Social Justice Screenwriting Virtual Pitch Competition

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The Chicago Film Office and Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events will host the Social Justice Screenwriting Pitch Competition, to be held online at Facebook Live facebook.com/ChicagoFilmOffice Saturday, November 7, at 3pm CST

The Law offices of Hal “Corky” Kessler and the Chicago Film Office present the Chicago Social Justice Screenwriting Competition. This competition aims to further the voice of the disenfranchised though narrative media and shine light on social justice issues currently not on the forefront of narrative film and TV. Finalists will pitch a thought-provoking screenplay with a personal voice and individualized style centered around social justice and/or equality.

THE FINALISTS:

“Rideshare” Ariel DeSilvis

In this interesting twist on a buddy film, Jamal, a black teenager desperate to find $20 for his Grandmother’s heart medication, finds a gun instead and attempts to rob ride share driver, Gladys, an older, white woman. Unfortunately for Jamal, Gladys has a checkered past which includes driving the get-away car for an armed robbery. In an effort to fend off her assailant, Gladys takes him on a high-speed ride through Chicago and across the state line into Indiana.


“Rage Against the Night” Akiva Cohen

A Mexican literature professor seeking tenure to remain in the USA agrees to do a poetry workshop in a prison. But when an African American inmate secretly communicates to him through his poetry that he’s innocent, the professor sacrifices everything to stop the inmate’s fast-approaching execution.


“Little Girl X” Sharena Sigmon 

The daily Chicago life of a young Black girl and her murder suspects intersect on the day she is murdered.


“Halfback” Connor Martin

Coaches were more interested in Lesley Pollard than his smaller brother, Fritz. That changed when Fritz showed them what he could do with his 5’ 9” frame. Typical football players were bulky, built to stop bigger men. Fritz’s size allowed him to sneak between the tackles and see lanes others couldn’t. His German classmates nicknamed him “Fritz”, and he reached local celebrity status when he became the first black Cook County All-Star. Later, Fritz moved east, hoping to slowly earn enough money to play, while trying out for various schools. The only college interested, however, was Brown University. Their coach, Eddie Robinson, liked him but the school wouldn’t give Fritz a scholarship. Desperate, Fritz bootstrapped his own dry cleaning business in his campus apartment, hoping to make tuition. He didn’t succeed, but he did gain the clientele of a visitor to Brown, John D. Rockefeller. Rockefeller saw himself in Fritz’s work ethic, and overrode Brown’s own board, giving his scholarship to Pollard and allowing him to play. Fritz became the first black football player on an ivy league team. The Brown team steamrolled the competition and in their first ever finals appearance, Brown beat Yale.


“Go to the Body” Kyra Jones

After Sanaa, a rising racial justice organizer, is sexually assaulted by a fellow activist, she tries to push past her trauma and return to her normal life. The only thing standing in the way is her fiancé, Kendrick, an overprotective boxer who has his own idea of justice.


THE JUDGES:

Hal “Corky” Kessler, the Law Firm of Hal “Corky” Kessler
Corky Kessler is a “one stop shop” lawyer for the entertainment industry. In 2017 and 2019, Corky was named top entertainment lawyer in the United States. Corky has successfully worked with governors and US congressmen in several states to implement new laws and federal tax incentives for investment in qualifying film and television projects, which led to Section 181 and Section 199 of the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004. Corky has also been actively involved in the application of Section 168 of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act which was signed into law December 2017 and became active January 2018. Section 168 of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act outlined the new incentives for film, television, and theater for five years. He has authored a reference book covering such federal and state tax incentives.

Tamara Bell Koan, Inc.
As Vice President of Koan, Tamara Bell oversees the acquisition and development of feature films, documentaries, series, and animation in genres ranging from sci-fi and action to romantic comedy and religious for an ever-growing worldwide audience. With over twenty-five years in the entertainment industry her experience has included the acquisition of whole film catalogues, the production of internationally successful features, and the sale of numerous award-winning feature films and documentaries. Tamara has a passion for sharing quality storytelling and is always in search of unique stories that inspire, enrich, and energize. She is currently acquiring and developing film projects for Koan’s 2019 slate, set to commence production this winter.

Paul Moyer
Mr. Moyer is an Executive Producer and Partner at Eggplant Picture & Sound. The company, formed in 1996, has two media facilities in downtown Toronto capable of handling all aspects of post production, from Camera Dailies, Offline/Online Editorial, Colour Grading, Visual Effects, Sound Design/Mixing to final Mastering/Deliveries.

Patti Price, KP Films, LLC
Patti Price is an award-winning producer, owner of KP Films, a full film and music production studio in North Carolina, and co-President of NC WiFT. She works to connect and empower independent filmmakers and to encourage young filmmakers through her 501c3, Teens in Film, a full scholarship film camp. She currently has four features in development, one of which was written by an young woman in Nigeria. Ms. Price is a strong supporter of bringing the world together through film and giving everyone an opportunity to fulfill their potential. As an independent filmmaker, she has filled roles including Casting Director, Location Manager, Assistant Director, Director, Writer, Line Producer and Producer. Her favorite role is mentoring filmmakers and discovering that script that ‘has to be made’ and becoming the screenwriter’s biggest supporter and fan.

Ali M. Aksu
Ali M. Aksu is an international film producer and entrepreneur. He has produced multiple feature films distributed by major studios and streaming platforms. He holds a B.A. in Economics, with a minor in Film & TV and Digital Media from UCLA, and executive-level degrees from MIT, Wharton and Singularity University. Ali is the young professionals ambassador for United Nations Association SoCal. He is currently pursuing his passion for life-long learning at Chicago Booth School of Business MBA.


THE PRIZES:

  • 50% off legal fees from Kessler Law office valued at 10K 
  • 50% off distribution consultation during development stage Koan Inc 
  • 5K for funding efforts and marketing with Film Capital 
  • 50% off accountant fees from Todd Hein Accounting 

Total value: $35,000


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