The Women's Film, TV and Theatre Fund is the centerpiece of a groundbreaking series of initiatives by the City of New York Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME) to address the underrepresentation of female and female-identifying creatives in film, television, and theatre. On February 28, 2019, 63 women-led projects were selected to receive funds totaling $1.5 million. This is just the first round of a three-year program administered by the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA).
In all, 544 applications were submitted for consideration in this first round.
Here is a breakdown of the projects selected for funding by esteemed panels of industry experts:
In addition to being made by, for, or about all who identify as women, projects are eligible if they feature a strong female perspective; and/or include a female director; and/or include a meaningful female producer credit; and/or include a meaningful female writing credit; and/or include a female protagonist(s).
Below is a complete list of projects selected for funding and below that, the panelists who evaluated the projects.
Isabel Sandoval: Director, Writer, Producer, Editor, Lead Actress
Title: Lingua Franca
About: Lingua Franca is a dramatic feature about Olivia, an undocumented Filipina transwoman who works as a caregiver in Brighton Beach. In her pursuit of a legal immigration status, she becomes emotionally involved with a Russian-Jewish man.
Diane Fraher (Osage/Cherokee): Director/Writer
Title: The Heart Stays
About: The Heart Stays tells the story of two Native American teenaged sisters who leave the traditions and safety of the Osage Nation to follow their long held dreams.
Kristen Abate: Co-Director, Co-Writer, Producer, Lead Actress; Steven Tennenbaum: Co-Director, Co-Writer
Title: Straighten Up and Fly Right
About: Autobiographical film about a woman with a severe form of arthritis who secretly dreams of being a writer but walks dogs for a living.
Julia Kots: Director, Writer, Editor
Title: Inez & Doug & Kira
About: After Inez' mysterious suicide, her twin sister, Kira, and Kira's fiancée, Doug - both of whom shared their own complicated relationship with Inez - embark on a quest to solve the mystery behind their loved one's death.
Adenike Thomas: Director, Writer
Title: Addie & Addy
About: Addie & Addy is a half-hour comedy about two twenty-something, first-generation Nigerian-American roommates forced to share a rent-stabilized apartment in Brooklyn, NY.
Sophia Peer: Creator, Director, Writer, Editor
Title: Who's Annie (pilot)
About: After jail time, 12-step programs and five marriages, Annie's now ready to take on every role this series hands her.
Aisha Jordan: Creator, Head Writer
About: #HashtagTheShow, a socially conscious sketch comedy web series about our modern hashtag reality through the lens of people of color in America.
Hang Nguyen: Director, Writer
Title: Sideways Smile
About: Sideways Smile is a comedy series about an Asian-American woman on a journey of sexual discovery after reluctantly enrolling in a class on female sexuality.
Lindsay Amer: Creator, Host
Title: Queer Kid Stuff
About: Queer Kid Stuff is an LGBTQ+ and social justice educational webseries for ages 3 and up, imagining a kinder and more equal future through inclusive children's media.
Zoie Omega: Director; Bunny Michael: Writer, Performer
Title: What Would Higher Self Do?
About: Queer artist Bunny Michael and their self love personified- doppelgänger HigherSelf flip the mental script on negative thinking while pursuing an art career in New York in web series.
Angela Cheng: Director, Writer
Title: Type A
About: Type A is a web series detailing the misadventures of being Asian-American in New York City -- from dating to online makeup tutorials to ordering takeout.
Huriyyah Muhammad: Director, Writer, Producer
Title: Keloid: Original Series
About: When a young boy with supernatural abilities is linked to the death of a classmate, he and his mother go on the run, returning to her hometown where they are soon tormented by an acquaintance with a score to settle.
Sarah Randall Hunt: Creator, Producer
Title: Stupid Cupid
About: Four best friends attempt to fix the problem of modern love through an app with a mind of its own.
Myna Joseph: Director, Writer
Title: No Fault
About: Following a near-fatal car accident, Lu wrestles with creeping invisibility as she approaches the second half of her life – but she's determined to be seen.
Catherine Loerke: Director, Writer
Title: Sand Mama
About: In the surreal yet relatable short Sand Mama, a woman whose identity has become obscured by the roles of wife and mother metamorphoses into a sand creature on a family beach trip.
Jessie Levandov: Director, Writer
About: Baby is a queer coming-of-age love story that introduces us to the world of Ali, a Dominican teenager from the Bronx, on a Saturday afternoon.
Taylor Lee Nagel: Director, Producer; Julia Lindon: Writer, Producer, Actor
Title: Lady Liberty
About: Lady Liberty is an independently produced pilot that follows an aspiring comedian learning to embrace her queerness, find her comedic voice, and more importantly, her community.
