Congratulations to Our Microgrant Winners!

The Pano Network is delighted to announce the winners of our second round of Microgrants! The final Jury included Christine Swanson (P-Valley; Roswell, New Mexico), Anu Valia (She Hulk: Attorney at Law, Never Have I Ever), Joanna Naugle (The Bear, Ramy, Co-Owner of Senior Post), and Laura Fielder (Board Member, The Black TV & Film Collective).

We’d like to give a special shout-out to Stephanie Choriatis, who won our first-ever Color Grading Grant provided by Marika Litz. To everyone who applied, thank you for your effort and we encourage you to apply the next time around. On behalf of the Pano Board, we congratulate the winners and look forward to seeing your creative projects come to life!

The Fifteen Selected Filmmakers for Round 2 (2022) are:

Post-Production for Free Food

A group of women, led by the compassionate eye of Asmeret Berhe, set out to put community refrigerators throughout Brooklyn. Their main objective is to make sure that the food insecure communities in Brooklyn have organic and healthy food to eat.

Amandla Baraka started her career in fashion as a photographer and content creator. Since she developed her taste for filmmaking, Amandla has created work for brands like Target, Facebook, McDonalds, Amex and Blueshield. Her most recent music video for Masego and Don Toliver’s “Mystery Lady” currently has over 5 million views. Her film “Lost Keys” was selected to be a part of LifeWtr’s global art campaign and received its own bottle design featuring stills from the film.

Equipment Rental for I'm Not My Hair

Cristina Garcia Leon considers herself a proud Afro-Boricua, but when she looks in the mirror, her chemically straightened hair shows otherwise. After 40 years of treatments, Cristina transitions to her natural hair, discovering her true beauty and fully embraces her Afro-Latinidad.

Semillita Productions was founded by Cynthia Bastidas, a NY-based actor, in response to the lack of diversity in roles for Latinx actors and the stories being told about the pan-Latinx experience in the United States. Her first project was a 10-minute play turned short film, Going Down, which she wrote and starred in. Her most recent film project, missguidance, was produced as a 10-minute play by Playful Substance for a Lifeway Network fundraiser. Prior to her career in the arts, Cynthia worked in the non-profit sector providing technical assistance to people from disadvantaged communities. She hopes that Semillita Productions will provide an avenue for her to marry her commitment to social justice and passion for storytelling.

Development for Psychopomp

When a girl with unholy powers falls in love for the first time, she starts to unearth a deep ancestral hunger for murder.

Writer/director Emily Bennett is an Academy recognized screenwriter and award-winning director. Her screenplay ACHE placed quarter finalist in the Academy Nicholl Fellowship (2020). Her film LVRS screened at Sitges and Brooklyn Horror and won best director at Horrible Imaginings. Her newest short film BED premiered at Fantasia and has secured distribution on ALTER. Bennett co-directed her debut feature film ALONE WITH YOU with filmmaking partner and DP Justin Brooks. The film was produced with Andrew Corkin’s and Theo James’ Untapped Productions (MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE, WE ARE WHAT WE ARE). In 2022, Bennett has signed on to collaborate with award-winning Filipino writer/director Rae Red on her newest horror feature. Bennett is repped by Circle of Confusion.

Festival Fees for Under the Sun After the Wind

An isolated Black woman mentally –– and physically –– struggles against the news of COVID-19 and police brutality she sees online. An experimental adaptation of the Book of Ecclesiastes.

Patrice D. Bowman is a New York City-based award-winning filmmaker and colorist with over six years of experience. Her films focus on the nuanced spiritual lives of women of color, particularly those of African-American women. She is the owner of the film production and post-production company Bowman Pictures. She received a B.A. in Film and Media Studies from Yale University. Currently, her experimental short adaptation of the Biblical Book of Ecclesiastes, Under the Sun After the Wind, is on the film festival circuit. Her previous short, Saturday Grace, was selected to screen at the Academy Award-qualifying Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival & Lecture Series. Her first short film, Lean on Him, won the Howard R. Lamar Prize Film & Video at Yale University in 2015. Her color grading work can be seen in a variety of places, from PBS Reel South to Nike.

Production for Magda

When a refugee takes a nanny job in America, the hauntings of a past profession reconnect her to the woman she has always loved.

