New Short Film Competition Pays Tribute to Iconic Late Filmmaker John Singleton

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Los Angeles City Council President Herb J. Wesson Jr. and the Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) today announced the launch of a citywide short film contest highlighting stories focused on the African American experience and told through the lens of its Black characters. Inspired by the legacy of the late Los Angeles-born legendary African American filmmaker, John Singleton, the ‘John Singleton embRACE L.A. Short Film Competition’ is the result of a partnership between the City of Los Angeles and the Pan African Film Festival under Wesson’s embRACE L.A. initiative and is designed to honor Singleton’s cinematic legacy while simultaneously celebrating his unapologetic approach to filmmaking. Filmmakers are invited to submit their live-action short narrative scripts beginning July 15, 2019. Three winners will be awarded $20,000 each for the production and completion of a live-action narrative short film. Public screenings of the selected films will be offered in May 2020.

“embRACE L.A. is our initiative aimed at unifying Angelenos and empowering communities through conversations about race and racism and working to change these inequities,”said Wesson.

“Through the medium of film, we are encouraging young filmmakers to be a part of this conversation, just as many of John Singleton’s films were a conversation about race in South L.A. We’re celebrating John and his legacy with the John Singleton embRACE L.A. Short Film Competition by giving emerging filmmakers the opportunity to be their generation’s John Singleton, giving them the resources to create short films that echo the cultural contributions of John. Just as embRACE L.A. strives to do, these short films will continue a dialogue about race in Los Angeles and work to confront and change these inequities–just as John’s films bridged the racial divide in this country during his career.”

John Singleton’s films are known for centering on Black characters with humanizing stories about the often-routine circumstances and individuals in society that were mostly ignored or exploited beyond the point of recognition. The goal of the competition is to encourage and ignite Black filmmakers who desire to continue that commitment in their creative approach by providing them with the financial resources to write, direct, and produce an original and innovative film that echoes the cultural contributions of JohnSingleton.

“John Singleton, an extraordinary filmmaker, in so many ways ushered in a new era ofBlack cinema,” added PAFF Executive Director Ayuko Babu. “John embraced his community and culture to create lasting characters, images and stories that have become indelible in cinematic and indeed world culture. A giant tree has fallen. Knowing he can never be replaced, hopefully this initiative will help to foster a new generation of filmmakers/storytellers who will follow in John’s huge footsteps.”

The contest offers filmmakers an unparalleled opportunity to have their work produced and presented by one of the most prestigious Black film festivals in the world. The competition launches July 15 and the deadline to submit is September 15, 2019.Application information can be found at

The home of Hollywood, the City of Los Angeles hosts the world’s largest film industry.Based in Los Angeles, the Pan African Film Festival (PAFF), an Oscar-qualifying festival for live-action and animated short films, is one of the world’s largest and most prestigious Black film festivals and has long been recognized by the Industry as a launching-pad for some of the best writers and directors telling the stories informed from the Black experience.

“The opportunity to honor the cinematic legacy of John Singleton with this initiative is humbling and I’m thrilled to assist with extending resources that are designed to highlight his unapologetic commitment to Black stories, Black characters, and the specific uniqueness of the Black experience,” said the competition’s Program Director, Sharifa Johka. “I applaud the City of Los Angeles and hope this opportunity will contribute to John’s lasting impact by encouraging and affirming Black filmmakers to draw from the specificity of being Black to tell universal stories.”

embRACE L.A. is an initiative aimed at unifying Angelenos and empowering communities through a citywide conversation about race and racism challenging and changing inequities. Launched by Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson and Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell the initiative seeks to foster understanding, healing and growth throughout L.A.

embRACE L.A.’s multidimensional approach focuses on changing narratives, building relationships and advancing public policy solutions. Through a wide-variety of programs and strategies, the initiative is an unprecedented partnership between government, organizations and residents.

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