JustFilms grants over $4 million to support 68 content projects in the United States, Brazil, and more

New York, NY (December 19, 2022) – Today the Ford Foundation announced its overall funding for independent documentary film in 2022. One of the largest documentary funds in the world and a part of the foundation’s Creativity and Free Expression (CFE) program, JustFilms provided over $4 million to support 68 innovative film projects in the United States and around the world that are centered on social justice issues.

From this allocation, the 68 documentary film projects supported this year include 43 filmmakers with new projects and 25 continuing support grants for films previously funded. This year’s funding went toward a cohort of films linked by their social, political, and creative ambition to elevate artist-centered filmmaking and spur social action. Of the 68 film projects, 70% of the grants were made to filmmakers identifying as Black, Indigenous or people of color (BIPOC), as well. These projects spanned the foundation’s global offices and included works from the United States, Brazil, Mexico, and beyond.

“We’re privileged to support the ecosystem of independent documentary filmmaking that looks to amplify social justice causes,” said Jon-Sesrie Goff, program officer for JustFilms at the Ford Foundation. “I’m proud of how these projects further illustrate the complexities of the moment we’re all in now, offering unique perspectives that allow audiences to peer deeper into the stories that shape and define our realities today.”

JustFilms has also piloted a direct support grant program comprised of $75,000 grants for leading filmmakers to deepen their practices, build career sustainability, and advance multiple projects. One such example from the program is filmmaker and writer Brett Story, whose work currently focuses on labor movements and prison abolition. Story represents the impact that individuals can have with more support and resources in their corner to build a more sustainable and inclusive documentary sector that honors the research and time that inspires compelling nonfiction storytelling.

“We believe filmmakers should be able to focus on their work and take greater risks without always worrying about how they will pay to keep the lights on,” said Chi-hui Yang, senior program officer for JustFilms at the Ford Foundation. “Ensuring sustainable careers and practices for them requires rethinking models of funding and support beyond project funding tied to specific outcomes in an imperfect system of distribution and exhibition, and allowing artists more freedom to explore, imagine, and consider how their contributions can potentially impact the entire documentary film sector.”

The JustFilms grants for the 68 projects span a number of countries, with many supporting global filmmakers, particularly those from the Global South, as a core part of JustFilms’ work and mission. Films supported in 2022 include: Black Power, Black Rio (dir. Emilio Domingos), which traces the Black Rio Movement and the emergence of Black cultural and political identity in 1970s Brazil via archives of trailblazing Brazilian music and insights from dance promoter Dom Filo; Guardianas (dir. Danniela Castro Valencia), which recenters women of Indigenous and African descent in the fight for cultural survival and protection of the environment in Colombia; and The Walk (dir. Tamara Kotevska), the story of a large-scale social art project called Little Amal, which has traveled across 13 countries representing the forced migration of children fleeing war and violence. Another pivotal grant made this year was part of a multi-year contribution to the IDFA Bertha Fund, which supports artistic voices primarily from the Global South.

Many of the U.S.-based grantees used their documentary projects to engage public discourse around pressing national issues of our time—especially this complex cultural moment of rampant polarization and dis/misinformation. These include Soledad O’Brien’s Untitled Abortion Project, which addresses the state of reproductive health after the Dobbs decision; Sidney Fussell and Samantha Knowles’ #WhileBlack, which explores how Big Tech exposes racism while also exploiting witnesses behind the camera and online viewers; Kimberly Reed’s The Gender Project, which follows misperceptions about gender and biological sex; and Dana Coester’s Raised By Wolves, a look at extremism in online youth culture in an Appalachian community. Other US-based works by acclaimed visual artists and experimental filmmakers include Before the War (dir. Chitra Ganish), Powow People (dir. Sky Hopinka), Nowhere Near (dir. Miko Revereza), and Don & Moki (dir. Ephriam Asili).

