A Sundance Institute program dedicated to cultivating and supporting diverse artists with disabilities is back after a pandemic pause.
The Accessible Futures Initiative returns for 2021 after launching in 2019, Sundance announced internally on Friday. The virtual program will work with filmmakers across genres and consult on projects and career strategy over a multi-day workshop.
This also includes making the annual Sundance Film Festival more accessible, in partnership with Easterseals Southern California and RespectAbility, which provides inclusivity training.
“We seek 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,” an internal memo obtained by Variety read.
This year’s selected filmmakers include Nasreen Alkhateeb, Virtic Emil Brown, Shaina Ghuraya, Cashmere Jasmine , Luna X Moya, and Jennifer Msumba. Their advisors for the intensive include Day Al-Mohamed, Rodney Evans, Josh Feldman, Tatiana Lee, Monika Navarro, and Nic Novicki.
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Read more about the selected filmmaker background and projects:
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.”
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 Unplugged, Mission 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.
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.