As the holidays fade and January settles in, last year’s thrills might seem like they happened a long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away (and not just if you’re a Star Wars fan). Remember back in 2015, when Yaya DaCosta hosted AfroPoP? When we launched the first-ever NBPC 360 incubator for broadcast and web series? Remember Pitch Black, the 360 program’s final pitch session at the Greene Space? And the #BlackLifeBlackProtest panel at the LA Film Fest? And Althea Week? And our Evoking the Mulatto live stream at YouTube Space NY? Not to mention Hack 360, Harlem’s first filmmaker hackathon? Ahhh, those were the days. . . .
Don’t get too misty-eyed, though: NBPC may have been around since 1979, but with so many fresh public media projects out there we are not about to get stuck in the past. In fact, 2016 will be a downright parade of premieres, panels, seminars and festivals for your participation and enjoyment.
So grab your planner and a pen! Here are 10 of the brightest spots on this winter’s Black Public Media horizon:
1. January 13: “Pan! Our Music Odyssey” preview screening in Detroit
Two weeks before the film premieres on AfroPoP, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History will host this special preview screening of Jérôme Guiot and Thierry Teston’s doc on the history and culture of steel drums. Set in Trinidad, birthplace of the steelpan, Pan! captures the world championship “Panorama,” where orchestras gather each year to showcase their passion, daring and talent. The film is interlaced with reenactments of the music’s rags-to-riches history: born amidst poverty and violence, the steelband movement climbed to the highest levels of social and artistic acceptance without losing its vital spirit. The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History is located at 315 E Warren Ave, Detroit, MI. The screening will begin at 1:00 PM.
2. January 13: NBPC’s 360 Open Call Q&A session at CCNY
Got questions about applying to our upcoming 360 Open Call for producers? Hear directly from NBPC staff about this new funding initiative, the application process, ins and outs of the incubator and the many resources we provide for filmmakers. This Wednesday, January 13 at 6:30 PM, we will be holding an in-person Q&A session — hosted by Third World Newsreel — in Room 291 of Shepard Hall at The City College of New York (CNNY). Come one, come all! You can RSVP here.
3. January 14: “Days of Hope” preview screening in NYC
AfroPoP’s Season 8 will kick off with this epic immigration documentary by Danish director Ditte Haarløv Johnsen — but you can see it first in Harlem! ImageNation will screen Days of Hope, which weaves together three courageous stories of travelers crossing deserts and oceans, from Africa to Europe, in search a better life for the families they leave behind. The event will include a panel discussion and will begin at 7:00 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. You can RSVP at the ImageNation website.
4. January 17: “Eyes on the Prize” re-broadcast on WORLD Channel
Jump-start Dr. King Day with producer Henry Hampton’s historic documentary series about the Civil Rights Movement, narrated by the late, great Julian Bond. Every Sunday until mid-March, the WORLD Channel will show one of the 16 episodes of the series, first broadcast on PBS in 1987. Eyes on the Prize explores an era that forever changed American life from the perspective of scholars who study it, politicians who shaped it and activists who put their bodies on the line for racial justice. In 2016, the struggle hasn’t stopped — which is why it’s important to catch the “Then and Now” special (airing January 17, directly before the Eyes premiere), where elder and younger activists will discuss the Eyes on the Prize in the context of current efforts like #BlackLivesMatter. Join the social media conversation with the hashtags #EyesOnThePrize or #PrizeThenAndNow, check your local listings for more about when to watch.
5. January 18 (MLK Day): “AfroPoP” Season 8 premiere, hosted by Jussie Smollett
It’s almost here! Season 8 of AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange starts next Monday, January 18, hosted by none other than Jussie Smollett (whom you may also know as Jamal Lyon, the character he plays on the hit TV show Empire). This winter — each Monday on WORLD Channel until February 15 — AfroPoP brings you four feature-length films and two shorts, with themes and settings ranging from LGBTI communities in São Vincente, Cape Verde; to cultural renaissance in Oakland, Calif.; to innovative youth technologists and musicians in Nairobi, Kenya. Check your local listings for viewing details. And visit our AfroPoP page to see the full lineup and trailers!
