Riz Ahmed, Left Handed Films, and the Pillars Fund are partnering to officially launch the Pillars Artist Fellowship on July 29. Applications will be accepted for the new fellowship to emerging Muslim directors and screenwriters. Applications will be accepted to September 1.
The Pillars Artist Fellowship is a first-of-its-kind program to support Muslim directors and screenwriters on their pathways to success. While doing so, the fellowship addresses the inequality of Muslim creators in the film industry.
Selected fellows will each receive an unrestricted award of $25,000, high-quality one-on-one mentorship, professional development in their field and access to a trailblazing advisory committee of award-winning actors, directors, producers and writers. Committee members include Ahmed, Bisha K. Ali, Mahershala Ali, Sana Amanat, Karim Amer, Rosa Attab, Yann Mounir Demange, Lena Khan, Nida Manzoor, Hasan Minhaj, Nijla Mu’min, Jehane Noujaim, Bassam Tariq and Ramy Youssef.
“At Pillars, we seek to value Muslim artists as much as we value the art they give us,” said Kashif Shaikh, Pillars Fund Co-founder and President. “Investing in storytellers means investing in art that shapes our culture and our future.”
The fellowship builds on findings from last month’s groundbreaking study from the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative that revealed the extent to which Muslim characters are missing on screen and are depicted with dangerous stereotypes. In response to these stark findings, Pillars Fund announced the launch of The Blueprint for Muslim Inclusion alongside the Pillars Artist Fellowship.
“The Pillars Artist Fellowship is not about creating ‘positive’ stories about Muslims. We developed this program to support Muslims who want to tell authentic and provocative stories, full of the mess, nuance and beauty that exists across the human experience,” says Arij Mikati, Pillars Fund Managing Director of Culture Change. “Muslim communities often face economic hardship—Muslims in the U.S. are the most likely faith community to live in poverty, and half of British Muslims live below the poverty line. Providing artists with the financial means to pursue their talents without worrying about paying the bills can be transformative.”
To qualify for the fellowship, applicants must meet the following criteria:
- Applicants must be directors or screenwriters who identify as Muslim.
- Applicants must be emerging artists. These are artists who are at a point in their career where they’re honing in on their style and have had 0–2 mainstream opportunities (such as being staffed on a major project in a writer’s room).
- Applicants must live in the US or UK (citizenship is not required).
- Applicants must be adults 18 years old or older.
For complete details about the fellowship, click here.