Eliza Cossio: Co-Director, Writer, Actress; Hayley Kosan: Co-Director
Title: La Bruja
About: La Bruja is a bilingual dark comedy about a Mexican American girl who goes through a breakup and meets a witch who offers to help.
Machel Ross: Director, Producer, Costume Designer
Title: Signs He Made at Home
About: Signs He Made At Home is a fictional short film that follows the life and artistic practice of a visionary artist as he descends into schizophrenic delusions.
Dominica Eriksen: Director, Writer, Cinematographer
Title: Saint Catherine of Bensonhurst
About: Saint Catherine of Bensonhurst is an irreverent dramedy that follows the unexpected consequences of 12-year-old Catherine's sudden decision to become a nun.
Danielle Eliska Lyle: Director, Writer
About: A foster care kid named Zoe overcomes her unusual attachment to a blanket with Rachel's creative use of comic books.
Linh Dan Nguyen Phan: Director, Writer
Title: Children of the Dust
About: Through the eyes of a 10 years old refugee from the Vietnam War, the short film tells the story of belonging, alienation and a bowl of pho.
Danielle Durchslag: Director, Writer
Title: Eleanor of Illinois
About: Chicago's most powerful Jewish doyenne, played by Broadway legend Judy Kuhn, channels Katherine Hepburn to punish her adult child's insolence, and win back their loyalty.
Grace McLean: Librettist, Composer, Lyricist; Lee Sunday Evans: Director
Title: In the Green
About: In the Green is a new musical based on the origin story of one of Medieval history's most powerful and creative women: Hildegard von Bingen. Produced by LCT3.
Colette Robert: Playwright, Director
Title: The Harriet Holland Social Club Presents the 84th Annual Star-Burst Cotillion in the Grand Ballroom of the Renaissance Hotel
About: The Harriet Holland Social Club Presents the 84th Annual Star-Burst Cotillion in the Grand Ballroom of the Renaissance Hotel cleverly deconstructs black debutante ball culture. Produced by New Georges and the Movement Theatre Company.
Karen Brown, Karimah, Ntozake Shange: Playwrights; Ifa Bayeza, Karen Brown: Directors
Title: Negro Ensemble Company Celebrates The Art of Women
About: NEC Celebrates the Art of Woman explores extraordinary women in performance with multi-dimensionality; range of voice, perspective and emotion across generational, economic, and cultural descriptors.
Nia O. Wiherspoon: Playwright; Mei Ann Teo: Director
About: Messiah is a love story. Or many. It follows the journey of a DJ. A transman. A seer with fire in his teeth. Hoover's nightmare. A son of two Black Panthers. Come dance inside his church of memory, where we who have been denied voice—black women, queer, and trans folks—are on the pulpit.
Lisa Schlesinger: Playwright; Marion Schoevaert: Director; Irina Patkanian: Filmmaker
Title: Iphigenia Point Blank
About: This immersive public ritual fuses together documentary film, theatre, live music, and dance, to share the story of a woman's experience of war.
Antoinette Nwandu: Playwright; Danya Taymor: Director
Title: Tuvalu: Or the Saddest Song
About: Tuvalu by Antoinette Nwandu depicts a young black woman's coming of age in 1990s Los Angeles set against the backdrop of the OJ Simpson trial. Produced by The Vineyard Theatre.
Karen Kandel: Writer, Performer
Title: Vicksburg Project
About: The Vicksburg Project traces women's experiences in Vicksburg, Mississippi from The Civil War, Jim Crow/Great Migration, Civil Rights era, and today through song and text. Produced by Mabou Mines.
Indira Etwaroo: Director; Dominique Morisseau: Curator
Title: 50in50: Letters to Our Daughters
About: 50in50: Letters to Our Daughters brings to the stage 50 stories 50 50 women across the globe as they consider the world [they] inherited and the one [they] would like to create. Produced by The Billie Holiday Theater.
Aya Ogawa: Playwright; Director: Performer
Title: The Nosebleed
About: A theatrical memorial and healing ritual for the audience, The Nosebleed is a darkly humorous autobiographical play about writer/director Aya Ogawa's fractured relationship with her long-deceased father.
DeVante Lewis: Director
Title: Girlz in Da Hood
About: The Writher's Project aims to create space for girls and femme writers from the Bronx to express their personal narratives in fun and empowering ways. Presented at Community Connections for Youth.
