City Council President Herb Wesson and the Pan African Film Festival announced the creation Wednesday of a short-film contest focused on African-American stories — in honor of the late director John Singleton.

The John Singleton embRACE L.A. Short Film Competition is a partnership between the city and PAFF, designed to recognize Singleton’s cinematic legacy.

“Through the medium of film, we are encouraging young filmmakers to be a part of this conversation, just as many of John Singleton’s films were a conversation about race in South Los Angeles,” Wesson said in a statement. “… These short films will continue a dialogue about race in Los Angeles and work to confront and change these inequities — just as John’s films bridged the racial divide in this country during his career.”

Filmmakers can submit their live-action short narrative scripts beginning Monday on the PAFF website, and the deadline to submit is Sept. 15. Three winners will be awarded $20,000 each for the production and completion of a live-action narrative short film. Public screenings of the selected films will be presented in May 2020.

Singleton died April 28 at the age of 51, but he left behind some of the most notable films of his era, having written and directed “Boyz n the Hood” in 1991. He received Oscar nominations for best director and best original screenplay for the film about life on the streets of South Los Angeles. He was the first black director ever nominated for the best-director Oscar, as well as being the youngest-ever nominee in the category.

Singleton’s films also included “Poetic Justice,” “Higher Learning,” “2 Fast 2 Furious” and the 2000 remake of “Shaft.” He grew up in South Los Angeles, attended USC and produced the A&E documentary “L.A. Burning: The Riots 25 Years Later.” He also co-created the FX series “Snowfall,” about the 1980s crack cocaine epidemic in Los Angeles. Its third season is scheduled to begin later this year.

“John Singleton, an extraordinary filmmaker, in so many ways ushered in a new era of black cinema,” PAFF Executive Director Ayuko Babu said. “John embraced his community and culture to create lasting characters, images and stories that have become indelible in cinematic and indeed world culture.”

According to the PAFF website, the contest is open to screenwriters, directors and producers who self-identify as black and own or have rights for the copyright on their submitted screenplay.

Additional application information can be found at

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