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The Winner Of The Inaugural Shadow & Act, AvenueTV Fantastical Short Films Contest Is…

The Winner Of The Inaugural Shadow & Act, AvenueTV Fantastical Short Films Contest Is...

After more than a couple of months worth of submissions, the time has come to finally select a winner of the contest. A total of 29 films are in contention for the grand prize – $500 cash (plus it’ll be featured on AvenueTV) – and, as promised last week, the winner of that award would be announced today, Monday, January 13, 2014. 

First, from AvenueTV and myself, thanks to everyone who was bold and willing enough to submit their work for the contest. We plan to do this again in the near future, so for those who wanted to submit for this round, but had nothing ready, but may have films completed before the end of the next contest, you will have an opportunity to do so.

The goal of the contest, as previously emphasized, is to encourage black filmmakers to explore the more fantastical cinema genres – genres in which, for a number of reasons, black films are lacking – science fiction, fantasy, supernatural, horror, and others that would fall under the “speculative fiction” umbrella.

And with that, I’m glad to announce that the winner of the first S&A/Avenue TV Fantastical Short Films contest is… Haitian filmmaker Amiral Gaspard’s 20-minute supernatural tale The Good, The Bad, The Apprentice (Le bon, le méchant et l’apprenti).

Amiral was born on December 20, 1982 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Self-taught in the fields of art, such as drawing, photography and computer graphics, and fascinated by audio-visual technology, he decided to sharpen his abilities by attending the Ciné Institute in Jacmel – a program I’ve profiled here on S&A in the past, which provides Haitian youth with film education, training and production support, which began as a film festival in Jacmel.

Held for three years, Festival Film Jakmèl showed hundreds of films from around the world, free of charge, to tens of thousands of local audiences, with a written mission being to “use the power of cinema, integrated educational programming, technical film training and production funding, to entertain, educate and empower Haitian youth, to create a movement that grows an industry in national cinema and arts, which creates jobs, stimulates regional economies and drives sustainable long term development.” 

The Institute’s programs are: Ciné Lekòl – a film school offering training in fiction documentary and commercials; Ciné Services – an income generating production center for film school students and graduate; Ciné Klas – daily educational film screenings in partnership with national public schools; and Ciné Klub – weekly public screenings of world cinema. 

When the earthquake struck almost 4 years ago, the Institute’s students were on the ground, shooting and uploading footage onto social networking sites for the rest of the world to see, and they continued releasing video footage covering the aftermath.

Amiral was a student at the Institute from 2011 to 2013, where he studied film, and The Good, The Bad, The Apprentice was his graduation project. 

Currently Amiral tells me that he’s working in media production in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

“We are delighted with and proud of Amiral Gaspard’s winning entry ‘The Good, The Bad, The Apprentice,’ which will be featured on AvenueTV for the next two months,” said Monique A. Williams, AvenueTV, Content Curation. “AvenueTV features the very best in television and web originals targeting urban audiences; Gaspard’s short effectively represents the content we seek and ultimately share with our audience. While it is no secret there is a lack of quality sci-fi, fantasy, and horror shorts and webseries featuring people of color, we are encouraged by the enthusiastic interest, support and wide variety of submissions for this first partnership with Shadow and Act. We’re especially excited about the strong focus on editing technology, clear story-lines, and high-caliber performances displayed by this year’s entrants.  We look forward to seeing continued investment in this genre in the future.
Once we’ve gathered ourselves, examining what we learned from this first contest, and decide on how to structure the next one, a call for entries announcement will be made at that time, which shouldn’t be too long from today.
Without further ado, here’s Amiral’s winning short film, The Good, The Bad, The Apprentice
The other 28 films submitted follow on the next page of this post, so if you have yet to watch them, or want to revisit, if only for comparison, click to page two (and thereafter):
1. Dragon Fruit, directed by Emiliano Styles. Synopsis: After being set up on a blind date by a mutual associate, Kyle Hunter (David Ashley) and Tamara Johnson (Tiffany Snow) decide to spend their third outing hiking in a canyon in Los Angeles. As they continue to get to know each other, they soon come to the striking realization that only one of them is who they claim to be.

2. Life-Line, directed by Uriah Riedel. Synopsis: Walking home at night is not a good idea, so one woman finds out.

3. The Slap, directed by H. M. Coakley. Synopsis: A single mom with a unique deformity and a bad temper catches her teenage son in a peculiar position after leaving him alone in a luxury hotel room for several hours. The situation leads her to say some funny things, one of which she actually delivers on.

