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December 2019

LEF News

Julie Mallozzi's LEF-funded film CIRCLE UP is now available to stream on America ReFramed via the WORLD Channel through 12/18/2019. 

Congratulations to Jenifer McShane, whose LEF-funded film ERNIE & JOE is a finalist for a 2020 Humanitas Prize. Learn more about how to watch the film via online streaming, or in theaters and festivals. Also, listen to this recent NEA podcast interview with Jenifer here.

Ben Pender-Cudlip & Adam Mazo's LEF-funded film DAWNLAND had a free screening on Thursday, December 12 at the Jamaica Plain branch of the Boston Public Library, followed by Q&A with co-director Adam Mazo. Additionally, DAWNLAND is now free to stream on PBS Passport for Passport members.

LEF Moving Image Fund Now Accepting 2020 LOIs  


LEF New England's Moving Image Fund is now accepting submissions! The next LEF Moving Image Fund deadline will be Friday, January 24, 2020 at 11:59pm (midnight) for Production and Post-Production letters of inquiry.  
Prospective applicants are strongly encouraged to read the LEF New England Moving Image Fund guidelines and frequently asked questions, and to reach out to LEF Program Officer Gen Carmel by e-mail to determine whether your project is eligible and a good fit for LEF's funding priorities.
Because the LEF Moving Image Fund has adapted its submission forms from the Documentary Core Application, you might already have a head start on your LEF letter of inquiry if you've submitted a grant proposal to another funder that makes use of the Core.  

2020-2021 FSC-LEF Fellowship


The Film Study Center-LEF Foundation Fellowship is open to Boston-area non-fiction filmmakers who are not currently affiliated with Harvard. One filmmaker over the academic year September 2020 - May 2021 will receive a $10,000 grant (jointly funded by FSC and LEF Foundation), access to FSC's pool of production and post-production equipment, and the opportunity to participate in the Harvard FSC community through work-in-progress screenings, workshops, and other activities.

Finalists for LEF Moving Image Fund production and post-production grant awards will be considered for the FSC-LEF Fellowship if they meet the following criteria:
    • They reside within 50 miles of Cambridge
    • They are not currently affiliated with Harvard
    • They will benefit from and contribute to the FSC community  

Learn more here and please reach out to LEF Program Officer Gen Carmel if you have any questions about this new fellowship program.  


The recipient of the 2019-2020 FSC-LEF Fellowship was James Rutenbeck for his project INVISIBLE.  

The DocYard

The Fall 2019 program of documentary films and visiting filmmakers at the DocYard, programmed by Sara Archambault, will conclude with PRESENT.PERFECT on December 16 at 7pm at the Brattle Theatre.

The screening will be followed by an in-person conversation with filmmaker Shengze Zhu, moderated by Spring 2020 Guest Curator Abby Sun.

Hope to see you there!

Boston-area Non-Fiction Screenings and Events
  • The Video Underground is Boston's last remaining video store, which has been in business since 2002 in Egleston Square, and currently includes a to-go cafe and screening area. This year, VU is looking for support in expanding its screening room. Learn more and support the effort.
General Resources for Filmmakers

  • Check out the newly expanded Sundance Inclusion Resource Map! It features three LEF-supported programs, including the LEF Moving Image Fund, the FSC-LEF Fellowship, and the DocYard, in addition to hundreds of other filmmaker opportunities across the country within this new searchable database. Learn more about Sundance Outreach & Inclusion here, and write to them to recommend a missing resource for the map.
  • The Documentary Producers Alliance recently released "Best Practices in Documentary Crediting", with the goal of standardizing crediting practices in the U.S. documentary field. The DPA is a volunteer-led organization that is working to make the field of documentary filmmaking more inclusive and more viable as a career. 
  • Visit AmDoc's Resources for Filmmakers page to learn more about funders, distribution, production/residency opportunities, fiscal sponsors, and more! Another helpful tool is POV's Calendar for Filmmakers, which includes a schedule of rolling and deadlined funding and festival opportunities.
  • DOC SOCIETY has just announced a 2019 update to Safe + Secure, a new initiative originally launched in 2017 to develop free tools for both filmmakers and funders to help mitigate risks, be they digital, legal, journalistic, or related to safety and health. The update includes the latest edition of the Safe+Secure Handbook, Filmmaker Checklist, and Hostile Environment Protocol.
  •  The Center for Media and Social Impact has released their newest State of the Documentary Field. Read the report and learn more here.
  • The Thriving Filmmaker provides free resources and online courses on how to build a sustainable career as an independent filmmaker. Learn more

Grants and Funding Opportunities

  • For Boston-based artists: Check out the Opportunity Fund: A New Grant for Artists. From the office of the Mayor, applications for grants up to $1,000 will be accepted on a monthly basis for 10 months out of the year. The fund has $10,000 available each month to support specific needs such as materials, professional development, conference fees, travel related to professional development, stipends for teaching artists, or anything that helps an artist share their work with the public. More info
  • New England-based artists: Learn more about upcoming state-level arts funding and fellowship deadlines in CT, ME, MA, NH, RI, and VT.
  • In 2018, AmDoc launched the Artist Emergency fund to provide financial assistance to US-based non-fiction filmmakers facing unexpected crisis. During the pilot year, AmDoc disbursed nearly $22,000 and directly supported 25 filmmakers in need. As AmDoc evaluates its impact, they will be temporarily closing down the application portal and plan to reopen the fund later this year based on their  learnings. Learn more and about this and other opportunities from AmDoc 
  • The Sundance Documentary Film Fund is now accepting applications. Deadline: Rolling More info
  • The Ford Foundation's JustFilms supports artist-driven film and new media storytelling projects that explore aspects of inequality, as well as the organizations and networks that support these projects. Deadline: Rolling. More info 
  • Catapult Film Fund provides development funding to documentary filmmakers who have a compelling story to tell, have secured access to their story and are ready to shoot and edit a piece for production fundraising purposes. Deadline: Rolling. More info
  • Cinereach develops, produces, finances, and supports feature-length fiction, nonfiction and hybrid films crafted for the big screen. Deadline: Rolling. More info
  • The Fledgling Fund focuses its grant support  on outreach and audience engagement, through their Engagement Lab, funding partnerships and special initiatives that examine and support emerging trends in the field. Deadline: Rolling. More info
  • Meredith Vieira Productions (MVP)  has partnered with This Is Just A Test (TIJAT) on a new initiative to fund the development of documentary features and series directed by women. This is not a grant or a fund, but the possibility of having MVP come on board as possible executive producers / producers. If you are interested in applying, e-mail Amy Rapp, Producer and Executive Vice President at MVP, to request an application form. Deadline: Rolling
  • The Perspective Fund provides grant support to independently-produced documentary films that highlight social justice and human rights issues, and that align with their priority areas. Currently, grant proposals for funding are accepted by invitation only, but filmmakers are welcome to complete Perspective's inquiry form. Deadline: Rolling.
  • In conjunction with the opening of the new ArcLight Cinemas in Boston, ArcLight is offering a $2500 grand prize to the winning filmmaker of their 24 Hours in Boston Film Contest. Deadline: December 20.
  • Submissions to the 2020 Hot Docs Forum are now open. The Hot Docs Forum is a pitch event where international projects are presented for co-production financing to a roundtable of leading commissioning editors, film fund representatives, financiers, programming executives, and other types of decision makers from around the globe. Deadline: January 6. Forum Dates: May 5 & 6, 2020.
  • The ITVS Open Call application will open on January 6! Open Call gives independent producers up to $350,000 to complete production for a standalone broadcast length documentary to air on public television. Open Call is not a grant. You will receive funding in the form of a production agreement that assigns ITVS certain rights over your project during the term of the contract. Deadline: February 14.
Screening and Exhibition Opportunities
  • POV, public television's premier showcase for independent, nonfiction film, is now accepting and evaluating films on a rolling basis, year-round! For both feature or short-form projects, learn more here.
  • Filmfest DC is now accepting submissions. Deadline: January 6, 2020 (Late). Festival Dates: April 23-May 3, 2020
  • Camden International Film Festival will open submissions on Monday, December 9! Deadline: March 9, 2020 (Early) April 27, 2020 (Regular), May 26, 2020 (Late) June 29, 2020 (Extended). Festival Dates: October 1-4, 2020
Fellowships, Labs, Residencies, Pitch Opportunities
  • The Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville, NY is currently accepting applications for the Creative Culture Fellowship Program, a 10-month long fellowship for emerging filmmakers looking to produce two short film projects in a collaborative community. Fellows join a community of other creatives and receive access to production equipment and space, mentorship, and the JBFC's industry network. As a fellow you'll be part of a community of eight filmmakers working together in a senior thesis-like experience. Fellows support each other through table reads, industry workshops, rough-cut reviews, and leading skill shares. Deadline: December 22, 2019.
  • The W.E.B. Du Bois Research Institute at the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard is now accepting applications for its 2020-2021 fellowship program. Independent researchers, artists, and filmmakers are eligible to apply for an academic-year or semester-long fellowship to pursue research on a project related to the Center's interests. Fellows are provided office space and a computer, use of a research assistant, and full access to the extensive research and library resources of Harvard University. Deadline: January 27, 2020. Learn more.
  • The MacDowell Colony, in Peterborough, NH, accepts residency applications at three deadlines each year: September 15, January 15, April 15. Learn more.
  • Yaddo, in Saratoga Springs, NY, accepts applications at two deadlines each year: January 5 and August 1Learn more.
  • The Vermont Studio Center, in Johnson, VT, offers fellowships/financial aid to support artists who are awarded a residency. Annual deadlines: February 15, June 15, October 1. Learn more.
  • The Fine Arts Work Center, in Provincetown, MA is a funded fellowship program that accepts applications from writers and visual artists (including filmmakers) at an annual deadline of February 1. Learn more.
  • New America's Fellows Program invests in thinkers - journalists, scholars, filmmakers, and public policy analysts - who generate big, bold ideas that have an impact and spark new conversations about the most pressing issues of our day. Stipends generally fall into the following levels: $15,000-$30,000. Deadline: February 2. Learn more.
  • The Squeaky Wheel Film & Media Arts Center, in Buffalo, NY, has a Workspace Residency for media artists and researchers, accepting applications at two annual deadlines in September (for spring residencies) and February (for summer residencies). Learn more.
Education / Classes / Workshops

