Press Releases


by The 91HUB Staff on June 24, 2024

First-Ever Branded Storytelling Initiative from The 91HUB; Selections Made in Collaboration with The 91HUB’s Expanding Communities Program

New York, NY (June 24, 2024) – The 91HUB Film & Media Institute (The 91HUB) announced today the 2024 91HUB Week Branded Storytellers to Watch. The Branded Storytellers cohort highlights film and media creators with unique vision and distinctive visual style who have experience in the branded storytelling space. The inaugural cohort will include  Amandla Baraka, Ricardo Betancourt, Lauren Ciaravalli, Amber Fares, Brittany Franklin, Ursula Liang, B. Monét, Amy Nicholson, Habib Yazdi, and Jackie Zhou.

During The 91HUB Week Project Market taking place September 30th – October 4th, the selected creators will have the opportunity to meet with brands for potential branded storytelling opportunities. Recommendations for consideration were made possible thanks to The 91HUB’s Expanding Communities partners including Black Film Space, Chicken & Egg Pictures, Film Fatales, Islamic Scholarship Fund, Minorities in Film, NALIP, New Orleans Film Society, New York Women in Film & Television (NYWIFT), and PANO. The final selections were made in collaboration with the following branded storytelling industry leaders: Geoff Addeo (Senior Vice President, Head of Production PMCI Entertainment), Sam Kauffmann (Producer, Mofilm), Brian Newman (Founder, Sub-Genre), Jenn Shaw (Director), and Tahira White (Co-Founder, President, 19th & Park and 1Park9).

“We are thrilled to announce our first-ever 91HUB Week Branded Storytellers to Watch, a superb group of filmmakers who each have a dynamic visual style and a distinctive storytelling voice,” said The 91HUB’s Deputy Director Kia Brooks. “This new initiative will not only provide these creators with an opportunity to grow their careers in the branded space but also resources to elevate their already remarkable creative filmmaking.”

The 91HUB Week Project Market, a flagship, legacy program of The 91HUB, facilitates career-spanning relationships between emerging and established artists and distributors, financiers, production companies, festival programmers, sales and talent agents, and collaborators to provide creative and business opportunities for groundbreaking storytellers. The 91HUB’s Project Market is a leader in curating exceptional film and media talent who have gone on to create groundbreaking films such as Moonlight, Nanny, The Unknown Country, and All That Breathes. The 2024 91HUB Week will take place in Brooklyn, NY September 30th – October 4th. 91HUB Week industry registration will open in the coming weeks.

About the 2024 91HUB Week Branded Storytellers to Watch

Amandla Baraka

Amandla Baraka started her career as a bridge-and-tunnel kid, traveling from Newark, NJ, to New York City, hoping to find her way into filmmaking. Completely self-taught, she developed her technical skills by creating content for luxury and streetwear brands. As she began to align herself with brands that resonated with her, she transitioned from content creation to directing non-scripted and documentary campaigns that combined fashion with social activism. This shaped her affinity for authentic storytelling. 

Now, as a commercial director, her work maintains its culturally resonant, thought-provoking charm while growing into a more intimate, emotionally aware perspective. Amandla has led campaigns for top brands like Ulta Beauty, Target, McDonald’s, BlueShield, and more. She recently wrapped as a story producer for a PBS digital documentary series entitled “The Expressway” with Dulé Hill.

Her upcoming narrative projects explore themes of self-actualization and characters on a quest for meaning in a complex world. With an overall approach rooted in curiosity, Amandla’s work is informed by the political, historical, and individual context of each project, deepening her connection to its authenticity.

