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Just one year after its launch, JustFilms, the Ford Foundation’s documentary film fund, is providing major support to five independent films selected for competition and premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, the world’s leading showcase for independent filmmaking.
Each of the five embodies JustFilms’ vision of the power of independent film to illuminate the world in which we live and inspire people to engage in pressing social challenges, from the untold story of bravery and activism that opened access to AIDS drugs in the United States to a poignant account of Detroit residents reimagining their city.
“We’re extremely pleased that five projects receiving major support from JustFilms have been selected to premiere at Sundance,” said Darren Walker, vice president of Ford’s Education, Creativity and Free Expression Program. “This is exactly what our initiative is all about– ensuring that talented filmmakers who are tackling tough social issues can break through to large new audiences in a timely way.”
JustFilms was launched one year ago, a day before the start of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. In its inaugural year, the initiative has made more than $10 million in grants to support more than 100 filmmakers and mediamakers around the world.
“We believe that Sundance is just the beginning of an opportunity for these filmmakers, and many others like them, to reach a new audience of engaged people who are hungry for stories about issues shaping our future,” added Walker.
JustFilms focuses on film, video and digital works that show courageous people confronting difficult issues and actively pursuing a more just, secure, and sustainable world. Through 2016, it will invest $10 million every year to support and expand the community of filmmakers and mediamakers around the world focused on creating documentaries with passion and purpose, but who often lack funding to realize their visions or reach audiences.
“While focusing on issues as diverse as human rights, poverty, cultural expression, and sustainable development, every project supported by JustFilms has one thing in common– the power of good storytelling,” said Orlando Bagwell, director of the JustFilms initiative at Ford. “These films make complex and often difficult issues accessible and entertaining, opening up whole new opportunities for audiences to engage on topics that may have once felt overwhelming or simply out of reach.”
With the explosion of digital media production over the past decade, there is far more film and video content available from which audiences can choose. However, it remains a challenge for most documentary filmmakers to find support– and audiences– for works that address social issues in meaningful and compelling ways. JustFilms seeks to support courageous filmmakers to complete their important works and to help them reach a growing audience of engaged and socially conscious viewers.
The Ford Foundation’s JustFilms initiative builds on the foundation’s longtime support for scores of documentaries, including such landmark productions as “Eyes on the Prize,” “State of Fear,” and “Why Democracy.” It also leverages the foundation’s global network of 10 regional offices to identify and lift new talent from around the world and to strengthen emerging communities of documentary filmmakers.