15 Documentary Films Awarded with $245,000 in Grants from International Documentary Association

15 Documentary Films Awarded with $245,000 in Grants from International Documentary Association

The International Documentary Association (IDA) is a 501c non-profit filmmakers'organization operating out of Los Angeles, California, with a history of assisting documentaries get made. On Friday, Feb. 21, they announced a new initiative, whereby 15 documentary films will be awarded a grant from a total pool of $245,000.

Much of the focus on this round of grants is on investigate works, dealing in exploring history, legal matters, and other news-based docu-films. The IDA also used the opportunity to announce its first release of its Documentary magazine editorial fellows, which is a program with the aim of enhancing opportunities for writers from marginalized communities.

The initial money breakdown is 10 film projects to receive $15,000 each from the IDA, meant to allow for the production of exploration of contemporary journalistic stories. Among the fund's supporters are the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

The Films That Earned IDA Grants for 2020

Among the films to be honored with funding through grants this year include "11 Questions," which is the current working title of a project by Cassandra Herman. The film is also receiving funding from Frontline and is being promoted by PBS.

Herman is no stranger to producing and directing documentaries. She has been nominated for three documentary-themed awards throughout her career, including "Fault Lines,"which was an episode in 2016 on Al Jazeera English, and "Conflicted: The Fight for Congo's Minerals," which was an exposé about the exploitation of the large African nation's natural resources.

Other projects to earn funding from the IDA include "$huffle," a film by Benjamin Flaherty; "End of Land,"by Sara Dosa; "Impossible Town," by Meg Griffiths; Jerry Risius's "Storm Lake Untitled,"and many others.

Why the IDA Decided to Fund So Many Projects

While the IDA has always worked closely with certain filmmakers in order to help independent projects receive release and notoriety, this large funding sweep for so many films is something the organization decided to do after some of the documentaries they helped became very successful.

The IDA is hoping to continue that success by assisting new filmmakers with new projects. The news about this year's funding broke after a former grant recipient, Ramona S Diaz, had her film "A Thousand Cuts" premier at the Sundance Film Festival in the US Documentary category. Another documentary, "Life Overtakes Me," created by John Haptas and Kris Samuelson, was actually nominated for Best Documentary Short at last year's Oscars.

The deadline for this year's grant applications is on March 1, so the window is closing for documentary filmmakers to seek potential assistance from the IDA.

Bigger Rounds of Funding from the IDA

Some of the grants offered by the IDA are much larger than the $15,000 awarded. Five additional documentaries will receive a total of $95,000, an initiative dating back to 2011, which also has support from the New York Community Trust.

"A Place to Learn," "Hope is a Hammer," "Socialism: An American Story," "That's How We Roll,"and "Mississippi Red" are the five documentaries to earn the larger grant. These films delve into everything from investigative reporting in the educational system to examining the effects of capitalism on traditionally poor and marginalized American communities.

For documentary filmmakers who did not receive grants, the IDA is still trying to do what they can to help. This is why that in addition to the monetary grants, the organization is also planning to use their editorial fellows to spread awareness about under-served filmmakers through Documentary magazine. They hope that shining a light on the under-funded yet talented filmmakers will draw more recognition and assistance.

Historically speaking, documentaries are fairly hit and miss in terms of reception. For every "Super Size Me"and "An Inconvenient Truth," there are thousands that go without notice or notoriety, and far more that never see completion due to lack of interest, no investors, and insufficient funds to complete the projects.

The IDA cannot change this single handedly, though they have proven their commitment, year after year, in trying to shine a light on a variety of documentary filmmakers and their film ideas, especially those from under-served communities who would otherwise not have the same opportunities as others within the genre.

With more recognition at locations like Sundance, the IDA hopes that more attention will be drawn so that other outside investors will consider helping to fund these projects, so that the organization can deliver larger grants, and to more filmmakers.

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