Ricardo Betancourt

Vezuelan-born Director, Producer, Artist Ricardo Betancourt was raised in the vibrant streets of the Greater New Orleans  Area and discovered his passion for Filmmaking producing music videos, commercials, and short films, paving the way to his current role as a full-time represented director. Working with clients such as STARZ, Capitol Records, UNIVERSAL, Can Am, Stanley Brand, Edifier, 88 Rising, Wounded Warriors Project &. HONDA in both Spanish and English. Ricardo aims to share his unique perspective and life experiences with the world through his work and is deeply engaged in finalizing post-production on a hybrid documentary short ( SUDAKAS) and development on a Hyperlink Documentary feature (REPARTIDORES), both inspired by his personal views and experiences.  Ricardo is part of the Emerging Voices Directors Lab in New Orleans, Minorities in Film (branded lab) in NYC. & is proud to be on FREE THE WORK , a curated talent discovery platform that connects underrepresented creators.

Lauren Ciaravalli

Lauren Ciaravalli is an NYC-born, Webby Award winning director and writer whose work is defined by bold imagination, smart humor, and authentic, emotional performances. Her specialities include comedic campaigns, social media campaigns, and working with young talent. Known for her prowess in consumer product, tech, and beauty categories, her clients include Spotify, Netflix, Henkel, MGA Entertainment, Lime Crime, KISS, Spin Master and many more. Lauren recently helmed a social suite forNetflix’s Stranger Things, lending both creative and directing talents to TikTok videos that out-performed expectations at up to 3.5M+ views each, and won a 2024 Webby Award for Best Social Commerce/Shopping Campaign. In 2022 she wrote and directed the launch video for fashion doll line, Mini L.O.L. Surprise!, which received 1.5M+ views on YouTube. Her extensive experience in the lifestyle space includes writing, producing and directing multiple digital series starring Gen Z stars Ariel “@BabyAriel” Martin, recording artist/TV personality Kenzie Ziegler, and fashion influencer Denzel Dion. Prior to embarking on her own directing career, Lauren earned her stripes working on hit TV series including TRANSPARENT, BETTER THINGS, ANGIE TRIBECA and more. She holds a BFA in Film & TV from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Her work, which spans commercials, short-form, and narrative, can be found at .

Amber Fares

Amber Fares is an award-winning documentary director + cinematographer. Her first branded content film, WE ARE AYENDA (WhatsApp), has won several awards, including a Cannes Lions Grand Prix and Best Director at the Sundance Brand Storytelling conference. Her documentary directing debut, SPEED SISTERS (2015), aired internationally on Netflix, Al Jazeera, and RAI. Other directing credits include an episode of GUTSY (AppleTV, 2022), RECKONING WITH LAUGHTER (AJ Witness/The New Yorker), and co-directing CONVERGENCE: Courage Under Crisis (Netflix). She was a Supervising Producer on an episode of AMERICA INSIDE OUT with KATIE COURIC(National Geographic) and a Co-Producer and Cinematographer on the Peabody-winning THE JUDGE (PBS). Amber was a 2019 Sundance Momentum Fellow.

Brittany Franklin

Brittany Franklin, known warmly as Britt, is an impact-driven Writer/Director, creative producer, and organizer. Her Directing work under her indie banner Cerebral Entertainment produces experiential and narrative work that blends cutting-edge technology with immersive experiences for diverse audiences and brands. In 2020,

she founded Minorities in Film (MiFILM), a collective dedicated to empowering marginalized communities through film and media, launching groundbreaking initiatives to advance the careers of Directors in the advertising space. Her work has garnered partnerships from 72&Sunny, Prettybird, The 91HUB, Even/Odd, AICP, Final Draft, leading tech brands, and Alma Harel’s Free the Work. 

She is a recipient of the 2021  Sundance Uprising Grant Fund and the Barbara and Carl Zydney Grant for Artists with Disabilities. She is a 2022 Shondaland Women Directors Finalist, alumni of RespectAbility x WarnerMedia Early Access Career Bootcamp, and a 2023 RespectAbility Entertainment Lab Director Fellow, and 2024 Soho House x Creative Futures Fellow. Born hearing, now proudly Hard of Hearing, her work often explores identity, community, and what it means to belong. 

