Documentary Filmmakers Win $50m Lotto

Just in time for the upcoming Sundance Film Festival, Ford Foundation has rolled out a $50 million global initiative called JustFilms to support documentary filmmakers focusing on social issues.

JustFilms intends to invest $10 million a year over the next five years to support documentary filmmakers who lack funding to realize their visions or reach audiences.

Ford Foundation said JustFilms would focus on film, video and digital works that highlight courageous people confronting difficult issues and pursuing a more just, secure and sustainable world.

Different Genre
The documentary as a genre of filmmaking has gained some traction in the U.S. lately thanks to bold directors like Michael Moore but is virtually unknown in countries like India that make tons of films every year, albeit most of it garbage.

Philip Cox has recently made a documentary film set in Kolkata called The Bengali Detective that will be shown at Sundance.

The good news is JustFilms is a global initiative: It plans to leverage Ford Foundation’s global network of 10 regional offices to identify new talent from around the world and to strengthen emerging communities of documentary filmmakers.

Let’s hope some of the moolah goes to Indian filmmakers and that the initiative spurs them into putting out daring documentaries on the countless social problems plaguing the godforsaken country.

Three Paths
JustFilms plans to pursue three funding paths:

* Partnerships with major organizations such as the Sundance Institute, the Independent Television Service and others
* An ongoing open application process that will help JustFilms stay attuned to fresh ideas and stories wherever they may emerge
* Partnership with other Ford Foundation grant-making programs where the introduction of documentary film could help draw attention to an issue or advance a movement

Award winning filmmaker Orlando Bagwell and Ford Foundation executive will direct the JustFilms initiative.

Bagwell said:

This major new commitment to documentaries reflects our recognition that individual stories— meaningful and well-told—can be a powerful instrument of change. The test of JustFilms will be its ability to lift the voices of independent filmmakers and mediamakers from outside the mainstream, to build audiences for social justice stories, and to enlarge the conversation on critical but often less visible issues. It’s work that at its essence is really about capturing imaginations.

JustFilms will build on Ford Foundation’s longtime support for documentaries such as “Eyes on the Prize,” “State of Fear” and “Why Democracy,” among scores of others.

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