Rising Voices Premiere Event Hosted at Tribeca

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 12: <> at Spring Studios on June 12, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for 2023 Tribeca Festival)

( ENSPIRE Features ) Indeed, Lena Waithe, and Hillman Grad Productions Premiered “Rising Voices” Season Three At Tribeca Festival

ENSPIRE Contributor: Wesley Tran

On June 12, 2023, Indeed, the world’s number one job site, Emmy Award-Winning Writer, Creator, and Actor Lena Waithe and her Hillman Grad Productions celebrated Season Three of the Rising Voices filmmakers program at Tribeca Festival in New York City. Ten Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) filmmakers premiered their short films to distinguished guests that included Lena Waithe, Hillman Grad Productions President of Film/TV Rishi Rajani, along with program mentors Destin Daniel Cretton, Diego Velasco, Anthony Hemingway, Tiff Johnson, Naima Ramos Chapman, and Constanza & Doménica Castro. Each film surrounded the singular theme of the future of work and every filmmaker was awarded a $10,000 writing fee, received a $100,000 production budget, and a dedicated line production crew through Hillman Grad and 271 Films

In addition to the Rising Voices program, this year at the Tribeca Festival Indeed sponsored not only the Juneteenth program “Expressions of Black Freedom”, but also a special celebration of the 50th anniversary of hip-hop. Additionally, Rising Voices Season One filmmaker Shelly Yo, a first-generation Korean-American, debuted her film, “Smoking Tigers”, at Tribeca Film Festival through AT&T’s Untold Stories grant that she won last year. This year, Season One filmmaker David Fortune won AT&T’s Untold Stories grant for his film “Color Book”. These wins show the remarkable success of the Rising Voices program and the opportunities that it provides.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JUNE 12: <> at Spring Studios on June 12, 2023, in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for 2023 Tribeca Festival)

The event gave 10 filmmakers and films the invaluable opportunity to reach people and gain popularity. Below are some of the films that were featured at the event.

Ana Verde (she/her) is a Puerto Rican and Venezuelan filmmaker, working on Mara Has 3 Jobs in San Juan Puerto Rico. She is currently in post-production for her short film Te llaman las olas, a co-production with Puerto Rican production company Filmes Casa, which she wrote and directed. The film depicts the process of navigating a tourist economy and cultural representation from a local’s perspective. Ana is a 2022 Orchard Project Episodic Lab fellow (The Orchard Project), a 2022 WAVE Grant Recipient (Wavelength Productions), and her monologue Play the Sun was a finalist for the 2022 Ya Tú Sabes Monologue Slam (Nosotros Org & NBCUniversal).

Hannah Bang (she/her) is a South Korean writer/director with a love for stories about complex and imperfect people. Her film, My Nights Glow Yellow, will bring to light the isolation and loneliness that technology can create. Hannah’s work covers a wide range of forms including an ensemble theater play Prodigy for the Hollywood Fringe Fest, a sponsored short film Ripple Effect that was shot using StageCraft, and a collaboration feature project Voodoo Macbeth which had a theatrical release. Bang is a Jon Chu scholar and a recipient of the James Bridges and Jack Larson Directing Scholarship at USC and the Entertainment Technology Center Innovative Technology Award.

James Rogers III (he/him) is an award-winning writer, producer, and director from Compton, California. His next film will be Rocky Road on Channel Three, a film about the pressure of parental/cultural expectations in the job you choose even if that’s not your dream job or passion. James tells stories that center otherness in deeply imaginative (often fantastical) worlds, showcasing the magic of inner-city opulence that inspires him to create and audiences to dream. He has written and produced Emmy-nominated content for Disney+, Showtime, Netflix, Amazon, and more. James graduated from USC’s Peter Stark Producing MFA Program; his thesis project “Felix” is an award-winning animated short that screened across various festivals.

Born and raised in China, Joey Xuetong Zhao (she/her) is an award-winning director. She was selected by the Young director support Program of Beijing Liangjie Culture Media Co., Ltd. Inspired by magic realism and animation, Joey has been mentored by renowned director Emir Kusturica. Her AFI Thesis Film, FINDING VEGA, has been selected to premiere at the 26th LA Shorts International Film Festival. Her short film IN THE SILENCE addressed sexual assault from her personal experience and was selected for dozens of film festivals and exhibitions worldwide. In Your Light, Do We See Light, Joey’s next film, will highlight the importance of true representation when casting anyone with a disability.

To learn more about the Rising Voices event, read about it here.

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