March on Washington Film Festival Names Winners

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Fri, 07/22/2016 - 12:50 -- Nick Dager

The March on Washington Film Festival has named the winners of its inaugural Student and Emerging Filmmaker Competition. The eight films were selected from 75 projects that responded to the question: what’s your civil right? Jurors named winners and runners-up in narrative and documentary categories, for both student and emerging filmmakers. The winning films showcase diverse and powerful young voices, and cover a range of issues including criminal justice reform, immigration, racial justice, sexuality, and gender identity.

Grand prize winners include: Shape Up: Gay in the Black Barbershop, directed by Derrick L. Middleton for Emerging Documentary; Nothing Happened: A Short Film, directed by Ted Schneider for Emerging Narrative, the story of a black artist who is stopped and frisked; Legacy, directed by Amy Wright for Student Documentary, on Brooklyn's own Federation of Black Cowboys; and [solitary], directed by Derek J. Pastuszek for Student Narrative, a contemplative and visceral depiction of solitary confinement.

The grand prizewinners were awarded a $1,500 prize and runners-up $500 to support their continued work in film. Jurors came from across the arts and entertainment industries and social justice movements.

The esteemed panel featured: Gilbert King, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the New York Times bestseller Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America; Matt Klapper, chief of staff for U.S. Senator Cory Booker; Jeff Lieberman, award-winning journalist, producer and documentary filmmaker, and the Writer/Director of “The Amazing Nina Simone”; Pulitzer Prize winner Diane McWhorter, author of Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama—The Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution; Warrington Hudlin, veteran film, television and online media producer; Magdalene Brandeis, producer, novelist, and the associate director of the MFA Program in Film in association with Killer Films, at Stony Brook Southampton; Elizabeth Alexander, Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and the Frederick Iseman Professor of Poetry at Yale University; and Farah Jasmine Green, Professor of English and Comparative Literature and African-American Studies at Columbia University.

“An exploration of prejudice within safe space, Shape Up draws its narrative power from the gathering strength and steady generosity of an appealing protagonist, bolstered by his open-hearted comrades,” said juror Diane McWhorter. “Nothing Happened is a deft melding of form and content, in which the editing showcases both the humor and the horror of the gaslit experience of Living While Black. For all the hilarity behind its sophisticated handling of social stereotypes, it drives home the truth that micro aggression is something of a misnomer.”

The Student and Emerging Filmmaker Competition is generously supported by Pepsi Co. 

The March on Washington Film Festival, a non-profit program of The Raben Group, strives to increase awareness of the untold events and unsung heroes of the Civil Rights Era and inspire renewed passion for activism. The festival uses the power of film, music, and the arts to share these important stories. It was founding in 2013, on the 50thanniversary of the original March on Washington.

March on Washington Film Festival