4. Redemptions End. A web series created by Claudius PetersSynopsis: In desperate need of money, three friends think they have no choice but to steal freshly buried bodies and attempt to sell them on the black market, now they wish hadn’t. Here’s episode 1: 

5. Bad Blood, by Bryce Marrero. Synopsis: Samuel Marcel, A hot-headed ex-Black Panther, goes undercover in a corrupt hospital to find out the truth surrounding his father’s mysterious death.

6. The Collector, by Ade Adepegba. Synopsis: A Debtor who cannot pay his debts is relentlessly pursued by a Debt Collector who never fails to collect. 

7. Walking With Gods, created by David Banner, directed by Ndosi Anyabwile. Synopsis: It all begins when Aket Heru, son of a celestial king is cursed. Aket’s jealous older brother, Liel, becomes aware that their father will ignore natural order and install Aket as king, upon his death. Angered, Liel invokes the evil spirit Setus. Setus fools Liel and destroys the family, but keeps Aket for entertainment. Aket’s memory is erased and he is forced to travel through the ages not knowing his true God like power. Setus plays an evil game and Aket murders his girlfriend, Lisa. After the murder, Aket’s true power awakens. Aket must now fight to restore his full power and break the curse. In order to do so, Aket now Alex Light, must believe in his godly power and embrace his true destiny.

8. Sweet Child Of Mine, by Tarik Jackson Goldie. Synopsis: The brains of a trio of female crooks finds out she’s pregnant.

9. The Assignment, by Michael GraysonSynopsis: Analyst Tom Jenkins gets called on to participate in a ‘Top Secret’ company assignment.What he doesn’t know is he’s about to take on the assignment of his life. GlobalDyne Systems is back yet again, delivering it’s own version of the pink slip in this short about corporate espionage and retribution with a twist at the end that’s sure to shock.

10. Few and Far Inbetween, by Nialla LeBouef. Synopsis: When two teenagers sneak into a beautiful but abandoned mansion they unknowingly conjure up the spirit that remains there. Influenced by Czech new wave cinema and magical realism the two worlds collide in this dreamy short.

11. Hope, by Tamika Lamison. Synopsis: A grieving/suicidal man goes on what plans to be a tragic journey but discovers unexpected Hope along the way.

12. The Shadows of Strangers – “The Story of a Mistress“ (web series, episode 1), by The Robinson Brothers. Synopsis: Naomi discovers her boyfriend would not leave his other family for her, so she decides to seek revenge.

13. Spotlight by Steven Caple. Synopsis: A conventional tap dancer is about to end his last night performing at a whole-in-the-wall theatre. As he’s gearing up for his final routine and about to hit the stage. He’s surprised with an unexpected visit from his long time, more flashy and eccentric competitor, his Alter Ego. His old-fashioned ways our challenged when his inevitable urge starts to steal the spotlight of his last performance.

14. Transporter, by Damon Colquhoun. Synopsis: A new breed of criminals have created a network of human traffickers. In that network, nothing is more valuable than a transporter. Transporter, a sci-fi thriller, tells the story of an introverted Harlem teen on a mission to escape his dysfunctional family and their monstrous family business. However, his manipulative mother is convinced that he has what it takes to be the transporter she covets.

15. Buster Jones: The Movie details the adventures of an African-American minor league basketball star that is also trained in the martial arts. After his cousin Bootsy is murdered by weapons dealers from Asia, Buster finds himself thrown into a turbulent battle with an organized terrorist ring. These pursuits lead Buster to the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles where he finds himself plunged into the ultimate fight to save the fate of the free world. Directed by Dylan Hobor.

16. Steamfunk & Rococoa: A Black Victorian Fantasy by Briaan L. Barron. Synopsis: Steamfunk & Rococoa: A Black Victorian Fantasy is a mixed-media documentary short that explores the esoteric aesthetic of Steampunk, and more specifically how people of color are engaging the aesthetic in creative ways. The intersection between past and future, technology and maker culture, and identity all appear in this unique science-fiction genre, and many artists of color are using it as a venue to inventively interact with historical narratives of slavery and oppression. A combination of digitally-animated hand-drawn images, photographs, and live-action footage give a short-form introduction to this subject.

