LEF Foundation Announces $220,000 in Production and Post-production Grants to New England Documentary Filmmakers

Image description: A mosaic of twelve square still images from the selected Moving Image Fund projects bordered in bright blue-green.

The LEF Foundation has awarded 12 Moving Image Fund grants totaling $220,000 in support of feature-length documentary works by New England-based filmmakers.

The LEF Moving Image Fund invests in feature-length documentary films that demonstrate excellence in technique, strong storytelling ability, and originality of artistic vision and voice. The most recent round of awards includes eight grants of $15,000 to projects at the Production stage and four grants of $25,000 to projects at the Post-production stage

Drawing on approaches that are lyrical, investigative, participatory, and often deeply personal, this year’s selected projects delve into memories and archives to reconcile past events and imagine different futures, while others rooted in the contemporary moment consider actions both individual and collective that have the potential to shape tomorrow.

Ultimately, the funded projects represent just a small portion of the exciting work being pursued by New England-based nonfiction filmmakers. 


  • A Body To Live In (dir. Angelo Madsen Minax; prod. Lyle Ravi Kash)
  • Chelsea (working title) (dir./prod. Sabrina Avilés + Jenny Alexander)
  • Early Mourning, Tarpon Springs (dir./prod. Jodie Mack)
  • From The Land (dir. John Hulsey; prod. Ahsen Nadeem + John Hulsey) 
  • The Fuck You Spark (dir. James Rutenbeck + Harmon dot aut; prod. Sabrina Avilés)
  • Nine (dir./prod. Rachael DeCruz + Jeremy S. Levine)
  • She Cried That Day (dir./prod. Amanda Erickson)
  • Softly in all directions (dir. Anna Barsan; prod. Shannon Fitzpatrick, Patrick Brăila, + Charlotte Cook)


  • How to Clean a House in 10 Easy Steps (dir. Carolina Gonzalez Valencia; prod. Carolina Gonzalez Valencia + Brenda Avila-Hanna)
  • Kaksori! (dir./prod. Shirley Kim-Ryu + Eben Portnoy)
  • My Disability Roadmap (working title) (dir. Dan Habib + Samuel Habib; prod. Dan Habib)
  • Night Fight (dir. Khary Saeed Jones; prod. Khary Saeed Jones + Kendra Taira Field)

The formal grant review process began in early winter when LEF received 68 eligible letters of inquiry at its January 2023 deadline for Production and Post-production. These proposals were evaluated by a group of three New England-based filmmakers serving as peer readers, in addition to LEF staff.

“In facilitating this initial evaluation by local peer readers, one of our aims is to connect New England filmmakers to the varied ideas, people, and places inspiring their peers,” said Lyda Kuth, Executive Director. “We hope this results in a deepening sense of commitment and belonging to the dynamic documentary landscape in the region.”

Of these initial inquiries, 30 projects that most aligned with LEF’s funding criteria were invited by LEF staff to submit a full application, including 21 finalists in Production and 9 finalists in Post-production. All 30 full applications were then evaluated by a peer review panel made up of filmmakers and professionals from across the U.S. who represent a diversity of perspectives on documentary. Peer reviewers remain anonymous and change at every round. 

“We are grateful to all of the filmmakers who shared their projects with LEF, and all of the peer reviewers at the letter of inquiry and panel stages who evaluated these applications with careful consideration for each project’s creative intentions,” said LEF Program Director Gen Carmel. “All of the reviewers approached this process with first-hand knowledge of the complex challenges and unknowns that only reveal themselves through the process of making a film.” 

“We know how much effort goes into creating grant applications for LEF’s reviewers to make informed decisions. As a regional funder that seeks to support the New England filmmaking community in ways that go beyond its grant making, LEF is committed to offering peer review feedback by phone to every applicant who requests it. These phone calls are also a way for LEF to improve our process by learning from applicants about their experience.”

In addition to this group of grantees, LEF also awarded $45,000 to 12 projects in Early Development and Pre-production earlier in the fiscal year. In total, LEF will be distributing $265,000 in funding to documentary productions over the course of its 2022–23 fiscal year

The next Moving Image Fund grant deadline is Monday, August 7, 2023 for New England-based directors and producers seeking Pre-production and Early Development support for feature-length documentaries. LEF will announce the open call for applications in early June. Please check lef-foundation.org for details regarding LEF Moving Image Fund guidelines and eligibility. You can subscribe to LEF’s mailing list to receive a monthly newsletter and the latest updates about grantee news, filmmaker opportunities, and calls for Moving Image Fund submissions. For more information on the Foundation or its funded projects, please contact Program Officer Matthew LaPaglia at matthew@lef-foundation.org.

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