Kelley Kali and Waad al-Kateab have been selected to be the domestic and international recipients, respectively, of the 2021 Academy Gold Fellowship for Women.
Part of the Academy Gold global talent development and inclusion initiative, the Fellowship for Women is a one-year program that combines direct financial support, personalized mentorship and access to once-in-a-lifetime networking opportunities for emerging women filmmakers to further their pursuits in the field.
The Academy currently awards two fellowships annually, one in the U.S. with a prize amount of $35,000 and one internationally in the amount of £20,000.
Fellows also receive lifelong career advancement support through the Gold Alumni Program, which provides continued access, opportunity, professional development and education for alumni of Academy Gold programs, including Gold Rising, Student Academy Awards, and the Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting.
To be eligible for the domestic fellowship, applicants must be alumnae of an Academy Gold program or be nominated by an Academy Gold partner company, while international applicants must be recommended by a member of a key film organization or production company in order to be considered.
Kali is a graduate of Howard University and USC School of Cinematic Arts who has directed, written, and produced films in Belize, Haiti, China and the U.S. She was selected to work with Ron Howard and Brian Grazer’s New Form Digital to develop her web series pilot, The Discovery of Dit Dodson, which went on to compete in festivals across the country. Kali wrote and directed Lalo’s House, which won the silver medal in the Narrative category at the 45th Student Academy Awards.
Her additional awards include a Directors Guild of America Student Film Award, KCET Fine Cut Award, Shadow and Act Rising Award, Programmers’ Award at the Pan African Film Festival, and the Jury Choice Award at the Diversity in Cannes Short Film Showcase. Kali’s work has been featured at the American Black Film Festival and Telluride Film Festival. She recently directed, produced and starred in the feature film “I’m Fine (Thanks for Asking).”
Al-Kateab is an activist and filmmaker whose reporting on the conflict in Syria for Channel 4 News in the United Kingdom won the 2017 International Emmy for News. Her documentation of her life during five years in Aleppo became the basis of the feature documentary For Sama, which she directed with Edward Watts. “For Sama” received a 2019 Oscar nomination for Best Documentary Feature, won the documentary prize L’Œil d’Or at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, and in the 73rd British Academy Film Awards in 2020 received four nominations, a record for a documentary in the history of the BAFTAs, ultimately winning for Best Documentary.
Al-Kateab also received the IDA Courage Under Fire Award, Special Recognition for Courage in Filmmaking at the DOC NYC Festival and was included in TIME’s 100 Most Influential People of 2020 list. Now residing in London, al-Kateab continues to work with Channel 4, mentors women journalists and dedicates time to her advocacy campaign, Action For Sama.
The 2021 fellows were selected from a group of 11 finalists. The finalists are: