May 21, 2021
Spring 2021 Grants Announcement
LEF Foundation Announces $190,000 in Production and Post-production Grants to New England Documentary Filmmakers
LEF and the Harvard Film Study Center have also announced that Khary Saeed Jones has been awarded the FSC-LEF Fellowship for 2021-22
The LEF Foundation has awarded 10 Moving Image Fund grants totaling $190,000 in support of feature-length documentary works by New England-based filmmakers.

The LEF Moving Image Fund invests in feature-length documentary films that demonstrate excellence in technique, strong storytelling ability, and originality of artistic vision and voice. The most recent round of awards includes six grants of $15,000 to projects at the Production stage, and four grants of $25,000 to projects at the Post-production stage. 

In addition to this group of grantees, LEF also awarded $50,000 to 12 projects in Early Development and Pre-production earlier in the fiscal year. In total, LEF will be distributing $240,000 in funding to documentary productions over the course of its 2021 fiscal year.

Additionally, earlier today, LEF joined the Harvard Film Study Center in announcing that Khary Saeed Jones has been selected as the 2021-22 recipient of the Film Study Center-LEF Foundation Fellowship with his project "Night Fight". The FSC-LEF Fellowship, open to Boston-area nonfiction directors who are not currently affiliated with Harvard, aims to foster connections between Harvard filmmakers and those in the surrounding filmmaker community. One filmmaker per academic year receives a $10,000 grant (jointly funded by FSC and LEF Foundation), access to FSC production and post-production equipment, and the opportunity to participate in the Harvard FSC community through work-in-progress screenings, workshops, and other activities. Fellowship applications are accepted in the January round of the LEF Moving Image Fund Production and Post-production grant cycle and the final recipient of the FSC-LEF Fellowship is selected by the Film Study Center.

