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June 2020

In Solidarity with the Movement for Racial Justice & Equity
We celebrate Juneteenth and its significance in a history that "arcs toward justice" only when we act to ensure its realization.

LEF New England stands in solidarity with all who are demanding racial equity and justice and calling for an end to all forms of systemic oppression, including police brutality against Black and Brown people in the United States that has most recently and visibly led to the murder of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Tony McDade, and Rayshard Brooks.

As people who work at the intersection of documentary and philanthropy, two fields with deep and intertwining roots in the legacy of white supremacy and within a capitalist system, we will continue to interrogate what our role can and should be in these spaces, by listening to and centering the voices of filmmakers and colleagues of color who are most affected by racial inequity.

Here are two actions that LEF is committed to taking:
  • We recognize and want to address the specific inequities faced by BIPOC filmmakers in Boston and around New England, by creating dedicated film funding for local filmmakers of color, in partnership with BIPOC-led film organizations. 
  • LEF has hosted a participatory approach to funding decisions through an external panel process for the past 20 years at the Production and Post-Production stages. Recently, we have expanded these efforts by piloting a reader process at our Pre-Production stage, and we will continue to look for ways to invite and center a diversity of perspectives from our applicants, grantees, and colleagues in our process. 
We recognize that we still have work ahead of us, and in the coming year, we will be evaluating our programs in more depth and sharing other concrete ways our staff and board can more consciously commit to racial justice and equity work in our programs and as a foundation as a whole.

LEF New England News

Sally Wu's THE GOOD DAUGHTER will be screening at the 2020 Taipei Film Festival on July 6, where it's on the shortlist for Best Documentary, Best Director, Best Cinematography, and Best Editing. 

Lucia Small's GIRL TALK and Zulilah Merry's NO ONE TOLD ME were both awarded grants from the inaugural round of the Keep the Lights on Fund. Additionally, GIRL TALK and Frederick Wiseman's CITY HALL were both grant recipients in the most recent round from the Sundance Documentary Fund. Congratulations to these filmmakers!

Listen to this recent WABE radio interview with filmmaker Tracy Heather Strain about her film SIGHTED EYES / FEELING HEART: LORRAINE HANSBERRY

Denali Tiller's LEF-funded film, TRE MAISON DASAN, is now available to stream through Amazon Prime. In addition, the World Channel will be hosting a special broadcast of TRE MAISON DASAN in honor of Father's Day. Broadcasts will take place at 10 PM EST on Sunday, June 21 and at 2 AM and 10 AM EST on Monday, June 22. Follow the film here for updates!

WHERE THE PAVEMENT ENDS, directed by Jane Gillooly and produced by Khary Jones and Aparna Agrawal, had its premiere broadcast on America ReFramed on World Channel on May 5 and is now available to stream online until 8/2/20 . Watch the film here

Cynthia Wade and Sasha Friedlander's film GRIT, winner of nine international film awards, is now available to stream on Amazon Prime, iTunes, and Vimeo

Building Racial Equity and Justice in Film/Documentary
  • Cinetic Media hosted a film industry conversation titled "How Can We Create a Just and Equitable Film Industry?" with filmmakers Stanley Nelson, Yance Ford, Dawn Porter, and Pete Nicks to discuss the Black experience in the film industry and what we need to change to elevate Black voices and filmmakers of color.
  • Anti-Racist Resources is a scaffolded list of suggestions for white people who are interested in learning about anti-racist action.
Black-Led Film/Art Organizations
The DocYard

Many films that have screened at the DocYard are available to stream online. Check out a few of them below, and be sure to see if you can offer direct compensation to the filmmakers for viewing their work online.
  • Hale County This Morning, This Evening: How does one express the reality of individuals whose public image, lives, and humanity originate in exploitation? Photographer and filmmaker RaMell Ross employs the integrity of nonfiction filmmaking and the currency of stereotypical imagery to fill in the gaps between individual black male icons. Hale County This Morning, This Evening is a lyrical innovation to the form of portraiture that boldly ruptures racist aesthetic frameworks that have historically constricted the expression of African American men on film. (Fall 2018)
  • Strong Island: The forces of family, grief and racial injustice converge in this Oscar-nominated documentary exploring the murder of filmmaker Yance Ford's brother (Fall 2017)
  • Do Not Resist is an urgent documentary that explores the militarization of local police departments - in their tactics, training, and acquisition of equipment - since 9/11. (Fall 2016) 
  • Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart: Lorraine Hansberry: The first-ever feature documentary about Lorraine Hansberry, the visionary playwright who authored the groundbreaking A Raisin in the Sun. (Spring 2018).

