AXS Film Fund Announces Latest Grants Supporting Nonfiction Creators Of Color With Disabilities

EXCLUSIVE: “Carlitos The Terrible” lost an arm as a child, but that hasn’t stopped the young man from pursuing his dream of competing in Muay Thai at the highest levels.

His remarkable story is told in the upcoming documentary Zurdo (Southpaw), one of five nonfiction projects to receive support in the latest round of grants from the AXS Film Fund, an initiative created by AXS Lab to “support documentary filmmakers and non-fiction new media creators of color with disabilities.”

Along with Zurdo, directed by Luis Aguer, the grantees announced today include El Desobediente (The Disobedient One), directed by Rodrigo Dorfman; Prodigal Daughter, directed by Mabel Valdiviezo; Sticker Movie, directed by Will Deloney, and the new media project Lineage Launch Pad, directed by Ann Bennett [see below for more details on each project].

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AXS Film Fund Launched To Serve Nonfiction Creators Of Color With Disabilities

“AXS Film Fund seeks to bring visibility to this underrepresented community of creators by intervening and providing opportunities that they may not otherwise have with mainstream funding structures,” a release stated. “AXS Film Fund is led by Jason DaSilva, a director, producer, writer, and disability rights activist best known for the Emmy Award winning documentary When I Walk, the first film in a documentary trilogy, and program director Naomi Middleton.”

DaSilva said in a statement, “It’s nice to see that the AXS Film Fund has come so far in such a short time. It’s great that we have doubled our application intake from when we first started, which shows that there is a clear need to serve this community. It’s exciting that these stories can come to the forefront now and have support where they would otherwise not receive funding.”

Middleton noted, “AXS Film Fund continues to support and make space for creators of color living with disabilities. The progress we have made is critical and it is vital that as a community we continue to embrace our many beautiful and complex identities and push for full diversity in the representation of films and creators.”

The five grantees were chosen by a judging panel that included Shelly Barry, Alice Elliott, Marianne D’Souza, Giorge Leedy, Margaret Mize, and Persheng Vaziri. Funding for the grants was provided by The Bertha Foundation, with additional support from The Center for Asian American Media, Ford Foundation, The National Endowment for the Arts, International Documentary Association, The Sundance Institute, and Firelight Media. 

The application window for the next round of AXS Film Fund grants opens on June 1. Goals of the fund are to: 

  • Award creators, who identify themselves as a person of color having a disability(ies), in documentary filmmaking and nonfiction new media a one-time grant that will aid them in successfully completing their projects.
  • Help more ethnic minorities with disabilities get recognition and job opportunities in the film industry.
  • Help create more diversity amongst creators and the stories told.

These are the AXS Film Fund grant recipients announced today:

Documentary Projects:

El Desobediente (The Disobedient One)

Directed by Rodrigo Dorfman; Produced by Peter Eversoll
A Mexican bull rider crosses North over the desert to ride a ferocious bull that will change his life. A story of love and rebellion, El Desobediente (The Disobedient One) is a hybrid documentary that explores the power of mythmaking and redemption.

Prodigal Daughter

Directed & Produced by Mabel Valdiviezo

When artist and filmmaker Mabel Valdiviezo reunites with her family in Peru after sixteen years of silence, she decides to reveal her troubled past as an immigrant in the U.S. Diagnosed with Stage IV cancer, and using her art as a saving grace, Mabel must find a way to heal her broken family ties before it is too late.

Sticker Movie

Written and Produced by Sha-Risse Smith; Directed and Produced by Will Deloney 

Sticker Movie is a film about sticker art told by street artists, photographers, traders, and collectors who safeguard the culture and share their passion for stickers with the world.

Zurdo (Southpaw)

Produced by José I. Nuñez & Florencia Arrizabalaga; Directed by Luis Aguer

Muay Thai fighter “Carlitos The Terrible” lost his right arm at the shoulder when he was 3 years old. This ever brave boy is rising through the ranks of professional fighting, taking on able-bodied opponents and close to fulfilling his dream of fighting in Thailand.

New Media Project:

Lineage Launch Pad

Directed & Produced by Ann Bennett

LINEAGE LAUNCHPAD© Ancestor’s Tonic is an Augmented Reality/AR platform where African American Ancestors from the past appear at selected New York historical sites, in-person and virtually, to share their words of wisdom, strategic advice and calming assurances which collectively can serve as a ‘Tonic’ for modern New Yorkers (and the rest of the world) who are in the midst of a very challenging moment in history for everyone but especially for People-of-Color.

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