Moving beyond accountability to action, JustFilms’ supported filmmakers are on the frontlines of disability justice in the industry, often reshaping the ways diversity, equity, and inclusion are framed in the independent social justice documentary landscape. JustFilms provided the seed funds to launch the Nonfiction Access Initiative at the International Documentary Association, which supports disabled documentary filmmakers through data collection, field surveys, and a film fund. Projects funded by JustFilms in 2022 that focus on disability communities include Set Hernandez’s Unseen, Rea Tajiri’s Wisdom Gone Wild, Reveca Torres’s Untitled Art & Disability Project, and Fire Through Dry Grass (dirs. Alexis Neophytides, Andres “Jay” Molina).

The full list of documentary film projects supported by JustFilms in 2022 are below:

Newly Funded Projects

Director(s): Frederick Wiseman
Producer(s): Frederick Wiseman, Karen Konicek
A chronicle of the day-to-day activities of a Michelin three-star restaurant and the family that owns and operates it. It is Mr. Wiseman’s 44th film in his continuing series on contemporary life.

Director(s): Li Lu
Producer(s): Anthony Pedone, Li Lu
Hours after the first travel ban takes effect, a mosque in a small Texas town erupts in flames. As details of the arson emerge and a suspect goes to trial, this quiet community must reckon with the deep rifts that drove a man to hate.

Director(s) & Producer(s): Chitra Ganesh
An experimental animation featuring music by Saul Williams, Before the War explores an open-ended narrative of memory, love, and loss, animated by the social and political shifts catalyzed by the current pandemic environment and the politically polarizing years preceding COVID-19.

Director(s): Emilio Domingos
Producer(s): Leticia Monte, Lula Buarque de Hollanda
The Black Rio Movement is a popular samba soul scene that emerged in the ’70s in Rio de Janeiro, during the Brazilian dictatorship, that shaped the culture, the Black identity and paved the way for the funk parties that happen today in the urban peripheries. Black Rio! Black Power! is a film about the historical importance of this movement in affirming Afro-Brazilian identity as well as the movement’s influence in the battle for racial justice in Brazil.

Director(s): Kahlil Joseph
Producer(s): Onye Anyanwu, Amy Greenleaf, Nic Gonda
Executive Producer(s): Participant: Anikah McLaren, Jeff Skoll
BLKNWS features a collection of voices and collaborators shown through a lens of fugitive journalism and personal expression. This feature film is an adaption of the media artwork BLKNWS that first debuted at the 2019 Venice Biennale.

Director(s) & Producer(s): Keith Famie
Detroit: The City of Churches shows how Detroit’s rich history was guided by its spiritual leaders from inception to present day.

Director(s): Ephraim Asili
Producer(s): Ephraim Asili, Naima Karlsson
Don & Moki: Organic Music Society is a feature-length documentary exploring the collaborative and communal art practice developed and practiced by jazz multi-instrumentalist, theorist, and educator Don Cherry and his wife and primary collaborator, visual artist Moki Cherry.

Director(s): Dominic Massa
Producer(s): Thanh Truong, Producer; Dionne Butler, Associate Producer
Dr. Norman C. Francis: A Legacy of Leadership chronicles the career of a true Louisiana legend and one of America’s longest-serving university presidents. Archival photos, footage, and interviews with Dr. Norman C. Francis, his children, and his colleagues document a remarkable life devoted to education and public service.

Director(s): Joy Elaine Davenport
Producer(s): Monica Land
Fannie Lou Hamer’s America: An America ReFramed Special is a portrait of civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer and the injustices in America that made her work essential.

Director(s): Alexis Neophytides, Andres “Jay” Molina
Producer(s): Jennilie Brewster, Alexis Neophytides
On a tiny island in New York City, a group of Black and Brown disabled artists fight COVID and the city to protect the lives of 500 vulnerable nursing home residents.

Director(s): Alejandra Vasquez, Sam Osborn
Producer(s): James Lawler, Luis A. Miranda, Jr., Julia Pontecorvo
In the competitive world of high school mariachi, the musicians from the South Texas borderlands reign supreme. Under the guidance of Coach Abel Acuña, the teenage captains of Edinburg North High School’s acclaimed team must turn a shoestring budget and diverse crew of inexperienced musicians into state champions.

Director(s): Danniela Castro
Producer(s): Ana Tarazona Cañón, Valentina Romero
In defense of their territories and ancestral knowledge, three women leaders weave communities that defy the false frontier we have erected between the human and the natural.

