The American Film Institute on Friday unveiled the establishment of a Black Production Fund in partnership with AMC Networks.
Funds will provide grants to Black students in their second year of education at the non-profit conservatory. This effort, along with the recently announced Thomas P. Pollock Endowed scholarship for producing fellows, is part of AFI's Equity, Diversity and Inclusion program to increase Black voices in storytelling.
"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."
Josh Sapan, CEO of AMC Networks, added, "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. With UMC, we are also proud to provide a home to showcase some of these outstanding projects."
AMC will also plan to distribute select AFI Conservatory films on UMC, its streaming and VOD platform dedicated to Black film and television. 2019 graduates RJ Dawson and Isabella Issa are among those whose films will be shown.
The AFI was established in 1967 and offers MFA degrees in the six disciplines of editing, cinematography, screenwriting, directing, production design and producing. Graduates include Ari Aster (Hereditary, Midsommar), Liz Hannah (The Post) and Rachel Morrison (Black Panther), as well as David Lynch, Patty Jenkins, Matthew Libatique and many more.