February 2022 Newsletter
LEF Moving Image Fund Grantee News
Image Description: In this still image from LORRAINE HANSBERRY:SIGHTED EYES/FEELING HEART, a black-and-white photo shows Lorraine Hansberry seated at a desk with her arms folded over a typewriter. (Learn more about image descriptions)
LEF grantee and New England-based filmmaker Tracy Heather Strain, who directed LORRAINE HANSBERRY: SIGHTED EYES/FEELING HEART (118 min), has been selected as one of six recipients of the Chicken & Egg Award. Strain, along with the rest of the cohort of advanced-career women and gender-nonconforming filmmakers, will receive unrestricted funding through the form of a $50,000 grant. Through personal meditation and sociological scrutiny, Strain's current project investigates how African Americans have become disconnected from their aquatic heritage. See the full list of Chicken & Egg awardees.

SCHOOL DISTRICT (work-in-progress), a LEF-supported project directed and produced by Leigh Morfoot and Jason Morfoot, was awarded a Connecticut Humanities Implementation Grant of $35,000 to support post-production. The film, which chronicles Connecticut Stamford Public Schools working throughout the 2020-2021 school year in the shadow of Covid-19, was one of eleven Planning and Implementation grants. Read about the rest of the CT Humanities grantees.

LEF-supported project, ORIGIN OF THE SPECIES (72 min), directed by Abigail Child and produced by Jennifer Burton, is making its New England premiere at Boston Science Fiction Film Festival. An in-person screening with with the director and producer will take place today at the Somerville Theater at 5pm, and will be available to watch virtually afterward until the end of the festival on February 21. Get your ticket to attend the screening or watch online.

APART (85 mins) a LEF-supported project directed by Jennifer Redfearn and produced by Readfern and Tim Metzger, is premiering on PBS's Independent Lens on February 21. The film follows three formerly incarcerated mothers as they readjust to life with their families over the course of three-and-a-half years, and will be available to stream after the 21st. See what else is playing on Independent Lens (including some other LEF-supported films!).

LEF-supported project WHERE THE PAVEMENT ENDS (79 mins), directed by Jane Gillooly and produced by Gillooly, Aparna Agrawal, and Khary Saeed Jones, is available to stream on World Channel's anthology series, America ReFramed. Gillooly's film explores the history and racial divides in two Missouri towns: Kinloch and Ferguson. Watch the film through World Channel.

Reciprocity Project, a film series collaboration between Upstander Project, Nia Tero, and REI Co-op Studios, is making its North American premiere at Big Sky Documentary Film Festival next week. The series, which embraces and uplifts Indigenous value systems, includes WECKUWAPOK (THE APPROACHING DAWN) (14 min), co-directed by Upstander Project-team member and prior LEF-grantee Adam Mazo. Purchase your ticket to watch in-person or online.
Are you a LEF grantee or fellow with news to share about your film?
The DocYard Announces Spring 2022 Program
The DocYard, Boston’s home for artful nonfiction cinema, has announced its full Spring 2022 program of documentary films and visiting filmmakers. The program runs from February 7 through May 16, and will include in-person screenings at the Brattle Theatre, as well as virtual screening options for season passholders. Each screening will conclude with either a live or virtual filmmaker Q&A.
You can purchase your tickets through the Brattle, and season passes are available at the DocYard website.
Upcoming Film Opportunities
Image Description: The Video Consortium Logo
The R.E.S.T. Summit (Deadline: February 18)
Presented by the Video Consortium and supported by the Google News Initiative, the R.E.S.T. Summit (Resilience, Emotional and Digital Security, Trauma) is a collaborative week-long virtual symposium that explores the nature of resilience, safety, and trauma for those working in video journalism and documentary film. The summit will take place Monday, March 21 through Friday, March 25, 2022.

Image Description: Color Congress Logo
Color Congress Unrestricted Supplemental Grants (Deadline: February 21)
The newly launched Color Congress is accepting letters of inquiry for unrestricted 2-year grants that will provide critical support to POC organizations with the smallest budgets that have not benefited from national funding, but which offer vital support to the documentary field and to their communities. The Color Congress is a national collective of majority people of color (POC) and POC-led organizations aimed at centering and strengthening nonfiction storytelling by, for and about people of color across the United States and territories. LOI submission opens on January 21.