Director(s): Juanita Anderson
Producer(s): Juanita Anderson, Marsha Battle Philpot (aka Marsha Music)
Joe’s Record Shop on Hastings Street, owner Joe Von Battle, and the blues music he loved, produced, and recorded illuminate the vitality and complexity of mid-20th century African American life in Detroit: the self-determination and ultimate displacement of a Black community amidst unprecedented migration, racial turmoil, civil rights progress, and urban “renewal.”

Director(s): Maxx Ginnane
Description withheld.

Director(s): William Greaves
Producer(s): Louise Archambault Greaves, Anne de Mare
Memories of the Harlem Renaissance is an unfinished, cinema-vérité documentary project, filmed by William Greaves in 1971, that documents a unique, historic gathering of many of the surviving luminaries of the original Harlem Renaissance. Phase One includes the preservation, digitization, transcription, and cataloging of all the original film materials. Phase Two will involve the creation of a documentary film, a museum installation, and a public-facing digital audio-visual archive.

Director(s): Elizabeth Ai
Producer(s): Elizabeth Ai, Tracy Chitupatham, Anh Phan, Rachel Sine
Mile-high hair. Synthesized music. Underground parties. The Vietnamese new wave scene of 1980s California was the catalyst to healing a generation of refugees in cultural limbo. New Wave is the coming-of-age story of trailblazers who pioneered a raucous music scene and inspired their community to rebuild in the wake of the Vietnam War.

Director(s): Sara Archambault, Margo Guernsey
Producer(s): Sara Archambault, Margo Guernsey
Amidst an onslaught of attacks from a sitting president and the deadly threat of a global pandemic, local election administrators work around the clock to secure the vote for their community. Rhode Island’s election teams take center stage in this unprecedented voting adventure.

Director(s): Miko Revereza
Producer(s): Shireen Seno
A poetic memoir through the lens of a stateless person returning to an estranged homeland. Filmmaker Miko Revereza investigates a family curse that spans the history of Philippine-American migration back to his grandmother’s coastal province. Nowhere Near chronicles physical and introspective exile between borders.

Director(s): Mary Louise Schumacher
Producer(s): Katie Heil; Eric Vogel; Meghan Holbrook; Noel L’Esperance
Out of the Picture is an independent documentary film about art critics living through a cultural reckoning and a historic transformation to both art and media. Through the deeply human stories of critics, the film will provoke questions about how meaning gets made and talked about in the 21st century.

Director(s): Vivian Vázquez Irizarry, Gretchen Hildebran
Producer(s): Vivian Vázquez Irizarry, Gretchen Hildebran, Neyda Martinez, Julia Steele Allen
What is austerity: a painful but necessary “tightening your belts,” or an economic agenda designed to enrich Wall Street? Created by the team behind the award-winning Decade of Fire, The People vs. Austerity uncovers the origins and objectives behind austerity, which uses non-democratic means to eliminate essential services and sell off public infrastructure, all in the name of repaying dubious debts. From 1975 New York City to Detroit and Puerto Rico today, the film traces how austerity has slashed basic services like schools and water—and sparked a powerful resistance movement.

Director(s): Jennifer Takaki
Producer(s): Jennifer Takaki, Lily M. Fan, Linda Woo
This feature documentary film project Photographic Justice provides a firsthand account of 50 years of Asian American activism through the lens of late Chinese American photographer Corky Lee. Lee’s photographs captured the struggles, celebrations, and daily life of the diverse community of Asian Americans living in New York City. He bore witness to police brutality in Chinatown in the 1970s, to Sikhs and Filipinos battling racist stereotyping after 9/11, and to the devastating impact of the COVID pandemic on the AAPI community in 2020. Director Jennifer Takaki followed Corky Lee for nearly 20 years, documenting triumphs and tragedies. Her film offers a unique and moving memorial to one man’s mission to bring justice to his community through photography.

Director(s): Stefani Saintonge, Yvonne Michelle Shirley
Producer(s): New Negress Film Society
A political education series by New Negress Film Society.

