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Sundance Institute reveals 2021 Accessible Futures Intensive Fellows



Sundance Institute has officially reintroduced the 2021 Accessible Futures Initiative as a virtual Intensive. The program was created in 2019, as part of Sundance Institute’s ongoing commitment to deepening outreach and support of artists with disabilities, including amplifying accessibility at the Sundance Film Festival through strategic partnerships with Easterseals Southern California and RespectAbility. 

The 2021 Intensive will take the shape of a cross-genre project consultation and career strategy workshop for artists of color, with disabilities, in the development or early production of fiction and nonfiction projects. The Outreach & Inclusion program is committed to bringing an intersectional lens to a group of talented disabled artists.

The Sundance Institute has collaborated with Allied Organizations with deep relationships within the disability community to nominate applicants to function as advisors. Additionally, Sundance staff, artist alumni, and field-leading partners will conduct creative and professional development sessions to support the advancement of the selected participants’ projects and careers. 

Through the multi-day virtual Intensive, the institute seeks to assist participating artists in honing their creative voice and craft, finding a cohort, and building support for them to help surmount critical barriers in the field that has systematically excluded artists with disabilities.

This year’s advisors include Day Al-Mohamed, Rodney Evans, Josh Feldman, Tatiana Lee, Monika Navarro, and Nic Novicki. The Intensive is also excited to collaborate with Sins Invalid and Firelight Media, who will lead community building and documentary workshops for the artists, respectively. 

Check out the 2021 fellows below:

Nasreen Alkhateeb (Director)

Award-winning filmmaker, Nasreen Alkhateeb’s ability to motivate audiences is a result of being 1st gen, multi-heritage, Disabled, and a survivor. Cinematographer for Kamala Harris and Oprah’s OWN Network, Nasreen has directed content for NASA, the United Nations, and the Women’s March. Alumna of the Tribeca Film Festival, The Disruptors Fellowship, the RespectAbility Fellowship, given the Wild Card award by NASA peers and Cinematographer of the Year for her work in the Arctic, Forbes described her as “breaking barriers.”

Touching Fire

In an age when a Muslim feminist icon can have their entire life’s work undone by the click of a tweet, a daughter dives deep into her mother’s legacy to set the record straight.

Virtic Emil Brown (Writer, Director)

Virtic Emil Brown attended New York University’s TISCH School of the Arts. She is a writer, actress, and filmmaker. Some of her films are Will UnpluggedMission In Kosovo, and Hindsight. Virtic’s directorial debut was the documentary short On Tour which screened at the 70th Venice International Film Festival. She’s appeared on shows like Without A Trace and The Shield. She is a member of the Classical Theatre Lab and EST/LA. Virtic is in WGA (CBW, DWC, CWW).


In the final six days of their child’s life, the Brady’s must confront their past. This is not the life God wanted for them when He gave their souls a body.

Shaina Ghuraya (Writer, Director)

Shaina jokes that she is a triple threat – she’s a wheelchair-user, Punjabi, and a woman. She is a writer/director for quirky and bold comedies that embrace diversity and explore intersectionality. A graduate of USC’s Film and Television production program, Shaina’s films have gone on to screen at ReelAbilities, Hollyshorts, and Slamdance. Currently, she is a writing apprentice on the Netflix Animation show Boons and Curses.

Agg – A conservative (psychotic) Indian family decides to trick a man into an arranged marriage by hiding their daughter’s disability. However, the daughter, Agg, decides the wedding is the perfect time to enact violent (yet still tasteful) revenge against her abusive family.

Cashmere Jasmine (Writer, Director)

Cashmere Jasmine is an award-winning first-generation disabled Afro-Caribbean writer and director from South Florida, who creates queer disability-inclusive dramas accented by dark humor and surrealist imagery in between jaunts of loudly drinking cocktails in dark LA bars with her ever faithful sidekick Greyfriars Bobby the Little (always pictured).


After losing custody of her little sister, a homeless dialysis patient climbs the social and financial ladder by manipulating the L.A. underground party scene in this hour-long Breaking Bad meets Ally McBeal dramedy.