Zoey Martinson: Playwright, Director
Title: The Black History Museum According to the United States of America
About: The Black History Museum... According to the United States of America is a theatrical installation experience delving into the fraught relationship between Black bodies and the value America places on them. Produced by HERE Arts Center.
Kayhan Irani: Playwright, Performer; Rania Lee Khalil: Director
Title: There is a Portal
About: There is a Portal is a multimedia, one-woman show and community building project that re-imagines belonging and human connection through linking narratives of migration, displacement and home.
Andrea Stolowitz: Playwright, Producer; Portia Krieger: Director
Title: The Berlin Diaries
About: In 2006, Oregon Book Award-winning playwright Andrea Stolowitz receives a family diary from the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. in 2015 she travels to Berlin to investigate.
Robin Frohardt: Playwright, Director
Title: The Plastic Bag Store
About: The Plastic Bag Store is an installation and puppetry-based immersive play that explores how the hordes of plastic waste we are leaving behind might be misinterpreted by future generations.
Melinda Hunt: Director
Title: Loneliness is a Beautiful Place: AIDS Burials on Hart Island
About: Loneliness is a Beautiful Place: Unearthing the stories of five New Yorkers who died of AIDS and disappeared onto Hart Island.
Alison Cornyn: Project Director
Title: Expert Voices
About: Expert Voices, a web miniseries, is a component of Incorrigibles, a transmedia documentary project born out of the stories and lives of incarcerated girls in the US, from 1900 to present day.
Sol Aramendi: Project Director
Title: The Women Worker's Studio
About: Documents how women immigrants cooperate to lead change in their communities.
Krystalline Armendariz: Director
Title: Folx: a queer documentary series
About: Folx, a queer documentary series, explores the strength, diversity, and often overlooked experiences of queer lives through intimate 60-second portraits.
Louise Dente: Director, Producer
Title: African Hairtage in America: The Struggle for Cultural/Natural Expression
About: As NYC implements legislation to protect against racial discrimination on the basis of hair, this web series will explore the history that makes these protections necessary.
Charlotte Mangin: Project Director
About: Unladylike2020 is a series of animated documentary shorts featuring unsung American women from the turn of the 20th century, launching in 2020 for the centennial of women's suffrage.
Lucy Claire Adams: Director, Cinematographer, Editor
Title: The Weight
About: The Weight (working title) follows 93 year old sculptor Lorrie Goulet as she continues her seventy year career at her studio in New York City, reflecting on her life and legacy.
Bella Randle Racklin: Director, Producer, Editor
Title: Floating Victoria
About: A journey into the wacky world of maverick artist Victoria Mackenzie-Childs, set aboard her floating magnum opus, the century-old Yankee Ferry.
Laura Checkoway: Director, Producer, Editor
About: This documentary enters the life of Eshete, a refugee who escaped war and is now King of a cat colony in Brooklyn.
Rachel Fleit: Director
Title: Ava & Bianca
About: Ava & Bianca is a short documentary film about the relationship between two female cinematographers who also happen to be transgender.
Crystal Kayzia: Director
Title: See You Next Time
About: See You Next Time reaches across the nail salon table to capture the intimate moments shared between a Chinese nail artist and her Black client.
Luz M. Zamora: Director, Cinematographer
Title: El Retorno/The Return
About: After 3 decades working in NYC, Aura Taibel returns to Barranquilla, Colombia to begin her own business.
Yiwei Chen: Director, Cinematographer, Editor
Title: Audry Funk
About: Audry Funk is about how a social activist and feminist rapper from Mexico rebuilds her life and pride in NYC.
Hanna Nordenswan: Director, Editor, Cinematographer
Title: Night Cleaners
About: A documentary about the people who clean while we sleep. Night Cleaners shows the extraordinary in the ordinary in different New York spaces and their cleaners.
Lydia Cornett & Jenny Groza: Co-Directors
Title: Narmin's Birthday
About: Narmin's Birthday tells the story of Narmin, an Azerbaijani teenager, and her traditional grandmother Ismat, as she plans her sixteenth birthday party to be as "American" as possible.
Andrea Cordoba: Director, Producer, Cinematographer, Editor
About: Sanctuary follows Guatemalan immigrant Amanda Morales as she takes physical sanctuary in a NYC church, publicly resisting her deportation within a space that ICE recognizes as protected.
Nausheen Dadabhoy: Director, Cinematographer
Title: An Act of Worship
About: An Act of Worship follows a new generation of Muslim-American women activists who have been galvanized into action while anti-Muslim sentiments are on the rise.