Caroline Byrd is an American writer and filmmaker. She cherishes elliptical dramas and slow cinema. In her work, she explores themes of displacement, otherness, familial tension, motherhood, time, and memory. She aims to challenge form and share intimate subjectivities through an impressionistic approach.

Inaugural Color Grading Grant for Bloomers

Following one woman influenced by Christian Purity Culture, the film documents her suppressed understanding of intimacy, providing a window into generations of people trying to repair themselves and their romantic relationships in light of their indoctrination as children and teens.

Stephanie Choriatis is a film producer of narrative and nonfiction media, primarily focused on education-based storytelling. She works as an educator for hands-on filmmaking and digital media education with students of all ages – from elementary school to college. Stephanie holds an MFA in Creative Producing from Columbia University’s Film program. Her main goal is to use media to educate and empower others to create impactful media themselves.

Post-Production for Land of the Conqueroo

“Land of the Conqueroo” is an exploration of the effects of environmental racism and COVID-19 on the Black community through the eyes of Kansans living on the front lines of the climate catastrophe.

LaKase Cousino grew up in Kansas, where she was introduced to storytelling as a means of education, as well as escape. She began her professional writing career in 2017 as a freelance journalist, focusing on the use of fiction as a means of healing from trauma. She began her filmmaking journey in 2021 through training at the New York Film Academy. As a relative of Oscar Micheaux, the first Black filmmaker to helm a feature film, LaKase feels it is her duty to honor the stories of marginalized peoples as a continuation of his legacy. “Land of the Conqueroo” is a labor of love dedicated to all who came before her.

Production for Fast

Tatiana and her Double Dutch friends encounter a menace at the playground and she must find a way for them to overcome it. A narrative short film exploring Black girlhood.

Rachel Johnson, a Brooklyn native, developed an interest in storytelling early on that shaped her growing passion for filmmaking. Her cinematic thumb print includes developing dynamic characters and using them to bring attention to critical issues. She’s committed to using film to visually mine and unearth the deeper layers of emotion and create impactful imagery showcasing memorable truths. Rachel holds a degree in filmmaking from New York University and has earned awards for her work including a Warner Bros. Film Award, a CINE Golden Eagle Award, an African Movie Academy Award, and more. Her films have screened at numerous film festivals all over the world including in France, Nigeria, and the United States of America. She has also received support from the New York Council of the Arts and the Brooklyn Arts Council for her films and was a 2022 Sundance Uprise Grant finalist. Rachel is developing new original work including her short film ‘Fast’ as well additional short and long forms projects.

Festival Fees for Silent Beauty

A lyrical and sensitive autobiographical exploration of the filmmaker’s family history with child sexual abuse and a culture of silence.

Jasmín Mara López is an audio producer and filmmaker living between Los Angeles and New Orleans. Born in the U.S. with familial roots in México, her childhood was affected by issues experienced on both sides of the U.S.- México border. This instilled in her a strong passion for immigrant rights, youth empowerment, and social change. Jasmín founded Project Luz, which taught Mexican youth to document stories from within their communities. Her documentary Deadly Divide: Migrant Death on the Border received the Society of Professional Journalists’ Excellence in Journalism Award in 2015. Jasmín has garnered support for her first film Silent Beauty from Chicken & Egg Pictures, Black Public Media, Southern Documentary Fund, Sundance Institute, Latino Public Broadcasting, ITVS, Firelight Media, Creative Capital, IDA-Sarowitz Project Completion Fund, and others.

Education Costs for ASC MasterClass

Autumn Moran attended the May 2022 ASC Masterclass in LA and studied lighting under such masters as David Stockton, ASC, Robert Yeoman, ASC, and David Klein, ASC.

Autumn Moran is a New York based Director of Photography and Local 600 Camera Operator. Before moving into the role of cinematographer, Autumn worked as union AC on shows such as Greta Gerwig’s Little Women, and CBS’s Madam Secretary. After camera operating on THE REMIX (Tribeca Film Festival 2019), and HALF THE PICTURE (Sundance, SXSW 2018), she joined the Society of Camera Operators (SOC) as an associate member in 2018. Since then, she can be found operating on Hocus Pocus 2: Black Flame, and Over/Under (Provincetown Film Fest 2022) among others. In addition to operating, Autumn delves in to each new story she lenses and has DP’d dozens of shorts and features and is known for a gritty pastoral style that enhances the emotion and movement of a story through space.