Director(s): Susana Erenberg
Producer(s): Laboratorio de Litigio Estructura, A.C., Abril Schmucler
Principles is the intimate portrait of Juan Méndez, a lawyer who, after experiencing torture at the hands of the Argentine police, became an important promoter and defender of dignity and human rights, working internationally for the prevention and abolition of torture.

Director(s): Sasha Wortzel, Brit Fryer, Noah Schamus, Twiggy Pucci Garçon, Lindsey Dryden
Producer(s): Colleen Cassingham, Jessica Devaney
Four short documentaries articulate future visions for queer life that offer liberation, joy, and connection. Just as queer lives subvert normative expectations of behavior, identity, and expression, these films expand the boundaries of nonfiction narrative forms and aesthetics, presenting new ways of seeing the queer experience lived out loud.

Director(s): Dana Coester
Producer(s): Joel Beeson, Dana Coester
Raised by Wolves is anchored by the filmmakers’ personal narrative as journalists, as part of an Appalachian Muslim family, and as parents to five children, four of whom are boys. The story is also rooted in the filmmaker’s past of growing up in poverty in the Ozarks and now investigating susceptibility to domestic violent extremism through the lens of rural shame.

Director(s): Rico Speight
Producer(s): Rico Speight
Rediscovering Fanon is an independent feature documentary on the life and thought of revolutionary psychiatrist Frantz Fanon (1925-1961), one of the leading 20th-century thinkers on race. It examines racially polarized America through the lens of Fanon’s prescient ideas and revisits the tragic killings of Trayvon Martin, George Floyd, and others.

Director(s): Tchaiko Omawale
Producer(s): Tchaiko Omawale
An oral history documentary collage about the contributions of women to the Caribbean independence project. It weaves together layers of cinematic landscapes of the flora and fauna of the Caribbean, archival cultural artifacts, and the oral histories of the Elders and their international comrades, who are family and family friends to the filmmakers.

Director(s): Titi Yu
Producer(s): Gina Kim
In early 2021, the country watched in horror as vicious attacks on Asian Americans proliferated across the nation—culminating in the brutal murder of six women of Asian descent in Atlanta. One Day in March examines the troubling rise in racism against the AAPI community, pays respect to the lives lost, and champions those coming together to fight the hate.

Director(s): Hamoody Jaafar
Producer(s): Razi Jafri
Rouge is a coming-of-age story that follows the lives of four young Black men as they navigate being student athletes at one of America’s richest basketball legacies, located in one of its poorest zip codes.

Director(s): Rodrigo Reyes
Executive Producer: Inti Cordera
Producer(s): Su Kim, Rodrigo Reyes
Two Mexican migrants—a young man serving a life sentence in prison and a filmmaker who was his court interpreter—become intertwined through life and cinema.

Director(s): Jim Compton and Peadar King
Producer(s): Pegi Vail, Melvin Estrella, Peadar King
Through the eyes of Nanook of the North director Robert Flaherty’s unacknowledged granddaughter Martha Flaherty, Shadow of Nanook explores the darker side of the film’s legacy on the descendants the filmmaker left behind on his road to fame. The documentary revisits the frozen high arctic where Martha’s family was forced into a traumatic exile by the Canadian government, serving as human flags to demonstrate Canada’s sovereignty during the Cold War. Now 72, Martha seeks justice for her Inuit family’s exile and passes on the torch of Indigenous activism to her daughter, Alyssa.

Director(s): Linda Goldstein Knowlton
Producer(s): Marti Noxon, Maria Grasso, Linda Goldstein Knowlton, Miranda Bailey
When a Guatemalan mother seeking asylum was separated from her children days after Zero Tolerance Policy was enacted, a group of enraged women sprang into action. Our film focuses on two immigrant mothers navigating U.S. bureaucracy and the all-volunteer group who galvanized to help families separated by this inhumane policy.

Director(s) & Producer(s): Keith McQuirter
The 3,000 Project is a 90-minute documentary about the complexities of crime and punishment, rehabilitation, and parole in America today. It follows the story of the incarcerated and guilty of violent crimes, who stand for 3,000 others caught between two conflicting sets of laws: They were imprisoned in Wisconsin in the 1990s, but in 2000, as American values changed, the system of law changed too, rehabilitation went out of favor and parole was abolished, new laws made it virtually impossible for violent criminals to ever win their freedom.

