Ford Foundation invests over $4.2 million to support new documentary films focused on social justice

New grantees with world premieres this month include Sundance 2024 films Union and The Battle for Laikipia and International Film Festival Rotterdam 2024 title Mario

Oscar®-shortlisted documentary Going to Mars among others receiving additional funding that brings focus to the diverse lived experiences of historically underrepresented communities including BIPOC, disabled, LGBTQIA+ and more

JustFilms grants over $4 million to support 59 content projects in the United States, Kenya, and more; Announces open call for Spring grant submissions will open February 22nd

NEW YORK, Jan. 25, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — Today the Ford Foundation announced its latest round of grants for independent documentary film. With a storied history of funding social impact films for nearly 75 years, the foundation houses JustFilms, one of the largest documentary funds in the world and a part of the Creativity and Free Expression (CFE) program. Now in its thirteenth year, JustFilms is one of the few philanthropies making direct grants for independent documentary content. In its most recent round of grants, it provided over $4.2 million to support 59 innovative film projects centered on social justice globally and in the United States.

From this allocation, the 59 documentary films support works that reinforce Ford’s mission to reduce inequality around the world and help people live their lives with dignity. JustFilm’s grants support content that spans Ford’s key strategic areas such as natural resources and climate change, gender justice, disability inclusion and racial and ethnic justice. These films explore themes of social justice including but not limited to: women’s rights (particularly at the intersection of land rights and reproductive justice), environment/natural resources, Latin American history and culture, disability justice and accessibility, U.S. education system, LGBTQIA+ rights, criminal justice system and more.

“Our grantees represent a diverse tapestry of narratives, reflecting deeply ingrained societal concerns and cultural legacies shaping our collective consciousness. Each documentary helps to illuminate the multifaceted experiences that define our present era.” said Jon-Sesrie Goff, program officer for JustFilms at the Ford Foundation. “In a world increasingly filled with misinformation and polarization, it’s critical to support artistic works that help to counter this and offer nuanced views of our society.”

Documentaries in this round span the breadth of human experience, resilience, and resistance, revealing the intricacies in society today, from witnesses’ heart-wrenching accounts of tragedy to societal issues. Emphasizing the continued movement toward racial justice, some films tell the stories of George Floyd and Philando Castile, who grapple with exploitation amid their family’s pursuit for justice in #WhileBlack. Other films focus on the intimate portrayal of communities torn apart by violence and hate crimes, such as the burning of a mosque in A Town Called Victoria. One explores the often-overlooked contributions of Latinx heroes, as seen in the public television series American Historia produced by John Leguizamo.

Several projects in this cohort also examine disability justice and inclusion, intertwining narratives that shed light on the stories, experiences, hurdles, and resilience of those in the community. Films like Life After, Silent Treatment: Deaf Incarcerated People Fighting for Equality, Her Socialist Smile, Patrice, Unseen and Untitled Dwarfism Project act as catalysts for change, urging audiences to confront biases, dismantle systemic barriers, and advocate for disability rights within broader social justice movements for a fairer and more accessible world. Delving into the intersection of disability, social justice, and human rights, these disability-led and disability-informed documentaries spotlight the complex struggles faced by so many and showcase efforts to foster awareness, policy alterations, and societal transformations toward equity for people with disabilities.

In its support of the larger film industry, JustFilms also champions several organizations in the ecosystem and their ongoing work to identify, support and train emerging filmmakers as well as confront systemic challenges that filmmakers face, particularly BIPOC, disabled and LGBTQIA+ filmmakers. A study by grantee Distribution Advocates, which extensively surveyed documentary feature film teams premiering at prominent film festivals such as Sundance, SXSW, and Tribeca, noted these ongoing challenges such as barriers to entering festivals, hurdles with film distribution, and trouble enhancing their public profiles. Acceptance rates at leading festivals hover around 2% to 4.2%, predominantly favoring established filmmakers. Demographic data further underscores the lack of diversity among filmmakers, with insufficient BIPOC representation, indicating disparities in financing and representation of diverse voices and stories globally. Additionally, many films failed to sell rights post-festivals and only a small percentage reported selling worldwide rights, illustrating the challenges of securing comprehensive distribution deals.

