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Charlotte Amalie
Thursday, December 7, 2023
HomeNewsLocal newsShort Film Contest Seeks USVI Black Storytellers

Short Film Contest Seeks USVI Black Storytellers

The right short documentary pitch could land $45,000 on the right USVI filmmaker. The deadline is Sept. 18. (Submitted photo)

A new filmmaking contest asks Black storytellers in the U.S. territories to consider their island’s true untold tales.

The project, HOMEGROWN: A Part Of/Apart From, centers on stories grappling with issues of sovereignty, agency, and the ways communities can negotiate what it means to be a part of the broader United States and also apart from it.

People from U.S. territories and Hawai’i who identify as Black, Indigenous, or People of Color can send proposals or works in progress to potentially win $45,000 in funding for their project, said Chloë Walters-Wallace, director of regional initiatives at Firelight Media.

“It’s determined by a number of factors which includes clarity of vision for their film, well-created submission materials, need, and readiness to complete the work in the determined time frame,” Walters-Wallace said.

Representatives of Firelight, Black Public Media, Latino Public Broadcasting, and Pacific Islanders in Communications will judge the submissions and choose eight winners. Those chosen will get funding for films up to 15 minutes in length covering non-fiction stories that illuminate the living histories, cultures, and future visions of the regions.

Chosen filmmakers will get to work with the production companies and receive distribution through PBS Digital Studios, with a planned release date in winter 2024.

Judges are looking for proposals that ask: What does duality look like in your community? In what ways does the past affect the present? What socio-cultural values should be retained? What communities would benefit from amplification? Are there movements/people/events that have flourished that the rest of the country should know about? How can difference be a propelling force?

Suggested topics include:

  • New forms of resistance
  • Land rights and reparations work
  • Climate change and migration
  • Cultural changemakers
  • Community portraits and rituals
  • Bureaucracy and its misuse
  • Healthcare and the body
  • Celebrations and joy
  • Voting rights
  • Historical inaccuracies
  • Militarization
  • Self-determination
  • Home and identity
  • Solidarity across territories
  • Duality
  • Freedom

A free webinar is planned for Thursday at 5 p.m. to answer filmmaker questions.

Rules include being able to meet the late 2024 deadline. Also, the project must be short- form non-fiction with a duration of 8 to 15 minutes, be in development, pre-production, or early production — no post-production or completed project allowed. Applicants must identify as Black, Indigenous, and/or a Person of Color and reside in or be a descendant of the U.S territories or Hawai’i, own the copyright of the proposed project, be over 18, and be willing and able to work collaboratively with Firelight Media, PIC, the National Multicultural Alliance partners, PBS, local public media staff, and mentors. Only one proposal may be submitted per applicant and the project can’t be part of a credited college class.

As the contest seeks to amplify lesser-heard voices, people living in Los Angeles and New York are asked not to apply. Other rules are found here: firelightmedia.tv/programs/short-films.

The deadline for entries is 2:59 p.m. Sept. 18.

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