The Spotlight Award, which had its debut in 2022, recognizes filmmakers for their outstanding direction and production of documentary films that positively shed light on the African American experience and inspire continued cultural discourse.
This award is given annually to a filmmaker that displays an excellence and dedication to their craft, sharing the unseen stories about the African American experience.
Jerald Harkness is the CEO of Studio Auteur is a content creation company specializing in documentaries. Harkness has over 25 years of documentary production experience, and has produced and directed for Paramount TV, UMC, ESPN, VH1, A&E, PBS and the NCAA. Notable awards include a national Emmy, Best Documentary for the International Academy of Web TV, a Webby nomination and various Festival selections and awards.
Recent work includes a documentary short titled “Wesley” for the multiple award winning "Election Effect" series for Paramount TV and distributed by Facebook in 2017. In 2018, Studio Auteur produced the docu-drama series "True First" which celebrates forgotten and overlooked African American trailblazers and pioneers for Urban Movie Channel.
Harkness has been the producer of a number of independent and broadcast documentaries including a national Emmy for his work on ESPN's SportsCentury series. His first documentary “Steppin’” in 1992 won the National Educational Gold Apple Award, making it eligible for an Academy Award nomination. Steppin’ also won the 1994 Pan African People’s Choice Award. His second documentary “Facing the Façade” won the Indiana Film Festival’s Best Documentary and People’s Choice award. Jerald produced "The Game of Change" which was selected for the 2008 Heartland Film Festival.
Harkness’ national broadcast credits include: “Game of Change” and the Al Unser story for the Emmy Award Winning “Sports Century” series for ESPN Classics, “7 Days Left with Queen Latifah” for VH1, and the Andy Gibb story for A&E Biography.
Other broadcast documentary projects that aired in Indiana are: Living as a Legend: The Damon Bailey Story, The Men of Montford Point: The First Black Marines, and Eyewitness to a Century: The Indianapolis Recorder Newspaper.