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July 31, 2020

Announcing Summer 2020 Early Development and Pre-Production Grantees

The LEF Foundation has awarded 12 Moving Image Fund grants totaling $50,000 in support of feature-length documentary works by New England-based filmmakers.

The LEF Moving Image Fund invests in films that demonstrate excellence in technique, strong storytelling ability, and originality of artistic vision and voice. The most recent round of awards to New England-based documentary filmmakers includes four grants of $2,500 to projects at the Early Development stage, and eight grants of $5,000 to projects at the Pre-production stage.

At LEF's June 2020 deadline for Early Development and Pre-production, 40 applications were received from filmmakers working across New England. Three peer readers, all of whom are local filmmakers representing a diverse range of perspectives on documentary, were each invited to independently review and share comments on 30 eligible Pre-production grant applications, and these peer evaluations informed LEF's final decision to award eight Pre-production grants in this round.

LEF Executive Director Lyda Kuth shared: "From its inception, we have convened an outside panel for our Production and Post Production grant review.  The panels are comprised of different people each year, which means varying points of view and fresh perspectives are brought to the review of projects. In addition, the review introduces the work of New England filmmakers to the broader independent community. Similarly, we wanted to bring a range of perspectives to the Pre-production grant review and invited readers into the process. We invited filmmakers from the New England community to review and provide comments on projects, understanding the value this can bring. It could also be a learning opportunity for the readers, in seeing how other filmmakers were presenting their films at an early stage."

LEF staff also reviewed the 10 eligible Early Development grant applications at this newly added grant stage and four projects were selected, offering initial seed funding to filmmakers who have not yet had a chance to shoot or edit any sample footage for their current projects.

LEF Program Officer Genevieve Carmel shared, "This was the first year that LEF offered a new Early Development grant for four New England-based documentary filmmakers at the earliest stages of their process. We couldn't be more excited to explore an expansion of LEF's Moving Image Fund in this way, and this will be a learning process for us, informing how we approach future funding programs. By removing the current visual sample requirement at the Early Development stage, our goal was to learn more about and support projects in development by filmmakers who have not been able to create a visual sample for their current work, whether due to COVID-19 or where some initial seed funding might address the unique requirements of a project."

All applicants who applied for LEF funding at this stage will have an opportunity to hear review notes by phone, to learn more about how their proposals were evaluated, and to ask any questions. Carmel added, "Being transparent about our decision-making process is important to us, and we hope that sharing notes from the review can be a source of information and encouragement for applicants as they continue working on their projects. We also understand that sharing where there may have been enthusiasm or any remaining questions about each applicant's project keeps the communication lines open between LEF as a funder and the filmmakers who apply."

In addition to this group of grantees, LEF will also award $190,000 to 10 projects in Production and Post-Production later in the fiscal year, following the next January 2021 application deadline. In total, LEF will be distributing $240,000 in funding to documentary productions over the course of its 2021 fiscal year.

Please check www.lef-foundation.org for details regarding LEF Moving Image Fund guidelines and eligibility. For more information on the Foundation or its funded projects, please contact Program Officer Genevieve Carmel at gen@lef-foundation.org

Find the full list of Moving Image Fund grants below, and read the full press release, including filmmaker bios, here.



No Holding Back: William Monroe Trotter's Challenge to President Woodrow Wilson (w.t.)
Directed and Produced by Alvin Case (MA)
When the newly elected president of the United States Woodrow Wilson ordered the segregation of black and white federal workers in 1913 he was challenged by William Monroe Trotter, the Black firebrand journalist and publisher from Boston, during two meetings in the Oval Office. NO HOLDING BACK pictures a bridge between these past events and how they align with the present through "direct address" re-enactment, and through contemporary voices who shed light on the continued fight against the weight of racial history in this country.

Love in the Time of Corona
Directed & Produced by Iyabo Kwayana (NH)
During the Coronavirus Pandemic of 2020, Ananda, a quantum physicist conducting interviews with prominent figures about the nature of reality, is on the brink of an existential crisis. Separated from her family, friends, and partner and witnessing an explosion of social unrest, she is thrust into a sobering yet magical journey that leads her towards a breakthrough in her understanding of quantum physics, the structures that separate humanity, and those that bind us together. A hybrid documentary, LOVE IN THE TIME OF CORONA will explore paradigm shifts including the crumbling of structures, ideas, and ways of being so as to make way for the birthing of realities unimagined, a reality that COVID-19 starkly illustrates

Untitled Altered States Film
Directed by Julie Mallozzi and Emma Meyers; Produced by Julie Mallozzi (MA)
Seven traditions from around the world transport patients into an altered mental state to treat medical conditions, mental illness, and chronic pain. Intertwining ancient practices and their modern offshoots, this experiential film reveals the possibility of deep healing when we allow our brains to depart from their ordinary functioning.

the place of bad noises
Directed by Josh Weissbach (CT)
Before the landscape had an official history that was crafted by the natives, reconstructed by the settlers, and revised by the scientists, there were the bad noises. THE PLACE OF BAD NOISES will be an essay film utilizing experimental and non-fiction techniques to explore what has become of all the badness that has been historically associated with the noises located in Moodus, Connecticut. In addition, the film will investigate the psychological impact sound has on shaping an experience of place.

