The Pittsburgh Foundation

Rueben Brock

Rueben Brock. Image on right by Soul Notez Photography.
Rueben Brock. Image on right by Soul Notez Photography.

2023 grant amount: $50,000 over two years. 

This grant will support post-production of a documentary of the history of Black life in Pittsburgh. The film includes the voices of so many Black Pittsburghers and tells the important story of the origins of Pittsburgh's Black community, according to Brock. 

In the making of the film, Brock worked with several Pittsburgh scholars including Joe Trotter, historian at Carnegie Mellon University and Dr. Audrey Murrell, dean of the Honors College at the University of Pittsburgh. Murrell provided Brock with an overview of the Pittsburgh landscape that was used as a guide in order to connect with the key characters in the film. Professor Trotter provided the historical background of the Black community that became the foundation of the documentary. 

Grant funds will be used to bring the film up to industry standards for a commercially viable feature film. Things like professional color correction, sound editing and licensing of key archival documents will be essential to making sure this film holds up when compared to other modern documentaries. For example, the use of NFL footage to illustrate important moments in Pittsburgh history relating to our first Black quarterbacks (Joe Gilliam and Kordell Stewart) would keep the film in line with modern expectations in a feature film. 

Brock started his career and adult life as a musician, but pivoted from that and spent a significant amount of time away from the arts, establishing a career as a scholar. Now he's again getting in touch with his creative side. 

"My hope is that this film will firmly establish my presence in the regional and national art scene as an emerging filmmaker with a unique voice," says Brock. "As the writer, director, and score composer on this film, I believe I will be introducing myself as a multi-discipline artist who is also a respected scholar. This relatively rare skill set may allow me to contribute to the artistic, academic, and sociopolitical landscape in ways that others would not think to."

Brock says he will consider the film a success if it reaches area schools, providing important knowledge and positive messages about the Black community to the youth of the region. He also hopes it is shown in higher education settings.