  • Cambridge Community TV (CCTV) is one of several local community access TV stations offering classes to brush up on your skills in areas like Adobe Premiere, After Effects, Lighting, Audio, and Animation. More info 
  • The Somerville Media Center is another great community access TV station that offers media classes and other events. Learn more here 
  • The Maine Media Workshops are now accepting registration for their ongoing documentary filmmaking workshops. More info 
  • Check out the Women Make Movies website and sign up for their newsletter to receive news about their upcoming webinars.
Community-Building Opportunities
  • Check out the PRX Podcast Garage website for more on their upcoming audio community events! The Garage is now open on Saturdays too!
  • Brain Arts Org is a volunteer run 501(c)3 arts nonprofit for Greater Boston. Its mission is to create platforms for fringe artistic communities. Through its inclusive, participatory efforts, Brain Arts aspires to uplift communities and fill cultural voids in our unique region of New England. Learn about upcoming events at its associated community art space the Dorchester Art Project, and check out the Boston Compass for listings and reviews of upcoming films and shows across the city.
  • The Brown Girls Doc Mafia is an international grassroots filmmaking collective with over 2000 members worldwide that was launched in 2015 to address issues of diversity in documentary. Learn more and join/share the Facebook group!
  • Boston offers various opportunities to take part in work-in-progress film screenings, either for your own work or to view and offer feedback on the work of others. In addition to the Center for Independent Documentary's new Filmmaker Workshops rough cut series, you can also join a community of filmmakers in sharing work at the Somerville Media Center's Roughcut Media Screenings, and at monthly Boston Open Screen events at the Coolidge Corner Theatre.
  • The Massachusetts Production Coalition hosts its Holiday MPC Meeting on Monday, December 16 in Fort Point.

Warm wishes and happy holidays,   

Lyda & Gen
LEF Foundation
PO Box 382066
Cambridge, MA 02238


Do you have some news you'd like to share in an upcoming newsletter? The LEF New England newsletter is released monthly. Please send your information on LEF-funded film achievements, opportunities for filmmakers, and upcoming documentary film/video events in Boston and greater New England. Newsletter contact: gen@lef-foundation.org


A pri LEF Logo vate family foundation dedicated to the support of contemporary arts, LEF was established in 1985 with office s 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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