  • Black Mother: Part film, part baptism, in Black Mother director Khalik Allah brings us on a spiritual journey through Jamaica. (Spring 2019)
  • Did You Wonder Who Fired The Gun: Alabama, 1946. S.E. Branch, the filmmaker's great-grandfather, murdered Bill Spann, a black man. The murder has become hidden family lore and when Wilkerson sets out to unravel the mystery, he encounters obstacle upon obstacle, destroyed records and everyone refusing to talk. He's accused of bringing shame upon the family, shaking up old trouble nobody wants. The ghosts are real in Alabama. This isn't a White Savior story. It's a White Nightmare story. (Spring 2018)

  • Good White People : This short documentary follows the story of Reginald Stroud, who runs a karate school and candy store in the storefront beneath the apartment he and his family have called home for over 10 years When a for-profit developer purchases the building they rent, Reginald and his family are told they must vacate the building and are only given 45 days to relocate.  (Spring 2017).
  • Black 14: This short film is an archival social study examining white pathology and cognitive dissonance via media coverage of a 1969 racial protest at the University of Wyoming. (Spring 2018)
  • Baby Brother: This short film offers a look at a young man experiencing a summer impasse after moving back in with his parents. (Fall 2018).

  •  Kindah: The fourth film in an ongoing series of 16mm films exploring filmmaker Ephraim Asili's relationship to the African Diaspora. (Spring 2019)

New England Filmmaker Support During COVID-19

This is a select list of New England filmmaker/artist support opportunities and local online film resources that have been organized in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. LEF New England will continue to research and compile this list in the coming months, with a focus on how the pandemic is affecting New England-based filmmakers and organizations. Let us know if you're aware of other resources that are not listed here!

We're highlighting updated COVID-19 resources shared by the Mass Production Coalition to help filmmakers navigate if and how to carry out production at this time. Keep in mind there are always risks associated with production during a pandemic, and ask yourself if you are doing everything in your power to keep yourself and the others you hire or film with out of harm's way, especially Black, Indigenous, and other POC people who have already been more heavily impacted by the virus.

Relief/Funding/Loan Opportunities
  • Creative Portland has created the Portland Artist Relief Fund for artists in Portland, Maine. They will be accepting applications from March 30 to April 30 for a one-time grant of $500 for local artists affected by COVID-19. Portland, ME
  • The Essex County Community Foundation (ECCF) launched two relief funds as part of their Creative County Initiative (CCI). The Essex County Artist Fund aims to support the legions of individuals who are experiencing an unprecedented loss of income in the creative industries. The Essex County Creative Nonprofit Resiliency Grant Program aims to provide direct support to cultural organizations and venues across Essex County so they can stay afloat, pay staff, and support their communities during this crisis. Essex County, MA
General Resources
  • Here are resources from the arts councils in ME, MA, NH, RICT, and VT.
  • All Boston-area arts/cultural organizations are invited to attend a weekly Zoom call with Kara Elliot-Ortega, Chief of Arts and Culture in the Mayor's Office of Art and Culture. The Zoom calls will take place every Friday from 3:00 - 4:30 PM. Learn More
  • The Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts on Massachusetts has shared a list of legal resources for artists + arts/culture workers and organizations, and has assembled an emergency response panel of large law firms able to advise artists and arts organizations on contracts, insurance, and labor and employment issues that are particularly relevant and concerning during this unprecedented time. The VLA is also waiving its service fees for artists and organizations suffering financial hardship due to the coronavirus. 
  • The PRX Podcast Garage have compiled this Podcaster Toolbox - a crowd-sourced guide for independent, DIY, and/or early-stage podcasters working from home. 
  • Sundance Collab has assembled a number of COVID-19 resources specifically for filmmakers and other artists. They will be updating the list continuously. 
  • Desktop Documentaries has put together a "virtual care package" that includes free software downloads. 
  • Jenie Gaoa full-time artist based in Wisconsin, has put together a guide to help artists and arts foundations understand SBA Disaster Loans and Emergency Grants. Read it here  
  • Check out Sundance Co//ab for a variety of COVID-19 Resources from many different documentary and filmmaking organizations across the country. 
  • The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers has created a proposed health and safety guidelines for Motion Picture, Television, and Streaming Productions during the COIVD-19 Pandemic. 
  • New Hampshire Center for Nonprofits has partnered with Spectrum Nonprofit Services and the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation to provide one-on-one help for nonprofits.  
Local Online Streaming Festivals / Resources