“The moment we are in calls for sophisticated responses to counter the challenges we’re seeing across the industry. It requires arts, documentary film, and journalism to include the experiences and leadership of people with lived experience and for these fields to adapt and innovate,” said Chi-hui Yang, director of Creativity and Free Expression at the Ford Foundation. “Safeguarding independent voices within nonfiction storytelling allows us to uphold democratic values and foster cultural empowerment amidst the increasing challenges facing the independent film world, including access and distribution.”

In light of these challenges, JustFilms (and the Ford Foundation more broadly) strive to continue supporting filmmakers and institutions that bring to life documentary films extending beyond commercial interests, manifesting as a philanthropic endeavor to preserve diverse narratives, amplify marginalized voices, and foster inclusive storytelling. Keeping independent voices diverse and viable in documentaries relies on rethinking these industry challenges to help these important films reach audiences and advocate for an inclusive and equitable platform where these narratives can thrive while shaping a more just and empathetic society.

The full list of documentary film projects supported by JustFilms in this new round of grantmaking is below:

Directors: Sidney Fussell, Samatha Knowles
Producers: Ann Shin, Geeta Gandbhir

Witnesses who filmed the deaths of George Floyd, Philando Castile, and others, step forward in this ground-breaking documentary about the citizen journalist videos that have ignited global movements. Millions 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.

A Town Called Victoria
Director: Li Lu
Producers: Anthony Pedone, Li Lu

When the local mosque is burned to the ground in an apparent hate crime, the town of Victoria must overcome its age-old political, racial, and economic divides to find a collective way forward.

American Historia
Director: Ben DeJesus
Producers: Ben DeJesus, John Leguizamo, Sandie Pedlow, Donald Thoms, Lesley Norman

Join actor John Leguizamo on a quest to uncover Latino and Latina heroes and their often-overlooked contributions, delving into both well-known and lesser-known stories of Latino history, from the grand Ancient Empires to the present.

Artificial Horizon
Director: Elizabeth M. Webb
Producers: Hello Benjamin Films: Solomon Turner, Maggie Corona-Goldstein, DaManuel Richardson

“Artificial Horizon” chronicles the complex and layered racial and natural histories of a tract of former plantation land in eastern Alabama, an origin point for the filmmaker’s family members who continue to live on both sides of—and sometimes crossing—the “color line.”

A Short Film About Tanya Gersh, The Southern Poverty Law Center, Justice Itself & A Short Film About Sandi Bachom, Unlikely Nazi Hunter
Director: David France
Producer: Paul McGuire

A Short Film About Tanya Gersh, The Southern Poverty Law Center, Justice Itself: For 7 years, a victim of violent anti-Semitic harassment flips the script on her tormentor, chasing a notorious White supremacy figure through the Dark Web in pursuit of justice.

A Short Film About Sandi Bachom, Unlikely Nazi-Hunter: One of the most recognized frontline journalists tracking extremism in America is a garrulous 80-year-old woman, with a deeply personal motivation to make a positive mark. 

Director: Leandro Fabrizi Rios
Producers: Neyda Martinez, Carol Colmenares

Tucked into the rural coffee-growing mountainside of remote western Puerto Rico is a tiny hamlet, Bartolo. It is home to an isolated agricultural community of just 12 families, landless and chronically impoverished, and longing for a new start following catastrophic climate events. The community seizes on a chance for a new beginning when a veteran organizer from outside of Bartolo comes to town with a radical new plan.

Blacked Out Dreams
Director: Adeleke Omitowoju
Producer: Steven Pargett

“Blacked Out Dreams” is a film about how rapid school closures and a water crisis force three normal kids to live in very abnormal conditions. The film follows two siblings over two years as they navigate towards graduating from the last remaining public high school in a city divided by race and plagued by poverty.

Butterfly Effect
Director: Liang Zhao
Producers: Jia Zhao, Liang Zhao

In the current Anthropocene era, capital-driven human activities have disrupted the delicate balance and harmony that the Earth has developed over millions of years. The film, from a non-Western perspective, follows the lives of indigenous people from the Arctic to the South Pacific, observing their resilience and struggles in the face of adversity, weaving a tapestry that inspires reflection and change.

