UPDATE 8/20/15: YOOOO!!! I’m not getting a lot of entries for this – certainly not as many as I initially thought I would. And of those I’ve received thus far, I’m sorry to say that only a small handful are actually up-to-par for me to consider and share, to be frank (check out the 17 that are currently included). So if you have a film that meets the contest’s criteria, or you know a filmmaker with a film that does, help a brotha out! Or just spread the word. The cash award is $500. So if you could use an extra $500 in walking around money (or you know someone who could), here’s a worthwhile contest that would welcome that awesome short film you made this year, last year, the year before, 10 years ago, etc, etc, etc… They can be old or new; and they don’t have to speak directly to the deaths of black people at the hands of police officers. The #BlackLivesMatter theme is quite broad. Black. Lives. Matter. Any films that speak to that, I will consider. I’ve received LOTS of short documentaries that comprise almost entirely of footage of protests, and, at times, a running voice-over. That’s cool, but I can only use so many of those. After 2 or 3, they become redundant. More works of narrative fiction that speak to the subject would be GREATLY appreciated. Send me your shorts… films that is. Or spread the word please! THANKS!! I’ve added 2 more today, which you’ll find on the 4th page. The original announcement follows below, if you missed it. Otherwise, skip ahead to the short films underneath, followed by the first set of 5 films; and on page 2, you’ll find the second set of 5 films; and on page 3, the 3rd set; and finally on the 4th page, the two I added this morning.
Like most of you, I’m constantly, immensely frustrated by the overcoming helpless feeling that many of us experience each time the name of another black man or woman becomes a Twitter hashtag after his/her life has been taken by a police officer (usually white) with an itchy trigger finger; and, like you, I want to do something, but I’m not sure what exactly that should be. I can write, but I feel like there’s only so much that words on a screen can do. Besides, many have already written wonderful volumes on the subject, and continue to do so – better than anything I’ve ever put on paper. My paragraph or 3 won’t make any difference. Other than becoming the kind of vigilante we’ve all seen in movies, who goes on an avenging rampage – something that I’m obviously not going to do, nor am I suggesting that anyone should – one feels utterly impotent, which only frustrates even more.
I don’t have all the answers, but I thought this would be one way for us to, for lack of a better word, deal with these issues – via the art that we create, even if only because this is a film blog. Art has the power to inspire and educate, both of which I think are necessary predecessors of actual change.
So, to keep this brief, I’m inviting filmmakers who have made films that, in some way, speak to the ongoing #BlackLivesMatter movement, so that I can share them here on this blog for others to watch. Obviously it means that the work needs to be online (you can always upload it to any number of video sharing platforms if it’s not already), and will likely have to be short films (unless you have a feature film that’s online, or you’re willing to upload to the web for me to share here).
As I receive them, I’ll update this post with the films. And in the end, after a period of time has passed, and there are a good number of films for you all to watch and consider, we will all vote on which one we love best and we believe really tackles the issue at hand, and the winner will receive a $500 cash award, courtesy of yours truly. I’m certainly not rich, otherwise I’d prefer to actually commission and finance films that speak to the #BlackLivesMatter movement. But I’m just one person, and this is what my available resources allow me to do, and so I’m doing it. But it’s an open initiative, so if anyone reading this wants to join the effort, whether it’s by contributing to the winning pot to make it even more attractive, or even if it’s just spreading the word, helping elevate the contest to an even higher platform, so that it gets wider attention (meaning, even more films, and even more people will watch them; or the initiative attracts larger donors allowing for the financing of films on the subject), or even if you have some idea of how to better-organize something like this, be my guest. I’m not really one for speeches, or formalities. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ll give this several months, to ensure that there’s enough time to let the news travel, and hopefully inspire some action on the part of filmmakers, audiences, potential partners, etc. So let’s put a 3-month deadline on it. At the end of October, I will take an inventory of all that would’ve happened by then, and then decide whether to continue to solicit films, or end the contest and we vote on a winner, and that winner gets the award.
So it begins… if you’re a filmmaker with a film (fiction or documentary) that speaks to #BlackLivesMatter, send it to me, and I’ll embed it within this post. As the films come in, I’ll continue to update this item, reposting it from time to time so that it stays at the top of the S&A main page. Email your links to me at email@example.com with the subject line “#BlackLivesMatter Films.” Be sure to include the basics, like your name as director and the film’s synopsis.
Short films begin here – For the second set of 5 short works, click over to the next page to watch them. On this page are the first 5:
1 – Writer/Director: Shikeith. Synopsis: “#Blackmendream” is a 45-minute experimental documentary that creates a virtual “safe space” through hashtagging, enabling Black males to pull apart emotional restrictions often denied through crossroads of race and gender. The film, shot in black and white, features nine males from diverse backgrounds with their backs turned away from the camera. They openly discuss the obstacles they have faced as young black men, such as depression, parental neglect, and racial discrimination. Likened to a Freudian therapy session, questions such as, “When did you become a Black man?”, and “How were you raised to deal with your emotions?” give the viewer a rare glimpse into the emotional lives of Black men, a subject that is disregarded as weak in many black communities.
