The documentary program at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism — a two-year program with “an unmatched record of producing award-winning, in-depth reporting in the public interest” — has launched a $500,000 fundraising drive to create the first endowed fellowships in documentary filmmaking in its history.The fellowships are being made possible by a $100,000 matching grant from Oakland-based production company Signifyin’ Works, and named in honor of J-School alumnus and Professor Marlon T. Riggs (1957 – 1994). Riggs, the pioneering black gay filmmaker of “Tongues Untied,” “Ethnic Notions,” and “Je Ne Regrette Rien (No Regrets),” was known for “making penetrating documentary films confronting racism and homophobia that thrust him onto center stage in America’s ‘culture wars’ of the early 1990s.” Born in Fort Worth, Texas, Riggs graduated magna cum laude from Harvard and received his master’s degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley, where he became the youngest tenured professor at the Graduate School of Journalism.
His life and career were tragically cut short by AIDS complications at 37.
The school’s goal is to “invigorate documentary filmmaking in the great tradition of Henry Hampton, Alain Raisnais, Les Blank, Lourdes Portillo, John Grierson, and Marlon Riggs himself” to report on subjects of social and cultural import to the American people by funding the education of promising students.
The documentary faculty will select students to receive the fellowships annually through the endowment, to which further contributions can be made in perpetuity. They hope to meet their $500,000 goal by the end of their fiscal year on June 30, 2015. The long-term goal is to raise at least $1,000,000 with an estimated 4% endowment payout rate. Click here for more information.