2021 Vilcek Prizes for Creative Promise in Filmmaking

The Vilcek Foundation will award three Creative Promise Prizes of $50,000 each to young foreign-born filmmakers who demonstrate outstanding early achievement. Eligible genres include narrative, animation, documentary, and experimental filmmaking.

Why Should You Apply?

  • 3 Filmmaking prizes will be awarded this year
  • Unrestricted cash prize of $50,000 is awarded to each prizewinner
  • Reflect on how your experience as an immigrant has shaped your succes
  • Receive an invaluable endorsement from leaders in your field
  • Receive a comprehensive public relations campaign to promote you and your work

 

Who Should Apply?

  • You were born outside the United States and are a naturalized citizen or a green card holder, or currently hold a valid H1B or O-1 visa and have been living or working in the United States for at least five years, or have been granted DACA relief
  • You are not more than 38 years old (born after January 1, 1982)
  • You are a director, screenwriter, cinematographer, editor, or producer who has completed at least one short film that has been awarded a prize or selected for film festivals or one full-length film

 

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Prizewinner Categories

Directing
Screenwriting
Cinematography
Editing
Producing

Film Genres

Narrative
Animation
Documentary
Experimental

Eligibility Requirements

Applicants must meet all of the criteria listed below:

  • Applicant must have been born outside the United States;
  • Applicant must not be more than 38 years old as of December 31, 2020 (born on or after January 1, 1982);
  • Applicant must be a naturalized citizen or permanent resident of the United States; be a holder of an H1B or O-1 visa and have been living and working in the United States for at least 5 years; or has been granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) relief;
  • Applicant must have at least 5 years of professional experience in filmmaking;
  • Applicant must not be enrolled as a full-time student;
  • Applicant must have completed at least one short film that has been awarded a prize or selected for film festivals or one full-length film (greater than 50 minutes);
  • Applicant must intend to pursue a career in the United States;
  • Applicant must not be a past winner of the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise.

Application and Selection Process

  1. Complete the application process. You will be required to:
    • Provide personal information
    • Upload a PDF of your CV including a full filmography
    • Upload a PDF with documentation of your immigration status
    • Provide a portfolio/reel or writing samples
    • Provide press clippings about your work
    • Complete three essay questions
      1. Why does cinema matter? How has this understanding about filmmaking informed your personal or professional path. [maximum 2,000 characters]
      2. What do you hope to achieve through your work and how do you think it adds to the existing cinematic canon? [maximum 2,000 characters]
      3. Describe the circumstances of your immigration to the United States and how your experience as an immigrant informs and enriches your approach to filmmaking. [maximum 1,500 characters]
    • Submit a completed application by 5:00pm EDT, June 10, 2020
  2. A panel of distinguished jurors—members of the filmmaking community—will evaluate the applications based on their excellence, innovation, and impact. The Creative Promise Prizes will honor filmmaking artists who exemplify excellence and creativity and whose work showcases the possibilities of filmmaking as a language and a means of expression. The individuals chosen will have demonstrated exceptional independence and creativity by their 38th birthday.
  3. Recommendations of the jury will be submitted to the Vilcek Foundation’s Board of Directors for final approval. All three winners will be considered equal in standing.
  4. The winners of the Creative Promise Prize in Filmmaking will be notified in fall 2020. Prizewinners will be invited to attend the Vilcek Foundation’s annual awards ceremony in New York City, in the spring of 2021. Travel expenses and accommodations will be covered by the foundation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I submit film(s) that are in production?

  • Yes, you may include films in post-production stage.

My films have not been released in theaters. Am I eligible?

  • Yes.

Can I submit film(s) that are not presented in English?

  • Yes, however, the films should be subtitled in English if in any other language.

Are music videos or TV shows eligible for the prize?

  • No.

I am currently here on an O-1/student/other visa types; am I eligible?

  • You are eligible if you currently hold a valid O-1 or H1B visa and have been residing in the United States for at least five years. Any other visa status is not eligible.

I am currently in the process of applying for a green card; am I eligible?

  • If you are in the process of finalizing the application for a green card and expect to have the proper documentation by August 2020, please contact us at creativepromise@vilcek.org before submitting your application.

My temporary green card has expired, but I have submitted paperwork to become a permanent resident. Am I eligible?

  • Yes, applicants in the process of becoming a permanent resident are eligible. Please contact us at creativepromise@vilcek.org for further instructions.

I am currently applying for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status; am I eligible?

  • You are eligible if you have an I-797 approval notice showing approval of the I-821D DACA application. If you are in the process of applying for DACA and expect to have the proper documentation by August 2020, please contact us at creativepromise@vilcek.org before submitting your application.

I am over the age limit but not by much; can you make an exception?

  • Regretfully, we are not able to consider candidates who fall outside of our age limit.

I was born in Puerto Rico, Guam, or another U.S. territory; am I eligible?

  • Regretfully, we do not accept applications from individuals born in U.S. territories.

I was born outside of America, but to American citizens; am I eligible?

  • Regretfully, we do not accept applications from citizens who were born overseas but are American by birth.

Can the winners use the prize money to support a specific project, personal expenses, etc.?

  • Each winner will receive an unrestricted cash prize; there is no obligation to use the money in any particular way.

If you have any other questions regarding the awards or the application process, please contact Shinnie Kim, senior program officer, at 212-472-2500 or creativepromise@vilcek.org.