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Chicago Filmmakers awards $100,000 to local social injustice digital media projects
--From a press release

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(July 20, 2021 — Chicago, IL) Chicago Filmmakers is pleased to announce that the Chicago Digital Media Production Fund (CDMPF) has awarded a total of $100,000 in grants to eight Chicago artists for the production of their socially progressive web series, short films, and for the first time, a narrative podcast. This year's CDMPF-supported projects tackle a range of important and timely issues, such as migrant detention, mass incarceration, youth violence, sexual assault, and challenges facing Muslim and Arab communities.

An independent panel of twelve film community peers and media professionals reviewed the submitted proposals. Guidelines stipulated that digital media of any length or genre would be considered, but projects must address social justice issues and/or represent points of view of those historically marginalized by mainstream media, be appropriate for youth, and be made available for free online in order to reach the widest possible audience.

The CDMPF is designed to support forward-thinking media arts projects with the capacity to impact social change, and is intended to support artists from diverse backgrounds with varying levels of experience. Chicago Filmmakers' goal is to empower the local filmmaking community with critical funding and additional resources to help artists realize their visions and engage audiences.

All projects are scheduled for completion by July 28, 2023, and will be available online for the public to access in the following year.


The Untold Stories of Terrence & Avelah ($20,000)

In cities like Chicago there are an overwhelming number of vigil sites where candles, cards, flowers, and teddy bears are left in honor of victims of violence. This 3D animated short film is the narrative of one of these teddy bears. The story creates a heartfelt message that connects youth to the issue of violence in the city. Directed by Maxwell Emcays.

Even Saints Bleed ($15,000)

A narrative short film about an emerging writer, Alma, struggling to complete her novel until reality and fiction blur, forcing her to confront the demons of her past. Informed by personal experiences, the film serves as a commentary on the causality of inventing fiction through autobiography and its effects on the psyche when it comes to healing practices. Written and directed by Ricardo Gamboa. Produced by Sar Cohen.

Half Truths and Full Lies - Online Version ($15,000)

An offline and online installation, Half Truths and Full Lies depicts the case of E.Paredes, a Latinx man sentenced to life without parole at age 15, for a murder he claims he didn't commit. The project probes truth-telling in both the media and the law, through conflicting testimonies on the case. A collaboration between Tirtza Even, Meg McLagan, and Elyse Blennerhassett.

Whole + Six Feet Apart ($15,000)

Whole + Six Feet Apart are a pair of "brother" short films — thematically linked stories produced as one project. Through the lenses of Blackness, class, and identity (Whole) and Mexicanidad, queerness, and masculinity (Six Feet Apart), these films explore challenging your culture to reach who you truly are. Written and directed by Monty Cole and Isaac Gómez. Produced by Josh Sobel, Diana Perez Riveros, and Juli Del Prete. These projects are fiscally sponsored by Teatro Vista.

My Mother Is An Artist ($12,000)

My Mother is an Artist tracks the multigenerational impact of one mother's incarceration and follows her journey to get justice, make art, and find joy in a city that has taken so much from her. This project shows her family's fight to heal after two connected losses: Lajuana's imprisonment and Prince's murder, both at the hands of a system inaptly named "justice." Directed by Maya Horton and Julia Mondschean.

No Shelter ($12,000)

A web series exposing, questioning, and fighting a hidden arm of the migrant child detention system in Chicago. The project combines documentary, experimental, and activist media traditions while serving as a node in the struggle for the abolition of ICE and all mass incarceration. Directed by Harley Foos and Rozalinda Borcila.

Tarak ($7,750)

A documentary short that follows the unexpected impassioned debate around a Chicago City Council resolution that condemned discrimination and systemic human rights violations against Muslims in India. Directed by Sankalp Raju.

The New Girl at School and Other Terrifying Horrors ($3,250)

A found audio anthology podcast about the inexplicable and anomalous events that transpire at a Chicago Muslim private school. The series is also supported by NYC New Podcasters Group and the MPAC Hollywood Bureau. Written by Ali Abbas.


Andrea Raby

Andrea Raby is a documentary filmmaker and producer based in Chicago, IL. She works as an associate producer on Director Ruth Leitman's in-progress docu-series No One Asked You and produced Amber Love's A Galaxy Sits in the Cracks. Andrea was a CDMPF grant recipient in 2018 for her documentary short, Undue Burdens, which looks at grassroots organizations fighting for abortion access in the past and present. Her next short film, Strikers, is currently completing post production and will premiere at festivals in 2021.

Brent Kado

Brent Kado is the Executive Director of the Chicago Comedy Film Festival, Great American Script Contest, and Los Angeles Comedy Film Festival. He is a filmmaker, director, and producer recognized for his work in the Chicago Sun Times, Indiewire, Forbes, Ad Age and MovieMaker Magazine. Kado's most recent project is a true crime docu-series which has been optioned by LA-based Indigo Films. Kado is also an adjunct professor at Columbia College.

Chantel Chavon

A self-described "proud South Side Chicago native," Chantel Chavon is a rising multi-disciplinary writer, director, producer, and actor. As the Co-Founder of Nyte Lyte Productions, Chantel has executive-produced, written, starred, and directed a comedic digital-series pilot, Life With Bae; and a dramatic short film, When the Leaves Fall, which is currently on a film festival run throughout 2021.

