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What does it take to get an arts grant from the D.C. government?

In 2003, 588 hopeful applicants sought cash from the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities for various projects. Sometimes they got what they wanted.

NAME: Ambasajir Gebremichael

GRANT APPLIED FOR: Young Emerging Artist Program; city offers up to $2,500 to artists between the ages of 18 and 30.

MONEY NEEDED FOR: producing the film Fragments of Life

BACKGROUND: Gebremichael, now 30, is a Howard University graduate student, and Fragments of Life is his thesis project. In his artistic statement, Gebremichael, who is Eritrean, wrote about his desire to use film to “search the truth and fight against the stereotype images…that are imposed against Africans and African-Americans.”

PLAN: The 20-minute film is about TJ, a depressed Ethiopian college student who kills himself, according to the project description. “He knew deep down that he needed to seek professional help,” Gebremichael wrote in the film description, “but He couldn’t face the shame and taboo he will bring to his family and he rather die than see doctor and being called crazy or madman.”


STATUS: approved

EVALUATION: “Unique voice w/ specific ties to DC,” wrote one of the five panelists who evaluated Gebremichael. “If we can support a Resident Alien, A Must!!”

UPSHOT: Gebremichael hasn’t shot the film yet. It’s taken him awhile to fulfill Howard’s credit requirements. He hasn’t procrastinated on spending the money, though; he’s already bought about $750 worth of camera equipment. “I thought I could finish early, but it didn’t work out,” he says. “That’s why I’m dragging.”—Rachel Beckman