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January 2020

LEF News


Congratulations to Deniz Tortum, whose LEF-funded film PHASES OF MATTER will have its world premiere at the International Film Festival Rotterdam! Congrats as well to all of the New England-based filmmakers with films at the 2020 edition of the festival this year, including Jodie Mack (director of WASTELAND NO. 2: HARDY, HEARTY and prior LEF grantee)  and former LEF Program Director Sara Archambault (producer of TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES).

Adam Mazo and Ben Pender-Cudlip's LEF-funded film DAWNLAND has won best film at the Media for a Just Society Awards! The film examines the historic Maine-Wabanaki truth and reconciliation commission and the work of Maine-Wabanaki REACH. Learn more and watch the film on PBS passport.

Ellen Brodsky's LEF-funded film 25 TEXANS IN THE LAND OF LINCOLN is streaming now on Kanopy and is now available at 30% off all DVD and streaming prices through New Day films until February 15, 2020.

Save the date! On March 31, the Bright Lights Film Series at Emerson College will present Jane Gillooly's LEF-funded film WHERE THE PAVEMENT ENDS, followed by Q&A with the filmmaker.

The Kendall Square Cinema is currently presenting a theatrical run of CUNNINGHAM, a 3D documentary film about Merce Cunningham directed by long-time New England filmmaker Alla Kovgan, produced by Elizabeth Delude-Dix, and executive produced by LEF's Executive Director Lyda Kuth. The film will also screen later this spring on March 24 with Alla Kovgan in person for Q&A at the Bright Lights Film Series at Emerson College.
LEF Moving Image Fund LOI Deadline: January 24  


The next LEF Moving Image Fund deadline is two weeks away, on 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 a project is eligible.
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 Spring 2020 program of documentary films and visiting filmmakers at the DocYard, guest curated by Abby Sun, has just been announced! The first screening will be América on Monday, February 10 at the Brattle Theatre.

The screening will be followed by an in-person conversation with filmmakers Eric Stoll and Chase Whiteside, moderated by Abby Sun.

Hope to see you there!

Boston-area Non-Fiction Screenings and Events
  • The Boston Festival of Films from Iran screens at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston January 16 - January 26. See the program.
  • The Boston Festival of Films from Japan screens at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston January 30 - February 23. Check back soon for details!
  • On February 6 at 7:30pm and February 9 at 1pm, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston presents THE BLUNDERWOOD PORTABLE (2020, 50 min) directed by local filmmaker Juan Mandelbaum. The film will be preceded by a rare performance of The Boston Typewriter Orchestra, whose music is used in the film. The 2/6 screening will be followed by a discussion with the filmmaker, artist Jason Turgeon and his maker partners. Tickets go on sale January 23!
  • The Revolutions Per Minute Film Festival takes place from January 31-February 2, 2020 at UMass Boston. RPM is dedicated to short-form poetic, personal, experimental film, video, VR, expanded cinema and audiovisual performance under 15 minutes. Follow the festival for the forthcoming 2020 program announcement!
General Resources for Filmmakers

  • Planning to attend the Sundance Film Festival? The Documentary Sustainability Project (an initiative of the Sundance Institute and the National Endowment for the Arts) is holding public office hours during the festival in Room 336 at the Sheraton Park City. Stop by to meet project leader Brenda Coughlin (Director of Producing & Impact Strategy at Sundance Institute) and learn more about this new initiative! To receive updates on open office hours, email: chandler_phillips@sundance.org
  • 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.
  • Last year, DOC SOCIETY 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

Jobs / Internships

  • Spring Internship (Paid + Part-time): The PRX Podcast Garage is a space for audio storytellers of all experience levels to record, learn, and gather. It's a community recording studio, classroom, and event space located on Western Ave. in Allston, a 20-minute walk from Harvard Square. It serves 2,500+ people a year at its space and through programs with partners across the city. The spring intern's role will be pivotal in supporting this work and reaching new voices in the podcasting community. The Podcast Garage team is looking for someone who loves podcasts, audio production, or arts/culture programming... or all three! The intern will start in March 2020 for a minimum of six months. Deadline: Jan 29. 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 $2,000 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. Next deadline: January 31, 2020. 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.
  • The 21st edition of the Hot Docs Forum takes place May 5-6 during the  Hot Docs Film Festival and includes several opportunities for documentary works-in-progress:
    • For projects in late-development and production, the Deal Maker program offers opportunities for financing through one-on-one meetings with international commissioning editors, acquisitions execs and granting bodies. Deadline: January 20.  
    • If your film is nearing the final stages, consider applying to the Distribution Rendezvous program, for one-on-one meetings with  international sales agents and distributors seeking rough cut or market ready films. Submissions open January 17.
  • The NEA's Media Arts program is now accepting proposals from organizations for arts projects that support exhibition and presentation (festivals, touring programs, curated series), distribution, and preservation activities for all genres and forms of media art that uses electronic media, film, and/or technology. First Deadline: 02/13/20. ( Note: NEA Media Arts staff highly recommends that you finalize your Grants.gov/SAM registration by at least January 22, 2020 and submit to Grants.gov by at least February 4, 2020.) Learn more and apply
  •  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.
  • Camden International Film Festival is now accepting submissions. 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 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 visual art or writing residency. Filmmakers are eligible to apply. 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.
  • The Luminary's fully funded residency program in St. Louis, Missouri is now accepting applications! Deadline: January 19. Learn more.
  • The City of Boston Arts and Culture is now accepting applications from artists working in any medium to its 2020 Boston AIR program. Deadline: January 22.
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 
  • On Thursday, January 16 at 12pm, join Women Make Movies in welcoming Chi-hui Yang, Program Officer at Ford Foundation's JustFilms, via webinar. As part of the Creativity and Free Expression Program, JustFilms funds social justice storytelling and the 21st-century arts infrastructure that supports it. Sign-up for an opportunity to ask questions and learn how you might work with Ford Foundation and JustFilms! Use promo code LEF for $10.00 off the cost of registration. Learn more and check out the Women Make Movies website to sign up for their newsletter and see all of their upcoming webinars.
  • SVA's MFA program in Social Documentary is now accepting applications for Fall 2020! Gain mentorship from award-winning filmmaker faculty and make your own films. Exclusive masterclasses with New York's prolific documentary community builds your industry relationships. Priority Deadline: January 15, 2020. Learn more here.
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.

Warm wishes and happy new year,    

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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