In the wake of an Academy Awards show that will resonate for a very long time to come, today I choose to blur the memory of the display and reward of toxic masculinity with the purity of emotion performed in the words and actions of Questlove, Ariana DeBose and that startling and poetic exchange when Lady Gaga held space for Liza as she gently faltered in her line delivery. “I got you.” “I know.”
This week, The Alliance is looking forward to a zoom gathering on Thursday to celebrate the launch of our new XR Culture Gallery – a space for the experience of art and stories in the metaverse, co-created by international BIPOC women and non-binary curators and artists, and realized by a visionary group of Canadian technologists at Versatile Media. Please join us — we’ll have a conversation with the creative teams that came together for this project and we’ll premiere a short video by Siraj Jhaveri to give everyone a sense of the magic and mysticism in the world that is the first part of our inaugural exhibition: ANCESTRAL FUTURISM: UNAPOLOGETICALLY MELANATED (a virtual exploration of the Mythic + Da Truth!)
The XR Culture Gallery is a dynamic work-in-progress; we have a few more “rooms” of UNAPOLOGETICALLY MELANATED still to build out. We are also are eager to partner with any member organizations — museums, galleries, community cultural spaces, arts collectives – who would like to explore, experiment and build unique public art and media projects in the XR Culture Gallery space. Real truth, budgets must be raised, but there has never been more pivotal time to establish “land rights” and cultural sovereignty in the metaverse for the voices and lived experiences that belong to all of us.
We may be part of the Oculus/Meta infrastructure right now, but it won’t always be that way. How do we collectively future-architect a metaverse clamoring to be controlled by white male-dominated corporate interests? We stand on the shoulders of the digital pioneers who demanded we protect an open internet and make it accessible for all, we blow the whistle on technology that perpetuates anti-blackness and BIPOC invisibility, we create virtual spaces where women are not victimized, question the authority and boundaries of artificial intelligence, and protest the surveillance, hate speech, and tech-enabled human rights violations that continue around the world. Not just a virtual art gallery…
Thank you to Cassidy Arkin, Jessi Jumanji, Valentina Vargas, Kali Spitzer, Chanelle Elaine,
Afua Kafi-Akua, Catherine Blackburn, Lola Flash, Karo Duro and Sadah Espii Proctor. The artists whose vision informed this work every step of the way.
Notes from the Field
Alliance XR Culture Gallery presents Ancestral Futurism: Unapologetically Melanated – “a Virtual Exploration of the Mythic and da Truth!”
This Thursday, March 31st, The Alliance will be launching the first exhibition from the XR Culture Gallery. The exhibit, Ancestral Futurism: Unapologetically Melanated, is the result of a yearlong collaboration between a team of women and non-binary BIPOC artists seeking to utilize the metaverse for an exploration of “mythic experience.” The Gallery will go live for the Quest 2 on April 15. Join the Preview Event on March 31 at 1PM PT/4PM ET on zoom. Register here.
Molding Reality: The Art of the (Nonfiction) Edit
Between Friday, April 1st and Sunday, April 3rd this week, Union Docs will be hosting a workshop exploring the role that editing can take in assembling a story from documentary footage. In this interactive workshop, participants will work with industry professionals to better understand the physical craft of edits as well as the guiding principles.
Media Policy Watch
At Sunday’s Oscar ceremony, Troy Kotsur broke ground by being the second deaf winner of the the Best Actor Award. The delivery of Kotsur’s award accompanied a push from the Academy to focus more on accessibility. According to Hollywood Reporter, “All deaf nominees and winners had their own interpreters with their own seats during the entirety of the show, with the ceremony providing hired certified interpreters in some cases and honoring guests’ requests to use their own interpreters in others.” There were also multiple interpreters signing live to the audience. Another feat for accessibility was seen in this year’s award for Best International Film going to the emotional meditation on alienation and grief Drive My Car, which features Korean Sign Language prominently.
Earlier this month, House Democrats called for apprenticeship subsidies for employers. The bill would give grants to small businesses in which funds could be used for wages and developing new programs for apprenticeships. This bill is aimed at helping the workforce recover and offer exciting new opportunities for job seekers as an alternative to higher education, which is often costly.
