MacArthur Foundation Documentary Film Grants

The Media, Culture, and Special Initiatives program of the John and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation in Chicago is funding the production and distribution of social-issue documentary films with an open call that begins Nov. 1 with proposals due Dec 2. The guidelines are fairly specific, and the deadline will be competitive, but If your project does meet the Foundation’s criteria, this is an opportunity to apply for substantial funding!

The program seeks to fund documentary projects that address the significant social challenges of our time or explore important but under-reported topics. Domestic and international topics are welcome, and preference will be given to projects that align with one of MacArthur’s grantmaking areas. Support will be provided primarily for production and post-production activities, and to experienced filmmakers based in the U.S. with a track record of completing feature-length films that have been broadcast nationally and internationally.

In selecting documentary films for support, the Foundation looks for the following:
  • Projects that address important, contemporary social topics – international or domestic
  • Projects that align with MacArthur’s programmatic interests in the U.S. and International Grantmaking areas
  • Projects that follow an issue over time, providing in-depth reporting that goes beyond conventional news coverage
  • Projects that utilize compelling personal stories to engage viewers and create empathy
  • Projects that appeal to a broad audience because they are accessible, interesting, and balanced (treats different points of view respectfully)
  • Projects that have a strong likelihood of broadcast in the U.S. and elsewhere, and thoughtful plans for broad dissemination in educational, community, or policy settings
Note: before applying, read their guidelines and procedures carefully, since staff wont be responding to inquiries about this particular deadline!

– Nellie

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