Power & Light
Directed & Produced by Sabrina Aviles (MA), Jesse Epstein (MA), Marion Lipschutz and Rose Rosenblatt
Pastors, priests and ministers in the Latinx town of Lawrence MA are fighting for climate justice. Brought together by a massive gas explosion, they were making remarkable progress when a second calamity, the Coronavirus, again put them on the front lines. Distributing food, offering shelter, ministering to the sick, they gained a new understanding of "creation care," the controversial belief that stewardship of the earth's fragile ecosystem is part of the religious duty. When the Pandemic lifts, they'll join with suburban allies in Andover and North Andover, to continue a political and spiritual fight that puts vulnerable communities like theirs at the center of a movement to slow, even halt, the cascade of crises brought about by the existential threat of climate change.

Life Doesn't Frighten Me
Directed & Produced by Sara Jordenö (RI)
LIFE DOESN'T FRIGHTEN ME is an experimental personal documentary and a community portrait about the fight for parentage rights. As the filmmaker is facing the humiliating, expensive and invasive process of having to adopt her own daughter, she connects with a network of LGBTQ+ families and advocates who are working to change discriminatory parentage laws. The film documents community activist efforts to legally redefine who is considered a parent and the personal process of claiming parenthood as a same-sex partner.

Directed & Produced by Siobhan Landry (MA)
At a small New England historic house an actress performs the part of Hannah Dustin, a woman who killed and scalped 10 Wabanaki in the late 17th century. Documentation of this performance is shared with and critiqued by a series of interpreters, including local tribe members, historians, and anthropologists. Through dialogue and performance the story replays itself multiple times, raising challenging questions about the intersection of white female identity and American founding mythologies.

School District
Directed & Produced by Leigh Morfoot and Jason Morfoot (CT)
SCHOOL DISTRICT closely observes Stamford Public Schools working through the coronavirus pandemic. From determining how and when to safely bring students back into classrooms to assessing and addressing the learning losses and achievement gaps exacerbated by buildings being shut down, this feature documentary captures the reimagining of a Title-1, public education system in the Connecticut suburbs of New York City.

Recovery City (w.t.)
Directed by Lisa Olivieri (MA); Produced by Lisa Olivieri & Angelica Brisk
RECOVERY CITY is an intimate, unflinching study of four women whose lives have all been touched by addiction. Separately these stories each touch upon different aspects of recovery. Together the narratives intersect to create a compelling portrait of women who refuse to let their community give in to the stigma and despair of addiction.

Morning View
Directed & Produced by Matt Shaw (ME)
In 1824 the reverend Jonathan Fisher completes his last large painting "A Morning View of Blue Hill Village." This artistic culmination of a rural polymath will become the first entry in books on landscape painting in Maine and the land it represents will drastically change over the next 200 years. This film traces Fisher's art onto the contemporary landscape of Blue Hill.

Red Spectrum (English w.t., Chinese w.t. 山水間 )
Directed & Produced by Wenhua Shi (MA)
RED SPECTRUM (working title) is an experimental essayistic documentary through a personal portrait of the city Wuhan, China. It captures the strange moments of time and space where old and new ideological practices and tragedies entangle. Through observational and experimental approaches, RED SPECTRUM builds an impression of his hometown.

Directed by Gabrielle Sumney; Produced by Nerissa Williams Scott (MA)
PARADISE is a personal documentary exploring race, immigration, and imperialism through the filmmaker's multiracial Caribbean American family.

Congratulations to this new round of LEF grantees!

Warm wishes,  
Lyda & Gen
LEF Foundation
PO Box 382066
Cambridge, MA 02138

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A private family foundation dedicated to the support of contemporary arts, LEF was established in 1985 with offices in Massachusetts and California. The Moving Image Fund was launched in 2001 through the LEF office in Cambridge, MA to support independent film and video artists. Since its inception, the Moving Image Fund has supported over 300 independent filmmaker projects with approximately $4,000,000 in funding. The goal of LEF New England is to fund the work of independent film and video artists in the region and broaden recognition and support for their work locally and nationally. 
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