2nd Annual Free Our People Film Contest

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Dominick Evans

The Free Our People Film Contest is set to launch on February 1, 2018. The contest will run between February 1 and March 31. Films are expected to be 5 to 7 minutes long. Every film has to feature two items we will announce on our Facebook page on February 1. This is often how film contests make sure that every film is made during the designated filmmaking period, and not before.

The film contest has two main purposes. First and foremost, all of the films must be about institutional bias. Institutional bias is something that keeps many disabled people trapped in institutional settings such as nursing homes instead of living in their own home in the community. Institutional bias limits access to education, employment, relationships, and many other aspects of life most people living in the community take for granted. A lot of people don’t even have the ability to determine when they go to bed, what they can eat, or when they bathe. Freedom to make decisions is often taken away from those living in institutional settings.

To learn more about what institutional bias is, check out the video we made:

The theme of the contest is institutional bias, so we hope to receive entries that not only highlight the problems with institutional bias but those that celebrate disabled people being able to live in their own homes in their communities. Films can be documentary, animated, narrative fiction, mixed-media, or experimental. This means that there is an unlimited amount of ways to tell a story featuring institutional bias.

The second purpose of the contest is to include disabled people both in front of and behind the camera. On every film crew, at least one of the major crew positions (writer, director, editor, and/or producer) must be a disabled person. Additionally, for narrative films, any characters that are written to be disabled must be played by disabled actors. We encourage you to include disabled people in any role, whether they are written to be disabled or not. The same is true of animated shorts. If your character is disabled, make sure they are voiced by a disabled performer. Disabled people have long been shut out of the film industry in every capacity, so we hope to encourage filmmakers that are not disabled to work with disabled creators and actors.

Your hard work will pay off because we have many amazing prizes that we are offering our winners. The first prize winner not only receives a $1000 cash prize, but they also will be mentored by one of the executive producers of EMPIRE, Wendy Calhoun! Wendy will offer a one-hour mentoring session to two of the main crewmembers (at least one of them must be disabled) of the winning film. Second place will receive $500, and all three top prizewinners will receive a free trip to Rochester later in the summer to show their film at the Free Our People Film Festival! There are various types of software that are also being awarded including StoryBoard Quick and Scrivener story software.

In order to participate in the contest, don’t forget to visit our Facebook page on February 1 when we announce the two items you need to visibly show in your film. Our Facebook page is located here: https://www.facebook.com/FreeOurPeopleFilmContest/

To enter your film, please visit our Free Our People Film Contest Film Freeway page. There is a $5 entry fee, mostly to prevent unrelated films from being submitted. However, if you are a disabled person who cannot afford the fee, email devans@cdrnys.org. We will give you a code to enter a film for free. We do not want disabled filmmakers to be discouraged from entering because of the fee.

We encourage you to consider making a film for the Free Our People Film Contest. We look forward to seeing what you create.