Post Production for Dummy!

A struggling cabaret singer tries to break free from her controlling mother — a ventriloquist dummy who has dreams of stardom, too.

Francesca Pazniokas is a Brooklyn-based playwright and filmmaker who makes folk horror fables for a modern world.

Pre-Production for Feminista

In a future America where violence against women is embraced, a feminist artist haunted by her own acts of violence must keep a biotech invention that is women’s last hope out of the hands of a brutal misogynist syndicate.

Celia C. Peters is a filmmaker creating daring futurist stories about intriguing, authentic characters. She’s currently developing her afrofuturist feature film GODSPEED in partnership with Warner Bros. Discovery 150. In 2022, she launched her afrofuturist audio drama DOMESTICATED. She curated Blackness Revisualized, the inaugural afrofuturist film festival presented by WNET-NYC/AllArts.org. She’s also director of Shutdown, a short historical documentary produced by Ohio State University, currently in post-production. She’s an ongoing Advisor to Sundance Co//ab screenwriting courses. Her work has screened in Los Angeles, NYC, Berlin, Washington, D.C., Detroit, Cleveland and London, plus public and cable television. She’s produced content for Afropunk, New York Comic Con and L.A.’s California African American Museum. Peters has an honors B.A. in French and Political Science from University Michigan and an M.A. in Public Policy from the University of Chicago, with graduate studies in clinical psychology at NYU.

Production for Intrusively

The common misuse of the phrase, “I’m so OCD,” overshadows the realities of the mental disorder. In a climate of rising mental health awareness, Intrusively will explore real-life stories of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder to demonstrate its impact on everyday life and to help minimize the stigma.

Rosemarie Sparacio, a Queens native, is the other half of For the art studios, a production company founded by her and fellow team member and close friend, Tunisia Seda. Rosemarie has dreamed of making movies since she was thirteen.

She has followed that dream ever since. As a graduate of the New York Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Communications & Media Production, Rosemarie made it her mission to gain as much experience as she could. She worked on many short films, including “Lobster Fra Diavolo,” which was selected to go to Cannes in 2015. Since then, she has worked for a few production companies on notable shows like Inside Edition and Bull(CBS). Rosemarie dreams of a career where the content she creates is a catalyst for change in the world.

Rosemarie has had obsessive compulsive disorder for as long as she can remember. For a long time, she had no idea the compulsions she was experiencing were part of a treatable mental disorder . After her official diagnosis and treatment in 2019, she’s been on a mission to bring awareness to this disorder. This documentary series is the start of that campaign.

Festival Fees for Tiny Apple

New York City, 2019: Six Manhattan small business owners share their unique and honest stories of struggle, joy and resilience. But while on their journeys to survive in a city rapidly transformed by chain eateries, big box retailers and banking spaces, these entrepreneurs have yet to experience the most devastating event in recent history: a global pandemic.

Nina Thomas is a French/Spanish documentary and commercial Editor/Director based between New York City and Paris. She has worked on commercials and branded content pieces for clients such as Toyota, Jack Daniels, Hotels.com, RED.org or the Epilepsy Foundation. Some of her work has been featured in GQ Magazine, Condé Nast, Esquire, VICE and Vogue Magazine. Her documentary work has ranged between environmental and social justice films. In 2019 she made her directorial debut with the music video My Lover, I Don’t Need You, for which she was awarded Best Director at the 2020 Austin Under the Stars Film Festival.

Pre-Production for The Love of Jupiter

A lonesome prostitute burns herself with cigarettes and collects her ashes in a cremation urn every time the woman she loves comes in for paid sex.

Ma Troggian is a native Brazilian based in NYC whose artistic identity revolves around acting, writing, and creating music.

She was considered for Best Actress at Brazil’s biggest film festival, Gramado Film Festival, and is the co-founder of Evoé, an award-winning theater collective dedicated to promoting Brazilian culture abroad. In 2017, Ma had her playwright debut with Norma Jeane Was A Brunette, a play she wrote and starred in. Most recently, she finished writing her first feature, Foreign, winner of best screenplay at the 2020 LGBT Toronto Film Festival and second rounder at the 2022 Sundance Development Track.

