IF/Then, REEL South, and New Orleans Film Society teamed up to host a virtual 2020 IF/Then American South Pitch. The partners invited storytellers from the American South to apply for a pitch opportunity to be held virtually in September 2020. The pitch called for original stand-alone commissions of short documentaries (up to 25 minutes TRT) by diverse filmmakers, including ALAANA (Asian, LatinX, African, Arab, and Native American) populations, LGBTQ+, women, nonbinary, and people with disabilities, who were living and working in the American South. These states and one federal district include: Alabama, Arkansas, District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia. These projects were at the end of their production and explore a range of socially, politically and culturally relevant topics.
All 3 partners jointly selected 6 finalists to present their projects at a live virtual pitch event in front of a panel of industry judges. Each pitch team had 7 minutes to present their project, which was followed by a short, moderated discussion with a tailored jury.
Madame Pipi, the winning project, was selected by the jury and received $25,000 dollars in production funding , a co-production agreement from REEL South and in-kind post-production finishing courtesy of UNC-TV. In addition, upon project completion, the winning project will be given a guaranteed distribution license with REEL South, the PBS anthology series that highlights the best non-fiction storytelling from the region.
IF/Then American South 2020 Finalists:
MADAME PIPI – WINNER
Filmmakers: Rachel Salnave, Jayme Kaye Gershen
Madame Pipi is a short documentary that follows the lives of 3 Haitian immigrant women who work as bathroom attendants for some of the hottest spots in Miami.
NONSTOP – HONORABLE MENTION
Filmmakers: Zac Manuel, Marta Rodriguez Maleck
The interconnected daily journeys of bus riders and operators on the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority bus lines illuminate why the black community here has been disproportionately affected by COVID-19. While the bus operators fight for proper PPE, hazard pay, and sick time off they continue to provide a necessary, but dangerous service to frontline workers, the sick, and the homeless population through a pandemic.
SMILE LITTLE LADYBUG
Filmmakers: Laura Asherman, Michele Lombardi
Inspired by her grandfather’s escape from Nazi Germany, Ms. Ladybug is a second-generation clown who strives to make the world a better place.
IN THE EYES OF GOD
Filmmakers: Tenoch Aztecatl, Christian Neilsen
At Texas A&M, the first public college in Texas, a movement to build the first statue of a person of color reveals Black history older than the university itself. For 25-years, a statue honoring state Senator Matthew Gaines, an ex-slave who helped to create the university, has remained a controversial subject at Texas A&M.
Filmmakers: Hanna Miller, Taiwo Gaynor
Superintendent Babette Duty is tasked with the nearly impossible: reopening Mississippi’s Covington County schools during the Covid-19 pandemic. With no budget, no access to modern technology, and a football-obsessed community, will Babette’s Herculean efforts to safely abide by tradition and keep school going be enough, or will the virus force district schools to shut down?
Filmmakers: Christian Vasquez, Stevie Walker-Webb
A family reeling from the unjust incarceration of an ailing mentally ill loved one, calls on their faith and the strength of community to right a systemic wrong. Music, love and creativity is used to permeate the isolation of a solitary confinement cell, and a public performance on prison grounds is used to challenge the state to do better.