Brittany travels frequently, loves anime, fantasy and is a classically trained musician. She is currently in post on a breakout LGBTQ webseries called NATIVES scheduled to premiere this fall.

Ursula Liang

Ursula Liang is an award-winning director and producer with 25 years of experience in storytelling. Her debut feature, 9-Man, was broadcast on public television and called “an absorbing documentary” by the New York Times. Her second film, Down a Dark Stairwell, had its premiere at True/False and was called “the most essential Asian American documentary in decades.” Her latest feature, Jeanette Lee Vs., is part of ESPN’s acclaimed 30 for 30 series while her most recent short, Two Strikes, aired on the iconic PBS series Frontline. Her work has been supported by ITVS, Ford Foundation, Sundance Institute, Firelight Media, and the Center for Asian American Media. Before becoming a filmmaker, Ursula held staff positions at The New York Times Op-Docs, T: The New York Times Style Magazine, ESPN The Magazine, Asia Pacific Forum and Hyphen magazine. She also produced for television (UFC Primetime, NBC Spartan Ultimate Team Challenge). Ursula is a member of Film Fatales, A-DOC, IDD, and is the Vice President of Brown Girls Doc Mafia. She is from Newton, Mass. and currently freelances from Oakland, Calif. after two decades in the Bronx.

B. Monét

B. Monét is a distinguished writer and director who obtained her B.A. in English from Spelman College and an MFA in Film and Television with a concentration in writing and directing from New York University. She is a native of Maryland, and her films are known for their thought-provoking questions about identity, society, race, and culture. Her commitment to showcasing underrepresented people in film, media, and television is evident in her works. 

She’s received several awards, including the runner-up position in the First Time Female Filmmakers Contest with Women and Hollywood, the Horizon Award through Cassian Elwes, Christine Vachon, and Lynette Howell-Taylor at the Sundance Film Festival, and the Adrienne Shelly Foundation grant. Notably, B. Monét directed the award-winning short film Q.U.E.E.N., which premiered on Magic Johnson’s channel ASPiRE and has been screened at over a dozen festivals, including Cannes Short Film Corner.  She has worked with several high-profile personalities such as Reese Witherspoon, Janet Jackson, Rosario Dawson, Chika, Rapsody, and Shangela for brands such as Crate and Barrel, Estee Lauder, Uber, OkayAfrica, OkayPlayer, and Hyundai. B. Monét’s most recent accomplishment is being chosen as one of the winners for the Queen Collective in partnership with Queen Latifah, Tribeca, and P&G. Her short film Ballet After Dark is exclusively streaming on BET.  Recently, her first feature documentary, Black Girls, celebrates Black women and girlhood, featuring voices like Allyson Felix, Marley Dias, and Alex Elle exclusively streaming on Comcast’s Black Experience on Xfinity channel, on X1, Xumo, and Flex. Recently, Black Girls made its much-anticipated premiere at the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival this June. Lastly, she is reimagining a short film version of A Star Is Born with Warner Brothers for their 100th Anniversary.

Amy Nicholson

Amy Nicholson is a commercial director and award-winning documentary filmmaker who seeks to unearth the beauty of ordinary life with a subtle sense of humor. In her commercial work, Nicholson has helmed short film content for Google and The Egg Board, and national campaigns for Jimmy John’s, eBay Motors, and McDonald’s. She has recently finished her fifth documentary, a feature-length portrait of a close-knit trailer park community on the eve of its demise, titled Happy Campers. Happy Campers premiered at DOCNYC, and has garnered multiple Special Jury Mentions after traveling to Big Sky, Florida, and IFF Boston. Previous films include the short Pickle, an ode to man’s capacity to love the most unfortunate of animals. After winning numerous audience awards, Pickle was nominated for Cinema Eye Honors, selected for The New York Times’ Op Docs, and featured on the Criterion Channel with Errol Morris’ Gates of Heaven. Nicholson has produced and directed two prior features. Zipper: Coney Island’s Last Wild Ride screened theatrically in both New York and LA, qualifying it for an Oscar. Muskrat Lovely, an intimate portrait of an unusual Chesapeake Bay tradition, premiered at The Hamptons and was broadcast on the Emmy Award-winning Independent Lens. Nicholson’s films have been selected to screen at Sheffield, Hot Docs, Full Frame, DOK Leipzig, BFI London, Hot Springs, Camden, Rooftop Films, and the MoMA. They have been reviewed by Variety, Indiewire, The Hollywood Reporter, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times.

