Alex Huggins is the winner of the inaugural Indie Memphis Black Filmmaker Residency in Screenwriting. His film – “Mason Dixon” – tells the story of Vanessa Pierre, a 20-year-old Haitian American, who becomes entangled in a convoluted historical mystery following the return of her estranged father to her mother’s home. (Courtesy photos)

Billed as the continuation of a commitment to support “black filmmakers, present and future,” the Indie Memphis Film Festival’s Black Creators Forum has been set for the Hattiloo Theatre Nov. 1-2.

The Black Creators Forum will run before and parallel with the opening of the Indie Memphis Film Festival (November 1-5).

The two-day symposium of workshops and invited speakers will be led by notable black filmmakers and critics with a wide interdisciplinary range, including fine art, music and online content. The goal is to “explore ways black filmmaking can find creativity and sustainability from other mediums, and to ease the barrier of entry for black artists who would like to work in film.”

The event will be programmed by Indie Memphis Senior Programmer Miriam Bale and produced by Jason Farmer, Indie Memphis board member and owner of Black Lens Productions. 

“With the rich cultural, arts and musical legacy of Memphis as the backdrop, creating vibrant stories in our own tenor and tone on film is a natural, organic progression,” said Farmer. “The Black Creators Forum, in conjunction with the Indie Memphis Film Festival, was created to give voice and vision to empower artists who can meet a growing demand for new media.”

The two-day event of closed-door discussions will conclude with a public pitch event on Nov. 2. A dozen filmmakers will pitch projects. Among them will be Alex Huggins, who emerged as the winner of the inaugural Indie Memphis Black Filmmaker Residency in Screenwriting. He will receive a $7,500 unrestricted cash grant and a two-month residency in Memphis to work on his feature film screenplay, “Mason Dixon.”

The finalists for the residency in screenwriting also will pitch projects.

“There was an incredible range of subjects and tones among the finalists’ projects – from a coming-of-age period piece about pop culture just before Beyoncé to a perverse comedy adventure, best described as if John Waters were a queer woman. Ultimately the selection committee went with Alex Huggins and his strong vision as a writer-director,” said Bale.

“But we want to see all these projects made. Our intention is that the Forum and its pitch event will bring these new talents to the attention of producers, funders and future collaborators.”

Indie Memphis staff and a board member chose the residency finalists from 106 applications. An independent selection committee of black film professionals decided upon the winner. 

Memphis-based black creators are eligible to submit feature film pitches and encouraged to apply for 20 available fellowships to attend the Black Creators Forum and Indie Memphis Film Festival at no cost. 

For more details, visit

And the finalists are…

Jon-Carlos Evans

Jon-Carlos Evans – Project: “The Lost Gods of Memphis.” A free jazz-noir, dark fairytale about a hidden society of Egyptian gods and goddesses based along the Mississippi River in the 21st century. When the sacred bull disappears, a group of four elderly, eccentric gods turned jazz musicians are enlisted to restore order.

Natalie Frazier

Natalie Frazier – Project, “Mr. Interlocutor.” After years of attempting to entertain a world that just can’t seem to peg them, G, a scorned burlesque dancer, embarks on a different kind of tour – a farcical killing spree.

Jeri Hilt

Jeri Hilt – Project: “Five Million Marielles.” After the assassination of Marielle Franco in 2018, black and indigenous women in Brazil and throughout the African Diaspora create a campaign to “produce” five million Marielles by vowing to name their next immediate child – regardless of sex/gender – Marielle. Discreetly, they also vow to raise them according to her principles and humanistic philosophy, with the ultimate goal of changing the world completely in one generation.

Amanda Layne Miller

Amanda Layne Miller – Project: “Black Cherry.” In 1985 Memphis, black and white communities bump heads and turn to chaos when head cheerleader Cherry Grace receives an invitation to Cotillion – the first black girl in the tradition’s long history.

Ama Quao

Ama Quao – Project, “1999.” When Zeus, a first-generation African American loses a pound of weed, the same day his type-A sister, Zola, wins two tickets to a Britney Spears concert, they realize they must work together if they want to make it to the concert alive.