The Sisters in Cinema Documentary Fellowship Program was launched in the Fall of 2019. 

Documentary Fellows receive a $5,000 development grant for their documentary film projects, fiscal sponsorship and individually tailored mentorship focused on both professional and project development from Founder & CEO Yvonne Welbon and award-winning filmmaker Anayansi Prado.

Originally a year long fellowship, Sisters in Cinema has modified the program so that the fellows continue in the program throughout their careers. That means Sisters in Cinema Documentary Fellows will always be Fellows from acceptance into the program until they decide to opt out. 

Inspired by the Mellon-Mays Undergraduate Fellowship  initiative to increase diversity in the faculty ranks of institutions of higher learning through support to prospective PhD students when they are college students and continued support throughout their academic and professional careers, the Sisters in Cinema Fellowship is a similar intervention to increase diversity in the documentary film industry. 

2023 Documentary Fellows Program

The Sisters in Cinema Documentary Fellowship is a career-long support program for emerging Black women and gender non-conforming Chicagoland based non-fiction mediamakers.

The 2023 program is a creative and career-based fellowship for directors who are working on their first or second short or feature-length non-fiction film. Three to six directors will be selected to participate. Program participants will receive support through a $5,000 grant for their project, creative and career development workshops and coaching, and online and in-person check-ins with the cohort and the Sisters in Cinema team. 


Those eligible to apply are…

  • Emerging Black women and gender no-nconforming directors
  • Based in the Chicagoland area (Chicagoland consists of the Chicago metropolitan area in northeastern Illinois, including Chicago and its surrounding suburbs.)
  • Working on a short or feature-length non-fiction film project (Projects will be considered in any stage—from development to production to post-production. We encourage applicants in development to ensure their projects are well-researched and ideally apply with a teaser, pitch-deck or unedited footage. Applicants currently in distribution with their films are not eligible to apply.)

The program is aimed at emerging directors, so there is no requirement for previous experience in documentary filmmaking. Applicants will need to demonstrate their artistic vision for the project and may come from a non-film background.


Applications open March 1, 2023. Click here to apply.

A virtual Info Session for the fellowship took place March 15, 2023 from 6:30 – 7:30 pm CST. Click here to view a recording of our Info Session.

Applications close on Monday, March 27, 2023 at 11:59PM CST. You are able to edit your application up until this date.

Each application will be reviewed and scored by our team. Finalists will be invited to interview with the team via Zoom in April.

All selected 2023 Documentary Fellows will be informed by May 31, 2023. The program begins in June 2023.