Director: Robe Imbriano
Producer: Robe Imbriano, Dominique Bravo, Reginald Williams

An animated musical documentary short about life and death in a county jail. Lyrics by Stew, music by Heidi Rodewald and Stew. Animation by Tom Curtis.

Fire Through Dry Grass
Directors: Alexis Neophytides, Andres “Jay” Molina
Producers: Jennilie Brewster, Alexis Neophytides

On a tiny island in NYC, a group of Black and brown disabled artists fight Covid and the city to protect the lives of 500 vulnerable nursing home residents. 

For Venida, For Kalief
Director: Sisa Bueno
Producer: Sisa Bueno

“For Venida, For Kalief” is a lyrical journey of criminal justice reform in New York City via the poetry of Venida Browder, whose words echo a movement for the legacy of her transcendent son, Kalief Browder.

Going To Mars
Directors: Michèle Stephenson, Joe Brewster
Producers: Joe Brewster, Michèle Stephenson

“Going to Mars” takes us through the mind-scape 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 Middle Passage and Mars, always keeping hold of possibility and the potential of Black liberation.

Her Socialist Smile
Director: John Gianvito
Producer: John Gianvito

A documentary essay on the political imagination of iconic humanitarian, author, and advocate for the blind Helen Keller. World famous for having learned how to read and communicate through the finger alphabet, indelibly dramatized in William Gibson’s play The Miracle Worker, Helen Keller (1880-1968) remained for the course of her 87 years the most revered blind-deaf woman on the planet. Largely omitted or minimized within the voluminous literature her life generated was the fact that Keller had been a committed believer in the principles of Socialism. The product of years of research, Her Socialist Smile resurrects the radical Keller, and serves as a rousing reminder that Keller’s undaunted activism for labor rights, pacifism, and women’s suffrage was philosophically inseparable from her battles for the rights of the disabled.

Directors: Steve Maing, Brett Story
Producers: 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.

The Battle for Laikipia
Directors: Daphne Matziaraki, Pete Murimi
Producers: Toni Kamau, Daphne Matziaraki, Roger Ross Williams (Executive Producer), Geoff Martz (Executive Producer)

Description withheld.

Life After
Director: Reid Davenport
Producer: Colleen Cassingham

“Life After” interrogates the contradictory political ideologies surrounding death and disability, while coalescing the missing voices of the disabled community in the contemporary debate around medically assisted suicide.

Lights of Passage
Director: Yeelen Cohen
Producers: Guetty Felin, Kira Simon Kennedy, Kirsten Johnson (Executive Producer)

“Lights of Passage” is a personal documentary odyssey, a cinematic baptism, and an homage to cultural preservation through ancestral storytelling practices. The story orbits two filmmakers at opposite ends of their careers, separated by oceans, but cosmically connected through a name and film.

The Memory of Butterflies
Director: Tatiana Fuentes Sadowsky
Producer: Isabel Madueño Medina

“The Memory of Butterflies” is a first-person cinematic essay using propaganda images from the rubber boom in the Amazon to tell the story of two Indigenous, Omarino and Aredomi. The film attempts to reconstruct, speculatively and subjectively, the fates of these characters, who became the faces of the rubber industry’s “civilizing” propaganda.

Directors: Rachael DeCruz, Jeremy S. Levine
Producers: 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., After being sent to prison at 18 for the rest of his life, Gerald Hankerson met Henry Grisby who raised him into the man he is today. Using the lessons Henry taught him, Gerald made history by organizing his way out of prison. Now, Gerald is on a mission to bring his 83-year old “Pops” home.

Patrice: The Movie
Director: Ted Passon
Producers: Kyla Harris, Innbo Shim, Emily Spivack

In her late 50’s Patrice has finally found the love of her life, Garry, who, like her is disabled. They want nothing more than to get married, but if they do – or were even to move in together – the benefits they need to survive would be cut. A rom-com about the next phase of marriage equality.

