At the end of the competition, three filmmakers will be selected and awarded $20,000 each for the production and completion of a live-action short film of their winning screenplays.
By Helena Olori
The Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) has announced the submission window for the second edition of the John Singleton Short Film Competition, calling for entries from filmmakers from January 6 through February 19, 2024.
The screenwriting competition, a collaborative effort of the PAFF and the City of Los Angeles, honours the legacy of the legendary filmmaker John Singleton, and offers up-and-coming Black filmmakers a chance to win a $20,000 prize for the creation of a live-action narrative short film.
Besides the cash prize, the competition, funded by Los Angeles’ embRACE L.A. programme under Councilmember Heather Hutt’s leadership, is also “committed to fostering inclusivity and amplifying Black voices in film”, says Sherri G. Sneed, the competition’s executive producer. It avails participants the necessary resources, support, and a platform to share their diverse stories that echo the cultural contributions of John Singleton, whose films are renowned for spotlighting and humanising Black characters in everyday stories.
Voicing her support for the initiative, Singleton’s mother, Sheila L. Ward stated, “I thank everyone involved in creating such a needed platform. My son [John] would be proud”. While previous winners – TJ Ali (The Lifted), Jenesis Scott and Brandon Hammond (Amaru) – attest to the life-changing opportunities the competition offers.
The John Singleton Short Film competition is open to Black screenwriters, directors, and producers residing in Los Angeles and holding copyright for their submitted screenplays of no more than 25 pages. Completed projects, not exceeding 30 minutes, including credits, must centre on the “Black experience” in the United States and address issues of social inequities.
Previous credits as a screenwriter, director, or producer on a project (short, feature, web, or TV series) along with a Vimeo link to a sample of prior work and a submission fee of fifty dollars ($50) are also required.
The submission window will open on January 6, in honour of what would have been Singleton’s 56th birthday, to close on February 19, 2024, the last day of this year’s edition of the annual Pan African Film & Arts Festival scheduled to begin on February 6 in Los Angeles.
Principal photography of submitted projects is expected to take place between May and July 2024, with completed films delivered to PAFF by December 1, 2024. Applicants are also expected to attend a mandatory one-day Filmmaker Summit in Los Angeles in April 2024.