  • Sign up for the Harvard Film Archive newsletter to receive regular curated lists of films available to view online as recommended by its past visiting filmmakers. 
  • Take this survey from Americans For the Arts on the coronavirus impact on artists and organizations around the country.  
  • In an effort to adapt their programs and resources for Latinx & diverse creatives and industry professionals, NALIP wants to hear from you. Fill out their survey here
  • Firelight Media has launched a Needs Assessment Survey for POC Filmmakers. Fill out their survey here
Arts Community
  • NEA and Sundance have formed a National Independent Film & Media Arts Field Group. You can learn more/join the group here
  • Assets for Artists will be holding a second round of free, crisis-focused, financial and business webinars. Learn about the different webinars and register online here
  • CID is hosting Virtual Community Discussions every Thursday afternoon at 3 PM EST via Zoom. The group discussion is open to all fiscally sponsored filmmakers. Email Mira@documentaries.org if you are interested in attending one of the sessions as a guest. 
  • This Week in Experimental is a weekly newsletter that features links to experimental films & videos, reading suggestions, optional assignments, and a poem every week. This newsletter started as a way for Boston-based filmmaker Gabby Follett Sumney to keep in contact with their students during the COVID-19 closure of Spring 2020. Now, it is a space for experimental media artists to watch work, find opportunities, and form community.
What We're Reading/Listening To
  • Arts and Culture are Worth Saving is an essay written by Murray Whyte in the Boston Globe about the importance of the important place of the arts in society, especially in a time of pandemic. 
  • Inventing the New Reality, a series of blog posts from Brian Newman of Sub-Genre about how the film field can respond to this moment. 
  • Check out regular arts + culture job postings compiled by HireCulture, a service of the Mass Cultural Council. 
Grants and Funding Opportunities for Filmmakers

  • For Boston-based artists: Check out the Opportunity Fund: A New Grant for Artists. As of right now, the Opportunity Fund is serving as an Artist Relief Fund during the COVID-19 Outbreak. 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 ITVS Open Call application will open in July, 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: Reopens July 2020
  • The New England Foundation for the Arts has a new grant opportunity! New Work New England provides grants of $7,500-$15,000 to New England-based artists in dance, film, interdisciplinary work, music, musical theater, opera, poetry, storytelling and theater to support the creation and production of new work that has the potential to engage multiple New England communities. Deadline to apply: June 24, 2020. Learn more.  
  • The Barbara Hammer Lesbian Experimental Filmmaking Grant is an annual grant that will be awarded to self-identified lesbians for making visionary moving-image art. Stay tuned for when this application opens! Learn more
  • Every six months, in January and July, the Interbay Cinema Society gives grants to 10 filmmakers working with 16mm or 35mm to have 4k high resolution scans of their work through Lightpress, a transfer house in Seattle. Deadlines: June 30, November 30. Learn more
  • The Sarah Jacobson Film Grant supports self-identifying women and gender nonconforming individuals whose work embodies some of the things that Sarah stood for: a fierce DIY approach to filmmaking, a radical social critique, and a thoroughly underground sensibility. $2500, deadline: July 1.
  • Latino Public Broadcasting is accepting applications for two funding initiatives! The Current Issues Fund provides production and post-production funding to journalistic documentary films (60 or 90 minutes only) from the Latino American perspective that explore civic and social justice issues. The Public Media Content Fund  is an open invitation to independent producers to submit proposals for documentaries (30, 60 or 90 minutes), limited series, or short digital content that provide a lens to the diverse Latino community. The deadline to apply is Wednesday, July 1, 2020 at 5PM PST. Apply here!
  • Applications for New Hampshire's Arts for Community Engagement Grants are now open. Deadline to apply is July 17.  Learn more
  • Black Public Media offers funding, distribution & professional development support for independent producers at all stages of their career. Learn more
  • ITVS' Diversity Development Fund provides seed funding to develop your single nonfiction program for broadcast on public television. The application reopens August 3. Deadline: September. Learn more
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.
  • New Orleans Film Festival is accepting submissions. Extended deadline: June 19, 2020. Festival Dates: October 14 to 21, 2020
Fellowships, Labs and Residencies
  • The Firelight Documentary Lab is a flagship mentorship program that seeks out and develops emerging diverse filmmakers. The Lab provides filmmakers with one-on-one support, funding, professional development workshops and networking opportunities. More than just a workshop, the Documentary Lab is unrivaled in its representation of diverse producers, creating an exclusive network of talented unique storytellers that receive ongoing support from a project's conception to its completion. The 2020 Documentary Lab Open Call is now accepting submissions until June 29, 2020 at 11:59 PM
  • 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: Next Deadline:  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.
Education / Classes / Workshops

  • Backstage has multiple webinars on fundraising, acting, directing, producing, etc as well as yoga and mental health sessions. 
Community-Building Opportunities
  • 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.
  • The Undocumented Filmmakers Collective centers the film expertise of undocumented people not only as sources of stories but also as creators, artists, and primary audiences.
  • The D-Word is an online platform for conversation within the documentary film world.
  • Check out the PRX Podcast Garage website for updates on how the local audio community is adapting to going virtual during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Best wishes for everyone's collective well-being through this time,  


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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