JustFilms, the Ford Foundation’s film and digital storytelling initiative, has provided support to five independent films selected for competition and premiere at the Sundance Film Festival—the world’s leading showcase for independent filmmaking—as well as to a range of key organizations working globally to support these filmmakers.
Through creative storytelling, JustFilms draws attention to issues of justice, rights and equality, nurturing exceptional work from underrepresented filmmakers and regions and bringing them to a wider audience. As part of a five-year, $50 million dollar commitment, JustFilms supports film and digital artists and organizations that move this work forward globally, in an effort to lift up quality films and digital projects tackling urgent, complex social justice issues.
With collaboration and partnerships as a core strategy, multi-year partners include the Sundance Institute, the Tribeca Film Institute, ITVS and, new in 2014, the BritDoc Foundation, which has launched the Good Pitch initiative globally.
“JustFilms is evolving in a rapidly changing world, but the power of narrative to relay and reinforce values and beliefs, and to motivate people, is as old as human civilization itself,” said Cara Mertes, director of JustFilms. “The aspiration of every project and initiative we support lies in its transformative potential for individuals, communities and society at large as we grapple with the complex challenges of our time through the lens of social justice.”
Under the new leadership of President Darren Walker, the Ford Foundation is continuing to build on its commitment to creative work at the intersection of storytelling and social justice.
Premiering at the Sundance Film Festival with financial and creative support from JustFilms are:
Cesar’s Last Fast
Directed by Richard Ray Perez
A 36-day hunger strike illuminates Cesar Chavez’s personal sacrifice and reveals an untold chapter in the story of civil rights in America.
Directed by Katy Chevigny and Ross Kauffman
The members of Human Rights Watch’s E-Team risk their lives to document war crimes and report them to the rest of the world.
Directed by Mark Grieco
In Colombia, a community confronts a mining company that wants the $20 billion in gold beneath their homes.
Through a Lens Darkly
Directed by Thomas Allen Harris
African-American photographers challenge definitions of "blackness" and reflect on how their community has used the camera as a tool for social change.
We Are The Giant
Directed by Greg Barker
Insightful portraits of young activists during the popular uprisings of the Arab Spring show what motivates them, and the sacrifices they make.
The Ford Foundation and JustFilms will also participate in two panel discussions at the Sundance Festival:
Power of Story: Weights and Measures
Saturday, January 18, 3:00 p.m.
Ford Foundation President Darren Walker will moderate a conversation on the impact of the stories we tell and how to foment change and social justice through storytelling. With Dave Isay, founder and president of StoryCorps; Louie Psihoyos, executive director of the Oceanic Preservation Society and director of “The Cove”; Jess Search, CEO of the BritDoc Foundation; and Paul Zak, professor of economics and founding director at Claremont Graduate University’s Center for Neuroeconomics Studies.
Haus Chat: The Legacy of Civil Rights Movements
Monday, January 20, 1:00 p.m.
Cara Mertes, Director of JustFilms, will engage in a conversation with Stanley Nelson, director of “Freedom Summer”; Richard Ray Perez, director of “Cesar’s Last Fast”; and Karim Amer, executive producer of “The Square.”
Learn more about JustFilms’ strategy and partners, and explore its grantmaking.