Thank You to Our Esteemed Panel of Judges:

Laura Fielder

Writer, Director, Producer

Laura Fielder is a writer, director and producer. Her award winning projects have screened at the Hip Hop Film Festival, the Toronto Black Film Festival, The Katra Film Series, and the American Black Film Festival. Laura’s screenplays have placed in numerous competitions including the BlueCat Screenplay Competition.

Laura is a working member of The Gotham’s Expanding Communities Summit – a cohort of diverse Independent film professionals. She is also a member of NYWIFT. Laura is a graduate of UCLA TFT Professional Screenwriting Program. A classically trained violinist, Laura is an alum of The CUNY Graduate Center (MA, Ethnomusicology).

Colorist & Finishing Artist

Marika Litz grew up in a no-stoplight town in Indiana and moved to New York City to study film at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.

They became a color assistant at Deluxe New York/CO3, an international film and television post house, where they worked on independent and studio features (Pariah, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, The Wolf of Wall Street), and episodic television (The Americans, Elementary). After Deluxe, they went to Box Studios, a boutique-style post house and advertising agency, where they did color grading for fashion films (Prada, Balmain, Alexander Wang), music videos (Madonna x Steven Klein), and independent features (While We Were Young, Mistress America, Magic in the Moonlight).

Litz’s current work includes shorts/features (narrative and experimental), commercials for broadcast and web, VR, documentaries, and music videos.

Joanna Naugle is an NYU graduate who has edited various films and television shows including RAMY (Hulu), HUMAN RESOURCES (Netflix), BIG MOUTH (Netflix), 2 DOPE QUEENS (HBO), SOME GOOD NEWS WITH JOHN KRASINSKI (YouTube) and the upcoming show THE BEAR (FX). Her work has screened at Sundance, Slamdance, Tribeca and SXSW, and she won Best Editing at the Brooklyn Film Festival for her work on KATE CAN’T SWIM. Joanna co-owns SENIOR POST, an award-winning post house located in Brooklyn, NY.

Christine Swanson

Director & Producer

A visionary filmmaker from Detroit, Christine Swanson most recently directed the records-breaking, smash-hit film The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel. The film was awarded a 2020 Best TV Movie Award from the African American Film Critics Association, was nominated for a Critics Choice Award for Best Movie Made for Television and was also nominated for five NAACP Image Awards, including Outstanding Directing in a Television Motion Picture.

Christine’s other celebrated movie credits include, All About You, The Miki Howard Story, To Hell and Back, All About Us and For the Love of Ruth, for which she also earned an NAACP Image Award nomination for Outstanding Directing in a Television Motion Picture. Christine is currently producing and directing the upcoming project, The Kemba Smith Story, based on her screenplay.

An inaugural class graduate of NBC’s Female Forward Directing Program, Christine is now a constantly in demand TV director who has directed on numerous series, including All American, All American: Homecoming, P-Valley, Roswell, New Mexico, MacGyver, FBI and Chicago, P.D.

Christine received her Master of Fine Arts degree in Film from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Notre Dame. She lives in Los Angeles with her studio executive husband, Michael Swanson, and their four children.

Writer/Director

Anu Valia is a writer/director whose roots are in India and Indiana. A graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Anu’s award-winning short films have screened around the world. Her short film, LUCIA, BEFORE AND AFTER premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival and was awarded the Short Film Jury Award for US Fiction.

Anu’s TV directing credits include SHE-HULK (Marvel, Disney+), And Just Like That (HBO), SHRILL(Hulu), LOVE LIFE (HBO Max), NEVER HAVE I EVER (Netflix), MIXED-ISH (ABC), AP BIO (Peacock), LOVE VICTOR (Hulu), AT HOME WITH AMY SEDARIS (TruTV), FIRST WIVES CLUB (BET+), AWKWAFINA IS NORA FROM QUEENS, THE OTHER TWO (HBO Max). She is slated to direct the pilot for Apple TV’s BIG DOOR PRIZE created by Emmy-winning writer David West Read (Schitt’s Creek).

She is also currently in development on her feature film, WE STRANGERS, produced by Vice and Cinereach.

Thank you to all the applicants for sharing your work with us.

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