National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Chairman Mary Anne Carter has approved more than $84 million in grants as part of the Arts Endowment’s second major funding announcement for fiscal year 2020. Included in this announcement is an Our Town award of a $50,000 grantto the Capri Theater for the Northside Filmmakersproject. This is one of 51 grants nationwide that the agency has approved in this category.
The Capri is owned and operated by PCYC.
Northside Filmmakers is a community filmmaking project that will help develop a cadre of 50 cellphone filmmakers in North Minneapolis. It will provide participants with cellphone video production and storytelling training and tools, led by three celebrated, local Black filmmakers: E.G. Bailey., D.A. Bullock and Sha Cage.
“With this project we’ll be able to create an amazing ecosystem of filmmakers who can continue to support each other beyond the project,” said D.A. Bullock. “It’s like planting seeds—and those seeds will produce a lot of good fruit.”
Bullock is also intrigued by the number of filmmakers who’ll be able to connect with each other, get free training and create good work without having to invest in expensive equipment. “It will be a ‘come as you are’ opportunity to explore what this can be for you. If not a career choice, you’ll always know how to express yourself,” Bullock said.
The Northside Filmmakers project is designed to support 50 Northside residents creatively – with the tools and support they need to amplify their voices, tell their stories effectively and distribute them widely – and professionally – with assistance in making connections, forming new networks, and transferring new skills into opportunities.
“Cell phones have become the people’s camera. Why? Because many of us have access to them. So it makes sense to use the resources that are inherently around us, to remove the barriers of participation and then…have fun using creative city-making practices to engage one’s community,” said E.G. Bailey.
Sha Cage adds, “We are suddenly living in a time and world we have never seen before. We have two choices: stand outside the looking glass peering in or jump into the middle to help make history. We are tired of being spectators, having our stories co-opted, waiting for our moment. Now is the time to teach ourselves, our children and communities to re-write the narrative.
This project amplifies that and helps sharpen the knowledge and technical skills around filmmaking as a practice.
I am anxious to work with the next generation around social practice, political activism and filmmaking. The results will inevitably be a bright splash of honesty, truth, survival and Black Joy!”
The project is also designed to support overall community development and economic vitality. “In the language of economic development, this project merges workforce development with community self-expression as it will provide much needed training, skill building and mentorship in film production for the Northside community. The Minneapolis Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy is thrilled to partner with these artists, the Capri and PCYC in making Northside Filmmakers a reality,“ said Gülgün Kayim, Director.
The addition of NEA resources into the community will coincide with the proposed opening of the expanded, renovated Capri Theater which includes 20,000 square feet of new learning and performing space.
“When we are able to open the new building, which we hope to do this fall if COVID parameters permit, the Northside Filmmakers project will be centered here, in the heart of the Northside community. The new space will provide an extraordinary place for the filmmakers to collaborate, learn, screen and promote their work,” said Capri Director James Scott.
Anne Long, Executive Director of PCYC added, “We look forward to seeing where this community-driven filmmaking will go in the hands of our talented Northside storytellers. And we want this important work to continue for a long time.”
For E.G. Bailey, filmmaking is not just a passion, it’s an act of survival. “Haile Gerima spoke this years ago. Gordan Parks showed us. To put a camera in a young kid’s hands is to give the gift of empowerment and that’s what excites me the most about this project.”
“Gordon Parks’ book, A Choice of Weapons, talks about using the camera as a weapon against poverty, racism and all types of social ills,” said D.A. Bullock. “I think this program can work in the same way, opening up options for people to choose different paths. The world can change around that. There’s no time like this moment for this project to begin.”