LEF Foundation Announces $45,000 in Pre-production and Early Development Grants to New England Documentary Filmmakers

The LEF Foundation has awarded 12 Moving Image Fund grants totaling $45,000 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, a resonant story or idea, and originality of artistic vision and voice. The most recent round of awards includes six grants of $5,000 to projects at the Pre-production stage and six grants of $2,500 to projects at the Early Development stage

Early Development grants provide initial seed funding for projects, and Pre-production grants are offered to filmmakers who, while still at an early stage, have been able to shoot and edit sample footage of their current project. 

Rooted in New England, as well as places farther afield nationally and internationally, this year’s funded projects trace movements, memories, and possible futures through time and across geographic and psychic boundaries. They consider critical questions about exile, friendship, grief, neurodiversity, queer histories, and structural injustice, among many other intersecting themes. Reflecting intimate and innovative perspectives by New England documentary filmmakers, the projects embody a rich and diverse vision of what documentary cinema can be, traversing animation, archives, auto-ethnography, auto-fiction, poetry, and participatory techniques.

“Some filmmakers are drawn to subject matter that is local and rooted in the particular, whether through verité portraits of housebound elders in Vermont and their caregivers, or personal reflections by a filmmaker growing up multiracial in Maine,” says Lyda Kuth, Executive Director. “Some explore broader themes that involve tackling the bias in library cataloging, others the rising tide of social justice movements through focusing on a Black community leader and activist in Washington State working to get his former cellmate and father-figure out of prison.”


  • A Body To Live In (dir. Angelo Madsen Minax; prod. Lyle Kash)
  • CAREGIVERS (dir. Jesse Kreitzer; prod. Jesse Kreitzer, Jennifer Latham)
  • Early Morning, Tarpon Springs/Lindsey’s Colour Service [working title/s] (dir./prod. Jodie Mack)
  • My Skin and I (dir./prod. Milton Guillén)
  • Nine (dir./prod. Rachael DeCruz, Jeremy S. Levine)
  • The Quilting Group (dir. Jenifer McShane; prod. Jameka Autry)

Early Development

  • Father/Daughter Dance (dir./prod. Mae Hoffman)
  • Las Queremos Vivas (We Want Them Alive) (dir./prod. Michelle Falcón Fontánez)
  • Locked Out (dir. Mike Silva; prod. Mike Silva, Monica Cohen)
  • Spectrum Theatre Ensemble (working title) (dir. James Rutenbeck; prod. Sabrina Avilés)
  • Untitled Library Documentary (dir. Jill Baron, Sawyer Broadley; prod. Melissa Padilla)
  • We May Not Be Who We Think We Are (dir./prod. Eli Kao)

At LEF’s June deadline for Pre-production and Early Development, 28 eligible applications were received by filmmakers working throughout New England. Three peer readers from the local filmmaking community who represent a diversity of perspectives on documentary were invited to review, discuss, and make recommendations on the applications. These peer evaluations informed LEF staff’s final grant decisions.

“We are always grateful to see first-hand the commitment of the local film community to building a network of peer support for the work coming from New England,” said Kuth.

All applicants who applied for LEF funding for either Pre-production or Early Development will have the opportunity to receive review notes from staff to learn how their proposals were evaluated by the peer reviewers and to ask any questions.

“Offering regional support of any kind, especially for projects early in their production, is a responsibility LEF doesn’t take lightly,” said LEF Program Director Gen Carmel. “We want to ensure that each New England filmmaking team who applied at this round, regardless of the grant decision, has the opportunity to receive constructive feedback about their grant proposal as their project continues to take shape. Likewise, our feedback calls with applicants are a chance for the LEF New England team to learn more about how we can continue to improve the Moving Image Fund grant program.”  

In addition to this group of grantees, LEF will also award $190,000 to 10 projects in Production and Post-production later in the fiscal year, following the next January 2023 application deadline. In total, LEF will be distributing $235,000 in funding to documentary productions over the course of its 2023 fiscal year.

The next Moving Image Fund grant deadline will be in January 2023 for New England-based directors and producers seeking Production and Post-production support for feature-length documentaries. Please check LEF’s website for details regarding LEF Moving Image Fund guidelines and eligibility. You can subscribe to the LEF New England newsletter for the latest updates on deadlines, grantees, filmmaker opportunities, and more. For further information on the Foundation or its funded projects, please contact Program Officer Matthew LaPaglia at matthew@lef-foundation.org.

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