Chicago Palestine Film Festival announces annual scholarship
Chicago Palestine Film Festival (CPFF) will accept applications for its first annual scholarship.
The CPFF scholarship is open to college students enrolled in an accredited U.S. college or university for Fall 2016 who are Palestinian. The scholarship is also open to recent high school graduates or returning students. The candidate will serve as Chicago Palestine Film Festival Student Ambassador at events throughout the year.
According to Jameeleh Shelo, executive director of CPFF, the scholarship was established after noticing how the Palestinian community seemed to shy away from artistic goals and endeavors.
“This scholarship is nationwide. If an out of state candidate is chosen we will make accommodations for them to be our ambassador and help with promotion of the festival and next year’s scholarship. We don’t want to exclude anyone since it’s such a big award. We want to embrace the winner as part of the CPFF family and have the winner attend screenings, fundraisers and events when possible. We are bearing in mind that the winner is a student and we don’t want CPFF events to interfere with studies,” Shelo said.
The decision to establish this scholarship was motivated by the film The Idol by Hany Abu-Assad. It was the first Palestinian film Shelo had seen about hope. She believed that if two young kids from Gaza can aspire to change their circumstances, CPFF should try to do the same. In addition, sponsors like iConnect and grantees like Crossroads Fund have been very generous for two consecutive years, which allowed CPFF to have the funding for this scholarship. Shelo pitched the idea to the CPFF committee and they approved.
To apply for the scholarship, applicants must complete the entry form on the CPFF Scholarship page and submit a 500-word essay on “What does being Palestinian mean to you.” In addition, applicants must create and submit a three to five minute narrative film related to Palestine or being Palestinian.
“This scholarship is about showing Palestinians that they have value and so do their stories. It’s a way of teaching Palestinians how to share their stories in a modern age that has an impact. We hope to gain future filmmakers. We want to see more Palestinian stories on screen, more Palestinian storytellers at the Oscars. Our main goal is to humanize the Palestinian narrative. Our overall goal with this scholarship is to see more happy and successful Palestinians,” Shelo said.
CPFF judges will select five finalists to be interviewed in person, after they review the films and essays.
Shelo told Palestine in America that she hopes CPFF continues to have the funding to offer scholarships yearly and eventually help produce films. Shelo and the committee hope that this inspires other organizations to invest in Palestinian youth as she believes that is best way to be able to teach them their own value.