The Big Tell Showcase

The Big Tell is a regional filmmaking program offering grants for the production of 5-minute short documentaries that feature stories from California’s great Central Valley.

In Summer 2023, over 200 applicants submitted their best ideas for a film about an undiscovered story from the six-county region: Merced, Mariposa, Madera, Fresno, Kings, and Tulare counties. A panel of judges evaluated the film concepts based on criteria including film subject, diversity among filmmakers and the stories they tell, and how the film will contribute to the rich and compelling narrative of the Central Valley. 

Community Media Access Collaborative awarded 26 filmmakers with $8,000 grants each to create their short films. These grantees were divided into two cohorts and after three months of production, they screened their films in November 2023 and April 2024. The filmmakers received one-on-one mentorship from Emmy-nominated documentarian Sascha Brown Rice and access to equipment from CMAC.

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The Big Tell 2024

Rebecca Adams

The Best Little Museum West of the Mississippi

In this charming short film, experience a captivating journey through time at the Mariposa Museum & History Center, showcasing the rich heritage of a small town. Discover untold stories, forgotten treasures, and the spirit of resilience that make it the best little museum west of the Mississippi.

Justus Briggs

“Rooted Resilience”

Chronicles the life and trials of Will Scott, an 82-year-old African-American farmer, who specializes in growing Southern crops in Fresno.

Joshua J. Cordero

“Papa Joe and the Redeemed Riders”

Joe grew up disowned by his biological father and hated by his step-dad for being a symbol of his wife’s unfaithfulness. Despite his upbringing, Joe launched a ministry of collecting broken bicycles, repairing them and giving them away to children from broken homes; earning him the name: Papa Joe.

Jamillah Finley

Roots Run Deep

 Back to the beginning, local spoken word poet Lila Imani, chronicles the restorative practices of local Black and Brown organic farmers as they reach back to their roots to retain and restore cultural traditions in an effort to heal the earth and themselves.


Kaylee Josefina

“The First”

A look at how Fresno City College – reputedly a sleepy little college in a middle-of-nowhere town – began as the first of California’s 116 community colleges, and became the catalyst for reshaping the entire system of higher education in America.

Jose Romo Jr.


From street survival to shop owner. Barber Carlos Pompa, owner of Elite Barber Studios, creates a haven not just for his customers, but for aspiring barbers looking for a chance in the industry. He hopes to empower young barbers to thrive, encourage growth, and nurture in an inclusive environment.

Jacqueline Álvarez

“Skateboards in Prison”

Good things happen when the Central Valley community works together toward a common goal. A local non-profit called Fresno Skateboard Salvage earns funds through the participation of inmates’ artwork on old skateboards. That money is then used to buy new high-end skateboards and gear for children.

Evan Christensen

“In the Shadow of Giants”

Guided by environmentalist Ali Sheehey, the story of Sequoias living and dead in Long Meadow Grove (the “Trail of 100 Giants”) provides insight into how we can live more harmoniously with nature, and with greater humility.

Charlene DeCicco

The People From The Lake

The Yokut tribe of Kings County built their life around the Tulare lake. The lake they call Pa’ashi which means, “big water”. The lake has been dried up for many years and now has mysteriously returned. The Yokut believe the lake is alive and speaking, and they are listening. This is their story.

Brandon Ezequil Hernandez

The Tagus Ranch Peach Strike

In 1933 Tulare, California, Patrick Chambers, secretary of the Cannery and Agricultural Workers Industrial Union, spearheads the Tagus Ranch peach labor strike against the unyielding H.C. Merrit Jr., sparking a statewide uprising for fair wages and workers’ rights.

Kristin Lesko

“La Milpa”

A farmworker-led permaculture farm in Fresno is preparing for its first harvest – a bountiful crop of marigolds in celebration of Dia de los Muertos.

Jes Therkelsen & Kerry Klein

“Gaps in Care: The Closing of Madera Community Hospital”

Gaps in Care explores gaps in healthcare access, particularly for rural residents that make up the backbone of the U.S. agricultural industry. After Madera County’s only hospital closed earlier this year, what is next for an already vulnerable population?

Karina E. Turner

“Ballico Taiko”

Ballico Taiko has been developing character and confidence in children for over 20 years. Through the ancient art of Japanese drumming called Taiko, Chris Kubo helps to build confidence and a sense of community in children as they learn drumming skills and collaborate to perform the art of Taiko.

Past Participants