Six Projects Competed For $50,000 Grant at Great Chicago Pitch; Nearly $100,000 Raised For New and Emerging Filmmakers
CHICAGO, Illinois – CMP, producer of Chicago’s annual Doc10 documentary film festival which has become known as a nonfiction film’s first step on the road to Oscars, today announced that Jennifer Huang has been named the inaugural recipient of the Shifting Voices Film Fund, which provides fundraising and mentorship resources to documentary filmmakers identifying as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. One of six finalists for the top prize, Huang made the winning presentation at the Great Chicago Pitch event held Friday, June 17, 2022 with her film, THE LONG RESCUE, receiving a $50,000 grant. Each of the five remaining finalists received a $5,000 grant, and all 110 filmmakers will have ongoing access to workshops, panels, and other resources throughout the year as they continue work on their films.
In addition to the grant monies awarded through the Shifting Voices Film Fund supported by the Chicago Community Trust and Manaaki Foundation, Great Chicago Pitch audience members in attendance in person and watching virtually were able to contribute to the project(s) of their choosing, raising more than $20,000 in additional funding.
The winning film, THE LONG RESCUE, follows Filipina sex-trafficking survivors as they recover in a secret shelter and prepare to re-enter the world. Throughout the filmmaking process, Huang centers her subjects’ well-being, ensuring access to therapy, consistent check-ins, an enhanced consent process, and involvement in how their stories are presented.
“The best documentaries share new experiences and perspectives with audiences,” said CMP co-founders Paula Froehle and Steve Cohen. “BIPOC filmmakers face major structural barriers to getting their stories told. The Shifting Voices Film Fund exists to give new, emerging filmmakers the opportunity to influence the landscape through nonfiction storytelling.”
“This is such a statement of faith in what we’re doing with THE LONG RESCUE,” said Jennifer Huang, director of THE LONG RESCUE. “This is the first institutional funding that the film has received, and it is through the support of organizations like CMP and the Shifting Voices Film Fund that stories like this will be able to be told.”
Applications for the Shifting Voices Film Fund, co-presented by Mezcla Media Collective, opened in October of 2021 and received more than 110 proposals. 12 semi-finalists were selected from this pool, and given access to resources including workshops with industry experts discussing topics ranging from budget creation, to proposal writing, to perfecting your pitch. In April of 2022, six finalists were selected to present their film projects at CMP’s Great Chicago Pitch, in front of a jury including accomplished filmmakers and industry experts including Rupeshi Shah of Cinetic Media, Brandon Harrison of Words+Pictures and Senior Features Programmer at DocNYC, and Elena Fortes, film producer and co-founder of Mexico City-based production company No Ficción.
The full list of 2022 Shifting Voices Film Fund finalists included:
THE LONG RESCUE Director and Producer: Jennifer Huang The Long Rescue follows Filipina sex-trafficking survivors for five years as they recover in a secret shelter and re-enter the world—hoping to overcome the poverty, predators, and pimps of their childhood. Full of dreams but still bearing the wounds of the past, the girls must transform their understanding of themselves to be truly free.
NEW WAVE Director and Producer: Elizabeth Ai Producer: Anh Phan Mile high hair. Synth music. Underground parties. The “Viet New Wave” scene of 1980s California was the catalyst to healing for a generation of refugees stranded in cultural limbo. New Wave is a coming-of-age story that celebrates the trailblazers who rebuilt community and forged a music industry more influential than the one they left behind in the wake of the Vietnam War.
UNTITLED (ART AND DISABILITY CULTURE) Director and Producer: Reveca Torres Artist Reveca Torres envisions how her disabled ancestors Frida Kahlo, Henri Matisse, and Vincent Van Gogh lived and created. Through letters and artifacts, she finds that they’ve made a path for contemporary disabled artists and their struggles parallel her own. As Reveca connects with present day artists with disabilities, together they imagine a society in which the barriers they face no longer exist and disability art and culture is celebrated.
HUMMINGBIRDS Directors: Silvia Castaños and Estefanía Contreras Producers: Leslie Benavides, Miguel Drake-McLaughlin, Ana Rodriguez-Falco, Jillian Schlesinger In this late-night summer self-portrait, Silvia Castaños and Estefanía Contreras wander the streets of Laredo in search of inspiration, adventure, and a sense of belonging. When forces threaten their shared dreams, they take a stand and hold on to what they can—the moment and each other.
SANSÓN Y YO Director: Rodrigo Reyes Producer: Su Kim Director Rodrigo Reyes works as a Spanish court interpreter where he befriends a client, a young undocumented Mexican named Sansón, during a gang-related murder trial. When permission is denied to film Sansón, Rodrigo and he begin using hundreds of pages of letters to craft recreations of Sansón’s childhood, building a multi-layered narrative of how the failures of immigration and opportunity intersect with the criminal justice system.
BLACK VOTERS MATTER Director and Producer: Daresha Kyi Producer: Trevite Willis Black Voters Matter chronicles Cliff and LaTosha’s rise from aspiring acolytes to game changing civil rights leaders as the founders of the Black Voters Matter Fund and the pivotal role they played in turning Georgia blue. These smart, funny, charismatic leaders and brilliant strategists will lead us on the crazy roller coaster ride that was the “unprecedented” 2020 election year and the insanity of January 6, 2021.
Applications for the 2023 Shifting Voices Film Fund grant will open in Fall of 2022. More information can be found online at https://wearecmp.org/shifting-voices-fund.
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