Big name Hollywood executives and talent including Sam Raimi, Gianni Nunnari, Patrick Wachsberger and Paula Wagner have joined the “Stars Collective” diversity program launched by Chinese film financier Starlight Media. They will serve as advisors and mentors to emerging and under-represented filmmakers.
Other mentors include: Donna Gigliotti (“Hidden Figures,” “Silver Linings Playbook”), who recently produced Starlight’s “Wuhan! Wuhan!” documentary; Chris Lee, former president of production at Columbia/TriStar Pictures and producer of “Superman Returns”; Han Sanping, former head of China Film Group and producer of “Mission: Impossible III” and Starlight-backed “Midway”; France’s Eric Heumann (“In the Mood for Love,” “Indochine”); and Ke Liming, producer of “Midway” and Chinese hit “So Young.”
The program was previously announced in August last year with the aim of launching aspiring female and BIPOC filmmakers and creative storytellers. Headed by Starlight’s creative executive Jennifer Zhang Juefang, the fund was announced as aiming to support 30-50 emerging filmmakers with a financial pool of at least $50 million.
Starlight says that the fund is now being scaled up to $100 million, as the number of beneficiaries rises to 100 emerging filmmakers.
“The majority of those selected to the program are female, and the class itself represents a highly diverse mix of nationalities, ethnicities, races and personal and professional backgrounds,” Starlight said, without providing further detail. It previously said that of the $50 million pool, some $5-10 million would be used for development, with the balance earmarked for pre-production and physical production.
“Knowing this is a commitment that requires attention and collaboration over a period of time, this is a testament to the character of Sam, Donna, Gianni, Patrick, Chris, Han, Ke, Paula and Eric. Close access and collaboration with this level of experience and expertise has traditionally been difficult, if not impossible, for emerging filmmakers of diverse backgrounds, but hopefully this is part of wider industry change that companies and individuals of power are committing to,” said Peter Luo, Starlight Media’s CEO.
Listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, Starlight has been involved in films including “Marshall,” starring Chadwick Boseman; John Chu’s “Crazy Rich Asians”; sci/fi horror hit “Greta,” starring Chloe Grace Moretz; and WWII action/drama “Midway.”
Starlight also recently partnered with Sundance Institute to launch an offshoot grant program supporting diverse filmmakers, the Sundance Institute | Stars Collective Granting Fund. Tapping into an initial fund provided by Starlight, this program provides unrestricted grants, ranging from $1,500 – $10,000, to diverse filmmakers working in nonfiction and fiction.
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