WASHINGTON, Feb. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- BET, the Black AIDS Institute, and the Kaiser Family Foundation today announced the 3rd Annual Rap-It-Up/Black AIDS Short Subject (RIU/BASS) Film Competition. Following two successful years that include over 1000 screenplay submissions and four winning short films, the competition provides a platform to creatively explore issues that surround HIV/AIDS in African-American, Afro-Caribbean, and Afro-Latin communities in the U.S., including stigma and discrimination, Black male sexuality, homophobia, and perceptions of masculinity, femininity and gender roles. The winning film will televise on BET sometime around World AIDS Day (December 1, 2006), and be submitted for viewing at independent film festivals around the world.
Today in the United States, Black Americans represent the majority of people living with HIV/AIDS, dying from HIV, and being diagnosed with AIDS. Black men have the highest AIDS case rates of any group in the nation, followed by Black women. In some cities, Black men who have sex with men are estimated to be infected with HIV at rates as high as those in sub-Saharan Africa. Screenplay submissions that address these issues are welcome.
The competition seeks to encourage attention to fresh and culturally unique storylines that encompass HIV/AIDS issues within the Black community, including bringing attention to under explored topics. Entries are due by May 26, and will be carefully reviewed by a prominent panel of judges. The winner will be announced on August 1 and will receive up to $25,000 to produce their winning short film.
"Presently, minority Americans represent seventy-one percent of new AIDS cases, while at least half of all new HIV infections are estimated to be among young adults under the age of twenty-five," said Kelli Richardson Lawson, BET's Executive Vice President of Corporate Marketing. "Our Rap-It-Up films serve as an important resource in educating viewers about a deadly epidemic that continues to disproportionately affect African Americans at an alarming rate. This film competition not only explores social issues and themes that are rarely discussed in our communities, but also arms everyone with the information necessary to prevent the disease."
"The shocking truth is that in 2006, AIDS in America is a Black disease. Behavior determines who is and who isn't at risk for HIV. Cultural norms dictate behavioral norms, and films have the power to drive cultural norms," stated Phill Wilson, Executive Director of the Black AIDS Institute. "Recently released statistics show an AIDS epidemic among Black Gay men that outstrips anything we are seeing in the worst hit parts of sub-Saharan Africa. When nearly 50 percent of Black gay and bisexual men in some of our nation's cities may already be infected with HIV, we have a pandemic in this country of catastrophic proportions and each of us must rise to the occasion."
"The Rap-It-Up/Black AIDS short subject film competition has proven to be a powerful way to explore critical issues that affect African Americans in communities throughout the U.S.," said Tina Hoff, Vice President and Director of Entertainment Media Partnerships at the Kaiser Family Foundation. "Given the epidemic's significant and disproportionate impact on African Americans in this country, it's essential to bring attention to the personal challenges related to HIV/AIDS."
Last year's RIU/BASS film competition awarded two winners for their powerful screenplays depicting HIV/AIDS in the Black community. The extraordinary writing team of Drew Anderson, Justin Follin, Charneice Fox and Michelle Sewell from Washington, DC, won for their stirring screenplay "Multitude of Mercies," a story depicting how a young Black minister personally deals with HIV/AIDS in his church. Michelle Lynne Coons of Los Angeles also won for her poignant screenplay, "Let's Talk," which deals with how to raise the issue of HIV testing in the context of a burgeoning relationship.
Following is information regarding the application process and competition deadlines:
*Competition Deadlines: The RIU/BASS competition is open to all races
and ethnicities; however submissions are to
address the issue of HIV/AIDS and the Black
male. The film competition begins February 7,
2006 and ends May 26, 2006. Early submission
deadline is May 2 ($55 entry fee); the
submission deadline is May 26 ($80 entry fee).
The 10 finalists will be announced on June 27;
and the winner will be announced on August 1,
*Application Guidelines: The application package is available for
download at http://www.bet.com/rapitup and
http://www.blackaids.org/; or can be obtained by
mailing a request to the Rap-It-Up/BASS Film
Competition; c/o RIU/BASS Competition
Coordinator; 1833 West Eighth Street, Suite 200;
Los Angeles, CA 90057-4920. Five copies of the
completed application package are to be mailed
to the Rap-It-Up/BASS Film Competition; c/o
RIU/BASS Competition Coordinator; 1833 West
Eighth Street, Suite 200; Los Angeles, CA
*General Information: Competition information can be found at
http://www.blackaids.org/. Specific questions
can be directed to toll-free number,
Since 1997, the Kaiser Family Foundation and BET: Black Entertainment Television have partnered on an extensive public education campaign to inform young people about sexual health issues, including HIV/AIDS and other sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs). The partnership includes special programming, public service advertisements (PSAs), online content on bet.com, and a free resource and referral service. In 2000, the campaign launched a grassroots initiative to complement the on-air and online components of Rap- It-Up. Program elements include teen forums, mobile HIV testing events, and a middle and high school curriculum on HIV/AIDS. The campaign was nominated for an Emmy for Best National Public Service Announcement in 2002 and 2001, and has received numerous other awards, including the 2002 Cable Positive POP Award for Outstanding Newsmagazine Series, the 2002 CTPAA Joel Berger Award, the 2002 NAACP Image Award, the 2002 Academy of Television Arts & Science TV Cares "Ribbon of Hope" Award, and the 2002 NBACA Community Service Award.
BET, a subsidiary of Viacom, Inc. (NYSE:VIA) (NYSE:and) (NYSE:VIA.B) , is the nation's leading television network providing quality entertainment, music, news and public affairs programming for the African-American audience. The BET Network reaches more than 80 million households according to Nielsen media research, and can be seen in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean. BET is a dominant consumer brand in the urban marketplace with a diverse group of branded businesses: BET.com, the Number 1 Internet portal for African Americans; BET Digital Networks - BET Jazz, BET Gospel and BET Hip Hop, attractive alternatives for cutting-edge entertainment tastes; and BET Event Productions, specializing in a full range of event production services, including event management, venue selection, talent recruitment, sound, lighting and stage production.
ABOUT THE BLACK AIDS INSTITUTE
Founded in 1999, The Black AIDS Institute is the only national HIV/AIDS thinktank focused exclusively on Black people. The Institute's mission is to stop the AIDS pandemic in Black communities by engaging and mobilizing Black institutions and individuals in efforts to confront HIV. The Institute offers training and capacity building, disseminates information, and provides advocacy from a uniquely and unapologetically Black point of view. http://www.blackaids.org/
ABOUT THE HENRY J. KAISER FAMILY FOUNDATION
The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation is a non-profit, private operating foundation dedicated to providing information and analysis on health issues to policymakers, the media, and the general public. It is not associated with Kaiser Permanente or Kaiser Industries. Information on HIV/AIDS is available at http://www.kff.org/, and a daily news summary report on developments in HIV/AIDS is available on http://www.kaisernetwork.org/, the Foundation's free health information service.
Source: BET (Black Entertainment Television)
Web site: http://www.bet.com/