Foundation accepts apps to tell big stories with short films

The Central Valley Community Foundation announced they are now accepting applications for The Big Tell short documentary contest

FRESNO – One of the Central Valley’s largest nonprofits is giving filmmakers the chance to turn their lights and point their cameras to issues in their communities.

The Central Valley Community Foundation (CVCF) announced they are once again accepting applications for their film contest “The Big Tell.” Selected filmmakers will get a $5,000 grant and produce a five-minute mini documentary that highlights innovative and inspiring people, places, and activities in the region.

“The Big Tell is the Central Valley’s chance to tell its own stories. Our experience in the Valley is unique. It is special, and it deserves to be told,” said Ashley Swearengin, president and CEO of CVCF. “For too long, the Central Valley has been defined and shaped by opinions of those who don’t live here. We’ve had enough of that. The Big Tell is our chance to identify and lift up stories told from the perspectives of the resilient, creative, and diverse people who make our region so special.”

Films can be about any subject as long as it is relevant to the Central Valley. The ten winners will include at least one filmmaker from each of the six counties in CVCF’s service area: Merced, Mariposa, Madera, Fresno, Tulare and Kings. Winners will have three months to complete their films.

Filmmakers of all skill levels and backgrounds are invited to apply, including women, people of color, people who identify as members of minority or underrepresented groups, amateurs, students and emerging filmmakers.

The Big Tell is presented by the James B. McClatchy Foundation. Priscilla Enriquez, president and CEO at JBMF said the foundation is excited to be a partner for the third year in a row.

“The Central Valley has some of the best creative and artistic talent in the state and The Big Tell creates amazing opportunities to share moving and beautiful stories about the people who live here and make the Valley what it is,” Enriquez said.

The ten winning filmmakers will be mentored by Emmy-nominated documentarian Sascha Rice. She will provide one-on-one support to each filmmaker including development of storylines, technical assistance, and guidance on how to get their films to mainstream production.

CVCF has also partnered with Community Media Access Collaborative (CMAC) to offer access to training and tools including production studios, private editing suites, meeting rooms, classroom space, and a computer lab, along with a variety of portable production gear.

Applications are due on Friday, June 18, 2021 at midnight and can be found at There is no fee to apply, and filmmakers may submit multiple applications. The winning films will premiere together in a 90-minute televised special in November (details TBD). Click here to see a sample of films from previous years.

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