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KNIGHT HEROES: Short Documentary Development Program

Announcing a new direction for its popular Knight Heroes program, Miami-Dade College’s acclaimed 39th annual Miami Film Festival is proud to launch a new partnership with IF/Then Shorts.

Now in its fourth edition, Knight Heroes is a program funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation where bright and bold filmmakers share their insights, observations, and advice about their creative paths and future outlooks through conversations about their own creative heroes. This initiative, led by IF/Then Shorts staff as an extension of the Miami Film Festival’s programming legacy with Knight Heroes, will provide grants and direct mentorship to eight local filmmakers, along with a major panel focused on both narrative and documentary short-form series development that will be open to the entire community.

South Florida filmmakers are invited to submit their short documentary project ideas for development funding and expert consultation on a wide range of topics. Eight filmmaker projects will receive a development grant of $500 each from the Knight Heroes program, as well as a one-hour consultation with a distinguished expert in the field on industry tropics tailored to their specific areas of interest.


Projects should be original, standalone short documentaries (between 8-30 min in duration) in development or pre-production. Proposed films should be factually accurate, follow best practices in documentary ethics, and be designed for a U.S. audience.

The projects should explore a range of socially, politically and culturally relevant topics that are rooted in the region. Submissions shall be in the form of community-inspired, short-form storytelling coming from South Florida, with filmmakers interested in building their Southern creative collaborative community.

This program is open to filmmakers living and working in the South Florida counties of Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe, with an emphasis on Black, Indigenous, Persons of Color (BIPOC), LGBTQIA+ folks, recent immigrants, undocumented persons, persons with a disability, and/or women. We welcome applicants regardless of immigration status, including applicants who are born abroad and are not U.S. citizens or U.S. legal permanent residents.

Online applications are currently open and will close on Monday, January 24, 2022 at 11:59 PM EST.


January 10, 2022 - Applications open (10 AM EST)

January 24, 2022 - Applications close (11:59 PM EST)

February 14-16, 2022 - All applicants notified of status

March 5, 2022 - “Scaling a Short Film into a Short Form Series” Festival Panel – (JW Marriott Marquis Hotel in Downtown Miami) Miami Film Festival will host a public 120-minute panel that is open to the entire South Florida film community. Panelists will discuss their expertise in development, acquisition/streaming and short film or short form series filmmaking. Panelists will share what they look for in series pitches (scripted and non-fiction), how they program standalone shorts for their platforms and answer questions from the audience. A happy hour event for filmmakers and registered guests of the Miami Film Festival 2022 will follow.. COVID safety protocols in accordance with CDC and Miami-Dade County guidelines for event gatherings will apply and be enforced.

For more information on Knight Heroes and Miami Film Festival, please visit miamifilmfestival.com/knightheroes2022.



Director: Jayme Kaye Gershen

The Melting Pot is a short documentary film about how Miami has become a refuge for everyone from political asylum seekers to tech bros to pelicans. This film explores the nuance of a city known for migration, challenging the image that once was by exploring what it has become in the age of Covid.


Director: Quincy Perkins

A commentary on the nature of the South Florida bitcoin craze as told through Mexican mythology.


Director: Jose Zaragoza

Our film explores the impact of sugar production in the Glades communities near Lake Okeechobee - and whether burning is a modern-day example of environmental racism that is endangering the health and lives of the very people who contribute to the companies' success.


Director: James Cotton

The former White House chef for George H. W. Bush now owns a fudge shop in Boca Raton, and is going for the Guinness World Record for the highest number of fudge flavors produced under one roof. What made him go from the White House to making white rum flavored fudge?


Director: Florencia Portieri

Years after a harrowing sexual assault, a young filmmaker aesthetically reconstructs the complexities and contradictions of her trauma in this rhythmic hybrid-doc short detailing a search for healing.


Director: Cathleen Dean

Since the beginning mankind has enjoyed a spiritual connection to water. Civilizations have fought over and revered water for its many wondrous powers, communities of color are no different in their desire to remain connected, but centuries of slavery and now a pandemic has made that fight even harder. This film explores the stories of five people during a pandemic, working through their trauma and stress by utilizing the pristine beaches of South Florida.


Director: Isaac Mead-Long

For years, Exchange for Change, has offered writing courses in prisons and ran letter exchanges between incarcerated students and writers studying on the outside. Through this short documentary we will dive deeper into the personal story of a former inmate and student who's life was transformed through his Exchange for Change classes.


Director: Akiel Griffith

The story of how Jamaican, afro Panamanian, Puerto Rican and latin culture birthed the genre of reggaeton.



January 10, 2022 - Applications open (10 AM EST)

January 24, 2022 - Applications close (11:59 PM EST)

February 14-16, 2022 - All applicants notified of status

March 5, 2022 - “Scaling a Short Film into a Short Form Series” Festival Panel at the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel in Downtown Miami

Online applications closed on Monday, January 24, 2022.