Plot of Land
Directors: Sue Mobley, Jordy Yager, Nick Jenisch
Producers: Sue Mobley, Nick Jenisch

“Plot of Land” is a podcast mini-series from Monument Lab that explores how race, class, land, and power have been used to build and maintain unfair systems that harm nearly everyone and how choices made by people in the distant past have created vast inequities in the present. We believe that to build a just future for everyone, we must radically change our approach to policy and practice. Join us as we remap and rethink land ownership today.

Powwow People
Director: Sky Hopinka (Ho-Chunk/Pechanga)
Producers: Adam Piron (Kiowa/Mohawk), Gina Bluebird-Stacona (Lakota)

Told through Hopinka’s distinct artistic style and lens of personal lived experience, the 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. 

Principios (Principles)
Director: Susana Erenberg
Producers: 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.

Queer Futures
Directors: Sasha Wortzel, Brit Fryer, Noah Schamus, Twiggy Pucci Garçon, Lindsey Dryden, Sasha Wortzel, Brit Fryer, Noah Schamus, Twiggy Pucci Garçon, Lindsey Dryden
Producers: Colleen Cassingham, Jessica Devaney, Colleen Cassingham, Jess 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. The “Queer Futures” series centers joy and connection to radically imagine future visions of queer life. Four short films explore fat beauty and liberation, gender-affirming healthcare, nonbinary ballroom culture, and the anonymous connections of a decades-old LGBTQ hotline.

Untitled Policing Documentary
Directors: Charles Burnett, Nicole Lucas Haimes
Producers: Nicole Lucas Haimes, Lori Cheatle (Executive Producer)

Centered on an explosive confessional told from behind the thin blue line, this film examines police crime and the personal and political consequences of law enforcement wrongdoing on officers and their victims.

Raised by Wolves
Director: Dana Coester
Producer: Joel Beeson, Dana Coester

“Raised By Wolves” peers into online youth culture in Appalachia, revealing the risks of radicalization through exposure to weaponized misinformation and far right extremism in social media and online gaming spaces, documenting the escalation of violence as it unfolds in real time – and close to home. A series of personal stories of affected community members unfolds against the backdrop of an opioid traumatized, post-industrial landscape, as experts unpack the systemic nature of a problem rooted in our times, our tech and our history. 

River of Grass
Director: Sasha Wortzel
Producer: 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.

Saund vs. Cochran
Director: Mridu Chandra
Producer: Mridu Chandra

“Saund vs. Cochran” is a feature-length documentary about our first Asian American congressman (Dalip Singh Saund), the exceptional woman he ran against (Jacqueline Cochran Odlum), and the American electorate who voted for him in 1956.

Scarlet Girls
Director: Paula Cury Melo
Producers: Paula Cury Melo, Samuel DiDonato, Natalia Imaz

“Scarlet Girls” explores the challenges of womanhood in the Dominican Republic, where abortion is criminalized. Through intimate stories and evocative imagery, the film delves into the struggles of forced motherhood and the stigma around abortions, crafting a thought-provoking depiction of women’s battle for control over their bodies.

Silent Treatment: Deaf Incarcerated People Fighting for Equality
Directors: Ryan Pagan, Rahsaan “New York” Thomas
Producers: Sian Heder, Adamu Chan, Rahsaan “New York” Thomas, Ryan Pagan, Brian Asey

The disproportionate murders of Deaf People and their exclusion from rehabilitative programs spark a lawsuit that leads to transfers of 11 Deaf men to a California State Prison with a Norway model, where they find ways outside the courtroom to achieve equality and inclusion.

Sun Ra and the Roots of Afrofuturism *(w.t.)
Director: Christine Turner
Producer: Stanley Nelson (Executive Producer)

Sun Ra and the Roots of Afrofuturism” explores jazz pioneer, Sun Ra’s, experience as a Black man growing up in Jim Crow America, the musical and philosophical currents that shaped him, and how, 30 years after his death, he has come to be seen as a founding father of Afrofuturism. 

The Chemistry of Racism
Director: Penelope Jagessar Chaffer
Producer: 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.

