IF/Then Shorts is celebrating its third year hosting the American South Pitch at the New Orleans Film Festival with an inaugural partnership with the Surdna Foundation. For the first time ever, we scouted short docs with the theme of "inclusive economies" to highlight character-led stories in which systemically excluded people and places in the South are maximizing their economic potential as creators, innovators, entrepreneurs, and leaders.
Six finalists will pitch in front of an industry jury on October 18th at the Tubi Theater. The winner will receive a $25,000 production grant and wrap-around support from TFI through IF/Then Shorts over the next year, as well as a Storyville finishing package including picture and sound deliverables from their award-winning team. We are also partnering with POV Shorts (American Documentary) for a second year to provide a $1,000 cash prize and mentorship to the first runner-up.
We're excited to announce the finalists for this pitch, who hale from across the southern region of the United States. See their stories below:
A FINE GIRL – dir. Darcy McKinnon and Biliana Grozdanova, New Orleans, LA
A FINE GIRL follows Brandi Jarrow, a trans woman of color from New Orleans, as she opens a salon and fulfills her dreams, and poses the question of what's possible when we include and uplift trans people; at 27 years old, Brandi is a successful hairstylist, a woman of faith, and a valued member of her community.
THESE KIDS THIS CITY – dir. Dorian Munroe, Miami, FL
THESE KIDS THIS CITY is a film about the young people of Liberty City, Miami and its infamous bike life culture, which reaches its pinnacle every Martin Luther King Weekend, when thousands flood the streets on dirt bikes and four wheelers riding in a form of rebellion and community. After a hate crime incident occurs while protesting the climate gentrification of their inner city housing, the movement is catapulted into a national spotlight.
EMPRESARIAS – dir. Max Benitez, prod. Kristin Benitez, Austin, TX
Austin is overflowing with entrepreneurs. But venture capital dollars rarely make it into marginalized communities. This film takes you into the living rooms of women hailing from all over Latin America as they work together to navigate the small business lifestyle.
WASHERWOMAN – dir. Lana Garland, prod. Nathan Clarke, Durham, NC
From the 1881 Washerwoman’s Strike to the present day movement for a livable wage, WASHERWOMAN takes a look at a pivotal profession in the making of the labor movement in America. This story is told by their families, and the last living generation of washerwomen, themselves.
DISRUPTED BORDERS – dir. Cathy Chen and Alejandra Aragon, El Paso, TX
Wendy (16), maker and aspiring engineer, innovates using parts from discarded electronics at a local makerspace hoping to create prostheses for her best friend Rachel (15), who has double limb deficiencies. This Mexican-American tech disruptor reinvents cultural, class, and gender norms against the backdrop of the US-Mexico border in El Paso, Texas—a city currently healing from a horrific racially-motivated domestic terrorist attack.
BRIDGE TO BETTER – dir. Jessica Chriesman and Kayla Gladney, Birmingham, AL
In the heart of the segregated South, AG Gaston became one of America’s wealthiest citizens by listening to the needs of the black community. Today, over 20 years after his death, black businesses in Birmingham struggle to survive. This film follows three entrepreneurs as they strive to make a change in Birmingham’s black business community.