Image Description: Seed & Spark Logo
Seed & Spark Workshop: The Art of the Pitch (February 22, 7-8pm EST)
Join Seed&Spark’s Bri Castellini for this free online workshop to help filmmakers articulate to every potential audience what makes them and their project special. The end goal will be a proficiency in verbalizing what makes an idea stand out and why a story should be told.

Image Description: Forecast Logo
Forecast Mentorship Program (Deadline: February 27)
Submit a film project proposal for the chance to workshop with artist and filmmaker Laura Huertas Millán and present at the Forecast Forum in Berlin in July 2022. The selected mentee will receive a production budget and a licensing and artist fee, and will have several months to produce their project with the mentor’s support. In addition to ongoing exchanges, this period also includes a one-on-one work-stay with the mentor at an international partner institution and the opportunity to present the project to the public at the Forecast Festival in March 2023.

Image Description: Community Supported Film Logo
SheridanWorks Filmmaking Courses (February - March)
SheridanWorks is offering filmmaking courses to filmmakers at any level over the age of 18. Courses include workshops in Storytelling (6 sessions starting 2/28), Filmmaking Fundamentals (10 sessions starting 3/1), and ongoing one-to-one mentorship.

Image Description: Catapult Film Fund Logo
Catapult Film Fund Development Grant (Deadline: February 28)
Catapult Film Fund is providing development funding, up to $20,000, to documentary filmmakers who have a strong story to tell, have secured access, and are ready to create a fundraising piece to help unlock critical production funding. The funding is meant to support powerful and moving storytelling by filmmakers with a strong voice across a broad spectrum of subject matter.

Image Description: NewFest Logo
NewFest's New Voices Filmmaking Grant (Deadline: February 28)
NewFest’s New Voices Filmmaker Grant, in partnership with Netflix, supports emerging LGBTQ+ filmmakers by providing funding to make new work, assisting in getting their work shared, and propelling their careers forward, through mentorship, networking, and professional development opportunities.The New Voices Filmmaker Grant will provide $25,000 grants to four emerging LGBTQ+ directors who are telling stories inclusive of the LGBTQ+ community.

Image Description: Points North Institute Logo
Points North Institute Fellowship (Earlybird Deadline: February 28)
The Points North Fellowship invites six teams of early- and mid-career filmmakers to Maine to accelerate the development of their feature documentary in production or post-production. The fellowship culminates in the public presentation of works-in-progress at the Points North Pitch, and aims to strengthen filmmakers’ artistic voices and propel their careers forward by facilitating new relationships with mentors, collaborators and funders.

Image Description: Osmosis Films Logo
Osmosis Films Open Call for Submissions (Rolling deadline: February 28)
Osmosis Films is looking to collaborate with documentary filmmakers and producers on creative development, production services, further financing, and the distribution of projects in development or early stages of production. In 2022, they will set aside up to $100,000 to be distributed across 2-3 selected projects that feature artist-led stories with a strong creative vision, character-driven documentaries with access to rarely seen worlds, and approaches in non-traditional storytelling with a strong point of view. Osmosis is open to features, docuseries, and projects that challenge form.

Image Description: LIFT Early Career Support for Native Artists Logo
LIFT Early Career Support for Native Artists (Deadline: March 16)
The Native Arts and Cultures Foundation (NACF) is now accepting applications for the LIFT–Early Career Support for Native Artists program, a one-year award and early career support program for twenty emerging Native artists to develop and realize new projects. LIFT is a monetary award of $10,000 for a proposed project with a required minimum of $3,000 earmarked for the artist’s benefit and wellbeing. Applicants must be an enrolled member or citizen of a federally-recognized or state-recognized American Indian tribe or Alaska Native corporation, or of Native Hawaiian ancestry.

Image Description: The Karen Schmeer Editing Fellowship Logo
Karen Schmeer Film Editing Fellowship (Deadline: March 20)
The Karen Schmeer Film Editing Fellowship is a year-long group mentorship program for documentary assistant, associate and emerging editors from historically underrepresented backgrounds and experiences. The program will consist of monthly small group meetings with seasoned documentary editor mentors. In a hybrid program, the fellowship will include in-person group meetings in New York and Los Angeles (pursuant to local health guidelines) and virtual group meetings for those in other areas of the US.

