Cara Mertes, former director of the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program and Fund, has been named as the successor of Orlando Bagwell for the Ford Foundation's JustFlms program. Bagwell was the inaugural director of Ford's documentary film program and in his short tenure he's risen the program to great heights of accomplishment, including a recent Oscar nomination. The highly experienced Mertes is well positioned to lead JustFilms to even greater heights.
The Tribeca Film Institute, in partnership with worldwide beverage distributor Heineken and presenting sponsor Bloomberg, announced a series of ongoing grants and awards specifically aimed at filmmakers in the Latino community. The awards are given in four categories: TFI Latin America Media Arts Fund, Bloomberg Fellows, Heineken VOCES grant, and TFI/WorldView Partnership grants. Together they total $130,000 in yearly support for Latin American film and video artists exploring stories that reflect the diversity of Latino culture.
The Manuel Rivera-Ortiz Foundation is run by President and Founder Manuel Rivera-Ortiz himself. As a photographer from the shantytowns of Peurto Rico, his focus has always been on documenting the living conditions and social issues of underdeveloped countries. The foundation he started in 2010 is meant to support other photographers and filmmakers who are pursuing similar goals. The foundation awards $5,000 grants to short films and documentaries as well as $5,000 photography grants to work that documents "pressing social issues."
Film Independent, producer of the Spirit Awards and the Los Angeles Film Festival, partners each year with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to provide a $25,000 Sloan Producers Grant for the development of narrative films with scientific, mathematical, or technological themes. These grants are available to Film Independent Producing Lab Fellows and are in keeping with the Sloan Foundation's goal of encouraging "next-generation" filmmakers to create accessible films about science and technology.
The Minnesota-based Jerome Foundation was established in 1964 by painter, composer, photographer, filmmaker, and philanthropist Jerome Hill in order to support emerging artists and not-for-profit arts organizations, particularly in the area of filmmaking. Its MN/NYC Film and Video Grants program provides support to "emerging artists, whose work shows promise of excellence, in the genres of experimental, narrative, animation, and documentary production."
The San Francisco Film Society is the backbone of the longest-running film festival in the Americas, the San Francisco International Film Festival. But they also offer an array of support to individual filmmakers, screenwriters, and producers through their Filmmaker360 program, including help with project development, residencies, and a number of different grants. Their grant program alone has contributed over $1.8 million since 2009 in support of what they consider "innovative and exceptional" filmmaking.
"Helping Stories Take Flight" is the tagline of New York based Fledgling Fund. Its ethos is that film can "inspire a better world," and the fund's goal is to do this by supporting innovative media projects that address social ills and effect some sort of positive, tangible change. It does this through its own funding and through partnerships with other foundations. Grants range anywhere from $300 to $50,000, but average around $10,000 to $35,000.
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is one of the nation's largest independent foundations. It is a multi-billion dollar organization that awards around $230 million in grants annually. It issues grants and loans through four general programs: International Programs, U.S. Programs, the MacArthur Fellows Program, and Media, Culture & Special Initiatives. The MacArthur Foundation's grantmaking in public interest media projects is its longest-running program, probably the most visible, and the one many people associate with the Foundation.
Filmmakers famously dream about getting into the Sundance Film Festival and hobnobbing with the likes of Matt Damon in Park City. But there's another Sundance fantasy: Landing one of the $70,000 grants that the Sundance Documentary Film Fund gives out for promising projects. These grants of up to $70,000 to filmmakers help cover the costs in all stages of film production, including development and audience engagement.
What do you get when you mix the Sundance Institute, the veritable Holy Grail of independent filmmakers, the Ford Foundation's JustFilms Initiative — focused on advancing social justice through film — and George Soros and his Open Society Institute? Strange bedfellows? Indeed. A powerhouse in documentary filmmaking? For sure.
Just out of film school, Philipp Engelhorn founded Cinereach with the goal of helping independent and small filmmakers create socially conscious films. Through Cinereach, Engelhorn and has been coming to the financial aid of indie filmmakers since 2006. Since the beginning, Cinereach has offered grants to filmmakers that range from $5,000 to $50,000 and, to date, has granted over $5 million to that end.