Since Impact Kickstart‘s creation six years ago, we have had the privilege of supporting underrepresented filmmakers in developing impact campaigns that address some of the most critical issues of our time. We’re thrilled by what’s recently unfolded for some of our past grantees!

'GMA' surprises deserving community advocate with $1 million Vince Pierce, who was shot in the neck and now uses a wheelchair, now leads Open Doors, a nonprofit working on gun violence prevention and disability justice.Following a BlackStar Film Festival win for Best Feature Documentary in August, Fire Through Dry Grass‘ Vince Pierce (Musician, Impact Strategist, Reality Poet), was celebrated on Good Morning America and awarded $1 million for his organization Open Doors. Fire Through Dry Grass offers a rare look inside a New York City nursing home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fire Through Dry Grass is also a New York Times Critics Pick!

Continuing with the good news, HBO Documentary Films has acquired U.S. and Canada television and streaming rights to Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project, winner of the Grand Jury Prize for U.S. Documentary at Sundance, Audience Award for Best Feature Documentary at Black Star Film Festival, and Jury Award for Outstanding Documentary Feature at Frameline Film Festival. The film directed and produced by Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson examines the life and career of poet and activist Nikki Giovanni, who rose to fame in the 1960s through her writings and television appearances.

The Storming Caesar’s Palace impact campaign is well underway! More than 50 screenings have taken place since the film opened the BlackStar Film Festival in 2022, where director Hazel Gurland was awarded the Shine First Time Filmmaker Award. From the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library, to the Care Workers Can’t Wait Summit, The BIG (Basic Income Guarantee) Conference, to the Black Maternal Mental Health Summit – the film has been lifting up and celebrating Black Women’s work while fortifying the efforts of today’s grassroots leaders and creating opportunities for dialogue and action with organizations and legislators to build solutions to poverty from the ground up.

Last and certainly not least, Leya Hale, Bring Her Home (Director/Producer) was featured as part of the 2023 Film North Forum panel, Staying Put: Building a Film Practice Wherever You Are, focused on building a filmmaking practice and community outside of the big media hubs and challenging established models of what it takes to succeed in a documentary career.

We will continue to highlight the incredible work of all our Impact Kickstart alumni, so stay tuned to our newsletter, blog, and social media channels: @workingfilms. The 2023 Impact Kickstart annual call for applications closed in early September, and announcements will be made in November.

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