Aug. 22

12:00 PM
Live on Facebook


Solidarity Is Not A Trend, Nor a Market Exchange

Panelists: Marcia Smith, Bhawin Suchak, Jemma Desai, Ben-Alex Dupris
Moderator: Sonya Childress

By centering the ongoing work and history of Black, Indigenous and People of Color solidarity in film and media, this panel underscores viable strategies and channels for creating radical and transformative change rooted in deep relational work, as opposed to neoliberal tokens of inclusion. Calling upon Robin D.G. Kelly’s invocation that “solidarity is not a market exchange,” this conversation asks filmmakers and funders to interrogate the recent market-driven impulses circling around “anti-racism” and “equity,” and asks to what heights our collective power could reach, if we were to use cultural work from a place of getting free rather than from a place of getting capital. How are we working to build revolutionary power from our identities, instead of brokering them for occasional concessions, granted by the very extractive structures that set the terms for our exploitation? How do we also acquire the funds that are owed to us without doing a song and dance? This panel proposes many historic and contemporary avenues like mentorship, resource sharing, and direct action through which artists of the global majority have stood at the edges and claimed it as central.

This panel is free and open to the public. It will stream live with closed captioning on August 22nd from this web page as well as BlackStar’s Facebook page.

In partnership with:

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Sonya Childress

Senior Fellow

Sonya Childress has positioned film as a tool to shift narratives and support social justice movement building for two decades. She currently serves as a Senior Fellow with the Perspective Fund, where she will explore and advance accountable, equitable and ethical practices within the documentary film landscape through research, writing and field-building efforts. A veteran cultural strategist, Sonya served as the Director of Partnerships and Engagement for Firelight Media, where she led impact campaigns for veteran director Stanley Nelson’s films, including Freedom Summer, Freedom Riders, Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities and The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution. She has advised countless filmmakers on their impact strategies, including Yance Ford (Strong Island), Peter Bratt (Dolores), Steve James (The Interrupters), Cristina Ibarra & Alex Rivera (The Infiltrators), Byron Hurt (Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes) and Jeff Zimbalist (Favela Rising). Sonya has worked with Active Voice, California Newsreel, Kartemquin Films, ITVS and Working Films. She founded the Impact Producer Fellowship, a mentorship program for impact producers of color. She is a trustee of The Whitman Institute, a private foundation that champions Trust Based Philanthropy, a member of the Brown Girls Doc Mafia, and on the steering committee for the Global Impact Producers group. Sonya resides in Los Angeles with her two children.


Marcia Smith

President, Firelight Media

Marcia Smith is President and co-Founder of Firelight Media, which produces documentary films, provides artistic and financial support to emerging filmmakers of color, and builds impact campaigns to connect documentaries to audiences and social justice advocates. Under her leadership, Firelight Media was honored with a MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. The flagship Documentary Lab program has supported more than 80 emerging filmmakers over the past decade, who have premiered at festivals such as Sundance, and gone on to earn numerous festival, Peabody, and Emmy awards.


Bhawin Suchak


Bhawin is an educator, filmmaker and co-founder of Youth FX, a media arts organization focused on empowering young people of color by teaching them creative and technical skills in film and digital media. He also co-founded and is one of the program directors of NeXt Doc, an international fellowship program and collective that exists to amplify the voices of documentary filmmakers of color between the ages of 20-24 years old. Bhawin is currently in production on Outta The Muck, a feature length documentary he is co-directing which is supported by Sundance Institute, ITVS, JustFilms and Southern Documentary Fund. He previously directed The Throwaways (2014), Free To Learn (2004) and is a producer, editor and cinematographer. Bhawin has been a teacher for more than 20 years and was formerly a lead teacher and co-director at The Free School in Albany, NY.


Jemma Desai

Writer / Researcher

Jemma Desai is a born and bred Londoner who is reconsidering her work biography after having spent the last year looking straight into the void of institutional life. She is currently a researcher and writer, sometimes talks about her feelings in public, and used to have a film programming practice that she hopes to re-imagine in a better future.


Ben-Alex Dupris


Ben-Alex Dupris is the director of the Grand Jury winning short film “Sweetheart Dancers,” OUTFEST 2019. He is Miniconjou Lakota, and enrolled member of the Colville Confederated Tribes where he grew up. Dupris creates work that pushes the boundaries of modernity and traditionalism, changing perspectives of Indigenous concepts without censorship. He spent five months on the ground documenting the Standing Rock occupation, and continues his work in honor of Indigenous people and his traditional homelands. His upcoming American Master’s short film about artist Bunky Echo-Hawk is part of a short series from Firelight Media. He is also a producer for Director Heather Rae’s film titled “Paulette,” about the Indigenous democratic candidate currently running for Senator, in Idaho.