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Inaugural Lynn Shelton Grant Goes to Rising Filmmaker Keisha Rae Witherspoon — Exclusive

The annual "Of a Certain Age" grant was launched to honor the kind of "late blooming" filmmakers Shelton championed. Its first winner tells IndieWire what she plans to do next.

Lynn Shelton, Keisha Rae Witherspoon

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A Chinese American from Ohio, Stephanie Wang-Breal uses film as a tool to subvert the narrative. Her work explores institutions and the people who reside at the core of these institutions. Stephanie’s films include the Emmy-nominated and SilverDocs Grand Jury Prize-winning “Wo Ai Ni Mommy,” “Tough Love,” and New York Times’ critics pick “Blowin’ Up.” Her work has been supported by the Sundance Institute, the Ford Foundation, the New York State Council of the Arts, the Jerome Foundation, the Center for Asian American Media, ITVS, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting; she is the recipient of a 2019 Chicken and Egg Artist Award, as well as a 2020 Creative Capital Artist Award and a 2020 Guggenheim fellowship. Stephanie is trilingual: fluent in Mandarin and French, and she currently resides in Brooklyn, New York, with her son and daughter.

Kim Spurlock is a Vietnamese-American filmmaker based in New York. She holds an MFA in Film Production from NYU. Kim has written, produced and directed multiple award-winning short films including “Buổi Chiều,” a Vietnamese language ghost story that premiered at Slamdance before winning the Jury Prize at the Vietnamese International Film Festival, and the Student Academy Award Winning “Down in Number 5,”a Southern Gothic tale of a coal miner pushed to his limits for the love of his son. Features in development have drawn support from the New York State Council on the Arts, Venice Biennale Cinema College, IFP, Film Society of Lincoln Center, the Sloan Foundation, The Black List, and the Writer’s Lab.

A. Sayeeda Moreno is a director, screenwriter, and proud native New Yorker. Her films are character driven, utilizing genre, infused with black and brown bodies of the diaspora, specifically those who are Latinx, illuminating our (human) experiences; how we survive, what is in opposition to us, what our mind grapples with, and how we love. She has directed the short film “White,” which screened at SXSW, Tribeca, and BAMcinemaFest, the award-winning short “Sin Salida,” which aired on HBO/HBOLatino, and “The Grey Woman,” which screened at Lincoln Center and won the Hallmark short film competition. Sayeeda is a Film Independent, Sundance Women in Finance, and Tribeca All Access Fellow. Sayeeda is an Assistant Professor in Film and Electronic Arts at Bard College.

Mylissa Fitzsimmons spent her early 20’s in Seattle documenting the music scene, after which she settled in LA and started making documentary films. After 15 years of docs she transitioned to narrative filmmaking. Her films include the award-winning films “That Party That One Night” and “Who Decides.” She has been a finalist for many directing and writing programs including ScreenCraft and the HBO Directing Fellowship. Her personal short essays have been included in online publications and her photography has been featured in such magazines as Rolling Stone and Nylon. In 2018 she was invited to participate in The Reykjavik Talent lab in Iceland. She is a co-founder of The Los Angeles Women’s Film Collective.

Daresha Kyi is an Emmy award winning director who writes and produces film and television in Spanish and English. A graduate of NYU Film School, she is currently in post-production on Mama Bears, her second feature documentary about how conservative, Christian mothers are transformed when they decide to accept their LGBTQ children. Other projects include Texas Strong, which garnered over 3.6 million views online, screened at SXSW, and won two Webby Awards and an Emmy, as well as Chavela, an award-winning documentary about iconic singer Chavela Vargas.

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