BAVC Media is honored to introduce a new cohort of seven new BAVC MediaMaker Fellows for 2023! The MediaMaker fellowship is one of the longest standing programs in the US for investing in diverse emerging documentary filmmakers.
This year’s fellows are Paige Bethmann (Remaining Native), Aurora Brachman (Dear You), ilana coleman (The Inventory), Tommy Franklin (You Don’t Know My Name), Cyrus Moussavi (Somebody’s Gone), Hannah Myers (Daddy) and tashi tamate weiss (Kizuna). Learn more about the fellows and each of their projects below.
Paige Bethmann is a Haudenosaunee director and producer based in Reno, Nevada. Over the last 10 years, Paige has worked in non-fiction television for various digital and broadcast networks such as ESPN, PBS, Vox Media, Youtube Originals, USA and NBC. As a filmmaker, Paige has been supported by the Nia Tero 4th World Media lab, Logan Non-Fiction Fellowship Program and 2022 PGA Create fellowship. Her debut feature film, ‘Remaining Native,’ has also been supported by the IDA Logan Elevate Grant, Tracksmith, the Points North + CNN Films American Stories fellowship program, Perspective Fund, and Running Strong for American Indian Youth . A graduate of Ithaca College, Paige has a bachelor’s degree in Film, Television, and Radio from the Park School of Communications.
Ku Stevens, 18, has the skill and drive to become an elite runner. But he struggles to navigate the sport’s glorified individualism and the values of interconnectedness he was brought up with on the Paiute reservation. When thousands of Native children’s remains are discovered, Ku learns of his family’s painful history which forces him to reimagine his identity. In an act of reverence, Ku runs the same 50-mile escape route his great-grandfather used to flee an Indian boarding school at age 8. Remaining Native is a coming-of-age story that intertwines a dark history with the hopeful journey of one teenager running towards his future.
Aurora Brachman is a Queer mixed-race Black and South Asian woman and an award-winning documentary director and producer. Through patient and poetic storytelling her films explore narratives of intimate relationships within families and communities. Her film “Club Quarantine,” about a virtual queer dance party, premiered on the New York Times Op-Docs. And her short documentary “Joychild,” about a young gender-expansive child, was acquired by The New Yorker, broadcast on POV, and shortlisted for an IDA Award. Her work has screened at numerous festivals including Sundance, True/False, Hot Docs, AFI Docs, DOC NYC, and selected for Vimeo Staff Picks.
Aurora is a graduate of the MFA program in Documentary Film at Stanford University, a 2020 Sundance Ignite Fellow, and a 2022 SFFilm House Resident. She is also the recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship in filmmaking. She associate produced the upcoming A24 documentary UNDERRATED, co-produced Apple TV+’s GIRLS STATE, sequel to the Sundance and Emmy award- winning BOYS STATE; and assisted on the critically acclaimed Showtime docuseries COUPLES THERAPY. Aurora primarily makes work about the experiences of Black, brown, and Queer people and is committed to collaborative and ethical storytelling.”
After fleeing domestic abuse and the imminent threat of climate change, Grace James, a dancer and steadfast optimist from the Pacific Island nation of Kiribati, seeks asylum in the US. Anchored around Grace’s ongoing sessions with a dance therapist as she processes her trauma and the trauma of her homeland, DEAR YOU follows Grace in her search for stability and a sense of purpose in the face of an uncertain future. Moving between past and present, the film lyrically weaves together Grace’s memories of Kiribati, her time in detention, and her unfolding life post-release in the United States.
ilana coleman (she/her) is a director, writer, editor and producer, working in both documentary and fiction. She is interested in exploring the construction of language; cinematic, written, and spoken, to define and imagine other realities. ilana is a filmmaker who works in documentary / fiction and between Mexico and the U.S. Her feature directorial debut, The Inventory (co-writer/director), has received support from the Sundance Institute, Field of Vision, Creative Capital and Ibermedia and participated at the Berlinale’s Doc Station, DocMontevideo, True/False Prism, and Open City’s Assembly Lab.
She is a recipient of the Jovenes Creadores scholarship from the Mexican National Fund for Culture and Arts (FONCA) in 2017 and 2021. Dos Estaciones, (producer/co-writer) has been nominated for Best Feature for the Gotham Awards and Cinema Eye Honors, Heterodox Award 2022. Dos Estaciones won the Grand Jury Prize for Outstanding Screenwriting in a North American Narrative Feature at OUTFEST LA and Special Jury Prize: Acting at Sundance Film Festival 2022. She was named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film’’ in 2017. Works she has collaborated on as a producer or editor have been selected by San Sebastián, IDFA, IFFR, FICUNAM, Ambulante, DOKUFEST, the Lincoln Center of New York, and True/False. She received her MFA in Film Directing from California Institute of the Arts. She teaches at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.
