CCR launches video competition for SouthNext project

MAP-my story-WSOUTH ORANGE / MAPLEWOOD, NJ — The community is invited to bring SOMA’s diversity to the big screen through “My Story,” a video competition hosted by the South Orange/Maplewood Community Coalition on Race. Residents of all ages are invited to produce two-minute video vignettes with their smartphone or tablet that feature the vibrant life and distinct experiences in the diverse South Orange-Maplewood community. Videos will be screened at the South Orange Performing Arts Center during the 2016 SouthNext Festival. Filmmakers will have the chance to win a Curators’ Award from a panel of judges, which will include Emmy Award-winning producer Ken Mandel. Attendees at the screening can vote for their favorites through the Viewers’ Choice Awards based on specific categories. Winning videos will be posted on the coalition’s website, YouTube channel and Facebook page.

“My Story is tied to the overall objective of our ‘Integration through the Arts’ program: removing the racial barriers that separate us by bringing the community together through a common interest,” CCR Program Director Audrey Rowe said in a release. “We are thrilled to bring this video project to life through a partnership with the highly anticipated SouthNext Festival.”

For aspiring videographers who want to hone their filmmaking skills, professional artist and photographer Mansa Mussa will conduct free one-hour workshops — you must be 18 or older to attend — that teach the fundamentals of conceiving, shooting, editing and adding audio to video. Mussa has used his camera to document human-interest events in the United States, the Caribbean, Africa and Europe for the past 39 years. He currently teaches visual arts courses for the Newark Museum, Arts Horizons, and the Visual Art Center of New Jersey, among other institutions.

“The cellphone and tablet have changed our lives immeasurably. People use them as the ubiquitous history documenter,” Mussa said in the release. “I want people to share what is happening in their everyday lives because their story is part of our community’s story.”

Registered participants may attend as many of Mussa’s workshops as they would like. They will be held as follows: Sunday, April 17, from 10 to 10:50 a.m. and another from 11 to 11:50 a.m. at the 1978 Maplewood Arts Center, 1978 Springfield Ave. in Maplewood; Monday, April 18, from 7 to 7:50 p.m. and another from 8 to 8:50 p.m. at the South Orange Public Library, 65 Scotland Road in South Orange; Thursday, April 21, from 7 to 7:50 p.m. and another from 8 to 8:50 p.m. at the Baird Center’s Pierro Gallery, 5 Meade St. in South Orange; and Wednesday, May 4, from 7 to 7:50 p.m. and another from 8 to 8:50 p.m. at Maplewood Memorial Library, 51 Baker St. in Maplewood.

Register to participate in My Story at and complete the Contact Form by typing “SmartPhone Video” in the Comments section or register by calling 973-761-6116. Participants must provide their own smartphone or tablet to produce the vignettes. Further instructions and details are as follows:

  • Videos are for general public viewing — no profanity or nudity.
  • Completed videos of two minutes or shorter must be submitted via flash drive and dropped off at the coalition’s office at 516 Prospect St. in Maplewood by June 1 to qualify for inclusion in the Viewers’ Choice Awards and Curators’ Awards.
  • Submitted videos will be grouped and processed for public viewing by Mansa Mussa.
  • A free pre-screening reception and viewing will be held for registered participants and limited guests, with location and date to be announced.
  • The SOMA community and general public will be invited to a viewing of My Story videos at SOPAC during one of the 2016 SouthNext Festival days from June 17 through June 19.
  • Video submitters receive free admission to the My Story SouthNext viewing session only.
  • Winning videos will be posted on the Community Coalition on Race’s website, YouTube channel and Facebook page, along with credits for the winning videographers.