Director(s) & Producer(s): Penelope Jagessar Chaffer
The Chemistry of Racism is an environmental social justice triptych that explores the phenomena of the systemic and often deliberate poisoning and exploitation of the Black and colored body by America’s patriarchal systems.

Director(s): Jason Fitzroy Jeffers
Producer(s): Darcy McKinnon, Romola Lucas
Barbados is the birthplace of many things: possibly rum, definitely Rihanna, and, sadly, many of the modalities and codifications of and around plantation slavery, which spread throughout the wider Caribbean and the southern United States, setting the stage for much of what we know of white supremacy today. The First Plantation is a deeply personal and spiritual investigation into this often-overlooked legacy as the international debate around reparations for the descendants of transatlantic slavery intensifies.

Director(s): Kimberly Reed
Producer(s): Kimberly Reed, Louise Rosen, Robin Honan
What defines biological sex: science or society? Through immersion in the lives of people who defy simplistic gender labels, The Gender Project uses bold cinematic language to confront the dichotomy of gender, exploding binary myths with scientific, historical, and cultural revelations. From the molecular level up, persistent binary notions of gender and the biology of sex are blown apart to reveal the true complexity of the human organism and the astonishing spectrum within us.

Director(s): Tamara Kotevska
Producer(s): Harri Grace, Orlando von Einsiedel, Tracey Seaward
The Walk tells the extraordinary journey of a girl named Amal as she travels 5000 miles from the Syrian border across Europe in search of a home. Amal is a 12-foot-tall puppet brought to life by a team of 10 puppeteers in one of the most adventurous public artworks ever attempted. On her ongoing journey, having visited 13 countries already, Amal whose name means “Hope”) brings global attention to the plight of millions of displaced refugee children still unsettled all over the world.

Director(s): Sidney Fussell, Samatha Knowles
Producer(s): Ann Shin, Geeta Gandbhir
Witnesses who filmed the deaths of George Floyd, Philando Castile, and other victims of racial violence step forward in this groundbreaking documentary about the citizen journalist videos that have ignited global movements. Millions of people have seen their horrifying videos, but few realize how witnesses must fight against online trolls, surveillance firms working with police, and exploitative social media platforms that turn their pain into profit.

Director(s): Soledad O’Brien
Executive Producer(s): Soledad O’Brien, Rose Arce
This film will look at what the world will look like in the U.S. for reproductive health following the decision to overturn Roe vs Wade.

Director(s) & Producer(s): Reveca Torres
Frida Kahlo, Vincent Van Gogh, and Henri Matisse lived and created. Through letters and artifacts, director Reveca Torres finds that they’ve made a path for contemporary disabled artists and their struggles parallel her own. As Reveca connects with present-day artists with disabilities, together they imagine and work towards a society in which the barriers they face no longer exist and disability art and culture is celebrated.

Director(s): Amani Martin
Producer(s): Craig Jenest
Wynton Marsalis has never been seen this way before, up close and very personal. Featuring exclusive behind-the-scenes access, this documentary will explore the formative experiences, philosophy, and global impact of jazz music’s preeminent—and often controversial—figure.

Director(s): Set Hernandez
Producer(s): Set Hernandez, Day Al-Mohamed, Felix Endara, Diane Quon
An aspiring social worker, Pedro must confront political restrictions as a blind, undocumented immigrant to get his college degree and support his family. But when attaining his dreams leads to new and unexpected challenges, what will Pedro do?

Director(s): Rea Tajiri
Producer(s): Rea Tajiri, Sian Evans
Wisdom Gone Wild is an immersive meditation on elder consciousness and the act of caregiving a parent with dementia. Filmmaker Rea Tajiri weaves her mother Rose’s storytelling wisdom into the dream fabric of this film, with her songs providing a soundtrack for time travel as we witness her evolution across nine decades of living.