The Inventory is a feature film that juxtaposes the nonfiction testimonials of mothers searching for their sons who were disappeared in Mexico and a fictional bureaucratic committee searching for a missing word in the dictionary.
Tommy Franklin is a filmmaker, writer, producer, creator of Weapon of Choice Podcast and Special Menu Productions. He was a founding board member of All Square, is a founding board member of the Ostara Initiative, and is a creative and communications consultant at the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI). His documentary work in progress You Don’t Know My Name has been supported by Sundance, Kartemquin Films, Jerome Foundation, Film Independent, CNN, and True/False Film Fest. Tommy is a 2023 Big Sky Pitch participant.
His pilot Intrepid was a finalist for 2021’s Sundance Episodic Lab, and he was a 2022 Sundance BIPOC Mentorship Program Mentee. Tommy made three off-the-wall narrative short films, and he collaborates in philanthropic and grassroots organizing communities to produce nonfiction content he believes in, indiscriminate in form or medium. A survivor of incarceration (born in prison and having served time in adulthood), Franklin works along creative culture lines to radically reimagine power structures, focusing on Black liberation. He is sure he wants to do this.
You Don’t Know My Name
The reality of prison birth is barbaric: picture a mother shackled to a hospital bed by her wrists and ankles, forced to give birth with armed guards as the only witnesses. She is immediately separated from her child post delivery. Who picks up the pieces in the wake of such trauma, experienced by both mother and child? You Don’t Know My Name is a feature documentary that forces us to confront this cruel injustice that is often overlooked: motherhood behind bars in the United States.
Tommy Franklin is a formerly incarcerated filmmaker living in his imagination, dreaming of what his birth mother may be like. Erica Gerrity leads the search for Tommy’s birth mom. Erica has worked with incarcerated mothers and their children for the past twenty years, devoting her time to creating better healthcare outcomes for people birthing behind bars and lobbying for anti-shackling legislation across the country. Tommy joins a community of formerly incarcerated mothers and prison doulas fighting to end prison birth in America.
In March 2023, Tommy discovered his biological father in New Orleans. Both of their worlds are rocked in complex ways as his guilt-ridden, emotionally-stricken father, after learning he has another son, joins the “search party” to solve the mystery of who he conceived with that fateful 1983 New Orleans summer.
What’s left is the massive mystery of who gave birth to Tommy in the Federal Medical Center, Carswell prison in Ft. Worth, Texas in 1984. Tommy is a parent to two daughters. What guides him as a parent is self-reflection and honesty with himself, and the acknowledgement of how hard parenting is, but he’s curious to know what he could have learned from his birth mother, what could have been modeled for him, especially regarding love and culture.
Tommy is unsure how long he can endure his search if he runs into too many dead ends. Is Tommy’s mother alive? Does she want to meet him? Do they finally meet? He thought he was ready for the truth, but fear and doubt seeped into the cracks of a treacherous emotional waiting game. But he never wants to live life as the version of himself that gives up the search.The miracle of finding out who his mother is could be the light emerging from his greatest shadow.
Whether Tommy gets all the answers he needs or not, his journey spurs on further community demands to enhance standards of care for incarcerated pregnant people, from prenatal, during pregnancy and birth, all the way through postpartum. A healthcare revolution behind bars is just around the corner, and with an invitation to the world from prison doulas, prosecutors, politicians, community, and most important, the parents, to join in on the most radical change mass incarceration has ever needed.
Cyrus Moussavi is an Iranian-American filmmaker and producer of musical artifacts. He is a 2022 Creative Capital Awardee and recipient of the 2022 Points North Fellowship for Somebody’s Gone. His films have screened at Sundance, BAMcinemaFest, Anthology Film Archives, and the Blum & Poe Gallery, LA, among others, and his music-related news documentaries have been published by NBC News, Time, and the Wall Street Journal. Since 2019, he has been owner of Mississippi Records, an independent record label releasing overlooked music.
He works directly with artists and their heirs to equitably reintroduce their work to an international audience. “He played Carnegie Hall and shared a stage with Sam Cooke, but Brother Theotis Taylor never sought fame. His music was spiritual communion, and his sublime falsetto and rolling piano made him the pride of South Georgia’s Black community. His insistence on staying near home made him one of our country’s great unheard artists.