The Conspiracy to Murder Medgar Evers
Directors: Joy-Ann Reid and Jason Reid
Producers: Susan Schaefer, Joy-Ann Reid (Executive Producer), Jason Reid (Executive Producer), Gabrielle Tenenbaum (Executive Producer), and Tom Yellin (Executive Producer)

“The Conspiracy” to Murder Medgar Evers takes us inside America’s first nationally known civil rights assassination. It’s a crime reaching beyond the named assassin to the Klan, and into the highest rungs of Mississippi power. It’s a story of violence, justice, race, love and Myrlie Evers’ enduring quest for the truth.

The Disruptors
Director: Yoruba Richen
Producers: Carter Stewart, Josh Weinstock, Xan Parker, Dawn Porter (Executive Producer)

“The Disruptors” follows America’s most prominent Black female progressive prosecutors as they battle unprecedented adversity while trying to transform the criminal justice system with few allies except each other.

The First Plantation
Director: Jason Fitzroy Jeffers
Producers: 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 as we know it 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.

The Futurists
Directors: Elan Bogarín, Jonathan Bogarín
Producers: Elan Bogarín, Jonathan Bogarín, Bob Moore

“The Futurists” is a sci-fi documentary about real-life Latinx visionaries who are creating the world of tomorrow. It follows the journey of Quemuel Arroyo, the first-ever Chief Accessibility Officer of NYC’s transit authority, to transform the aging system into one that is accessible for all.

The Gender Project
Director: Kimberly Reed
Producers: 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.

The Heart Grows Old in Autumn
Directors: Michael Steves, Rafi Jahan
Producer: Lucas San Juan

A multi-generational tale following the first community of Rohingya refugees in America, living in a Chicago neighborhood. The Rohingya are survivors of a genocide in Myanmar. Spanning three generations, the first Rohingya-Americans try to rebuild their lives, as they experience their American story.

The Monster
Directors: Nadine Pequeneza, Ricardo Acosta
Producers: Nadine Pequeneza, Ricardo Acosta

Description withheld.

Red Thread
Director: Tchaiko Omawale
Producers: Tchaiko Omawale, Iyabo Kwayana

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.

The Riot Report
Director: Michelle Ferrari
Producers: Connie Honeycutt, Michelle Ferrari, Jelani Cobb

When inner cities across America erupted in violence in 1967, LBJ appointed the Kerner Commission to find out: What happened? Why did it happen? How can we stop it from happening again? The Commission’s final report would offer a shockingly unvarnished assessment of race relations that still resonates today.

The Sandbox
Director: Kenya-Jade Pinto
Producers: Shasha Nakhai, Kenya-Jade Pinto

Your future is being written in the sand.

The Wind’s Thirst
Director: Alejandro Valbuena
Producer: Alejandro Valbuena

In this creative documentary, three courageous indigenous leaders—Tita, Misael & Jazmine—battle against a relentless assault orchestrated by massive coal mining and wind farming operations, extremist evangelicals, and paramilitary violence. Unveiling the untold resistance of the Wayuu people, the film sheds light on their struggle against an undisclosed genocide.

Time Hunter
Directors: Daniel Chein, Mushiva
Producers: Daniel Chein, David Felix Sutcliffe

A revolutionary agent is dispatched to steal technology from his colonial oppressors to use against them. Can he help his people without losing himself in the maze of the diaspora.

Travel Notes of a Gullah Geechee Girl
Director: Julie Dash
Producers: Patricia Williams Lessane, Juanita Anderson, Julie Dash (Executive Producer), and Rachel Watanabe-Batton (Executive Producer)

In a search of her authentic self, a South Carolina Geechee girl wakes up in Paris, realizing she’s just another starving writer living at the Beat Hotel; after a failed marriage, and work as a Moon Goddess with the Sun Ra Arkestra, her bestselling cookbook effectively changes how the world talks about women, race, and food.

United States of Urvashi
Director: Nancy Kates
Producers: Rajal Pitroda, Deepa Donde (Executive Producer), Ashley Tindall (Archival Producer)

An intimate portrait of the late activist and LGBTQ leader Urvashi Vaid, examining her 40-year career as a public intellectual and agitator. The film explores her history through the lens of personal relationships: her decades-long intimate partnership with comedian Kate Clinton, her extended South Asian clan, and her chosen queer family.

