festivals NewFest Announces Black Filmmakers Initiative with Funds and Awards for LGBTQ+ Films


Staff Member
NewFest, New York’s leading LGBTQ+ film and media organization and one of the world’s most respected LGBTQ+ film festivals, has announced the Black Filmmakers Initiative, which will provide festival-related cost assistance to Black LGBTQ+ filmmakers, as well as three new cash prizes for Black LGBTQ+ filmmakers participating in this year’s festival. The announcement was made today by NewFest’s executive director David Hatkoff.

NewFest’s Black Filmmakers Initiative has been created in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and in recognition of the need to create opportunities for queer Black artists and amplify their voices. The initiative will not only provide funding for Black LGBTQ+ filmmakers, but will also help with covering festival submission fees, provide funding for travel-related costs, and contribute free tickets to Black-led organizations to attend NewFest events.

The new awards presented by the Black Filmmakers Initiative at NewFest include the Directorial Feature Debut Black LGBTQ+ Filmmaker Award, awarded by NewFest to a Black LGBTQ+ filmmaker whose directorial feature debut is being presented at NewFest’s 32nd edition of the festival. This award comes with a $2,000 cash prize, and the inaugural recipient is Olivia Peace for their film “Tahara.”

Peace is a queer black interdisciplinary artist from Detroit. After garnering praise for their 2017 short film “Pangaea,” they landed a fellowship with the Sundance Institute in the year-long Ignite Fellowship Program. They spent 2019 working on their feature film debut, “Tahara” while still a full time MFA student at USC. “Tahara” premiered in at the 2020 Slamdance Film Festival.

“I’m excited to put this award money towards making a new piece, and I look forward to a festival circuit that is easier for my community to navigate,” Peace said. “This initiative is a step in the right direction, and I hope that next year, there are even more talented Black filmmakers screening their work at NewFest.“

Additionally, the Emerging Black LGBTQ+ Filmmaker Award, decided by a jury of Black LGBTQ+ film industry professionals, will go to three directors whose short films screened during NewFest’s 32nd edition this year. Each recipient will receive a $1,000 cash prize. The recipients of these awards will be announced at the festival’s award ceremony on Saturday, October 24.

NewFest’s Black Filmmakers Initiative is supported by sponsors Ralph Lauren Corporation, Blackstone, and Vimeo. More details on eligibility requirements and how filmmakers can apply for future opportunities will be released in the weeks to come.

NewFest’s New York LGBTQ Film Festival is currently running through October 27. Read about IndieWire’s must see films here.