LOS ANGELES, Sept 23 ― Netflix has stepped up to encourage more diversity in the film industry.

The leading streaming platform has joined forces with the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival to provide five movie makers who identify as both African and Latino with production grants of US$20,000 (RM82,745).

In the future, the new annual programme will promote the advancement of members of the Latinx community in their bid to gain recognition in the exclusive world of the movie industry.

Changes are afoot in the movie industry. Hot on the heels of the announcement of new standards for inclusion in the Academy Award for Best Picture, the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival has announced a new annual “Inclusion Fellowship” programme, which will turn a spotlight on under-represented groups in the Latinx community.

Grants of US$20,000

For its first year, the programme plans to provide funding for five Afro-Latino filmmakers, who will each receive grants of US$20,000 to produce a short film that will premiere at the next Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival (LALIFF) in 2021.

Along with cash funding, the selected applicants will also be offered guidance from professional directors, a chance to consult with industry leaders and a host of other opportunities. Last but not least, Netflix itself will be offering the support for the development of the films. All in all, this is a fine initiative, which is all the more welcome given that it comes at a time when the Black Lives Matter movement has highlighted the cause of minorities in the United States.

“Discovering new voices behind the camera will lead to bringing fresh and diverse perspectives in front of the camera, and we can't wait to see what these new filmmakers will create,” said the manager of original series at Netflix, Pete Corona.

To enter into competition for one of the grants, young filmmakers have until Wednesday, October 14 to submit their applications to the festival website.

As to the evaluation criteria, the festival organisers have said that they are looking for artists who “have a clear vision of what they want to execute and accomplish, with a powerful voice.”

The winning applicants will be announced on November 16.

“For Latino representation in Hollywood to change, we need to create funding and distribution opportunities for our storytellers. The LALIFF Inclusion Fellowship is exactly that. For our first fellowship, we are proud to highlight Afro-Latino voices because Black lives are Latino lives,” points out Edward James Olmos, the co-founder of the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival and Latino Film Institute. ― AFP-Relaxnews