SOMEBODY’S GONE tells Brother Taylor’s story through a remarkable archive of ]video shot by his eldest son, Hubert. Driven by a divine vision to document Black life in the South, Hubert amassed hundreds of hours of footage – church services, parties, funerals and incredible musical performances – shot with a sensitive eye and a long view of history. He even purchased the archive of the defunct local TV station. “I filmed the Black side of town,” Hubert said, “and bought the archive of the white.” Adding contemporary interviews and verite footage, SOMEBODY’S GONE completes the film Hubert set out to make over four decades ago. In the process, we explore life in Fitzgerald, Georgia, a former sundown town originally founded as a retirement community for Union and Confederate soldiers. It’s flyover country, yet its history, politics, and racial divide reveal plenty about the issues facing the US today.”
Hannah Myers (she / her) is an award-winning Actor, Director, and Filmmaker, bred in the Carolinas and based in New York City. She is a 2023 BAVC MediaMaker Fellow as well as a Telluride Film Festival Symposium Alumni and annual staff member. Her films have received support from The Gotham (IFP), DOC NYC, Southern Documentary Fund, Video Consortium, The Kenan Institute, Center for Independent Documentary, and The Cabins Residency and screened at festivals worldwide. With roots in the theater, Hannah has worked closely on new play development with Lincoln Center, Atlantic Theater Company, Soho Rep., The Bushwick Starr, Ensemble Studio Theater, 3DaysPrior, and Gibney Dance Center among others.
Hannah works closely with arts and culture nonprofits including SPACE on Ryder Farm and solutions journalism magazine, Reasons to be Cheerful, founded by David Byrne. Co-Founder of Tiedyen4biden (VOGUE, LATimes), a grassroots movement that raised $170,000 for Democratic campaigns during the 2020 election cycle. Hannah is passionate about collaborative, somatic storytelling that empowers women and other underrepresented voices. Her work often explores personal inheritance: the sexual, spiritual, and socio-economic leftovers that we are mysteriously born into and haunted by. University of North Carolina School of the Arts (BFA, Drama).
In September 2020, my 70-year-old father came out as gay. As he forges a new liberated life in the American South and my mother reckons with the end of their 45-year marriage in the Midwest, I am relearning how to be a daughter.
DADDY is one family’s coming-of-age story that began as an old man’s coming out story. The film explores the unknowability of those we love most and the desire to try anyway. Our story tracks the implications of liberation in a religious, working class context, testifying that the gap between oppression and freedom is a journey worth pursuing… even if it comes at a cost. DADDY offers questions about how we care for one another when family isn’t all it’s promised to be… but perhaps something more than we ever imagined.
tashi tamate weiss
tashi tamate weiss is a star being with earth lineages from the deep mountains of northeastern japan where the celestial waters touch the earth, and jewish yiddish speakers of romania and lithuania. she is here to offer her medicine toward the restoration of sacred interdependence with all of life. tashi’s life work is interdisciplinary and hybrid, weaving together film, writing, taiko drumming, energy work, ritual, performance, and music to create worlds that can hold the immensity of the transitions we move through on the path of liberation.
tashi produced Sidelots, an award-winning love story of Black land reclamation told in ritual between Detroit, Alabama and Kenya, incubated by the Detroit Narrative Agency and screened at the Harlem International, New Orleans, and Blackstar Film Festivals. she directed Love Me to the Bones, a lyrical short film that recovers reverence for the feminine and the unseen in post-nuclear disaster Fukushima, picked up by feminist film studio Mala Forever. a recipient of the 2021 San Francisco Arts Commission Grant, tashi created “Groundwater/Chikasui” and “a hoop where a fire can grow”, site-specific multimedia ritual performances planting seeds of sacred reciprocity between Ramaytush Ohlone land and the San Francisco Japantown community. tashi is currently working on her first biomythographical (a term by Audre Lorde) novel, The Direction is Center.
A queer woman of Japanese descent grieves the spirit she met and parted ways with through her pregnancy and subsequent abortion. She dreams for many nights of a taiko drum with a koi fish sticking out of one side, holding a jade ball in its mouth, representing a world restored to wholeness. Kizuna, meaning the bonds that cannot be broken, tells the story of the construction of this sacred drum and the alchemizing of loss into ancestral kinship through ritual. The drum named Kizuna by her side, the woman goes on to hold rituals for others who have undergone abortions in her community, weaving a reality of bodily autonomy and sexual sovereignty for all who travel through this sacred rite of passage.