Los Angeles, CA–Los Angeles City Council President Emeritus, Herb J. Wesson Jr. will present three $20,000 checks to the winners of the ‘John Singleton embRACE L.A. Short Film Competition’ Monday, Feb. 17 at 6 p.m. during the festival’s announcement of the winners at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza (3650 MLK Jr. Blvd.).
John Singleton, whose powerful debut film, “Boyz N the Hood,” earned him an Oscar nomination for best director, the first for an African-American, died after having a stroke on April 17, 2019, in Los Angeles. He was 51.
|WHAT:||Announcement of winners in the ‘John Singleton embRACE L.A. Short Film Competition’|
|WHO:||Councilmember Herb Wesson, 10th District|
Ayuko Babu, PAFF FounderShiela Morgan, mother of John SingletonFriends and family of John SingletonContest finalists
|WHEN:||Monday, February 17, 20206PM|
|WHERE:||Baldwin Hills Crenshaw PlazaPAFF Lounge – Formerly Mexicano Restaurant3650 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.Los Angeles, CA 90008|
Inspired by the legacy of the Los Angeles-born and legendary filmmaker, John Singleton, the ‘John Singleton embRACE L.A. Short Film Competition’ is the result of a partnership between the City of Los Angeles, the Pan African Film and Arts Festival and embRACE L.A. under the initiative of Los Angeles City Council President Emeritus, Herb J. Wesson Jr.
As an extension of the City of Los Angeles’ embRACE L.A. initiative, this competition deepened the program’s goal to engage a citywide conversation about race and racism while challenging and changing inequities. In honor of the cinematic achievements of John Singleton and his commitment to the South Los Angeles community, the City of Los Angeles and the Pan African Film and Arts Festival celebrate his unapologetic approach to filmmaking that centralized Black characters in humanizing stories about the often-routine circumstances of individuals in society that were mostly ignored or exploited beyond the point of recognition.
It is the program’s aim 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 Singleton’s cinematic catalog.
Three filmmakers will be awarded $20,000 each for the production and completion of a live-action narrative short film of their winning screenplays.
AMARU Jennifer J. Scott, Brandon Hammond
CONTRABAN: Chelsea Hicks Mitchell, Branden Rogers
THE SEANCE: Kemiyondo Coutinho, York Walker
ABOUT THE SCRIPTS:
Amaru Parish is a 19-year-old African-American college student living in Los Angeles County with a love for hip hop and anime. He especially has an affinity for rapper and activist Tupac Shakur. He and his two childhood best friends Malcolm and Simone live ordinary lives until things take a drastic change when Amaru is involved in a shoot-out with two white police officers. One evening while traveling in Malcolm’s affluent Sherman Oaks neighborhood, Amaru happens upon the police officers brutalizing an unarmed Black man. When the officers notice Amaru recording they turn their attack towards him, which leads to Amaru surprisingly overpowering them and shooting them with their own gun. This act of bravery sets off a mystical chain of events that find Amaru untouchable. After the shooting, Malcolm notices that Amaru appears to be resistant to the normal ills that usually oppress African-Americans. These occurrences lead Malcolm to believe that Amaru is impervious to white supremacy. Amaru and his friends go on a quest to confirm this rare superpower of Black privilege, all while trying to get acquitted by an all-white jury in the trial for the police shooting.
White people have become the minority in the United States and consequently, the president has declared a state of emergency. People of color are banned from having children and are regularly administered birth control by government officials. Due to budget cuts, a new form of birth control is created to last longer in order to reduce overall costs. However, this new drug does not work for one woman named Essence and she accidentally becomes pregnant. Her first instinct is to report it, but then she has a change of heart. Knowing their lives are at risk, Essence and her husband, Elijah, decide to keep the baby in order to fulfill their desire to have a family.
We open as the unsteady footsteps of Jason, a teenager trapped in a 32-year-old’s body, approach the door of a Harlem apartment. As the door creaks open, he is met by his emotionally exhausted fiance, Camille. Fed up with his nightly ritual of drinking, she staves off her frustration by cleaning the apartment. In an effort to avoid an argument Jason launches into his nightly routine of recounting his antics at the bar. He is interrupted by a flickering light caused by the spirit that inhabits the apartment. Camille calls to Jason’s younger sister Danielle so that they can perform a seance that would allow the spirit to pass on to the afterlife.
During the ritual, Jason becomes increasingly insistent that they stop the seance. In an attempt to end the ceremony Jason begins to interject his story from the bar. In a tearful exchange, Camille and Danielle reveal that Jason was killed by police and is the spirit they wish to exorcise from their lives. In a final flicker of the lights, Jason disappears. As Camille walks to her room to get some much-needed rest, the dark silhouette of Jason is illuminated by the flickering streetlamp outside.