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These Filmmakers Are Getting Big Tell Bucks to Produce Their Stories

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Thirteen local filmmakers will receive Big Tell grants to produce their stories. (GV Wire Composite/Paul Marshall)
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Thirteen local filmmakers with stories to tell will be getting some money to tell them. They are the members of the 2024 Big Tell Winter Cohort and will receive an $8,000 grant to make a five-minute short documentary.

The Big Tell, now in its eighth year, is coordinated by CMAC, a nonprofit that promotes media literacy, civic engagement, and cultural understanding.

More than 200 applicants submitted their ideas to tell an undiscovered story somewhere within the six-county region of Fresno, Madera, Tulare, Kings, Merced, and Mariposa. Their pitches were evaluated by a panel of judges for the film subject, filmmaker’s diversity, and how the film will contribute to the rich narrative of the Central Valley.

The 13 grant winners are:

  • “Against the Grain,” Justus Briggs
  • “Ballico Taiko,” Karina E. Turner
  • “Elite,” Jose Romo Jr.
  • “Gaps in Care: The Closing of Madera Community Hospital,” Jes Therkelsen & Kerry Klein
  • “The Tagus Ranch Peach Strike,” Brandon Ezequil Hernandez
  • “In the Shadow of Giants,” Evan Christensen
  • “La Milpa,” Kristin Lesko
  • “The Best Little Museum West of the Mississippi,” Rebecca Adams
  • “Papa Joe and the Redeemed Riders,” Joshua J. Cordero
  • “Roots Run Deep,” Jamillah Finley
  • “Skateboards in Prison,” Jacqueline Álvarez
  • “The First,” Kaylee Josefina
  • “The People from the Lake,” Charlene DeCicco

Along with the cash grant, filmmakers will receive one-on-one mentoring by Emmy-nominated documentarian Sascha Brown Rice, founder and president of Fire of Life Films, and granddaughter of former California Gov. Pat Brown. She received an Emmy nomination for her 2012 film “California State of Mind: The Legacy of Pat Brown.”

“This year’s Big Tell line-up promises to be another outstanding showcase,” Brown Rice said in a CMAC news release. “It’s a joy to help filmmakers create stories that celebrate, inspire, and uplift. I look forward to mentoring this diverse and dedicated group of Central Valley filmmakers.”

April Premiere

The latest crop of Big Tell films will debut in April at the Big Tell Showcase 2024.

The Big Tell Film Contest was launched in 2017 by the Central Valley Community Foundation. It’s presented by the foundation, the KDA Creative Corp, California Arts Council, and James B. McClatchy Foundation.

“We believe that each individual holds a unique narrative worthy of attention and celebration.” CMAC Executive Director Bryan Harley said. in the news release. “Our commitment is to ensure that everyone is not just heard but truly seen. By sharing these diverse stories, we aim to foster a community where informed and engaged individuals come together, inspiring one another to help make the Central Valley even more extraordinary.”

Nancy Price is a multimedia journalist for GV Wire. A longtime reporter and editor who has worked for newspapers in California, Florida, Alaska, Illinois and Kansas, Nancy joined GV Wire in July 2019. She previously worked as an assistant metro editor for 13 years at The Fresno Bee. Nancy earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Her hobbies include singing with the Fresno Master Chorale and volunteering with Fresno Filmworks. You can reach Nancy at 559-492-4087 or Send an Email

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