Image Description: Cucalorus Logo
The Cucalorus Works-in-Progress Lab (Deadline: April 27)
The Cucalorus Works-in-Progress (WiP) Lab supports social justice documentaries being made by Black filmmakers. Co-designed and coordinated by Working Films, participating artists will receive feedback on their work-in-progress and explore audience engagement strategies through workshops, consultations, and community screenings during a residency at Cucalorus’ campus September 25 - October 2, 2022. Films may be shorts or features, and may be in any stage of development, but films in production or post-production are recommended.

Image Description: Assets for Artists Logo
A4A Online Artist Workshops (Spring 2022)
Assets for Artists online workshops are open to artists who currently live in the states of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, or Connecticut, or are current/recent Studios at MASS MoCA artists-in-residence. Virtual attendance space is limited to maximize participation and peer support, but those registered will be able to view the Zoom recordings after the sessions. Spring 2022 workshop topics include publicity, social change, community-building, virtual presence, submitting to festivals, grant building, and more.

Image Description: National Endowment for the Arts Logo
NEA Media Arts Grant Reviewers Needed (Ongoing)
The National Endowment for the Arts Media Arts program is currently recruiting film/media arts professionals and persons knowledgeable about film/media arts but not engaged in the arts as a profession either full- or part-time. Participating as a grant review panelist is a great way to get a birds eye view of the field and see the grant process from the other side. NEA panelists are provided with an honorarium for their time. Interested in volunteering or nominating someone? 

Learn more, or send the Media Arts team a message at mediaarts[at]arts.gov.
Image Description: Kickstarter, Creative Capital, and Skoll Logos
Creative Capital x Skoll Creator Fund (Ongoing)
Kickstarter, Creative Capital, and Skoll Foundation have partnered to launch a $500,000 Creative Capital x Skoll Foundation Fund that backs projects by Asian, Black, Indigenous, and Latinx creators on the crowdfunding platform. Effective immediately, funds will be awarded on an ongoing basis to creators with active projects across all of Kickstarter’s categories: Arts, Comics & Illustration, Design & Tech, Film, Food & Craft, Games, Music, and Publishing.

What We're Reading
Even before its contentious premiere at Sundance this year, Meg Smaker’s film JIHAD REHAB has been raising concerns about the ethics of representation and story in documentary filmmaking. We think it’s worth sharing some essays that provoke fresh thinking about these issues, as controversies surrounding individual films often reflect larger conversations happening within the documentary field as a whole. 

Smaker’s film, which follows four Yemeni men in a so-called “rehabilitation center” in Saudi Arabia after being unlawfully detained in Guantanamo Bay for fifteen years, has been faulted for its mishandling of both fact and portrayal, especially by Arab and Muslim filmmakers who have been arguing for greater–and notably truer–representation of MENA (Middle Eastern North African) subjects in nonfiction media. In a recent essay, Islamophobia and the Tyranny of Empathy, Assia Boundaoui addresses both Smaker’s film and the larger conversation of representation in an industry that feels increasingly apathetic about creating “space for Muslim creatives to make beautifully intricate, nuanced films that center our positionality,” Boundaoui writes. In addition to highlighting trends of MENA-focused films in popular media, Boundaoui calls upon Sonya Childress’s 2017 essay, Beyond Empathy, to describe how attempts to “humanize” subjects from the perspective of a white gaze often reaffirm an imbalance of power and privilege by building empathy without building solidarity.

The primacy of “story” in the nonfiction film industry has also been identified in an ongoing interrogation of why such a high emphasis is placed on empathy and a narrative approach in documentary. Beyond Story, the fifth and most recent volume of Worlds Records, a journal published by UnionDocs to diversify and scrutinize documentary media, consists of over a dozen pieces of scholarship by filmmakers like Brett Story and Sam Green, all grappling with the ways a long-standing devotion to “story” has led documentary astray. Story writes: “To center an individual and their story is also to center, in our cinema, empathy over solidarity. And the only thing wrong with empathy is its political limits.” Beyond Story makes a case for working outside of those political limits of empathy and realizing the potential of documentary to “break habitual associations, rupture embedded hierarchies of privilege and dominance” by deprioritizing and challenging “story.”
Thanks for reading and till next time,

The LEF New England team
Lyda, Gen, & Matthew

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.