OVERVIEW: Ford distributes its filmmaking funds through partnerships with other organizations as well as their own JustFilms initiative for projects that "address urgent social issues and help us understand our past, explore our present and build our future." Their watchwords for these grants is the pursuit of a more "just, secure and sustainable world."
IP TAKE: JustFilms supports filmmaking through both individual grants and partner organizations. It's a little unclear on where their future funding priorities lie, but they do accept letters of inquiry on a rolling basis.
PROFILE: The Ford Foundation is famously committed to advancing social justice around the world through its grantmaking, and beginning in 2011 the Foundation pledged to invest $10 million a year over a five year period in documentary film projects that seek to "address urgent social issues and help us understand our past, explore our present and build our future." To that end, it created the JustFilms initiative as part of their larger Creativity and Free Expression program.
JustFilms "supports ideas, individuals, institutions, and networks that work to reduce inequality through film, video, and emerging media platforms, with a special focus on documentary practices. We strive to increase resources in the field, develop artists as leaders, and connect storytellers with the tools and talent they need to do their best work, amplify their message, and extend the impact of their projects."
JustFilms accepts letters of inquiry on a rolling basis. They also fund partner organizations, such as the Sundance Institute and the Tribeca Film Institute, that offer grants and other opportunities directly to individual filmmakers. In order to be considered for a grant, your project must clearly align with Ford's mission of social justice. First, take a look at some of the completed work of past JustFilm grantees in Ford's film collection to get a good idea of what they're looking for, then review what the program explicitly does and does not fund. Ford also suggests you familiarize yourself with some of their other initiatives, so you get a view of their big film funding picture.
- Elizabeth Alexander, Director, Creativity and Free Expression
- Cara Mertes, Director, JustFilms, Creativity and Free Expression
- Andrew Catauro, Manager, JustFilms