After more than a couple of months worth of submissions, the time has come to finally select a winner of the contest. A total of 29 films are in contention for the grand prize - $500 cash (plus it'll be featured on AvenueTV) - and, as promised last week, the winner of that award would be announced today, Monday, January 13, 2014.
First, from AvenueTV and myself, thanks to everyone who was bold and willing enough to submit their work for the contest. We plan to do this again in the near future, so for those who wanted to submit for this round, but had nothing ready, but may have films completed before the end of the next contest, you will have an opportunity to do so.
The goal of the contest, as previously emphasized, is to encourage black filmmakers to explore the more fantastical cinema genres - genres in which, for a number of reasons, black films are lacking - science fiction, fantasy, supernatural, horror, and others that would fall under the "speculative fiction" umbrella.
And with that, I'm glad to announce that the winner of the first S&A/Avenue TV Fantastical Short Films contest is... Haitian filmmaker Amiral Gaspard's 20-minute supernatural tale The Good, The Bad, The Apprentice (Le bon, le méchant et l'apprenti).
Amiral was born on December 20, 1982 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Self-taught in the fields of art, such as drawing, photography and computer graphics, and fascinated by audio-visual technology, he decided to sharpen his abilities by attending the Ciné Institute in Jacmel - a program I've profiled here on S&A in the past, which provides Haitian youth with film education, training and production support, which began as a film festival in Jacmel.
Held for three years, Festival Film Jakmèl showed hundreds of films from around the world, free of charge, to tens of thousands of local audiences, with a written mission being to "use the power of cinema, integrated educational programming, technical film training and production funding, to entertain, educate and empower Haitian youth, to create a movement that grows an industry in national cinema and arts, which creates jobs, stimulates regional economies and drives sustainable long term development."
The Institute's programs are: Ciné Lekòl - a film school offering training in fiction documentary and commercials; Ciné Services - an income generating production center for film school students and graduate; Ciné Klas - daily educational film screenings in partnership with national public schools; and Ciné Klub - weekly public screenings of world cinema.
When the earthquake struck almost 4 years ago, the Institute's students were on the ground, shooting and uploading footage onto social networking sites for the rest of the world to see, and they continued releasing video footage covering the aftermath.
Amiral was a student at the Institute from 2011 to 2013, where he studied film, and The Good, The Bad, The Apprentice was his graduation project.
Currently Amiral tells me that he's working in media production in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
"We are delighted with and proud of Amiral Gaspard's winning entry 'The Good, The Bad, The Apprentice,' which will be featured on AvenueTV for the next two months," said Monique A. Williams, AvenueTV, Content Curation. "AvenueTV features the very best in television and web originals targeting urban audiences; Gaspard's short effectively represents the content we seek and ultimately share with our audience. While it is no secret there is a lack of quality sci-fi, fantasy, and horror shorts and webseries featuring people of color, we are encouraged by the enthusiastic interest, support and wide variety of submissions for this first partnership with Shadow and Act. We're especially excited about the strong focus on editing technology, clear story-lines, and high-caliber performances displayed by this year's entrants. We look forward to seeing continued investment in this genre in the future."
Once we've gathered ourselves, examining what we learned from this first contest, and decide on how to structure the next one, a call for entries announcement will be made at that time, which shouldn't be too long from today.
Without further ado, here's Amiral's winning short film, The Good, The Bad, The Apprentice.
The other 28 films submitted follow on the next page of this post, so if you have yet to watch them, or want to revisit, if only for comparison, click to page two (and thereafter):