Black Public Media announces lineup for its global, immersive pitch competition with $75K in prizes

International field of Black storytellers will pitch artificial intelligence, virtual reality and projection-mapping projects

Creative technologists from Brazil, Canada, South Africa, and the United States will compete for $75K in funding on Wednesday, April 27th, at the 2022 PitchBLACK Forum: Immersive. The Forum’s tech program attracts film festival programmers, museum curators, foundations and other organizations scouting filmmakers and artists who specialize in emerging and experimental forms of storytelling.

Three of this year’s projects, which were developed independently of each other, share a focus on housing and land ownership issues and their impact on Black, generational wealth and political agency. Those projects are: 40 Acres, which profiles American, Black farmers and land stewards; Cissie Gool House, which introduces us to activists living in a thousand-person occupation of a former hospital in Cape Town; Wa’Omoni Rising, which details the chipping away of communal land rights in Barbuda.

“Cissie Gool House” is a 360VR documentary, created by Dylan Valley and Annie Nisenson.

The other two projects in the lineup aim to engage users with emerging technology in playful ways. Ancestral Archives uses artificial intelligence chatbots to introduce users to the ideas of Black thinkers, and Rabiola Open Skies uses projection mapping to create a public art piece that invites users to fly virtual kites on nearby buildings.

PitchBLACK Forum is the largest funding competition for Black, independent filmmakers and creative technologists in the United States. The Forum’s first day features film projects, while day two showcases creative technology pitches. Unlike most tech pitch competitions, which tend to focus on funding startups or tech products, the participants at PitchBLACK Forum: Immersive are filmmakers and artists, with half of them owning their own creative studios. Four of this year’s competitors are recipients of BPM fellowships.

“Wa’Omoni Rising,” which comprises a film documentary, a 360VR documentary and a mobile wellness app, will be directed by filmmaker Ngardy Conteh George.

BPM is a 43-year-old nonprofit based in New York City. It supports the development of visionary content creators and distributes stories about the global Black experience to inspire a more equitable and inclusive future. BPM is also a founding member of Black Innovation Alliance, a national coalition of more than 60 innovator support organizations that work with small businesses, startup founders and creative technologists.

PitchBLACK Forum will present two days of pitches on April 26–27, 2022. The immersive program is curated and produced by Lisa Osborne, director of emerging media at Black Public Media. The immersive pitch day, which begins on the April 27th at 10 AM PT/1 PM ET, is free and open to the public. Register here. Winners for both the film pitches and the tech pitches will be announced on April 28th at the PitchBLACK Awards.

“40 Acres,” which includes a film documentary and an immersive installation, focuses on  the relationship between Black people in America and land. Both pieces will be directed by Tamara Shogaolu.

The immersive lineup features the following makers and projects:

40 Acres

by Tamara Shogaolu (Amsterdam & Los Angeles)

Technologies: Electronic textiles, video, augmented reality

Shogaolu, who is a BPMplus Fellow, is also developing a film documentary for 40 Acres. She is the founder of Ado Ato Pictures, a film, TV, animation and XR studio.

Ancestral Archives

by Josie Williams (New York)

Technology: AI and WebXR

BPM awarded Williams as the 2021 Nonso Christian Ugbode Fellowship, which is earmarked for a maker under age 30.

Cissie Gool House

by Dylan Valley and Annie Nisenson (Cape Town)

Technology: 360VR

Valley’s first 360VR film, AzibuyeThe Occupation, debuted at Sundance Film Festival in 2020 and, like Cissie Gool House, focused on the unhoused.

Rabiola Open Skies

by Leonardo Souza (Rio de Janeiro)

Technologies: Projection mapping, mobile app, AI

Souza, who is a BPMplus Fellow, is the founder of Okoto Studio, a film and immersive production company.

Wa’Omoni Rising

by Ngardy Conteh George (Toronto)

Technologies: 360VR and mobile app

Conteh George is an MIT & Black Public Media Visiting Artist. She recently joined the board of HotDocs. She is co-founder of OYA Media Group, a film, TV and virtual reality production company.

Learn more about the immersive projects competing in the 2022 PitchBLACK Forum.

Register by April 22nd to watch the online pitches on April 27th at 10 AM PT/1 PM ET/7 PM SAST. Tickets are free.

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This article was written and sponsored by Black Public Media. Learn more about BPMplus, our collection of emerging-tech programs.