Olivia Newman Awarded Durga Entertainment Filmmaker Grant

The $20,000 prize, presented by Durga Entertainment and IFP, helps filmmakers balance parenthood with a career.

Writer-director Olivia Newman has been awarded the second annual Durga Entertainment Filmmaker Grant, New York-based film production company Durga Entertainment and IFP announced Monday.

The $20,000 grant was created to recognize the challenge of balancing parenthood with independent filmmaking. American directors working in narrative film who also are alumni of IFP were eligible to apply. 

Newman, a mother of two young children, intends to use the grant to produce her first narrative feature, First Match, the story of a teenage girl from Brooklyn’s Brownsville neighborhood who decides that joining the all-boys high school wrestling team is the only way to win the affection of her estranged father.   

“We’re very excited to support Olivia and her debut feature with this grant,” Joana Vicente, executive director of IFP and the Made in NY Media Center, said. “It’s an honor to work with passionate people, like Ritu Singh Pande and Kishori Rajan from Durga Entertainment, to provide this type of funding to emerging artists, helping them take the next step in their careers.”

Newman was announced as the grant recipient during IFP Independent Film Week. First Match also was selected for the No Borders International Co-Production Market that is part of Film Week.

Newman graduated from Columbia University’s MFA program in 2012, receiving faculty honors for her feature-length script, 216 Garden Street. Her thesis film, a short drama titled First Match, premiered at the 2011 New York Film Festival, won best student short at the Aspen Shortsfest, best short film at the NJ International Film Festival and best performance by a female lead at the Philadelphia FirstGlance Film Festival.