The Cigna Foundation is giving a grant to New York based Ghetto Film School, to host a contest aimed at cultivating the next generation of American storytellers and to shine a light on health disparities in New York City:
What’s a health disparity?
It’s when an individual or community doesn’t have access to the same kind of health care and treatment that another does, for whatever reason – be it a gap in information, finances or location/access to care. The Cigna Foundation grantee organizations are working to eliminate health disparities.
How will the competition work?
In June, 20 GFS student filmmakers selected a Cigna Foundation grantee organization to spotlight (more info below) in their film. The filmmakers gave their “elevator pitch” and director’s treatment in front of judges. Ultimately, five GFS filmmakers were selected out of the initial 20 to move forward and film a video based on their chosen grantee organization.
Right now, these students are coordinating with the grantee organizations to learn more about their mission and accomplishments, which will be highlighted in their films.
In the end, three finalists will be selected for a public screening at the Museum of the Moving Image in NYC, and one winner will be announced on Tuesday, October 17.
About the Semi-finalists
1. LUIS SANTOS
Luis is a Dominican-American writer/director currently based out of NYC. He aspires to tell
stories that focus on the latino/black experience with an authentic perspective that is rarely
2. EDDY RIGAUD
Eddy is a writer, visual artist, and an alumnus from the Ghetto Film School program. He was
born in the Bronx where he used his camera to help create a promotional documentary for his
high school Fordham High School for the Arts, edited music videos for local music artist based
around Manhattan, and took photos to showcase the COMPASS afterschool program located at
P.S. 189. Currently, he’s working at Inwood Community Services as a Site Monitor to assist
with the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP). Even now, he continues to use his
camera to help capture the community and continue to provide service for the youth associated
with SYEP around Manhattan, New York.
3. KECIA ROMIEL
Kecia Romiel, 2017 graduate of Ithaca College, has had a passion for storytelling ever since
she could remember. A visual storyteller, born and raised in Harlem, NY, Kecia is focused on
crafting not only true representations of her community, but also a passion for cultivating and
encouraging the generations after her to seek art and media as a form of success and
innovation. Kecia wants to encourage a multitude of voices to scream as loud as they can and
make a sound so loud that no one can ignore.
4. ANDREW GRELL
Andrew Grell is a 20-year old Hispanic filmmaker entering his Junior year at Hofstra University,
where he is pursuing a degree in Film Production / Marketing. Andrew is a filmmaker who
honed his craft in the GFS Film Honors program. Recently, Andrew interned at SAG-AFTRA
(2016) and wrote a PSA for Warner Brothers (2015). He is currently a Production Intern at
Grovo, a microlearning startup headquartered in Flatiron.
5. ANTONELLO VELEZ
Antonello Velez is a 2017 graduate of Iona College. He got his start with the Ghetto Film
School where he made an award-winning silent short, as well as a 15 second spot in
collaboration with Wieden + Kennedy and Target.
He directed the 2013 GFS Thesis film, The Drum , shot on location in Johannesburg, South
Africa. Recently, Antonello interned at Annapurna Pictures in Los Angeles and Atlantic Records
in New York City.
In 2016, Antonello has been putting out his own original content starting with the silent and
visually beautiful short, Annie + Eddie . He followed that with the short documentary, Young n’
Hungry: Beyond Space , which focused on a young creative based out of Toronto. Antonello
works hard to give each one of his works its own identity, using different techniques and
themes. This really shows in his latest short, Vagabond .
Keep up with Antonello on Vimeo , Instagram and Twitter .