Black Film Project and Film Studies Fellowships Established at Harvard University

The department of art, film, and visual studies and the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University have partnered to create a new initiative, the Black Film Project, to support narrative and documentary films centering on Black history and culture. The project will be overseen by Henry Louis Gates Jr., the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and director of the Hutchins Center.

The Black Film Project will give out two annual prizes funded by outside partners. The Smithsonian Institution will establish the Henry Hampton Prize for Documentary Filmmaking on Black History and Culture, which will award $200,000 to an independent filmmaker of a late-stage documentary film exploring themes of Black culture. Philanthropist Eric G. Johnson has founded the Baldwin Richardson Food Prize which will provide a filmmaker of any genre a $50,000 prize to complete their project.

Additionally, the Black Film project includes three annual paid fellowships in the Hutchins Center’s W.E.B Du Bois Research Institute Fellowship Program. The fellows will have access to Harvard’s research and filmmaking resources to create and present their films to the public. They will have joint appointments in the department of art, film, and visual studies and the Film Study Center, where they will visit classes and partner with both faculty and students.

“I conceived of the Black Film Project as a way of contributing to the growing momentum of filmmaking about the Black experience, and as a way of honoring the field that has given me my second career,” said Dr. Gates. “The field is in the midst of a renaissance, one fueled by the democratization of filmmaking technology and an ever-growing demand for exciting new stories about Black culture and history that entertain and educate. We want the Black Film Project to identify, celebrate, and seed the work of talented artists of any ethnicity and, in doing so, to create an environment in which this renaissance can continue for many years to come.”

Dr. Gates graduated summa cum laude from Yale University where he majored in history. He holds a master’s degree and Ph.D. in English literature from Clare College at the University of Cambridge in England.


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