(from the NY Times. It’s kind of older news at this point, but thought I’d repost in case you missed it!)By BROOKS BARNES
Documentarians, rejoice! The Ford Foundation on Tuesday announced a five-year plan to pour $50 million into documentaries -– defined broadly, including online-only efforts -– that are focused on social issues.
“With the growth of the Web and social networks, the potential global audience for filmed content with a social conscience has exploded,” Luis A. Ubiñas, president of the Ford Foundation, said in a statement.
Although the documentary has flourished in recent years in large part because of festival support, the genre continues to pose severe financing challenges because of a lack of interest at the mainstream box office. The Ford Foundation’s program, called JustFilms, will dole out money in three ways. The first involves partnerships with organizations like the Sundance Institute, whose Sundance Film Festival opens on Thursday in Park City, Utah. JustFilms will contribute $1 million a year over five years to support Sundance’s documentary film workshops, for instance.
Other financing plans for JustFilms include an open application process -– details are at www.fordfoundation.org/justfilms – and partnerships with other Ford Foundation grant-making programs where the introduction of a documentary film could help draw attention.
Directing the program will be Orlando Bagwell, whose credits include the award-winning PBS series “Eyes on the Prize,” which looked at the civil rights movement. Mr. Bagwell said the foundation’s major commitment “reflects our recognition that individual stories –- meaningful and well told -– can be a powerful instrument of change.”
JustFilms is already supporting several films, including “Detroit Hustles Harder,” a documentary that chronicles the lives of people who have decided to stay in that economically ravaged city and work for its recovery.