Cody Corrall

Cody Corrall is a culture critic for the Chicago Reader and Cine-File, among other places on the world wide web, with a focus on genre, identity, and the moving image. They also co-host the podcast "Into the Twilight.''

Felipe Diaz-Arango

Felipe Diaz-Arango split his time between Colombia and Massachusetts as a child, then moved to Chicago sixteen years ago for college and never left. He makes his living as a creative marketing strategist and has a personal video practice through which he's authored over 30 short documentaries, fundraising videos, and low-budget commercials.

Grace Hahn

Grace Hahn is a Chicago-based producer whose first feature film, Princess Cyd(from writer and director Stephen Cone), is now available for streaming via Hulu & Amazon. Her second feature Once Upon A River (written and directed by Haroula Rose) is currently available on VOD via Amazon. She received the 2016 Aida Schvartz Award for Gender in Communication from Northwestern University and is part of the inaugural class of the Chicago Independent Producers Lab through the Chicago Film Office, DCASE, and Full Spectrum Features. She was recognized by NewCity as one of Chicago's 2020 Film50 "Screen Gems."

Jeremy Germain

Jeremy Germain is an award-winning Latinx filmmaker based in Chicago, whose work has been screened across the country and internationally. With a focus on writing and directing, Jeremy always seeks out stories that inspire, challenge, and motivate their audiences. He is currently working on his very first feature-length script as well as beginning development/pre-production on several short films.

Jim Vendiola

Jim is a Filipino-American filmmaker whose work frequently explores heartache, longing, liminality, eros, and pathos. His psychological horror short, Violets, received the 22nd Chicago Underground Film Festival's Audience Award, while his kinky, queer follow-up, Library Hours, was nominated for Best Short Film in 2020 by NewFilmmakers LA. A three-time Newcity "Film 50" honoree, his debut feature, Homesick, is currently in development with Chicago Film Project.

May Tchao

Director, producer, and writer May Tchao takes her projects from concept to finish wearing many hats that include shooting, editing, transcribing, and designing her own promotional and marketing materials. A passionate and resourceful producer, she guided her debut feature Spilled Water from inception, production, marketing to distribution and the film has been shown on PBS's WTTW/Chicago and KQED/San Francisco. Hayden & Her Family is her second feature and is fiscally sponsored by Chicago Filmmakers.

Morgan Jon Fox

Named one of the "25 New Faces of Independent Film" by Filmmaker Magazine, Morgan Jon Fox is a director, producer, and A.D. from Memphis, TN and is now based in Chicago. He has directed four feature films, and is the creator of the critically-acclaimed episodic series Feral. Fox has produced and has been an A.D. for features, docs, and commercial work for companies and brands such as A24, HBO, Nike, VICE, ESPN, Spotify, National Geographic, FedEx, 2k Sports, and the NBA.

Seth Savoy

Cajun filmmaker and screenwriter Seth Savoy is catapulting himself into the entertainment industry, quickly becoming known for his flashy filmmaking style with heavy hitting A-list talent. In 2020, Savoy made his feature film debut with the star-studded crime drama Echo Boomers. Savoy studied filmmaking at Columbia College Chicago, where he made multiple award-winning short films that have screened globally. Savoy currently splits his time between Los Angeles and Chicago.

Theresa Campagna

Theresa Campagna is a Chicago-based journalist and teaching artist with over a decade of experience in photojournalism, audio documentary, documentary film, and newspaper reporting. She is proudly Filipinx-Sicilian-American, and her work has appeared in PBS, XOJane, Alternet, Getty Images, Free Speech Radio News, South Side Weekly, The Gate Newspaper, and WLUW 88.7 FM.

For more details, visit the Chicago Filmmakers' website here .

About Voqal

Voqal is dedicated to supporting the dissemination of alternative ideas and building a more engaged public to effect progressive social change and disrupt the status quo. Through various grant-making and fellowship initiatives, Voqal supports nonprofit organizations and individuals using media and technology to empower those who are politically, economically, or socially disenfranchised.

About Chicago Filmmakers

Chicago Filmmakers is a not-for-profit media arts organization that fosters the creation, appreciation, and understanding of film and video as media for artistic and personal expression, as well as media of important social and community impact. Chicago Filmmakers' twofold mission is to serve independent film and digital video artists by supporting the creation and dissemination of new media artworks and to serve Chicago audiences by screening artistically innovative, socially relevant, and diverse films and videos.

Chicago Filmmakers nurtures the development of aspiring filmmakers of all ages by offering classes, workshops, and summer camps; empowers artists to create new work through production grants, equipment access, fiscal sponsorship, and other services and resources; and encourages the professional advancement of media artists through seminars, panel discussions, lectures, rough-cut and open screenings, as well as networking events and other opportunities for artistic exchange. Chicago Filmmakers develops diverse audiences through its year-round weekly film and video exhibition programs and its two annual film festivals, Reeling the Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival and The Onion City Experimental Film + Video Festival.

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