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Erin Gaddis and Mecca Amoni Michelle Lewis Win the Champions for Justice Short Film Competition at 108th NAACP Convention

Baltimore- August 1, 2017-- NAACP Convention- This week, the audience at the NAACP’s 108th Annual Convention in Baltimore, MD selected JustUS: Living with a Criminal Record as the winning short film in the NAACP-ShortsTV “Champions for Justice” short film competition. This team earned the most votes and will receive a $7,500 budget to produce an extended documentary that will air on ShortsTV. The NAACP and ShortsTV collaborated to create the “Champions for Justice” competition as a program that would continue as a sustainable program each year going into the future.

“We are so excited for the team of Erin Gaddis and Mecca Amoni Michele Lewis, said Carter Pilcher, CEO of ShortsTV, “Short film is a great medium for telling stories and they are at their most powerful when they’re used to change hearts and minds. That was the objective with our collaboration with the NAACP and this competition that we developed together. Alongside our #WatchInColor initiative, it demonstrates ShortsTV’s commitment to creating new opportunities for filmmakers of all backgrounds.”

"Champions for Justice is now part of the NAACP’s ongoing Criminal Justice program. Envisioned by the NAACP, and enabled by our great collaboration with ShortsTV, the competing short films addressed highly relevant issues facing the African-American community today by telling the untold stories of attendees at the Convention as well as the common folk in the streets of Baltimore.", said Scot X. Esdaile, Chair, NAACP Criminal Justice Committee.

Six young filmmakers between the ages of 18 and 29 were selected to serve on three teams of two as part of the final competition. Filmmakers on the team addressing police violence were Shaqueal Wilson of Baltimore, MD and Emmanuel Barrington Pickens of Saginaw, MI. Filmmakers on the team addressing the school-to-prison pipeline were Tykhari C. Christopher of Newport News, VA and Michelle Cecilia Carter of Washington, D.C. Finally, filmmakers on the team addressing the issue of living with a criminal record were Erin Gaddis of Rowlet, TX and Mecca Amoni Michele Lewis of Baltimore, MD.

Through images, video clips, and person-on-the-street stories and interviews, each team of filmmakers worked under the guidance of a producer-mentor with a small budget to produce a five to seven minute short film during the beginning days of the NAACP convention. The NAACP showed the final products to attendees and allowed them to cast a vote for the best film, which was awarded subsequently at the convention.

“The team of Erin Gaddis, a graduate of Baylor University and Mecca Amoni Michele Lewis an incoming student at Hampshire College came out on top,” said Pilcher. “All three films showcased the individual artists’ talent, dedication to the craft, and hard work, but this team’s short film spoke most strongly to the audience, and that’s the ultimate sign of a work’s success. Short movies are the entry point for filmmakers from all backgrounds to launch careers in the film industry, and their success will create a pipeline for emerging diverse talent. Our goal with the NAACP is nothing short of revolutionizing today’s film industry, one storyteller at a time – by launching the careers of hot, new talent that can tell the diverse stories that Americans see every day in cities and towns across our great Nation.”

“’Champions for Justice’ is timely and important. Congress is looking at this issue closely as well, as we see with the launch of the CAST and Film Diversity Caucus by Reps. Hank Johnson, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and Raul Ruiz.”

About ShortsTV

ShortsTV is the world's first and only 24/7 HD channel dedicated to short movies. It is available across the US on DirecTV (channel 573), AT&T U-Verse (channel 1789), US Sonet (channel 292), CenturyLink (channel 1789), Frontier Communications (channel 1789) and Google Fiber (channel 603) and numerous NCTC member companies.  ShortsTV™ is operated by Shorts International, the world’s leading short movie entertainment company with the world’s largest movie catalogue dedicated to short movies. Shorts International also operates ShortsTV®, which is available across Europe. ShortsTV offers hundreds of the world’s best independent shorts for download in 92 iTunes stores across the globe as well as on Amazon Instant Video (UK, US and Germany), Google Play (US and Canada), Verizon and Frontier (US).

ShortsTV is operated by Shorts International Ltd, which is headquartered in London, England and represented in the United States by Shorts Entertainment Networks, a wholly owned subsidiary located in Los Angeles. The company is led by Carter Pilcher, Chief Executive.

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