Habib Yazdi

Habib Yazdi is an Iranian-American director and comedic writer molded by his upbringing in rural Texas, where his family’s Persian traditions collided with a Southern Baptist community. Such collisions continued well into adulthood, on the urchin-strewn rocks off the coast of Senegal and the paved tarmac of LaGuardia Airport on Southwest Airlines Flight 345. Now Habib crafts stories about how cultural background shapes behavior, and the shapes in which we emerge as we rise from the rubble.

Currently, Habib is finalizing a PBS docuseries about emerging comedians across the United States. His mockumentary, Boycott Band, addressing North Carolina’s House Bill 2, earned a D&AD Graphite Pencil and was shortlisted at the Cannes Lions festival. Another of his films, Somewhere in America #MIPSTERZ, sparked a viral debate on American Muslim identity and was exhibited at the DeYoung and Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design museums. Habib has also collaborated with brands, like Starbucks, Nike, Converse and Ford, and was the digital series director for National Geographic’s Emmy-nominated show, Brain Games. His work has screened at film festivals around the world.

Habib earned his MFA from NYU Tisch, where he received the Oliver Stone Screenwriting Award and Goldberg Play Prize. He recently participated in the writing lab, Mentorship Matters, and the Warner Bros. Discovery Access Directors Program.

Jackie! Zhou

Jackie! Zhou is non-binary and ageless. They are a Los Angeles-based multidisciplinary artist, director, and sound designer who is keen on blurring the lines between formats and disciplines. Their recent work includes the short “Order for Pickup,” the music video for Chappell Roan’s “HOT TO GO!”, and developing their first feature, “Rumspringa” as a 2024 TAAF | Sundance Collab scholar.  Every year, they try to compete on one game show, with hopes of one day getting on Jeopardy!. Above all, they believe good listeners make great storytellers.

About The 91HUB Film & Media Institute

The 91HUB celebrates and nurtures independent film and media creators, providing career-building resources, access to industry influencers, and pathways to wider recognition. The organization, under the leadership of Executive Director and award-winning producer Jeffrey Sharp, fosters a vibrant and sustainable independent storytelling community through its year-round programs, which include 91HUB Week, the Documentary Development Initiative in partnership with HBO Documentary Films, the 91HUB Awards, 91HUB EDU, Owning It, Expanding Communities, and Filmmaker Magazine.

About 91HUB Week

91HUB Week – a centerpiece of the annual film and media calendar – will be returning to Brooklyn September 30th – October 4th with the renowned 91HUB Week Project Market and Expo.

91HUB Week’s Project Market, the nation’s oldest and largest curated marketplace for film and TV creators, will also return this year. In an effort to nurture both emerging and established talent, the Project Market opens doors for groundbreaking film and media creators to build career-spanning relationships with distributors, financiers, production companies, festival programmers, sales and talent agents, and collaborators.

The third annual 91HUB Week Expo, an initiative of The 91HUB’s Expanding Communities program, will showcase thought leadership on the advancement of the film and media industry while amplifying 91HUB’s partner organizations, alumni, and communities. This year’s Expo will also incorporate industry-led sessions related to Branded Storytelling. These events will be free to attend, and further details will be announced soon.

91HUB Week programming will also include screenings of new films with corresponding events and opportunities for networking.

91HUB Week Industry registration will open in the coming weeks. 

Media Contact: 

The Lede Company

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