New Orleans’ Nailah Jefferson Wins Black Public Media’s Pitchblack

National Incubator for Black Stories Picks Jefferson's Documentary on Danielle Bernard Metz's Prison Sentence Commutation

Data News Staff Edited Report


NEW YORK (4/19/19) – New Orleans resident Nailah Jefferson’s documentary has been selected as a winner of PitchBLACK, an interactive pitching session held on Friday in New York City. The event culminated Black Public Media’s 13-week 360 Incubator+ for broadcast programs, web series and virtual reality projects. The National Incubator and Talent Development Program, designed to identify and pipeline quality Black content while honing the skills of brilliant makers, awarded a total of $320,000 in funding.

“Commuted” is a lyrical documentary about New Orleanian Danielle Bernard Metz, a mother of two who, in 1993, was sentenced to triple life plus 20 years for her role in her husband’s drug ring. After serving 23 years in prison, Danielle was finally freed under President Obama’s Clemency Initiative in 2016. “Commuted” documents her fight to reconcile her present life with past regrets.

Jefferson is a native of New Orleans, whose documentary film work reflects the community that raised her. Her first film, “Vanishing Pearls,” chronicles an obscure African-American oyster-fishing community’s fight for justice after the catastrophic BP Oil Spill in 2010.

Jefferson’s first narrative film, “Plaquemines” (now on Cinemax) won the inaugural Create Louisiana $50K Short Film Grant and was an American Black Film Festival HBO Shorts finalist.

The filmmaker will be awarded $100,000 in funding and a license agreement for public media distribution. Winners were announced Friday at the Inaugural PitchBLACK Awards at Apella by Alexandria on Manhattan’s East River by BPM’s Denise Greene, Administrator of the 360 Incubator+, and Sandra Rattley, the program’s creative consultant. Jefferson’s mentor through the program is documentary filmmaker Yoruba Richen.

“Nailah’s project is a very deserving one. We will continue to support her project as we facilitate the connections with the distributors and funders at the Pitch Forum and field additional interest developed,” said BPM’s Executive Director Leslie Fields-Cruz. Based in Harlem, BPM is the nation’s only non-profit dedicated solely to media content about the Black experience.

The 360 Incubator+ is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the MacArthur Foundation, the NEA, the New York State Council on the Arts and New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

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Glenda Bell Data News Weekly Contributor Brandy Galmon has been a registered nurse for 20 years, specializing in patient advocacy and
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