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FILMMAKERS & CREATIVE TECHNOLOGISTS TO COMPETE FOR UP TO $150,000 AT THE PITCHBLACK FORUM


Hosted by The Daily Show’s CJ Hunt, the Black Public Media Event to Honor Award-Winning Documentary Filmmaker Orlando Bagwell

NEW YORK (April 21, 2022) — Filmmakers and creative technologists will vie for up to $150,000 in project funding at Black Public Media’s PitchBLACK Forum, April 26 and 27, the largest pitch competition for Black, independent filmmakers and creative technologists in the United States. The high-stakes, virtual pitch event draws a who’s who of public television and commercial distributors and funders, with winners announced April 28 at the online PitchBLACK Awards ceremony. The three-day event will be hosted by CJ Hunt, film director, comedian and producer for The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.

PitchBLACK kicks off with the invitation-only PitchBLACK Forum: Film Day on Tuesday, April 26 from 1 to 5 p.m., where five, feature-length film projects will compete for distribution with up to $150,000 on the line. These projects include: Bound by Blood: Echoes of the Elaine Massacre, pitched by Franziska Blome and Llewellyn Smith; Brigidy Bram: The Life and Mind of Kendal Hanna, pitched by Laura Gamse and Kareem Mortimer; Hollow Tree, pitched by Kira Ackerman and Monique Walton; Travel Notes of a GeeChee Girl, pitched by Julie Dash and Rachel Watanabe-Batton; and Wednesdays in Mississippi, pitched by Marlene McCurtis and Joy Silverman. To learn more about these filmmakers, visit the Black Public Media website.

The PitchBLACK Forum: Immersive Day takes place on Wednesday, April 27 from 1 to 5 p.m. Five immersive projects will compete for up to $50,000 in grants: Ancestral Archives, by Josie Williams; Wa’Omoni Rising, by Ngardy Conteh George; Forty Acres, by Tamara Shogaolu; Rabiola Open Skies, by Leonardo Souza; and Cissie Gool House by Dylan Valley. This online event is free and open to the public. Registration is required. To learn more about the immersive artists and their projects, visit the Black Public Media website.

The PitchBLACK Awards ceremony, on Thursday, April 28 from 7 to 8 p.m., will celebrate Black media storytellers by honoring the past (Trailblazer Award), the present (Forum Awards) and the future (Nonso Christian Ugbode Award). The ceremony's keynote speaker is award-winning documentary filmmaker Dawn Porter (John Lewis: Good Trouble and The Way I See It). The Black Public Media (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, and a strong track record of mentoring emerging media makers. Sponsored by GBH, this year’s Trailblazer Award recipient is Orlando Bagwell, noted for his moving documentaries about Black people in America, from slavery to present-day, navigating racism, violence and organizing for change. His credits as a producer and director include Eyes on the Prize, Malcolm X: Make It Plain, A Hymn for Alvin Ailey and Africans in America: America’s Journey Through Slavery. The NCU Fellowship, sponsored this year by Gimlet Media, is awarded to groundbreaking makers under age 30 who work in emerging media. The fellowship recipient will be announced at the awards ceremony.

The PitchBLACK Awards ceremony will also honor the passings of renowned Black film pioneers Lewis Erskine and Michelle Materre. There will be a virtual afterparty at 8 pm. immediately following the ceremony.

Created and presented by BPM, PitchBLACK serves as a platform where television and film executives and funders gather to identify rising Black talent and compelling stories. In past years, executives from American Documentary Inc. / POV, BBC, BET, Color Creative, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Ford Foundation, ITVS, MacArthur Foundation, Netflix, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, PBS, POV, Sundance Institute, Surdna Foundation, Third World Newsreel, Tribeca Film Institute, WNET/Thirteen, Women Make Movies, GBH WORLD – and private investors – have attended.

Black Public Media has been building the case that #BlackStoriesMatter for over 40 years and the captivating storytelling and innovative ideas being presented by independent filmmakers and creative technologists at the 2022 PitchBLACK Forum serve as proof,” said BPM Director of Programs Denise A. Greene. “We are inspired by these mediamakers who are committed to their creative vision and bringing unique perspectives to their audiences.

Entertainment industry executives and funders wishing to attend the PitchBLACK Forum: Film event may request access at https://forms.gle/yR5a98zQDMbue3maA.

PitchBLACK 2022 is sponsored by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Netflix, GBH WORLD, Gimlet Media, ITVS and New York Women in Film and TV.

Register for PitchBLACK Forum: Immersive here: https://bitly/PitchBIackImmersive, and register for the PitchBLACK Awards at: https://bit.ly/PitchBLACKAwards. Both events are free and open to the public.

To learn more about the PitchBLACK and the projects being pitched, visit: https://blackpublicmedia.org/events/pitchblack-22/. For more information on BPM, visit the website blackpublicmedia.org, and follow the organization on social media at @blackpublicmedia on Instagram and Facebook, and @BLKPublicMedia on Twitter.

ABOUT CJ HUNT


CJ Hunt is a comedy writer and director living in NYC.

He is currently a field producer for The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. CJ has also been a staff writer for A&E's Black and White, a cast member on MTV2's Vidiots, and a field producer for BET's The Rundown with Robin Thede.

CJ is also the director of The Neutral Ground, a documentary about memory, monuments, and breaking up with the confederacy. It’s available now on PBS.

CJ is an Eric & Wendy Schmidt Fellow with New America. He is also an alumnus of the Firelight Media Documentary Lab and New Orleans Film Fest’s Emerging Voices fellowship for directors of color. His work is supported by: ITVS, The Southern Documentary Fund, The Center for Asian American Media, SFFILM, and The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation.

A regular host of The Moth, CJ also runs the weekly standup show Good Delivery with co-hosts Natasha Vaynblat (Comedy Central) and James Hamilton (Vice News). He misses the good old days with the sketch group Stupid Time Machine touring San Francisco Sketchfest, Chicago Sketchfest, iO West, and the Moontower Comedy and Oddity Festival.

A graduate of Brown University in Africana Studies, CJ is endlessly fascinated by race and comedy's ability to say what we can't.

ABOUT DAWN PORTER


The founder of the film production company Trilogy Films, Dawn Porter is an award-winning documentary filmmaker whose work has appeared on HBO, PBS, Discovery, and Netflix among others. She recently directed and executive produced an Apple TV multi-part documentary series with Oprah Winfrey and Prince Harry, which focused on both mental illness and mental well-being.

Other recent projects include the documentary Vernon Jordan: Make It Plain which explores Vernon Jordan’s rise from the segregated South to become one of the most influential African American thought leaders in America; John Lewis: Good Trouble for CNN Films, which explores late Congressman John Lewis’ pivotal role in