Director: CJ Hunt
Producers: Jeremy Blum, Darcy McKinnon

“Unlearned” investigates how the battle over history curriculum is changing America’s public schools.

Directors: Set Hernandez
Producers: Set Hernandez, Day Al-Mohamed, Félix Endara
Executive Producer: Diane Quon

Most people dream of a better future. Pedro, an aspiring social worker, is no different. But as a blind, undocumented immigrant, Pedro faces political restrictions to obtain his college degree, secure a job in his field, and support his family. As he finally graduates, uncertainty looms over Pedro. What starts as a journey to provide mental health care for his community ultimately transforms into Pedro’s path towards his own healing. Through experimental cinematography and sound, “unseen” reimagines the accessibility of cinema, while exploring the intersections of immigration, disability, and mental health.

Untitled Cairo, IL Project
Directors: Lisa Marie Malloy, JP Sniadecki & Ray Whitaker
Producers: Karin Chien, Theresa Delsoin

“Untitled Cairo, IL Project” is a collectively-authored film that emerges from the vibrant community spirit of Cairo, IL, a former industrial and agricultural empire at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers that was a nexus for civil rights movements in the 1960s. Through intimate depictions, this film celebrates the joy and resurgence of this overlooked town.

Untitled Dwarfism Project
Director: Julie Forrest Wyman
Producers: Lindsey Dryden, Jonna McKone, Julie Forrest Wyman

A new drug promises to make Little People taller, threatening the community it claims to serve. Meanwhile, director Julie Wyman confronts her own dwarfism diagnosis. As Little People grapple with the choice to give up difference, the film asks: is it possible to see and be seen differently?

Untitled Ping Chong Documentary
Directors: Melanie Vi Levy & Ben Wu
Producers: Melanie Vi Levy, Ben Wu, and Jamie Dobie (Executive Producer)

A feature-length documentary exploring the life and work of pioneering American theater director Ping Chong. Blending experimental and performance art elements with non-fiction storytelling, the film will offer an up close and personal portrait of a renegade artist as he creates the final culminating work of his 50-year career.

Water for Life
Director: Will Parrinello
Producers: 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.

Way of Life
Director: Jennifer Maytorena Taylor
Producers: Jennifer Maytorena Taylor

As battles over bodily autonomy and privacy rapidly intensify across the country, the vérité feature documentary film “Way of Life” explores the lives of diverse Montanans fighting to define and defend the freedom to live as they choose.

Widow Champion
Director: Zippy Kimundu
Producers: Zippy Kimundu, Heather Courtney

Thrown out of her home and off her land by her in-laws, a Kenyan widow becomes a fighter for women’s land rights in a deeply patriarchal community. “Widow Champion” Rhoda leads other women to fight for what is rightfully theirs, her story exposing the rift between modern and traditional beliefs. 

Wilfred Buck
Directors: Lisa Jackson
Producers: Producers: Lisa Jackson, Lauren Grant, Alicia Smith (NFB) Executive Producers: Jennifer Baichwal, Nicholas de Pencier, David Christensen (NFB), Janice Dawe, Kathy Avrich-Johnson

Wilfred Buck” is a hybrid feature documentary that moves between a harrowing past and the present of this Cree star expert and ceremonial leader. This deeply personal, poetic and occasionally irreverent journey unpacks Indigenous methodologies, how they’ve survived colonization, and provokes the question: what types of knowledge do we value?

Directors: Jen Wickham, Michael Toledano, Brenda Michell
Producers: Jen Wickham, Michael Toledano, Brenda Michell

Through intimate access cultivated over years of relationship-building, “Yintah” is a documentary that witnesses an Indigenous nation’s fight for sovereignty. It is the story of the Wet’suwet’en women reoccupying their traditional land and resisting the companies and colonial state that are set on exploiting it.

Ford Foundation also announced today that the Spring open call for documentary film production grants opens February 22, 2024 and closes April 1, 2024. Please learn more here.

About The Ford Foundation
The Ford Foundation is an independent, nonprofit grant-making organization with assets currently valued at $16 billion. For more than 85 years it has worked with courageous people on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. With headquarters in New York, the foundation has offices in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.

SOURCE Ford Foundation

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