The Central Valley Community Foundation (CVCF) is now accepting applications for its fifth annual The Big Tell film contest featuring unique and untold stories from California’s Central Valley. CVCF will award ten grants of $5,000 each to local filmmakers to produce a five-minute mini documentary that highlights innovative and inspiring people, places, and activities in the region. 

Films can be about any subject as long as it is relevant to the Central Valley.  The ten winners will include at least one filmmaker from each of the six counties in CVCF’s service area: Merced, Mariposa, Madera, Fresno, Tulare and Kings. Winners will have three months to complete their 5-minute films. 

“The Big Tell is the Central Valley’s chance to tell its own stories. Our experience in the Valley is unique. It is special, and it deserves to be told,” Ashley Swearengin, President and CEO of CVCF, said. “For too long, the Central Valley has been defined and shaped by opinions of those who don’t live here. We’ve had enough of that. The Big Tell is our chance to identify and lift up stories told from the perspectives of the resilient, creative, and diverse people who make our region so special.” 

Filmmakers of all skill levels and backgrounds are invited to apply.  

The Big Tell is presented by the James B. McClatchy Foundation. “JBMF is excited to partner for a third year with the Big Tell,” Priscilla Enriquez, President & CEO at JBMF, said. “The Central Valley has some of the best creative and artistic talent in the state and The Big Tell creates amazing opportunities to share moving and beautiful stories about the people who live here and make the Valley what it is.” 

The ten winning filmmakers will be mentored by Emmy-nominated documentarian Sascha Rice. She will provide one-on-one support to each filmmaker including development of storylines, technical assistance, and guidance on how to get their films to mainstream production. 

CVCF has also partnered with Community Media Access Collaborative (CMAC) to offer access to training and tools including production studios, private editing suites, meeting rooms, classroom space, and a computer lab, along with a variety of portable production gear. 

Applications are due on Friday, June 18, 2021 at midnight and can be found at There is no fee to apply, and filmmakers may submit multiple applications. The winning films will premiere together in a 90-minute televised special in November in partnership with Nexstar Media Group stations.  

This is one of last year’s winners.