Sabaah Folayan, Débora Souza Silva, Rachel Lears, & More Receive Gucci Tribeca Doc Fund Grants

Eleven feature-length non-fiction projects have been awarded Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund grants — and eight of them are helmed by women. A press released announced that the fund, from Tribeca Film Institute and Gucci, has presented $140,000 in production and finishing finances to “films that highlight and humanize critical domestic and international social issues, particularly via women-led stories.” The recipients were chosen by a jury of filmmakers, activists, and industry figures, including “The Old Guard” actress KiKi Layne and “The Hottest August” director Brett Story.

Sabaah Folayan’s “Ain’t I a Woman” is among the recipients. The film turns a critical eye on the history of American feminism, and chronicles the contemporary fight to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment and make the struggle for women’s rights more inclusive. Other fund awardees include Débora Souza Silva’s “Black Mothers,” the story of two mothers disrupting racist police violence, and Rachel Lears’ Green New Deal doc “To the End.”

Films from Nesa Azimi, Elaine McMillion Sheldon, Zaynê Akyol, Sura Mallouh, and Kate Stonehill also received funding.

“I couldn’t imagine a more deserving group of filmmakers for us to support in our final granting cycle,” said Jose Rodriguez, Director of Documentary Programs at Tribeca Film Institute. “Now more than ever, amidst our highly polarizing circumstances, we need these powerful narratives to take hold of our collective consciousness. These supported storytellers have the opportunity to open up our perspectives — and in turn, our industry should work to build a more equitable ecosystem for compelling and thoughtful stories like theirs to reach audiences.”

“These films are tackling incredibly important global issues that need more attention, and they are creating space for voices that are often forgotten about and ignored to be heard,” Layne remarked. “I am amazed at the courage of these filmmakers and the bravery and resilience of the people in these films who have opened up to share their lives with an audience, while they are fighting to be heard and to make change. Many of the issues represented in these films such as climate change, racism, sexism, immigration, and terrorism are often dealt with on such a broad, general scale,” she explained, “these films shine light on the real, personal, human, day-to-day impact that these larger issues have.”

Check out all the 2020 Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund grantees below, courtesy of the fund.


Director: Jon Sesrie-Goff

Producer: blair dorosh-walter, Madeleine Hunt-Ehrlich, Jon Sesrie-Goff


Logline: AFTER SHERMAN is a story about inheritance and the tension that defines our collective American history. An exploration of coastal South Carolina as a site of pride and racial trauma through Gullah cultural retention and land preservation is violently interrupted.


Director: Shaunak Sen

Co-Producer: Aman Mann


Logline: The story of Delhi’s apocalyptic air is told through an unlikely figure – the black kite, and its human entanglements.


Director: Sabaah Folayan

Producer: Emily Best, Sabaah Folayan, Megan Goedewaagen


Logline: Most Americans think women and men have equal protection under the law. They don’t. AIN’T I A WOMAN takes a critical look at the history of American feminism while capturing the present day fight to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment and uplift women of all races.


Director: Débora Souza Silva

Producer: Débora Souza Silva, David Felix Sutcliffe


Logline: Violence. Outrage. Impunity. Repeat. BLACK MOTHERS follows the journey of two mothers working to disrupt the cycle of racist police violence within our country’s judicial system. As one mother investigates her son’s attack by local police, the other channels her grief into organizing mothers to fight for justice.


Director: Nesa Azimi

Producers: Nesa Azimi, Elise McCave, Kellen Quinn


Logline: DRIVER follows long-haul truck driver Desiree Wood and a dynamic community of women truckers. Taking on routine sexual violence and an industry where multibillion-dollar megacarriers conspire to make individual drivers anonymous and disposable, Desiree brings together an unlikely group of drivers to find strength, solidarity, and self-determination on the road.


Director: Jasiri, Moyo and Duke

Producer: Callie Barlow, Malla Grapengiesser, Laurence Thrush


Logline: JASIRI is a feature documentary directed from death row. Jasiri, Moyo, and Duke, three African-American men, have served a combined 55-years of solitary confinement at a maximum security prison in Texas–ground zero for death row in America. In this personal narrative, the men reflect on the value of human life as they await their execution date. Without access to educational programs, contact visits, cameras, television, or phone calls, the men devised a clandestine way to make this film. Through a network of independent cameramen, activists and filmmakers on the outside, they are able to bring their story out of prison and to the screen.


Director, Writer: Elaine McMillion Sheldon

Producer: Molly Born


Logline: A lyrical essay from a lost paradise – woven with a series of contemporary documentary vignettes – explores how coal is imbued in the identity and human experience of Appalachians. KING COAL serves as a visual reminder of why change is slow and painful.


Director: Zaynê Akyol

Producer: Zaynê Akyol, Audrey-Ann Dupuis-Pierre, Sylvain Corbeil


Logline: ROJEK, ONE DAY is an intimate conversation with some of the most important members of the Islamic State (IS), who are currently being detained in Syria. As a backdrop, a country trying to stay vigilant as it struggles to recover from years of war.


Director: Rachel Lears

Producer: Robin Blotnick, Rachel Lears, Sabrina Schmidt Gordon


Logline: At this critical moment in our history, stopping the climate crisis is a question of political courage, and the clock is ticking. To the End follows the intersecting stories of four women of color who are key players in the rise of the Green New Deal—an ambitious plan to address climate change, and economic and racial justice in the process. Against the volatile backdrop of the 2020 election, the coronavirus pandemic, a deepening economic crisis, and historic protests against systemic racism, these young leaders must work together to defend their generation’s right to a future.


Director: Sura Mallouh

Producer: Sura Mallouh, Yoni Golijov, Laura Poitras


Logline: Two friends uncover a conflict that divides their already embattled community. Told from all sides, with unprecedented access to courtrooms, anonymous sources and community leaders, this observational film unfolds in real time.


Director: Kate Stonehill

Producer: Steven Lake

United Kingdom

Logline: An activist is stopped, interrogated and prosecuted as a terrorist for refusing to hand over the passwords to his phone and laptop during a border stop.

September 3, 2020
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