Luna X Moya (Director, Editor, DP)

Luna X Moya (They/She) is a documentary filmmaker with over 10 years of experience, primarily as a Director and Editor, in the film and television industry. Their work screened at A+E Networks, MoMA, The Shed, BAMcinemaFest, and AFI SilverDocs. Luna is a formerly undocumented, queer, and chronically ill filmmaker. She focuses on documentary films about immigration, racial injustice, estranged family dynamics, and desire.

What The Pier Gave Us

A five-part poetic and experimental film about immigrants who fish at a pier in New York and the immigrant experience. What The Pier Gave Us lyrically captures the life of a pier through the seasons in a year.

Jennifer Msumba (Writer)

Jennifer Msumba, is a filmmaker and musician who is best known for her award winning film The Fish Don’t Care When It Rains. She also has several albums distributed on Spotify, Apple Music etc. Being an autistic artist, Jennifer believes her unique experiences have helped her creativity. She lives in Florida with her dog, Lemonade, where she enjoys fishing and playing keys for her church’s worship team. Jennifer is also a member of American Mensa.

Girl’s School

Amelia longs to escape the Westwood Behavioral School for Girls. When a blizzard causes the staff members to abandon their responsibilities, rising chaos ensues. And Amelia must choose between saving herself, or saving her friends.

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Amazon Bushfire documentary dives into Australia’s ‘Black Summer”



Courtesy of Amazon Studios

“Burning” circumferences the 2019-2020 Australian bushfires in which an estimated 59 million acres were ravaged in what’s recollected as the “Black Summer.” The hair-raising documentary made its debut at the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival, sparking outrage over the absence of political concern.

Oscar-winning filmmaker Eva Orner directed the 86-minute film, which presents horrifying testimonies from local activists, journalists, and victims who recounted the staggering devastation during the eight-month period.

Climate change activist, Daisy Jeffery, was featured in the documentary for her ferocious pursuit to create a safer environment for future generations. Jeffery admitted to “crying for three days straight” after witnessing the damage that remained in her hometown.

Like many Gen Zers, the 17-year-old revealed she is factoring the climate crisis into her future reproductive choices. Her ongoing anger toward dozens of political figures like Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has prompted her to lead protests across South East Australia, uniting thousands to speak out against the economic injustice.

The prime minister declined to be interviewed for the film, and his lack of response spoke volumes. Orner released footage throughout “Burning,” displaying Morrison’s ignorance surrounding the untamable flames even after former fire commissioner Greg Mullins warned of a lethal bushfire season a few years prior.

Eva Orner, Forrest Borie, Jonathan Schaerf - Eva Orner and Forrest Borie Photos - 2021 Toronto International Film Festival - "Burning" Photo Call - Zimbio
(L-R) Jonathan Schaerf, Eva Orner, and Forrest Borie attend the “Burning” Photo Call during the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival at TIFF Bell Lightbox on September 14, 2021 in Toronto, Ontario. (Getty)

“It’s worse than we think it is! Things are moving faster than we predicted and anticipated,” says Orner. “If we want to realistically protect the next generations, we have to take action now. It has to be government action across the globe. It needs to be legislation. It needs to be world leaders committing to net-zero by 2030; not 2050.”

Australia is considered the world’s largest exporter of coal and a major natural gas giant; Morrison turning the other cheek could cause catastrophic effects to the entire world. While citizens of the country fight to combat climate change, the prime minister continues to poke fun at the activism.

“Burning” will be available on Amazon Prime Video at a later date in 2021.

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Hollywood celebrates Pre-Emmy’s at 15th annual MPFA benefit gala “Evening Before”



CENTURY CITY, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 18: (L-R) Billy Porter, Regé-Jean Page, Cynthia Erivo, Bob Beitcher, Yvette Nicole Brown, Kathryn Hahn, Michaela Jaé Rodriguez, Anya Taylor-Joy and Evan Peters attend MPTF 15th Annual Evening Before Emmys on September 18, 2021 in Century City, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for MPTF)
CENTURY CITY, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 18: (L-R) Billy Porter, Regé-Jean Page, Cynthia Erivo, Bob Beitcher, Yvette Nicole Brown, Kathryn Hahn, Michaela Jaé Rodriguez, Anya Taylor-Joy and Evan Peters attend MPTF 15th Annual Evening Before Emmys on September 18, 2021 in Century City, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for MPTF)

Television’s biggest night took place in Century City, CA Saturday, September 18th, where the entertainment industry came together for the 15th annual “Evening Before” party, benefiting MPTF (Motion Picture & Television Fund). 

