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Alum Fernando Rocha Receives Two Prestigious Film Fellowships

SOC and Community Voice Lab alum Fernando Rocha has been selected as a Sundance Ignite x Adobe Fellow and a Southern Exposure Film Fellow for 2022.

Fernando holding a camera

Fernando Rocha, SOC/BA ’21, and a Community Voice Lab alum, has been selected for two highly regarded Fellowships for 2022. The former Frederick Douglass Distinguished Scholar and documentary storyteller was chosen as one of ten filmmakers out of more than 600 entrants to be part of the Sundance Ignite x Adobe Fellowship cohort of 2022. Sundance Ignite is part of the Sundance Institute and is a year-round mentorship and support program for young filmmakers.

"The Sundance X Adobe Ignite program provides support for emerging filmmakers while also letting you be part of a cohort of incredibly talented people, who's energy and passion are contagious," said Rocha.

Fernando was also selected as one of four emerging documentary filmmakers for the 2022 Southern Exposure Film Fellow Cohort. Southern Exposure is a film fellowship program focused on environmental issues in Alabama.  "The Southern Exposure Film Fellowship allowed me to exit my comfort zone. It was refreshing to shoot a project about which I knew very little and getting to evolve alongside the story being captured," he said. 

Rocha is also working as a cinematographer on a fiction project with several AU student colleagues. "It's a short film called 'Ripe' which is directed by Salvadoran-American filmmaker and current AU Student Gaby Sosa. The film is about an ex-rockstar who is now in a retirement home and delves into themes such as coming of age, patriarchal expectations, and loneliness," he said. "Gaby herself is an incredibly talented director from the DC area and working with her is always a privilege. She can get such personal performances from her actors, something that takes a lot of skill and practice to do, while always maintaining a safe and fun atmosphere on set (very uncommon for student projects and unfortunately not that common overall). This is the kind of project that prevents burnout."

Rocha became a Fulbright Scholar in 2021 with a plan to document a community's struggle to gain reliable access to clean water in El Salvador. While a student, he was honored as an SOC Student Changemaker.

The Community Voice Lab produces films that capture the voices of community storytellers too often unseen and unheard. The creative ethos of Community Voice is that of collaboration, rather than extraction, in which our filmmakers and local storytellers work together to tell stories of hope, resilience and determination for the common good. Fernando’s Community Voice Lab documentary short can be found on the CVL’s Youtube playlist, Dancing Alone. He is currently a cinematographer based out of Washington, DC, and Mexico City. 
Learn more about Sundance Ignite and Southern Exposure