17. Deceit by Mark KaiyareSynopsis: A thrilling Drama places you in the home of TED, 29 as he walks into their bedroom and locks the door. It’s too clean, with a sense of structure and order. SHEILA, his wife, seems to prep for bed. He approaches her standing close but with a noticeable distance. Sheila seems disturbed, struggling to keep calm. Ted has never lost control of anything in his life until now.

18. Silent Hunger by Stanford GibsonSynopsis: Silent Vampire thriller produced for the 48 Hour Film Project during 2012. The poor and unskilled labour force are starved by the more affluent in society while the Government demands its pound of flesh from all citizens. Like the un-dead, the poor will one day rise.

19. Inheritors by Chidi Ozieh. Synopsis: A live action adaptation of Robert Garrett’s successful comic book of the same name. The movie is produced by Rubic House LLC & Xmoor studios and is directed by Chidi Ozieh. The story follows a highly decorated undercover detective Jude Jefferson who is on a personal mission to apprehend a serial killer who also happens to be the mayor’s son. Unknown to him, this encounter will become a defining moment of his life. 

20. The Last Summer (a silent film) by Sam Afua Kessie. Synopsis: The end of summer is near. BEVERLY and SOPHIA, (both 16), have been best friends since third grade. Skipping the last day in camp, they run through fields without a care in the world, a final sense of freedom before all their dreams come to a bitter end. Their plan of going to the same university is crushed when Sophia is rejected from the University of Creative Arts and Sciences, but Beverly is accepted with a full scholarship. Before they get a chance to express final words and feelings, they are drawn to a mysterious charm bracelet, which leads them down a dark path and puts their friendship to the test.

21. Dark Matters by Monique Walton. Synopsis: Dark Matters tells the story of a girl coming to terms with her identity through an obsession with alien abduction and UFO sightings. While working at her day job, Curshauna meets a customer who makes her question her ethnic, cultural, and maybe even planetary origins.

22. Minutes To Midnite by Ryan Khan. Synopsis: A B-movie, noir, fantasy, crime drama unfolds when ruthless Trinidadian gang member, Snake, kills his leader, Mr. Tiger. Shortly afterwards, Snake receives a message that someone named Anansi Spider is going to “take care of him.” Following a near-death experience at the hands of a wicked woman, Snake receives a call from Anansi Spider, warning him that his life is in danger. Snake grapples with whether or not to trust this mysterious man, and, ultimately, makes a deadly decision.

23. The Angels’ Playground by Zernul Shackelford. Synopsis: The line between good and evil becomes blurred as a young girl is interrogated about the mysterious death of her father, an Ordained Priest. However, the motives of the persons who have her in custody are as unclear and mysterious as the death itself.

24. Villains by Lawrence Lee Wallace. Synopsis: Villains is an 8 episode Sci-Fi story set in a halfway house for people with various addictions, gambling, sex, drugs, ect. “Big Guy” is brought in as a John Doe; he is disoriented, does not remember who he is or where he comes from and is withdrawn and paranoid. Later he discovers skills he can’t explain, fighting and weapons skills and then ultimately a mysterious supernatural power. “BG” becomes closer to Ana, Jimmy and Phil the other patients at the halfway house and together they go on a journey to help him in finding out who he is and where his amazing and deadly powers come from, in return he protects them from different enemies This mystery produces and draws other supernatural beings to the halfway house making this an exciting, dramatic and sometimes funny experience.

25. Chains, directed by Sharon Lewis. Synopsis: Chain, with the support of her lover Fric the water carrier, grows a flower in her barren underground community of Arete. Before anyone is allowed to see this miracle, they are charged with the crime of “wasting” precious water, punishable by Judicial Suicide.  Munk who oversees the roulette type punishment is shocked to find out that water was not used to grow the flower and in the end comes to believe that perhaps miracles do exist for those who live below.  Maybe their place in the chain of humanity is equal to those who live above.

26. Anneo’s Song from writer/producer Said Yenga Kakese Dibinga and director Tim Russ. Synopsis: Two bounty hunters chase a fugitive unaware that the fugitive is being set up by a hybrid name Anneo to be lunch for young Lycaons (werewolves).

27. Hag of Champagnolle Creek by Rhemona Moore. Synopsis: A Hag returns to Champagnolle Creek, Arkansas. A long forgotten superstition about sweeping after dark leaves unsuspecting locals subject to the Hag’s night terrors. The first victim is a local blues singer, Uncle Hub.

28. Strain by Dalila Kee. Synopsis: Julia and Eric wake up to the usual issues of their strained relationship. They have no idea of the bigger problems that they will soon face.

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