LEF Foundation Announces $255,000 in Production and Post-production Grants to New England Documentary Filmmakers

The LEF Foundation has awarded 13 Moving Image Fund grants totaling $255,000 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 seven grants of $15,000 to projects at the Production stage and six grants of $25,000 to projects at the Post-production stage

This round’s selected projects are in conversation with one another in many ways. Some projects navigate families and localities, while others address interwoven narratives that span generations and geographies. The projects engage various approaches to nonfiction form—archival, hybrid, character-driven, lyrical—to create cinematically compelling works about experiences of erasure and repression, climate change and cultural loss, legacy and belief, and more.   

  • Black Pearl (dir. Iyabo Kwayana; prod. Sebastián Pinzón Silva)
  • Burlington, This is You! (dirs. Myles David Jewell + Lauren-Glenn Davitian; prods. Meghan O’Rourke + Jordan Mitchell)
  • The Fate of Human Beings (dir. Heather Cassano; prods. Heather Cassano + Emily Hofelich)
  • Life is Strange, Leia Lu (working title) (dir. Matt Reynolds; prods. Tom Schiller + Christina Mastrangelo)
  • My Skin and I (Milton Guillén + Fiona Guy Hall; prods. Zorana Mušikić + May Odeh)  
  • The River (dir. Caitlyn Greene; prod. Sara Archambault)
  • We Sing Nonetheless (dirs./prods. Adam Mazo + Ben Pender-Cudlip)
  • A Body To Live In (dir. Angelo Madsen Minax; prods. Angelo Madsen Minax + Lyle Ravi Kash)
  • Backside (dir. Raúl Paz-Pastrana; prods. Patricia Alvarez Astacio + Gabriella Garcia-Pardo)
  • REMAKE (dir. Ross McElwee; prods. Mark Meatto + Ross McElwee)
  • Softly in all directions (dir. Anna Barsan; prods. Shannon Fitzpatrick + Patrick Brăila)
  • Unconscious Medicine (working title) (dir. Julie Mallozzi; prods. Julie Mallozzi + Emily Abi-Kheirs)
  • Unless Something Goes Terribly Wrong (working title) (dirs. Kaitlyn Schwalje + Alex Lewis; prods. Rebecca Stern + Justin Levy)

“The films receiving grants this year are only a small selection of projects out of the many ambitious works being made by New England-based filmmakers,” said Lyda Kuth, LEF Executive Director. “As we approach 25 years of the Moving Image Fund, we’ve had the opportunity to support a regional community of filmmakers and their work over time.” 

“As a Vermont filmmaker, LEF’s support helps us solidify a deeper reach for a local story that has national context,” said Myles David Jewell, whose project received a Production grant. “They have proven a commitment to cinematic form and values-based non-fiction, so we are deeply grateful for our opportunity to show up for this process.”

The formal grant review process began in early winter when LEF received 83 eligible letters of inquiry at its January 2024 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.

Of these initial inquiries, 32 projects were invited by LEF staff to submit a full application, including 23 finalists in Production and 9 finalists in Post-production. All 32 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. 

“Because LEF’s decision-making process invites a new group of peer reviewers to participate at each round, we value being able to share a robust set of peer review feedback notes by phone with every applicant who requests it,” said LEF Program Director Gen Carmel. “We hope it helps to inform their creative process and any future applications. These phone calls are also one way that the LEF team can learn more about how we can improve our filmmaker support programs.”

Julie Mallozzi, whose project received a Post-production grant, shared: “LEF’s funding has been crucial for my film, providing first encouragement at the early development phase and then later crucial finishing funds to get us to the screen. I have appreciated LEF’s open process and the community they foster among New England’s documentary makers.”

In addition to this group of grantees, LEF also awarded $52,500 to 14 projects in Early Development and Pre-production earlier in the fiscal year. In total, LEF will be distributing $307,500 in funding to documentary productions over the course of its 2023–24 fiscal year

The next Moving Image Fund grant deadline is Friday, August 16, 2024 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 on June 14.

You can find more details regarding LEF Moving Image Fund guidelines and eligibility on our website.

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