As film distribution shifts towards streaming with companies focusing on producing more and more specialized original content, more niche films have languished, become lost or out of distribution, and their ownership rights have become an ever more twisted web. A coalition of enthusiasts and professionals have founded the advocacy organization Missing Movies in an attempt to combat the disappearance of the films they love. In a profile published by The Guardian, Noah Gittell profiled two such movies, the comedy Heartbreak Kid, and the cult biopic on notorious feminist author Valerie Solanas titled I Shot Andy Warhol. The director of I Shot Andy Warhol, Mary Harron, who is part of the working group for Missing Movies, explained that due to small independent production companies regularly folding during the 80s and 90s, her own film was “sold three times before it was even released.” This situation makes it a struggle for her and similar directors to even locate who owns their films, leaving them unable to negotiate distribution. In the same article, Amy Heller, co-founder of Milestone Film and Missing Movies, emphasized the vital need for ensuring the films that are often neglected remain available stating “You see documentaries about poor people, Native Americans, queer people, disabled people. These images are part of our world, and we can’t afford to lose them.”
Grants and Calls
The deadline is approaching for Maimi alternative arts space Locust ProjectsWaveMaker Grant. The grant will award a total of $60,000 to in funding to Maimi based artists, separated into three categories: New Work, Long-Term Projects, and Research and Development. The grant is open to a broad range of art, but must be primarily visual.
Deadline: April 1, 2022
Wild Futures Grant
Creative Capital is seeking conceptually and formally challenging working artists with at least five years of experience for their Wild Futures Grant. They are looking for challenging, unique projects be they multidisciplinary or going beyond the limits of a discipline. Recipients have the opportunity to receive up to $50,000 in varying amounts.
Deadline: April 1, 2022
The Cannes Film Festival has partnered with the popular video app TikTok to create the #TikTokShortFilm Contest. Participants are invited to submit a scripted vertical film for the chance to win a trip to Cannes and a Cash Prize of up 10,000 Euros. The jury will choose 3 finalists from 3 categories, Grand Prix, Best Script, and Best Editing
Deadline: April 8th
ArtesMiami Documentary Film Fund
Filmmakers Alex Fumero and Kareem Tabsch in partnership with Miami nonprofit ArtesMiami are seeking filmmakers of Cuban descent and projects about cuban diaspora for their ArtesMiami Documentary Fund. The fund is offering awards of up to $25,000 to participants. Three categories are available: Development, Production, and Post-Production. Tabsch said of the grant “If we want more stories about our community to be told by us, then we need to create opportunities for our storytellers to be able to do so.”
Deadlline: April 15th
NEA Challenge America
The NEA is offering a “robust structure of technical assistance” and grants of $10,000 for small arts organizations. The goal of the grant specifically is to ensure that art is able to reach the underserved.
Deadline: April 21st
Workshops, Festivals, Convenings
Film at Lincoln Center Art of the Real – March 31st-April 3rd, New York City, NY
James River Film Festival – March 31st-April 3rd, Richmond, VA
NEPA Film Festival – April 1st-3rd, Philadelphia, PA
Sarasota Film Festival – April 1st-10th, Sarasota, FL
Seattle International Film Festival – April 14-24. Seattle, WA
San Francisco International Film Festival – April 21st, May 1st, San Francisco, CA
Atlanta Film Festival – April 21st-May 1st, Atlanta, GA
TCM Classic Film Festival, April 21st-24th, Hollywood, CA
Hot Docs – April 28th-May 8th, Toronto, Canada
Born Digital Youth Programming Manager, NOVAC, New Orleans, LA
Creative Services Program Manager, NOVAC, New Orleans, LA
Assistant Professor in Film and Media Arts, Post Production, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA
Community Engagement Librarian and head of External Engagements, New York University, New York, NY
MVFF Programming Associate, California Film Institute, Remote/San Rafael, CA
DocLands Guest Services Manager, California Film Institute, Remote/San Rafael, CA