2 – Writer/Director: Gina Atwater. Synopsis: In 1960s Georgia, a black teenager defies the rules of segregation and his conservative father when he walks through the front door of his white employer’s home.
3 – Writer/Director: Kameishia D. Wooten. Synopsis: “Southern Cross” is a family drama set up against the backdrop of an African American Sunday gathering, where Gloria struggles to explain the symbolic meaning behind a Confederate Flag Pillow to her seven-year-old daughter due to her husband’s opposition of reliving the past.
4 – Writer/Director Carl Seaton. Synopsis: “Turn Down For What” is about some friends heading out for a night of partying who’s plans get altered when one ends up with a significant piece of information.
5 – Writer/Director Jason Richard Allan Foster. Synopsis: Written and performed by poet A Scribe Called Quess? through his words and the use of pictures, video clips and sound bites of the racially motivated murders that have transpired over the last several months/years, this short film implores the viewers to have an honest conversation about race in this newly dubbed “post-racial society”. This was shot at Exhibit Be in Algiers, LA.
For the second set of 5 short works, click over to page 2 to watch them…
6 – Director: Eric Richardson-Hagans; Writer: Paul J. Williams. Synopsis: A cop comes across a dangerous criminal during what should be a routine traffic stop.
7 – From Colored Criticism, a recently launched web series that’s takes “a millennial, multiracial look at art.” In this episode, a discussion of dance across the African diaspora, including Haiti, Brazil and Cuba, relating it to resistance and the Black Lives Matter movement. it also features a performance by Afro-Brazilian dance troupe Balé Folclórico da Bahia.
8 – Filmmaker: Rochelle White. Synopsis” On December 13th 2014, tens of thousands of New Yorkers took to the streets to call attention to the deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of the police and to urge lawmakers to take action. P.S. I Can’t Breathe Documentary is a raw, uncensored glimpse into the Millions March NYC. Real interviews with the protesters show the depths of hurt and anger in the community, along with their hope for justice and suggestions for solutions to inspire the change many wish to see! P.S. I Can’t Breathe encourages the observer to digest information regarding the #BlackLivesMatter hash-tag and understand the youth’s perspective on the topic while taking a deeper look into aftermath or Post Script of hope lost and shattered dreams when justice is not equal for everyone.
9 – Filmmaker: Ganeesh Genus. Synopsis: “How to be Black in America” is a satirical how-video about how to slide by in American society today without stepping on any toes.
10 – Filmmaker: Hari Williams. Synopsis: A piece made immediately after Mike Brown’s murder – a satirical piece about two Black officers in the fictional city of FerguSanford, USA and their pursuit of truth and justice all while maintaining a healthy, vegan lifestyle.
11 – “Palimpsest” is a short film that delves into the illusion of destiny and the pit falls of its allure. Taking the audience through a journey to discover the past, to understand the present to live for the future, in hope of preventing history from repeating itself. Written & Directed by Christopher Lutterodt-Quarcoo.
12 – “#AmeriCAN” is a short film and public service announcement that comes in response to events that have divided the country over racial lines. With the influx of violence against black males in America over the past few years, the piece strives to offer a unique perspective in examining the value of lives of the country’s citizens. The intention of the message, “all lives matter,” is to pull people together from both sides of the disparity and inspire the kind of empathy and mutual understanding necessary to promote meaningful discourse and domestic reconciliation. The goal is to bring all people together, without exception to race, religion, gender or age, and send the message that all blood flows red. Nate Parker – Director/Writer.
13 – Directed by Christian Smooth; a documentary called “Shut Down” about the day Black residents of his hometown banded together to shut down the city, by blocking the flow of traffic in the city. There is a 6 minute version and a 55 minute version. Here’s the short version.
14 – Director Melissa V. Murray. “The Idiot’s Guide To The Black Revolution.” The film is an experimental piece that intimately follows the NYC Black Lives Matter Protests as well as offers up a call to action.
15 – Director Sydnee Monday. Synopsis: “Indictment” covers the atmosphere of New York City directly following the announcement that the police involved in the Eric Garner and Mike Brown cases would not be indicted. Featuring protest footage and on-the-street interviews.
16 – Director: Jesy Rae. “Tilly” is a personal narrative about a girl who’s lost her first love and struggling to come to terms with his death.
17 – Director: Mateen Kemet. “Profile” is a bloody sketch of police brutality… attempting to put race and horror in overt dialogue with each other.