Top row: Virtic Brown, Nasreen Alkhateeb, Shaina Ghuraya; bottom row: Luna X Moya, Cashmere Jasmine, Jennifer Msumba
By Amber Espinosa-Jones
The Sundance Institute is thrilled to resume the Accessible Futures Initiative in 2021 as a virtual intensive. Created in 2019, the intensive is part of the Sundance Institute’s ongoing commitment to deepening outreach to and support of artists with disabilities, including amplifying accessibility at the Sundance Film Festival with guidance and support of our partners at Easterseals Southern California and implementing all-staff accessibility inclusion trainings provided by RespectAbility. The 2021 Intensive will take the shape of a cross-genre project consultation and career strategy workshop for artists of color, with disabilities, in the development or early production of fiction and nonfiction projects.
We are so excited to bring together this powerful group of artists, creative advisors, and organizational collaborators! While we still have much work ahead to advance disability justice, the Outreach & Inclusion program is committed to bringing an intersectional lens to the work that we do and humbled by the long legacy of disabled artists.
The Sundance Institute collaborated with Allied Organizations with deep relationships within the disability community to nominate applicants and to function as advisors. Additionally, Sundance staff, artist alumni and field leading partners will conduct creative and professional development sessions, to support the advancement of the selected participants’ projects and careers. Through this multi-day virtual Intensive, we seek to assist participating artists in honing their creative voice and craft, finding a cohort, and building support for them to help surmount critical barriers in the field that has systematically excluded artists with disabilities.
The advisors for the 2021 Intensive include Day Al-Mohamed, Rodney Evans, Josh Feldman, Tatiana Lee, Monika Navarro, and Nic Novicki. We are excited to collaborate with Sins Invalid and Firelight Media who will lead community building and documentary workshops for the artists, respectively. Thank you to Easterseals Disability Services and Rev.com for supporting our accessibility and inclusion initiatives.
NASREEN ALKHATEEB (Director)
Award-winning filmmaker Nasreen Alkhateeb’s ability to motivate audiences is a result of being first-gen, multi-heritage, Disabled, and a survivor. Cinematographer for Kamala Harris and Oprah’s OWN Network, Nasreen has directed content for NASA, the United Nations, and the Women’s March. Alumna of the Tribeca Film Festival, the Disruptors Fellowship, the RespectAbility Fellowship, and given the Wild Card award by NASA peers and Cinematographer of the Year for her work in the Arctic, Forbes described her as “breaking barriers.”
Touching Fire: In an age when a Muslim feminist icon can have their entire life’s work undone by the click of a tweet, a daughter dives deep into her mother’s legacy to set the record straight.
VIRTIC EMIL BROWN (Writer, Director)
Virtic Emil Brown attended New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. She is a writer, actress, and filmmaker. Some of her films are Will Unplugged, Mission In Kosovo, and Hindsight. Virtic’s directorial debut was the documentary short On Tour, which screened at the 70th Venice International Film Festival. She’s appeared on shows like Without A Trace and The Shield. She is a member of the Classical Theatre Lab and EST/LA. Virtic is in WGA (CBW, DWC, CWW).
Free!: In the final six days of their child’s life, the Bradys must confront their past. This is not the life God wanted for them when He gave their souls a body.
SHAINA GHURAYA (Writer, Director)
Shaina jokes that she is a triple threat: She’s a wheelchair-user, Punjabi, and a woman. She is a writer-director for quirky and bold comedies that embrace diversity and explore intersectionality. A graduate of USC’s Film and Television production program, Shaina’s films have gone on to screen at ReelAbilities, Hollyshorts, and Slamdance. Currently, she is a writing apprentice on the Netflix Animation show Boons and Curses.
Agg: A conservative (psychotic) Indian family decides to trick a man into an arranged marriage by hiding their daughter’s disability. However, the daughter, Agg, decides the wedding is the perfect time to enact violent (yet still tasteful) revenge against her abusive family.
Cashmere Jasmine (Writer, Director)
Cashmere Jasmine is an award-winning first-generation disabled Afro-Caribbean writer and director from South Florida who creates queer, disability-inclusive dramas accented by dark humor and surrealist imagery in between jaunts of loudly drinking cocktails in dark L.A. bars with her ever-faithful sidekick Greyfriars Bobby the Little (always pictured).
Bitter: After losing custody of her little sister, a homeless dialysis patient climbs the social and financial ladder by manipulating the L.A. underground party scene in this hour-long Breaking Bad–meets–Ally McBeal dramedy.
LUNA X MOYA (Director, Editor, DP)
Luna X Moya (they/she) is a documentary filmmaker with over 10 years of experience, primarily as a director and editor, in the film and television industry. Their work screened at A+E Networks, MoMA, The Shed, BAMcinemaFest, and AFI SilverDocs. Luna is a formerly undocumented, queer, and chronically ill filmmaker. She focuses on documentary films about immigration, racial injustice, estranged family dynamics, and desire.
What the Pier Gave Us: A five-part poetic and experimental film about immigrants who fish at a pier in New York and the immigrant experience. What The Pier Gave Us lyrically captures the life of a pier through the seasons in a year.
JENNIFER MSUMBA (Writer)
Jennifer Msumba is a filmmaker and musician who is best known for her award-winning film The Fish Don’t Care When It Rains. She also has several albums distributed on Spotify, Apple Music, etc. Being an autistic artist, Jennifer believes her unique experiences have helped her creativity. She lives in Florida with her dog, Lemonade, where she enjoys fishing and playing keys for her church’s worship team. Jennifer is also a member of American Mensa.
Girl’s School: Amelia longs to escape the Westwood Behavioral School for Girls. When a blizzard causes the staff members to abandon their responsibilities, rising chaos ensues. And Amelia must choose between saving herself, or saving her friends.