Director(s): Jonathan Olshefski, Elizabeth Day
Producer(s): Elizabeth Day, Jonathan Olshefski
Filmed with vérité intimacy over the course of 12 years (2011-2022), Without Arrows chronicles the choices, events, and relationships that shape a Lakota family’s legacy. Delwin Fiddler Jr. left his reservation as a young man to escape a trauma that splintered his family and built a new life in Philadelphia, but 13 years later, he abandons it all and returns home to attempt to heal the past.

Renewed Funding Support

Director(s): Travis Gutierrez Senger
Producer(s): Travis Gutierrez Senger, Nick Boak, Andrew Renzi
Executive Producers: Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna
ASCO: Without Permission is a feature-length documentary that profiles the extraordinary art collective of the 1970’s-1980’s ASCO, who merged activism and art and challenged Latinx representation in the art world, politics, and Hollywood through their incendiary performance art, photography, video, and muralism. ASCO: Without Permission examines the importance of their subversive and wildly spirited work and how it serves as a framework for representation in today’s cultural landscape. Through formal invention and the creation of original works with the next generation of Latinx artists, along with interviews with prominent actors, artists, and activists, this documentary provides a call to action while celebrating a group that was far ahead of its time.

Director(s) & Producer(s): Alex Rivera
Deportations happen every hour of every day in the United States, but “deportation” appears nowhere in the U.S. Constitution. This is the incredible true story of where the practice came from and how it almost never began, as well as a roadmap towards, perhaps, ending deportation forever.

Director(s): Pamela Yates
Producer(s): Paco de Onís
The United States border is not just a geographical location; it lies within every undocumented immigrant facing the behemoth of a border-industrial complex that spends billions ensnaring, deporting, and separating their families. Skylight’s forthcoming feature-length documentary takes us inside a nascent movement of undocumented and Indigenous immigrants organizing to claim their civil rights in the shadow of the border-industrial complex.

Director(s): Pascale Appora-Gnekindy, Ningyi Sun
Producer(s): Mathieu Faure
During a civil war in the Central African Republic, an immigrant Chinese construction manager and a local worker on opposite ends of the spectrum construct a bank. As deadlines loom, they don’t hesitate to strip the earth and destroy their families for a seat at the table of prosperity.

Director(s) & Producer(s): Michèle Stephenson, Joe Brewster
Going to Mars takes us through the mindscape of legendary poet Nikki Giovanni. Her voice guides us across time and outer space, dreams and remembrances, and across decades of American history as we reimagine her most iconic work with visual lyricism fit for a poet. The film’s cinematic intergalactic journey ventures beyond Nikki’s own lifetime to the Middle Passage and Mars, always keeping hold of possibility and the potential of Black liberation.

Director(s): Silvia Del Carmen Castaños and Estefanía “Beba” Contreras
Producer(s): Jillian Schlesinger, Miguel Drake-McLaughlin, Leslie Benavides, Ana Rodriguez-Falco, Diane Ng
In this late-night summer self-portrait, Silvia Del Carmen Castaños and Estefanía “Beba” Contreras make magic of everyday moments while coming of age on the Texas-Mexico border.

Director(s): Reid Davenport
Producer(s): Keith Wilson
Spurred by the spectacle of a circus tent that goes up outside his Oakland apartment, a disabled filmmaker launches into an unflinching meditation on spectacle, (in)visibility, and the corrosive legacy of the “freak show.”

Director(s) & Producer(s): Marco Williams
Murders That Matter documents Movita Johnson-Harrell, an African American Muslim mother who, in the aftermath of her youngest son’s murder, vows to save all the other Black sons on both sides of the gun.

Director(s) & Producer(s): Rachael DeCruz, Jeremy S. Levine
Nine is a feature documentary about the moving relationship between Gerald Hankerson, a Black 53-year old community leader in Seattle, and his father figure, Henry Grisby. Their bond, forged across generations and decades, gives both men the power to push back against an oppressive criminal justice system.

Director(s): Sky Hopinka (Ho-Chunk/Pechanga)
Producer(s): John Cardellino, Adam Piron (Kiowa/Mohawk)
Told through Hopinka’s distinct artistic style and lens of personal lived experience, this film is a meditation on the nebulous places of community and survivance that are powwows, poetically depicting Native American singers and dancers as they live their lives, maintain their cultural traditions, and prepare for an upcoming powwow, one organized, hosted, and documented through the production of this film.

