Cary Joji Fukunaga, the filmmaker behind “Beasts of No Nation,” “Maniac” and the upcoming James Bond sequel “No Time to Die,” has announced the creation of a production grant at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts to support rising filmmakers.
The grant, which will fund student thesis films and create mentorship opportunities for aspiring filmmakers, was created to support historically underrepresented voices and to promote Black, Indigenous, or people of color (BIPOC) stories in the film industry.
The $20,000 grant will be awarded in the spring of 2021 to a graduate student. The award recipient will participate as a mentor in the Cary Fukunaga Production Award Mentorship program with mentees selected from NYU Tisch Future Artists participants. Future Artists is a free arts education program for New York City high school students taught by Tisch faculty.
Fukunaga, an alum of NYU, said the mentorship program was an essential part in the creation of the award. He wanted to ensure that rising filmmakers would have access to film sets, hands-on experience and see people with similar backgrounds making gains in the entertainment industry.
“My hope for this award is that it empowers an emerging filmmaker who will help bridge the representation gap for BIPOC stories in the industry and turn them into a role model for kids who may not see an obvious path to the industry from where they are now,” Fukunaga said. “When I was younger I certainly didn’t see how someone like me could make it and if it weren’t for a few people who encouraged me, I don’t know if I would be here today. It’s critical for young people to see someone just ahead of them on the path to becoming a filmmaker. Just by example, it gives them the confidence to keep pursuing their dreams.”
The Cary Fukunaga Production Award will be awarded based on a proposal for the student’s thesis project. Fukunaga will judge the entries, along with a panel of NYU Graduate Film faculty and industry professionals.
“We are grateful to Cary for his generosity in supporting the next generation of filmmakers,” said NYU Tisch School of the Arts dean Allyson Green. “With one of the most diverse filmmaking programs in the country, NYU Tisch knows first-hand the captivating, unique, and fresh storytelling that emerges when filmmakers from different backgrounds are given the opportunity to cultivate their individual voices—they create the stories that define and shape the future of American and world cinema.”
Fukunaga emphasized that “diversity in cinema is essential.”
“We need to hear from storytellers whose diversity better reflects our society,” he said. “As for audiences, we need to experience more stories told from different points of view, not only to broaden our perspectives but to engender empathy, something we are in dire need of right now. Creating opportunities, instilling confidence, and establishing links from one generation to the next is one way we can effect real change in the industry.”