My first summer in DC, I volunteered to work the AFI documentary film festival. My job was to click a counter for each theater attendee. and provide the final count to management when the theater doors closed. Not a terribly hard gig, and the opportunity to grab a seat and watch the film for free after the last click made it worth the effort. This was an opportunity to meet other people in the local arts community, and contribute my time since money was tight.
It was that summer that I fell in love with documentary film — to my own surprise. (My first love was live theater.) I left the movie theater with tears streaming down my face, amazed at how completely I’d been drawn into the lives of the people who had opened their hearts to an unflinching camera. I was struck by the devotion to social causes and ethical standards that permeated the Q&A sessions filled with non-fiction filmmakers. I wrote blogs about the films I saw, encouraged others to write blogs, and became an official fan of AFI. As I write this, I’m holding a pass for tomorrow’s AFI screening of THE RETURN, which explores California’s 2012 reform of the three strikes law, a politically popular law that punished shoplifters equally with violent felons.
In 2015, AFI DOCS and NBC/Universal announced Impact Grant awards to four documentary filmmakers who had both screened at the festival and participated in a two-day AFI DOCS Impact Lab. TO THE CONTRARY, a PBS show dedicated to discussing issues from diverse perspectives, recently announced their first annual film festival. Winning documentaries will be broadcast on national television; submissions close May 15, 2016.
Women in Film & Video is also showing tangible commitment to documentary filmmakers with the inaugural Seed Fund grants this year. This strategic initiative began during WIFV’s 35th Anniversary, and will only be available to WIFV members. The Board of Directors has authorized two grants of $2500 each, to be distributed in two equal parts – 50% upon notice of the award, and 50% upon receipt of a progress report. The deadline for applications is May 20, 2016. Grants may be used in the research and development phase of any documentary project and must be spent within 12 months of notice of the award.
Help Grow a Film (including your own):
- Donate to the Seed Fund for Documentary Filmmakers.
- Apply by May 20th for the inaugural Seed Fund Grants for Documentary Filmmakers.
Changing media one story at a time,