles where she produced an award-winning documentary on the Kilauea volcano in 2018 for Sky News. In 2021, she was in a cohort of the Production Institute developed by the Community Film Workshop at the David & Reva Logan Center for the Arts.

Cindy’s project Love Is A Stranger: With his health deteriorating, an elderly Filipinx-American father and his daughters race to find the patriarch they never knew, a Japanese man who disappeared in World War II when the Philippines and Japan were trained to annihilate and kill each other. The film explores how one wound can be felt by later generations, forever altering the lives of a family in unexpected ways.

Cynthia Martinez (she/her) is a 2nd generation Mexican American, born in Holland, Michigan. She is a mother, wife, writer, producer, and filmmaker. A graduate of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, her experience includes working for Univision News in Miami. She is currently engaged with directing and producing films and media that advocate social justice. Cynthia is currently producing the film “First Voice Generation,” a film that raises awareness of how the pandemic is impacting a generation of minority and low-income students in West Michigan.

Cynthia’s project First Voice Generation: First Voice Generation follows the stories of three Latinx high school students in Holland, Michigan during an unprecedented global pandemic year. They struggle with a sense of belonging growing up in a historically Dutch community as children of Mexican immigrants. They each dream of being the first in their family to go to college. However, the pandemic year created new burdens. School shutdowns and virtual learning became a relentless challenge, while dealing with the added stress of the financial aspects and overall affordability of college, despite financial aid.

Jason Rhee (he/him) is a Korean American writer and director with a passion for telling stories centered around AAPI and his childhood. Jason was selected as a script intern and writer’s PA for CONAN, as well as a writing intern and contributor for The Onion. With a background in screenwriting, comedy, and satire, he’s co-produced and co-written two one-woman shows with stand-up comedian Kellye Howard entitled Unmarried and Transparent, which has been featured on ABC and described as “exposing admirable vulnerability and strength.” Jason recently wrapped up three years as The Onion’s writer assistant to focus on personal projects.

Jason’s project EJ Lee: All-American: Eun Jung Lee, a Louisiana legend and former All-American point guard who Sports Illustrated called the “Korean Magic Johnson of NCAA women’s basketball,” has been overlooked her entire coaching career, yet she still holds out hope for her life-long dream of becoming a head coach of a college program. But first, she’ll have to turn around a high school girl’s program that hasn’t posted a winning record in years prior to her arrival and with players that just learned how to dribble a basketball.

Donnie Seals (he/him) is a director, producer, editor and writer with Digife, a video production company based in Chicago. As a photojournalism graduate of Columbia College Chicago, Seals was able to evolve from still photography to film. He developed and produced the digital documentary series “The Season” which followed the controversial basketball powerhouse Findlay Prep High School. Donnie’s filmography includes the music documentary Making Skybreak and The Takeover, a film about 100 Northwestern University students who peacefully occupied the Bursar’s Office to protest the black student experience in 1968. He’s currently filming The Gospel of Lou Della.

Donnie’s project The Gospel of Lou Della: The world is changing and Lou Della Evans-Reid, the mother of Black gospel music, is trying to figure out where she fits in this change. She has been committed to community work and the church for much of her 90-year-life, but what happens to an aging, and seemingly forgotten, gospel legend when church gatherings are forbidden in the midst of a pandemic? This is the story of Lou Della, who she was, how she made a name for herself, and her continued struggle of an evolving society that often neglects the needs of the elderly.

Sadia Uqaili (she/her) is the founder of Explore Their Stories, Inc. and is the director of BAPSI, the current documentary in production revealing the untold story of groundbreaking Zoroastrian novelist Bapsi Sidhwa. Explore Their Stories, Inc. is a social impact program to discover, document, share and preserve the extraordinary in our everyday lives. Filmmaker, artist and arts administration executive Sadia has led teams of filmmakers, writers, visual artists, and actors to fulfill productions and programs for at-risk youth and patients in hospitals. She curates film screenings and international multimedia exhibits, serves on juries, and hosts panels at Chicago film festivals.

Sadia’s project BAPSI: As a woman born into a patriarchal society, kept hidden and deprived of education as a girl with a disability and later stripped of her rights as a mother, Bapsi Sidhwa seemed destined for erasure. But instead of being silenced, a fire of creativity led her to dramatize the anguish of women in Pakistan in her first novel, launching her as a new global postcolonial literary light. BAPSI is an empowering journey counterpointing every stereotype of South Asian women’s pre- assigned roles to champion the humanizing resistance of an extraordinary woman’s truth-telling personal and political art.

How It All Started

Founded in 2013, DVID aims to inspire collaboration and skill-sharing among its fellows, and among the larger Midwestern independent documentary filmmaking community.

Previous DVID fellows include Bing Liu, director of Sundance award-winning and Academy Award nominated, Minding the Gap; Kelly Richmond Pope, director of award-winning All the Queen’s Horses, which held the #1 spot for most-streamed documentary on iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon Video for a week after its VOD release;  Jiayan “Jenny” Shi, director of Finding Yingying, acquired by MTV and later winning the China Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Documentary; and Ashley O’Shay, director of Unapologetic, named as part of the prestigious 2020 IDA Documentary Series and acquired by POV’s Independent Lens.

2022 support for Diverse Voices in Docs is provided by is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency, Prince Charitable Trusts, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the Voqal Fund.

Click here to learn more about Diverse Voices in Docs.

Be sure to check back here at SCREEN Magazine for updates as these promising projects forge ahead into production. You can also click right here to subscribe to our weekly email newsletter.

You may also like

Lena Waithe Series ‘The Chi’ Resumes Filming Season 6 in Chicago
Charles Jenkins Teams Up with Agents of Slang
Chicago Critics Film Festival Unveils Full Program, Special Guests, Grant Recipients
PHOTO BOOTH: IFA Chicago Member Mixer

Leave a Reply