Look Back on 2023

December 21, 2023

2023 was an incredibly impactful year for MPI—our narrative feature Pinball and documentary feature Project Home were released to major platforms like Apple TV and Hulu. We completed post-production on two new feature films Kemba and Freedom Hair; began screening Kemba at film festivals worldwide; screened six award-winning MPI Original films in 36 film festivals; placed 19 interns and supported 41 pro-freedom filmmakers through our Rising Filmmaker Program; and just wrapped principal photography on our next MPI Original feature Motherland.

As we look back on all of MPI’s accomplishments this year, we want to thank you for your continued partnership in our ongoing work to promote human freedom through film. 


The MPI Original feature film Pinball: The Man Who Saved the Game has been named as one of the best movies of 2023 by the New Yorker. The magazine’s top critic Richard Brody described the film as “better than all ten of the best picture nominees” when it was released the week after this year’s Oscars, writing that Pinball was “a remedy for your post-Oscar hangover.” The film has gained wide praise from reviewers and audiences alike. Pinball currently holds a 95% Tomatometer and a 92% Audience Score on the popular site RottenTomatoes.com. Written and directed by MPI filmmakers The Bragg Brothers (who are also producers at Reason), Pinball is a perfect example of MPI’s talent development pipeline in action. Watch it on your favorite streaming channels including Hulu, Apple TV, and Prime Video.

The MPI Original documentary Project Home was acquired by 1091 Pictures and released to streamers in September. In her review, film critic Anne Brodie hailed the film as a “deeply inspirational and important look at how we can live more humanely.” Directed by longtime MPI filmmaker Laura Waters Hinson, the feature documentary showcases the power of market-based innovations. Enjoy the doc on Apple TV, Amazon Prime, or Google Play

The MPI Original short film Melons, developed by Matt MacDonald in MPI’s Short Film Lab, premiered on the popular streaming channel Omeleto. The channel, which has over 3.6 million subscribers, is known as the “home for the next generation of great filmmakers” and only features short films that have screened at Oscar-qualifying festivals, BAFTA-qualifying festivals, or other similar top-tier film festivals. Omeleto describes Melons as an “entertaining, witty short comedy” that “takes advantage of applying the wildfire of catastrophic, virally-fueled ‘cancel culture’ to a small-time, folksy business, finding humor in the mismatch of white-hot outrage to seemingly small stakes.” Since its release, the short has garnered over 92,000 views and sparked hundreds of comments. Enjoy a laugh, watch it now on Omeleto.


The MPI Original and BET Original feature film Kemba had its world premiere in November at the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival, where it won the Award of Merit for Best True Story Depiction. The film also screened to two sold-out audiences at Chicago’s Black Harvest Film Festival, to a packed theater at the St. Louis International Film Festival winning the Audience Choice Award, and to its international premiere audience at the Rome Independent Film Festival. The film will continue its festival run into the new year as an official selection at the St. Augustine International Film Festival and the Virginia Black Film Festival. Sign up to receive updates on the film at KembaMovie.com.

The MPI Original short Infraction has won ten awards this year during its incredibly successful film festival run. Most recently the film was awarded the Audience Choice Award for Best Narrative Short at Pittsburgh Shorts, and it won the Best Dramatic Short out of over 100 world class short films at the 15th Annual San Jose International Short Film Festival. Infraction, which was developed in MPI’s Short Film Lab by MPI filmmaker Timothy Blackwood, premiered at the Pan African Film Festival, where it was nominated for Best Narrative Short. It won Best Narrative Short at the Kansas City Film Festival; Best Narrative Short, the Audience Choice Award, and Best Original Score at the Anthem Film Festival; the Indie Soul Best Story Line Award in Boston; Best Actor in Richmond, Virginia (awarded to the lead Percy Daggs III); and the Audience Award for Best Short Film in Naples, Florida. Learn more about the film at InfractionFilm.com.

The MPI Original documentary short A Clean Slate screened at seven prestigious film festivals this year. The uplifting documentary was developed in MPI’s Documentary Storytelling Workshop by MPI filmmaker Trần Hoàng Calvin. The film premiered at the Oscar-qualifying BronzeLens Film Festival in Atlanta, Georgia where it was nominated for Best Short Documentary. The doc has gone on to screen at Tallgrass Film Festival, Red Rock Film Festival, Chagrin Doc Film Festival, and the Awareness Film Festival, among others. A Clean Slate will next screen at the DOCUTAH International Film Festival in 2024. Watch the trailer here.


MPI Original Films wrapped principal photography on Motherland at the beginning of this month. This 1984-esque sci-fi thriller was developed by MPI’s creative development executive Nicole Swinford through an MPI filmmaking grant and is directed by MPI filmmaker Evan Matthews. The stellar cast includes 2023 Tony Award Winner Miriam Silverman (The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window), legendary Emmy-winning actress Holland Taylor (The Morning ShowHollywood), veteran actor Néstor Carbonell (The Morning ShowLost), and newcomer Emily Arancio.


MPI’s Rising Filmmaker Program continues to train and build a network of impressive pro-freedom filmmakers—supporting 41 fellows and awarding 19 young filmmakers with paid production internships. In 2023 MPI hosted several workshops and masterclasses led by award-winning industry professionals; developed freedom-oriented calling card films in our Short Film Lab; held our Intern Summit and Freedom + Film Summer Series; brought together MPI filmmakers in Los Angeles for our Rising Executive Program and Advanced Filmmaker Summit; and hosted several interns on the set of Motherland.


Thank you again for partnering with MPI on what has been another record year. 2024 promises to be even more impactful, and we look forward to keeping you updated on our progress in the new year. If you are interested in making a year-end gift to support MPI in our continued efforts to promote freedom through film, click HERE.

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