6. January 19: “Pan! Our Music Odyssey” screening at the Schomburg Center
If you’re not in the midwest, don’t worry: you can catch another advance screening of Pan! Our Music Odyssey at the Schomburg Center in Harlem. On Wednesday, January 19, from 6:30 to 8:00 PM, join us for a celebration of the history and sound of steel drums. Seating is first-come, first-served, so early arrival is best! RSVP here.
7. January 20: 360 webinar “What Does Impact Have to Do With It?” with Dot Connector Studio’s Jessica Clark
Funders of content like to see their work connecting to a real-world audience. As a producer, what are some tools you need to accurately reflect the effect your story is having in the real world? In other words: What Does Impact Have to Do With It? As part of our 360 Wednesday webinar series, Dot Connector Studio founder, internationally published journalist, researcher and media futurist Jessica Clark will host an online seminar answering this question and more — Wednesday, January 20, at 7:00 PM ET. If you’re looking for some tips for applying to this year’s 360 Open Call, don’t miss it! Register now on Eventbrite. You can also visit our webinar archive for previous training sessions.
And that’s just January! Here’s a sampling of some other red-letter days to plan ahead for in the coming months . . . .
8. February 1: NBPC’s 2nd Annual 360 Open Call
What better time than the first day of Black History Month to take a step toward influencing Black history? On Monday, February 1, you can officially submit applications for NBPC’s new 360 Open Call. 360 helps launch promising serial and interactive (“transmedia”) projects about the Black experience. Selected applicants will have the opportunity to participate in our fall incubator process leading up to a final pitch session — “Pitch Black” — before a room full of potential funders. Winners of Pitch Black will be eligible to receive individual pilot grants of up to $150,000 in funding.
9. February: Digital clinics for 360 Open Call
Throughout February, NBPC will hold digital clinics where representatives will be available for consultation about the application process for our 360 Open Call. Curious about what we need to see in your transmedia project’s budget proposal? Need a better sense of whether your series idea is at the right stage for submission? We’ll be on hand to explain the submission requirements, suggest strategies and answer your burning questions. Keep a lookout for the specific digital clinic dates, which will be announced on Facebook, Twitter and blackpublicmedia.org during the coming weeks. Meanwhile, you can watch last year’s clinics and webinars in NBPC’s 360 archive.
10. February: “Bridging the Divide,” documentary about former LA mayor Tom Bradley, premieres on PBS
Tom Bradley was not only Los Angeles’s first African American mayor, but the first Black mayor in the entire United States elected in a major city with an overwhelmingly white majority. A former police officer inspired to run for office by the Watts Rebellion, Bradley’s story touches on issues of police brutality in minority communities and the challenges of police reform. Produced by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Lyn Goldfarb and Emmy-winning filmmaker Alison Sotomayor, Bridging the Divide documents Bradley’s historic victory and the remarkable coalition of African Americans, Jews, white liberals, Latinos and Asian Americans who supported him — a coalition that transformed the city of Los Angeles, reworked the way our nation talks about race and built a stage for future elections of American leaders of color, such as President Barack Obama.
Along with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, NBPC is presenting this film via PBS SoCal. Check your local listings next month for Bridging the Divide’s premiere. The documentary will also available on DVD at shoppbs.org, online at mayortombradley.com.
And coming this fall . . .
September: 360 Incubator, Round Two!
Producers selected from our 360 Open Call will have the chance to hone their projects, improve their pitching skills and receive mentoring from public media veterans in NBPC’s Second Annual 360 Incubator. Learn more about the incubator from folks who experienced it firsthand: watch producer testimonials from Garland McLaurin (Pops), Nosa Garrick (My Africa Is) and Sultan Sharrief (Street Cred).
October: Pitch Black 2016
The culmination of the 360 Incubator process, Pitch Black is the moment of truth for selected producing teams. Each group gets a microphone, a spotlight, a screen and an audience full of influential media professionals. After weeks of preparation, finalists have approximately ten minutes to pitch their projects to the crowd — under the eye of a panel of expert judges. The judges then determine who’s most eligible for up to $150K in pilot grants.
Sound interesting? Look for more announcements about 360 as the year goes on!
If you want reminders about these and other upcoming events — or even if you just like the work we do — be sure to follow NBPC on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. You can also subscribe to our newsletter for regular updates.
Photos by Lindsey Seide