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Black Filmmakers Battle For Up To $150,000 At The PitchBlack Forum

Nailah Jefferson presents at the 2019 PitchBlack Forum (credit James Brooks)

Black directors will battle for up to $150,000 in funding for their television and digital projects at Black Public Media’s fourth PitchBLACK Forum this Wednesday and Thursday from 1 to 4 p.m.

The virtual pitching event before entertainment executives and funders (like Netflix, CPB, PBS, Sundance, The Ford Foundation, Viacom, TV One, the Southern Documentary Fund) caps off the national nonprofit’s fourth 360 Incubator+, a holistic professional development program designed to identify and pipeline quality Black content.

Winners will be announced at the PitchBLACK Awards this Friday at 7 p.m. honoring award-winning filmmaker Marco Williams — recently in the news for his collaboration with director Stanley Nelson on a documentary on the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.

Ten producing teams will vie for up to $150,000 in project funding at the Black Public Media (BPM) PitchBLACK Forum, an interactive pitching competition before public television and commercial distributors and funders. The high-stakes event culminates the fourth edition of BPM’s intensive 360Incubator+ fellowship, a holistic professional development program designed to identify and pipeline quality Black content.

The virtual PitchBLACK Forum will be held on Wednesday, April 7, and Thursday, April 8, and will be hosted by award-winning veteran producer Sandy Rattley, who serves as the creative consultant for the incubator. This year’s event also includes a new BPMplus Showcase (April 9), featuring emerging tech film and art projects by Black creative technologists.

Past attendees have included: American Documentary Inc. / POV, BBC, BET, Color Creative, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Ford Foundation, ITVS, MacArthur Foundation, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, PBS, POV, Sundance Institute, Surdna Foundation, Third World Newsreel, Tribeca Film Institute, WNET/Thirteen and Women Make Movies, WORLD Channel and private investors.

Up to three (3) projects will be awarded a license agreement ranging from $50K to $150K.Since January, the 360Incubator+ fellows have benefited from an array of virtual workshops on pitching, grant writing, budgeting, licenses, distribution and more.

“The strength of BPM’s 360Incubator+ is the collaborative effort of our mentors and workshop leaders combined with the amazing talent of our fellows,” said BPM Director of Program Initiatives Denise Greene. “Even in a virtual environment, there was a strong sense of community and a shared mission to elevate Black stories.”

The 10 projects competing for a license agreement for public media distribution and funding include “Before We Wrap” by Elizabeth Charles; “Buffalo Soldiers: Fighting on Two Fronts” by Dru Holley; “Fighting for the Light” by Yeleen Cohen and Ife Olujobi; “Higher 15” by Ameha Molla and Rajal Pitroda; “Inner Wound Real” by Carrie Hawk and Chelsea Moore; “Listen to Me” by Stephanie Etienne and Kanika Harris; “Storming Caesars Palace” by Hazel Gurland-Pooler and Naz Habtezghi; “The Food Griot Chronicles” (working title) by Tonya Hopkins and Laura Colleluori; “The Ride” by Allison Shillingford and J. Lathon; and “What’s in a Name?” by Malkia Lydia and Khalil Munir.

Projects include broadcast programs and series as well as a digital series.

The BPM Trailblazer Award recognizes documentary filmmakers with more than two decades of experience working primarily in public media as a producer, director, writer or editor, who also have a strong track record of mentoring emerging media makers.

This year’s recipient, Williams, is an acclaimed writer, producer, director and film educator, is an Emmy nominee and Peabody Award winner whose films have all been nationally broadcast on cable or public television.

Ten producing teams will vie for up to $150,000 in project funding at the Black Public Media (BPM) PitchBLACK Forum, an interactive pitching competition before public television and commercial distributors and funders. The high-stakes event culminates the fourth edition of BPM’s intensive 360Incubator+ fellowship, a holistic professional development program designed to identify and pipeline quality Black content.

This year’s event also includes a new BPMplus Showcase (April 9), featuring emerging tech film and art projects by Black creative technologists.

Winners of the PitchBLACK Forum will be announced at the PitchBLACK Awards on Friday, April 9, at 7 p.m., a virtual ceremony where documentary filmmaker Marco Williams will receive the BPM Trailblazer Award.

Created and presented by BPM, PitchBLACK serves as a major platform where television industry executives and funders can gather to identify rising Black talent and stories.

Since January, the 360Incubator+ fellows have benefited from an array of virtual workshops on pitching, grant writing, budgeting, licenses, distribution and more.

“The strength of BPM’s 360Incubator+ is the collaborative effort of our mentors and workshop leaders combined with the amazing talent of our fellows,” said BPM Director of Program Initiatives Denise Greene. “Even in a virtual environment, there was a strong sense of community and a shared mission to elevate Black stories.”

Registration for the PitchBLACK Awards, which is free and open to the public, is at www.blackpublicmedia.org.

About the Author

New York Trend is a weekly news publication that focuses on issues and lifestyles of the African & Caribbean American communities throughout the New York metropolitan area and Nassau and Suffolk Counties of Long Island. It is a respected and well recognized news publication that has been in existence since 1989. Owner, Publisher and Executive Director, Dr. Teresa Taylor Williams has been at the helm of this award-winning publication since its inception. New York Trend continues to be the only black woman-owned, metropolitan newspaper in New York and Long island. New York Trend is the largest black-owned newspaper throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties.

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