Competition is Nation’s Largest for Black Independent Filmmakers


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 U.S.
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 April 26 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.

The PitchBLACK Forum: Immersive Day takes place on April 27. 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.

The PitchBLACK Awards ceremony, on April 28 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 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 deaths of renowned Black film pioneers Lewis Erskine and Michelle Materre.

“Black Public Media [BPM] 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.”

To learn more about PitchBLACK, go to

Leave a comment