The television industry, from Emmy presenters and nominees to other TV industry members, helped raise funds to support their industry colleagues and friends who benefit from MPTF’s charitable programs and services such as financial assistance, crisis counseling, care giving support and of course the legendary retirement facility in Woodland Hills that is “home” to television and film veterans alike. Out of an abundance of caution, all guests were required to show proof of vaccination and proof of a negative PCR Covid-19 test.

“What a fabulous night to celebrate MPTF’s 100th anniversary and the resiliency of our industry’s creative spirit!” said MPTF President & CEO Bob Beitcher. “MPTF’s Evening Before was a moment for all of us to remember.”

The 15th Annual “Evening Before” Host Committee consisted of Uzo Aduba, Anthony Anderson, Paul Bettany, Aidy Bryant, Olivia Colman & Ed Sinclair, Michael Douglas, Cynthia Erivo, Jonathan Groff, Kathryn Hahn & Ethan Sandler, William H. Macy, Regé-Jean Page, Evan Peters, Billy Porter, Michaela Jaé Rodriguez, Jean Smart, Jurnee Smollett, Anya Taylor-Joy, Kenan Thompson, Hannah Waddingham, and Bradley Whitford & Amy Landecker.

The Executive Host Committee included Bela Bajaria, Bob Bakish, Greg Berlanti & Robbie Rogers, Frances Berwick, Casey Bloys, Michelle & Paul Buccieri, George Cheeks, Nicole Clemens & Vaun Wilmott, Charlie Collier, Roma Downey & Mark Burnett, Channing Dungey, Jamie Erlicht, Craig Erwich, Ann & Jim Gianopulos, Pearlena Igbokwe, Jason Kilar, Katie McGrath & J.J. Abrams, Steve Mosko, Andrea & David Nevins, Megan & Peter Rice, Susan Rovner, Jennifer Salke, Ann Sarnoff, Zack Van Amburg, Tony Vinciquerra, Dana & Matt Walden, and Ally Walker & John Landgraf.

This year’s presenting sponsors were Penske Media Corporation (PMC) and Target with additional support from Diamond sponsors Netflix, The Walt Disney Company, and WarnerMedia.

Among the celebrities who attended this year’s event were Lauren Ash, Vanessa Bayer, Madeline Brewer, Sterling K. Brown, Yvette Nicole Brown, Stephen Colbert, Ariana DeBose, Zooey Deschanel, Phil Dunster, Paapa Essiedu, Fortune Feimster, Cristo Fernández, Lukas Gage, Brett Goldstein, Tony Hale, Justin Hartley, Christina Hendricks, Anders Holm, Sarah Hyland, Mindy Kaling, Dan Levy, Natasha Lyonne, Joel McHale, Lorne Michaels, Max Minghella, Matthew Morrison, Annie Murphy, Julianne Nicholson, Ego Nwodim, Josh O’Connor, Rita Ora, Amy Poehler, Jack Quaid, Juno Temple, Tessa Thompson, Lena Waithe, Taika Waititi, Bowen Yang and many more.

The “Evening Before” was designed as a relaxed town square atmosphere in the park by Silver Birches with specialty food provided by Carmelized Productions by Jon Shook & Vinny Dotolo.

The event is designed after the highly successful “Night Before,” another fundraiser held annually before the Academy Awards for the past nineteen years to benefit MPTF.

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The cast of ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ discuss film’s uplifting soundtrack feature “You Will Be Found”

The breathtaking, generation-defining Broadway phenomenon, “Dear Evan Hansen” becomes a soaring cinematic event as Tony, Grammy and Emmy Award winner Ben Platt reprises his role as an anxious, isolated high schooler aching for understanding and belonging amid the chaos and cruelty of the social-media age.

Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Stephen Chbosky (The Perks of Being A Wallflower, Wonder), the film is written for the screen by the show’s Tony winner Steven Levenson with music and lyrics by the show’s Oscar®, Grammy and Tony-winning songwriting team of Benj Pasek & Justin Paul (La La Land, The Greatest Showman).

The cast includes: Ben Platt, Amy Adams, Julianne Moore, Amandla Stenberg, and more.

The film is only theaters September 24, 2021.

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