See the full Moving Image Fund grants announcement here, and a list of the grantees below.
Spring 2021 LEF Moving Image Fund Grantees
Production ($15,000)
Image: A still from the LEF-funded project Backside
Directed by Raúl Paz-Pastrana; produced by Gabriella García-Pardo & Patricia Alvarez Astacio (Massachusetts)
“Backside” intimately explores the daily life and expertise of the migrant workers behind the Kentucky Derby, the most famous horse race in the world. Following a racing season from beginning to end, this observational film is told through the eyes of the Latinx grooms who care for the racehorses. Their world reveals the web of class, labor, and wealth in the American South.
Image: A still from the LEF-funded project Israelism
Directed by Eric Axelman (Massachusetts) & Sam Eilertsen; produced by Eric Axelman
Two young American Jews - Simone and Eitan - are raised to defend the state of Israel at all costs. Eitan joins the Israeli military, while Simone supports Israel on ‘the other battlefield’ America’s college campuses. When both see the scope of Israel's mistreatment of the Palestinian people with their own eyes, they are horrified and heartbroken, as they ultimately both help form and lead a new movement of American Jews who, in solidarity and partnership with the Palestinians, fight to end Israel’s occupation.
Image: A still from the LEF-funded project Night Fight
Night Fight
Directed by Khary Saeed Jones (Massachusetts); produced by Khary Saeed Jones & Kendra Taira Field (Massachusetts)
Night Fight explores the interior life of a man living while Black in the United States as it seizes and convulses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the racial reckoning catalyzed by the police killing of George Floyd, and the countdown to the most consequential election in the nation’s history. Over the course of one week, we observe his attempt to step outside of the long shadow cast by his own experience with racial violence as he contemplates enacting one of his own.
Image: The poster for the LEF-funded project Playland
Directed by Georden West (Massachusetts); produced by Russell Sheaffer & Danielle Cooper
A boundary-pushing, transdisciplinary, hybrid film centered around the swirling, dancing, raucous activity during a time-bending night in Boston’s oldest and most notorious gay bar, the Playland Café.
Image: A still from the LEF-funded project Salt Sisters
Salt Sisters
Directed by Heidi Burkey; produced by Julie Hook (Vermont)
Caught in the midst of a struggling coastal economy impacted by global warming, female lobsterman, Colleen Francke attempts to get ahead of the inevitable changes to her industry and return to a dream she thought she lost during years of alcohol abuse - building a seaweed farm that will employ and support other women in recovery. Facing opposition from local fishermen, risking financial stability, and fighting through her own recovery journey, Colleen will discover what it takes to lead these women into Maine’s new coastal economy – rehabilitating both the water and themselves along the way.
Image: A still from the LEF-funded project Untitled Hydebank Film
Untitled Hydebank Film
Directed by Ross McClean; produced by Bronte Stahl (Rhode Island)
Ryan is nearing the end of a five year sentence inside a youth prison in Belfast, Northern Ireland. In the film we never learn the nature of the violent crime that led to his imprisonment, only that the day still haunts him. While inside, he finds solace and purpose caring for a flock of sheep as a part of a prison program. Released into an electrified post-Brexit Northern Ireland, he ventures to start his own flock. Ryan tries to leverage the skills he learned inside of prison against the disorientation that the carceral system exposed him to, all while reckoning with his place in a charged community. 
Post-Production ($25,000)
Image: A still from the LEF-funded project Black Barbershops and Salons
Black Barbershops and Salons: A Neighborhood Oasis
Directed and produced by Rudy Hypolite (Massachusetts)
Gentrification and the COVID-19 pandemic are only two of the most pressing challenges threatening the historic, community oasis of Black barbershops and hair salons in demographically changing Boston. Humorous, serious and spirited discussions take place in these multi-purpose establishments, which have served as the lifeblood of Black communities over decades.
Image: A still from the LEF-funded project Island of Lost Treasures
Island of Lost Treasures
Directed by Ashley Sabin & David Redmon; produced by Becca Tabasky (Massachusetts)
A modern-day cinephile-idiot, co-director David Redmon goes on a quest in New York City to rent a movie from Kim’s Video, a video rental store with more than 55,000 movies. Upon arriving at 6 St Marks Place in the East Village, he is unable to locate his beloved Kim’s Video and subsequently learns the entire collection was sent to Sicily (Italy). David sets off on a journey to rent a movie from Kim’s Video in Sicily and, in so doing, sets in motion a series of unbelievable consequences as he and his partner Ashley Sabin try to solve the mystery of how Kim's Video disappeared.
Image: A still from the LEF-funded project The Philadelphia Eleven
The Philadelphia Eleven
Directed and produced by Margo Guernsey (Massachusetts); co-produced by Nikki Bramley (Massachusetts)
When a group of women organize their own ordination to be Episcopal priests, they challenge two thousand years of patriarchal Christianity. The media catches on, and they find themselves leading a fierce debate over who speaks the word of God. In a largely archival journey, with obvious parallels to today, we meet the brave women who succeed in creating a blueprint for lasting institutional change.
Image: A still from the LEF-funded project River and Shore.
River and Shore (working title)
Directed by Robb Moss (Massachusetts); produced by Robb Moss, Kristin Feeley, & Lisa Remington
RIVER AND SHORE follows five people over forty years, the third of a trilogy that began with RIVERDOGS (1978) and THE SAME RIVER TWICE (2003). By closely filming a group of friends every twenty years and intercutting images and stories from distinctly different parts of their lives, the third film will create time-portraits of the characters, find editing strategies to evoke the passage of time, and closely observe the act of aging.
LEF Development Deadline on June 4
Image: A still from Wenhua Shi's LEF-funded project Red Spectrum, a personal portrait of the city of Wuhan, China, awarded a LEF Pre-production grant in Summer 2020.
The LEF Moving Image Fund is now accepting applications for its 2021 Early Development and Pre-Production grants, both with a deadline of June 4, 2021 at 11:59pm (midnight). We hope you'll consider applying!

Eligibility and Guidelines: LEF grants are open to New England-based directors or producers seeking funding for feature-length (40+ minute) non-fiction film projects. Potential applicants can read the Moving Image Fund guidelines, details on how to apply, and FAQ to determine if their project is eligible and a good fit for LEF's funding priorities. You can also see last year's Pre-production and Early Development grantees to gain a sense of the range of documentary artists and approaches that LEF supports.

Grant Amounts and Fiscal Sponsorship:
  • Up to 6 grants of $2,500 will be awarded for Early Development.
  • Up to 6 grants of $5,000 will be awarded for Pre-production.
  • A confirmed fiscal sponsor is not required by the time that you apply, but will need to be in place for any projects awarded funding.

Questions? If you've reviewed all of the information above and have any remaining questions about eligibility or how to apply, feel free to reach out to Gen Carmel at, 617-492-5333, or via Messenger.
Thanks for reading and till next time,

The LEF New England team
Lyda & Gen

LEF Foundation
PO Box 382066
Cambridge, MA 02238
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 awarded over 400 grants to New England-based independent filmmakers with approximately $4.2 million in funding. The goal of LEF New England is to fund the work of independent documentary film and video artists in the region and to broaden recognition and support for their work locally and nationally. It also supports programs that highlight the rich history and ongoing legacy of innovation within New England's independent film community. The overarching goal of LEF New England's philanthropic investment is to help build a sustainable and strong community of support for artists and their work.