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Cate Blanchett and USC Annenberg launch a programme to support female, non-binary, transgender, non-binary, and non-binary film makers

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Source: Proof Of Concept

Stacy L. Smith, Cate Blanchett, Coco Francini

Cate Blanchett and her Dirty Films partner Coco Francini have teamed up with Stacy L. Smith and the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative to launch the Proof of Concept Accelerator Program to identify the next generation of filmmakers whose stories promote the perspectives of women, trans, and non-binary people.

The initiative is supported by Netflix and is designed to challenge what the founders call “the three most significant barriers these directors face as they navigate the industry”: funding, mentorship, and exposure.

Up to eight filmmakers will be selected for the inaugural group, each of whom will receive $50,000 to create a short film that can serve as proof of concept for a feature or television series.

Selected filmmakers will receive one-on-one mentorship and guidance from industry leaders, culminating in a project showcase to spotlight their work.

“Providing tangible financial and career support for filmmakers who often get overlooked will not only give them a fantastic launchpad to success, it will also expand the future of film and television,” said Blanchett.

“Dirty Films is thrilled to be a leading partner for Proof of Concept, a groundbreaking program inspired by the profound work of Dr. Stacy L. Smith and the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative in leveling the playing field. Giving genuine cause for hope is the commitment of the Netflix Fund for Creative Equity for their help in establishing this pipeline to discover and nourish the creativity and success of new voices with compelling stories.”

Francini added, “Proof of Concept was designed to solve a very simple problem: audiences want to see large-scale work from filmmakers with daring and diverse perspectives, but there is not yet enough support to nurture these voices at earlier stages of their career.

“Despite the success of films like Barbie, The Farewell, or Past Lives, it is as challenging as ever to launch audaciously authored work from new creators, particularly those who tell stories from the perspective of marginalised gender identities. Proof of Concept is an actionable step to create meaningful and sustainable opportunities for these filmmakers.” said Francini.

Smith, Founder of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, said: “I have long wanted to see the numbers move and this accelerator will help us to find and support the next Greta Gerwig, Ava DuVernay, Chloe Zhao, Melina Matsoukas, or Lulu Wang. Led by the creative excellence of the team behind Dirty Films, I have no doubt that the Proof of Concept Accelerator is a key solution in the push toward greater inclusion in film.”

Netflix chief content officer Bela Bajaria said, “We’re pleased to see Dr. Stacy Smith’s years of research being put into action alongside brilliant storytellers Cate Blanchett and Coco Francini. We remain committed to creating opportunities like these around the world through the Netflix Fund for Creative Equity, and look forward to seeing the stories that are brought to life by this terrific team.”

Applications to the programme will open in January 2024.

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