The Pan African Film Festival

There are presently no open calls for submissions.




Inspired by the legacy of the Los Angeles-born and legendary filmmaker, John Singleton, this short film competition is the result of a partnership between the City of Los Angeles and the Pan African Film Festival under the initiative of Los Angeles City Council President, Herb J. Wesson Jr. 

As an extension of the City of Los Angeles’ embRACE L.A. initiative, this competition will deepen the program’s goal to engage a citywide conversation about race and racism while challenging and changing inequities. In honor of the cinematic achievements of John Singleton and his commitment to the South Los Angeles community, we celebrate his unapologetic approach to filmmaking that centralized Black characters in humanizing stories about the often-routine circumstances of individuals in society that were mostly ignored or exploited beyond the point of recognition. 

It is our aim 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 Singleton’s cinematic catalogue.


The Pan African Film Festival / City of Los Angeles 

John Singleton embRace L.A. Short Film Competition

The Award

After a competitive process in which their screenplays are submitted, three filmmakers will be awarded $20,000 each for the production and completion of a live-action narrative short film of their winning screenplays.


  • Genre: These awards are for live-action short narrative films.
  • Length: Submitted screenplays must be 28 pages or less and completed projects should be no more than 30 minutes (including film credits)
  • Content: The thread of the story must focus on the Black Experience in the United States, told through the lens of its Black characters. In alignment with the embRACE L.A. initiative, 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, one of those three core creative members 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 open July 15, 2019 at 12:00am PST. Submissions close September 15, 2019 at 11:59pm PST. Principal photography must occur between December 2019 and March 2020. Completed films must be delivered to PAFF by April 15, 2020.
  • Other Requirement: The credited Screenwriter, Director, and Producer of each winning project must be able to attend a five (5) day creative retreat in Los Angeles to be held November 2019. Please be advised that attendance at the retreat is mandatory and travel and housing accommodations will not be provided.
  • Submission Fee: $50.00: Each submission requires a $50.00 submission fee.
The Pan African Film Festival