Marialuisa Ernst: Director, Producer
Title: A Place of Absence
About: The Caravan of Women — 40 Central Americans make an annual journey across Mexico to search for children who went missing while crossing the border.
Diane Hodson & Jasmine Luoma: Co-Directors, Co-Producers, Co-Cinematographers
Title: Million Dollar Block
About: With the future of public housing at stake, Million Dollar Block peers inside one NYCHA development on the precipice of change.
Elle Kamihira: Director; Yulia Ruditskaya: Animation Director
Title: Jennifer, 42
About: Jennifer, 42 is an animated true crime documentary that tells the story of a Connecticut mother and her family's life-and-death battle to escape domestic violence.
Tania Cypriano: Director
About: Transformation (working title) follows Dr. Jess Ting, head of a groundbreaking transgender surgery program in New York City, and a diverse group of his patients.
Beth B: Director, Editor, Cinematographer
Title: Lydia Lunch: The War Is Never Over
About: Lydia Lunch: The War is Never Over, directed by Beth B, journeys into No Wave legend Lydia Lunch's electric artistry confronting the patriarchy, sexuality & war with rare emotional honesty.
Jessica Earnshaw: Director, Cinematographer
About: Jacinta (working title) follows a young mother in and out of prison in Maine, while exploring the relationship between trauma and love within a family fractured by a cycle of addiction and incarceration.
Deirdre Fishel: Director
Title: Women In Blue
About: An unprecedented look at the lives of female officers, Women in Blue explores the relationship between power, gender and violence in a Metropolitan Police Department.
Pamela French: Director
Title: Grabbing Back
About: Grabbing Back, featuring Congresswomen Jahana Hayes, Ayanna Pressley and Lauren Underwood, is the inspiring story of African-American women breaking barriers to run for Congress.
Dempsey Rice: Director; Jonathan Corbiere: Director of Animation
Title: The Animated Mind of Oliver Sacks
About: The Animated Mind of Oliver Sacks is a cinematic journey into the life, work and ideas of the bestselling author and revolutionary neurologist.
Wendy Ettinger, Co-Founder of Chicken&Egg Pictures, Co-Founder of Gamechanger Films
Ruby Lerner, Arts Consultant, Founding Director of Creative Capital (Retired)
Michelle Materre, Associate Professor of Media Studies & Film at The New School, Founder / Lead Curator of Creatively Speaking Film Series
Yvonne Russo, Film & TV Producer, Rosebud Sioux Tribal Nation Member, NYWIFT Board Member, The Language Conservancy Board Member, Producers Guild of America Member, Sundance Institute Fellow, Tribeca All Access Fellow
Debra Zimmermann, Women Make Movies Executive Director
Kathy Brew, MoMA Doc Fortnight Series Curator
Toby Perl Freilich, Independent Filmmaker
Barbara Miller, Senior Curator of Collections & Exhibitions at Museum of the Moving Image
Valerie Paley, Director at Center for Women's History, Chief Historian at New York Historical Society
JT Takagi, Filmmaker / Third World Newsreel Executive Director
Nevah Assang, Cultural & Community Relations at NYC & Company
Amy Dotson, Deputy Director & Head of Programming at IFP
Chloe Gbai, Shorts & Streaming Producer at POV
Michelle Hamada, Documentary & Scripted Programs Manager at Tribeca Film Institute
Shona Masarin-Hurst, Programs Director at CUE Art Foundation
Mahen Bonetti, Director of African Film Festival
Sharon Greytak, Independent Filmmaker
Lesli Klainberg, Executive Director at Film Society of Lincoln Center
Terry Lawler, Media Consultant
Juana Suárez, Media Archivist / Professor at NYU Moving Image Archiving & Preservation
Abbesi Akhamie, Writer / Director / Producer
Camille Betrand, Bleecker Street Media Director of Acquisitions
Amy Fox, Screenwriter / Professor at NYU Tisch
Jessica Green, Independent Programmer / Producer
Tracey Scott Wilson, Co-Executive Producer at FX Networks
Livia Bloom Ingram, Vice President at Icarus Films / Film Curator
Blandine Mercier-McGovern, Consultant / OTT Content Strategist & Film Distributor
Soldanela Rivera, Notes From A Native Daughter Producer / Host
Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, Filmmaker
Kirya Traber, Playwright / Actress / Cultural Worker
Emilya Cachapero, TCG Director of Artistic & International Programs
Kathleen Chalfant, Actress
Mandy Greenfield, Artistic Director at Williamstown Theatre Festival
Caridad Svich, Playwright / NoPassport Theatre Alliance & Press
Daphne Rubin-Vega, Actor, Singer, Writer