Call for Submissions: 2019-20 Black Caucus Sisters in Cinema Graduate Student Writing Prize

The SCMS Black Caucus invites submissions for the Sisters in Cinema Graduate Student Writing Prize from current MA and PhD students in film, television, digital media studies and other programs. This year, we welcome submissions that explore the vast and vibrant work of Black women media-makers. 

The Sisters in Cinema Prize was created to champion scholarship focused on the work of Black women media-makers. We define “media-makers” as those working behind the camera, namely directors, producers, writers, show-runners, etc. We define women as self-identifying women (cis or trans) and gender nonconforming individuals. The $500 writing prize will be awarded to a graduate student at the SCMS Conference in March 2020

Students must be a member of SCMS at the time of their submission and are expected to join the Black Caucus if not already a member. A prize of $500 will be presented to the awardee. The winner will also have their conference registration fees waived for the 2020 SCMS conference.

Please send submissions plus a cover page indicating the applicant’s name, email, essay title, and current graduate program to and

Submissions may be made in .docx or .pdf format, and should be no longer than 25 pages in length, double spaced and with standard margins. (A rough word count should not be more than 7,000 words.)

The deadline for submissions is 6 pm Eastern Standard Time on Friday, December 6, 2019; applicants will be notified no later than Friday, January 17, 2020


Awarded grants provide funding and mentoring for first-time documentary filmmakers

Sisters in Cinema (SIC) with support from Chicago Women’s Foundation LBTQ Giving Council has awarded three first-time feature filmmakers with a $2,500 grant for the production of a documentary film. This program is an initiative created to support Black women and gender nonconforming non-fiction directors working on films that center LBTQ stories.

In this year-long fellowship award recipients receive a financial award, fiscal sponsorship and individually tailored mentorship focused on both professional and project development from Sisters in Cinema founder and CEO, Yvonne Welbon. The Sisters in Cinema Documentary Fellowship is by invitation only in its inaugural year.

Filmmakers Cai Thomas, Luchina Fisher, and Ashley O’Shay tell stories centered at the intersection of race, gender, and social justice. Two films capture the untold narratives of Black women activists fighting for themselves and their communities at large. Luchina Fisher’s “Mama Gloria” tells the story of Gloria Allen, a trailblazing 73-year-old black transgender woman who transitioned before Stonewall, and started a charm school for homeless transgender youth in her 60s. Ashley O’Shay’s “Unapologetic” focuses on Janaé and Bella, two Black, queer women organizers and provides an intimate peek into the personal and political battles that have transformed the city of Chicago. In her “Untitled Black Lesbian Elders” documentary, Cai Thomas focuses on the growing population of housing insecure LGBTQ elders.

The LBTQ Giving Council of Chicago Foundation for Women is committed to provide grants to organizations and programs benefiting lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning women and girls in the Chicago region.

Sisters in Cinema is a Chicago-based non-profit with an inclusive mission to entertain, educate, develop and celebrate Black girls and women media-makers and future generations of storytellers and their audiences. The organization supports the creation of media that centers and explores the lives of Black girls and women. In addition, Sisters in Cinema’s programming focuses on supporting, educating and training community members who are passionate about the intersection of art and social justice.