February 4-17, 2025
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PAFF Announces 2024 Launch of John Singleton Short Film Competition


MEDIA CONTACT: [email protected]

The Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) announces their call for submissions for their second season of their screenwriting competition, the John Singleton Short Film Competition. Three three filmmakers will be awarded $20,000 each for the production and completion of a live-action narrative short film of their winning screenplays. Submissions open January 6 and close on Feb. 19.

Inspired by the legacy of the Los Angeles-born and legendary filmmaker, John Singleton, PAFF’s short film competition is the result of a partnership between the City of Los Angeles and the Pan African Film Festival.

“We’re committed to fostering inclusivity and amplifying Black voices in film,” said Sherri G. Sneed, the competition’s executive producer. “Our program aims to empower emerging Black Filmmakers, providing not just a grant but resources, support and a platform to share powerful narratives. Together, we will enrich the cinematic landscape with diverse stories that resonate globally.”

John Singleton’s films are known for centering on Black characters with humanizing stories about the often-routine circumstances and individuals in society that were mostly ignored or exploited beyond the point of recognition. The goal of the competition is to encourage and ignite Black filmmakers who desire to continue that commitment in their creative approach by providing them with the financial resources to write, direct, and produce an original and innovative film that echoes the cultural contributions of John Singleton. 

“Through this partnership with PAFF, we recognize the enduring impact of one of the world’s greatest filmmakers, John Singleton, and the transformative power of storytelling,” said Councilmember Heather Hutt. “We are empowering the next generation of cinematic visionaries, fostering creativity and cultural expression that enriches our city’s vibrant tapestry. Together, we are ensuring that the heart of filmmaking, right here in Los Angeles, continues to beat with innovation, diversity, and boundless possibility.”

Singleton’s mother Sheila L. Ward, “Again, I support the John Singleton Short Film Competition. I thank everyone involved in creating such a needed platform.    My son [John] would be proud.”  

“As a first time filmmaker, the John Singleton Short Film Competition allowed me to blossom into a Black woman who learned her strengths as a creative, while also gaining insight about how to become an effective leader in business, added 2021 winner Chelsea Hicks (“Contrban”). “I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity to create a beautiful story in honor of John Singleton’s legacy, and continue to be inspired by what he has accomplished to humanize our stories in film.”

“To walk in the path of John Singleton’s creative legacy is an honor,” 2021 winner TJ Ali (“The Lifted”). “It’s competitions like these that change lives, I’m a testament to that.”

“We are both so thrilled for the John Singleton Short Film Competition to continue,” said Jenesis Scott and Brandon Hammond, whose script for “Amaru” was a winner in 2021.  “The careers this competition can jumpstart going forward is unlimited. We are honored to be a part of that history and excited for this competition to become one of the most coveted awards in film.”

Under Councilmember Heather Hutt’s leadership, embRACE L.A. is an initiative aimed at unifying Angelenos and empowering communities through a citywide conversation about race and racism, challenging and changing inequities. embRACE L.A.’s multidimensional approach focuses on changing narratives, building relationships and advancing public policy solutions. Through a wide-variety of programs and strategies, the initiative is an unprecedented partnership between government, organizations and residents.

For more information, including how to submit, please visit paff.org/jssfc. 



Genre: These awards are for live-action short narrative films.

Length: Submitted screenplays must be 25 pages or less and completed projects should be no more than 30 minutes (including film credits)


The thread of the story must focus on the Black Experience in the United States, told through the lens of its Black characters.

The story should also incorporate the theme of illustrating, challenging and/or changing social inequities with topics that may include, but are not limited to race; social, educational, environmental and/or economic justice; mass incarceration and the criminal justice system; police brutality; LGBTQ rights; gentrification; homelessness; immigration; civil rights/human rights; workers’ rights; and gender discrimination.

Who Can Apply:

Screenwriters, Directors and Producers who self-identify as Black and own or have rights for the copyright on the submitted screenplay.

Creative Team:

All of the credited Screenwriter(s), Director(s), and Producer(s) on the submitted project must self-identify as Black.

Additionally, the applicant must be a resident of Los Angeles. All other members of the creative team (e.g., Executive Producer(s), Associate Producer(s), & Crew) can self-identify as any race/ethnicity and can reside anywhere in the world.

Prior Experience:

Screenwriter, Director OR Producer of the submitted project must have completed and been credited as either a writer, director or producer on a previous project (short or feature of any genre and subject, web series, TV , etc.). A sample of previous work (Vimeo link) is required on the application.

Brief Timeline:

Screenplay submissions period is open December 26, 2023 at 12:00am PST. Submissions close February 19, 2024 at 11:59pm PST.

Principal photography must occur between May 2024 and July 2024. Completed films must be delivered to PAFF by December 1, 2024.

Other Requirements:

The credited Screenwriter, Director, and Producer of each winning project must be able to attend a one (1) day Filmmaker Summit in Los Angeles to be held April 2024. Exact date TBD.

Please be advised that attendance at the Filmmaker Summit is mandatory and travel and housing accommodations will not be provided.

Submission Fee: $50.00:

Each submission requires a $50.00 submission fee.


For general information visit paff.org.

For photos and press materials visit paff.org/pressroom.

To request accreditation, please go to paff.org/pressroom.

Hashtags: #PAFF and #PAFFNow
Twitter: @PAFFNow
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Facebook: facebook.com/PAFFNow

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