Director(s): Lerone D. Wilson
Producer(s): Andrea Mustain
Good intentions, unforeseen consequences, and the forces of the internet collide, revealing the humanity—and the humans—confronting the unprecedented power of social media.

Director(s): Sasha Wortzel
Producer(s): Danielle Varga
River of Grass unfolds as a voyage through the past, present, and precarious future of the iconic and imperiled Florida Everglades, told through the writings of the late environmentalist Marjory Stoneman Douglas and those who today call the region home.

Director(s): Jerry Risius, Beth Levison
Dark clouds hang over the cornfields of Storm Lake, Iowa, which has seen its fair share of change in the 40 years since Big Agriculture came to town. Farmers blow their life savings on new equipment they hope will keep their livelihoods intact. Migrant workers flock here—welcome and not—for their slice of the American Dream. The people of Storm Lake confront a changing community as global forces threaten their precarious existence. Enter: 63-year-old Pulitzer Prize winner Art Cullen and his family-run newspaper, The Storm Lake Times. Day in and day out, the Cullens deliver local news and biting editorials on a shoestring budget for their 3,000 readers. Come hell or pandemic, they’ll fight to preserve this town they call home. There’s simply too much at stake.

Director(s): Erika Alexander, Whitney Dow
Producer(s): Ben Arnon, Xan Parker, Erika Alexander, Whitney Dow
A rookie alderwoman in Evanston, Illinois, leads the passage of the first tax-funded reparations bill for Black Americans and stirs up a debate about the debt owed from the United States.

Director(s): Alison O’Daniel
Producer(s): Alison O’Daniel, Rachel Nederveld
From 2011-2013, a rash of tuba thefts occurred in high schools across Southern California. The Tuba Thieves does not tell the story of the thieves or the missing tubas; instead, it asks what it means to listen.

Director(s): Chelsea Hernandez, Heather Courtney, Princess A. Hairston
Producer(s): Diane Quon, Chelsea Hernandez, Heather Courtney
In 2020, a fearless group of journalists sought to upend the white male status quo in U.S. news by launching an all-women and non-binary news start-up. By building a newsroom that reflects the women, people of color, and LGBTQ+ communities they’re writing about, can The 19th be a model for the news industry in these changing times?

Director(s): Lisa Marie Malloy, JP Sniadecki & Ray Whitaker
Producer(s): Karin Chien, Theresa Delsoin
Untitled (Cairo, IL Project) is a collectively authored film that emerges from the vibrant community spirit of Cairo, Illinois, a former industrial and agricultural empire that sits between the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers and was a nexus for civil rights movements in the 1960s. Through intimate depictions, this film celebrates the joy and resurgence of this overlooked town.

Director(s): Steve Maing, Brett Story
Producer(s): Samantha Curley, Mars Verrone
An intimate portrait of the Amazon Labor Union (ALU), a group of current and former Amazon workers taking on one of the world’s largest and most powerful companies in the fight to unionize.

Director(s): Michael Premo
Producer(s): Rachel Falcone
A feature film about contemporary America.

Director(s): Will Parrinello
Producer(s): Rick Tejada-Flores, Maria Jose Calderon & Will Parrinello
As mining and hydroelectric projects threaten vital water supplies in Latin America, Water For Life follows three community leaders as they face death threats and murder to save their precious resources.

Director(s): Jason DaSilva
Producer(s): Jason DaSilva, Naomi Middleton & Leigh DaSilva
Filmmaker, artist, and activist Jason DaSilva’s biggest struggle isn’t his MS but, rather, that he lives in a world that is not made with people like him in mind. Jason pulls apart the ableist frameworks that surround him and discovers that accessibility means access to the ones you love.

Director(s): Javier Lovera
Producer(s): Ina Fichman
Tech companies partnering with city governments promise an urban utopia, but their sensors and algorithms often become tools for oppression and mass surveillance. Now, impacted citizens and community leaders from some of North America’s largest cities are fighting to rein back these powerful partnerships, reclaim their democratic power, and change their cities’ futures.


Nicole Okai
Ford Foundation
[email protected]

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