Fledgling Announces New Grantees

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Join us in celebrating our latest grantees!  All of these projects reflect our strong belief that compelling stories can be a starting point for engagement and action around critical and timely issues.

Seven projects in this round, 99% - The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film, After Tiller, American Promise, Citizen Koch, Gideon’s Army, Inequality for All, and When I Walk premiered at the Sundance Film Festival last month, while GMO OMG, premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival.  Congratulations to them all.  We are excited for them as they embark on their festival runs, and begin to put their films to work in the world.  Several others will be premiering in the next year including The Genius of Marian, All of Me, The Human Experiment, The Awra Amba Experience and Brave Miss World.

A number of grantees in this round are in the midst of outreach and audience engagement campaigns. American Winter, The House I Live In, How to Survive a Plague, Escape Fire: The Fight To Rescue American Healthcare, Cafeteria Man, Power Poetry, Who Cares About Kelsey?, Split Estate, Girl Model, and Lunch Love Community are all working closely with nonprofit partners to engage audiences in the fight for change.  We are happy to continue our support for these projects with additional funding.

In addition to film projects, we are providing grants to several programs and festivals that we believe build the field either by providing targeted support and mentorship to social issue documentary filmmakers, testing new models of engagement, developing a framework for assessing the impact of media projects or showcasing the work of social issue filmmakers committed to social change.

Finally, we would like to thank Artemis Rising Foundation, The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, The Dobkin Family Foundation, Ford Foundation and several anonymous donors.  These funding partners support our work and the work of our grantees in a variety of ways and help ensure that we maximize the impact of our collective work.


Film and Creative Media Grants 

Directed by Audrey Ewell, Aaron Aites and Lucian Read
This film paints a compelling portrait of the Occupy Wall Street movement, while delving into the issues raised by it. >>  Fledgling and an anonymous funding partner have committed a total of $25K to support the outreach and engagement campaign for this film.

Directed by Martha Shane and Lana Wilson

Since the assassination of Dr. George Tiller in Kansas in 2009, only four doctors in the United States continue to perform third-trimester abortions. After Tiller is an intimate look into each of the four physicians’ private and professional struggles. >>  Fledgling, Artemis Rising Foundation and an anonymous donor have committed a total of $50K to support the planning and execution of this film's outreach and audience engagement campaign.

Directed by Alexandra Lescaze
The 'girls' have been friends for years, bonding over hopes, dreams, pain, heartbreak, and food. What makes the ‘girls’ extraordinary is that they are all obese. All Of Me follows three key characters and chronicles their individual transformations, how they send ripples through the group, and in doing so, challenges the audience to examine their own feelings about weight, weight loss, and our complex and confused relationships to our bodies.  >> Fledgling has committed $20K to support the outreach and engagement activities around this film.  We have previously supported this project.

Directed by Michele Stephenson and Joe Brewer
American Promise provides an intimate look into the lives of two African-American families as they navigate through the highs and lows of preparing their sons for academic success.  >> Fledgling has committed $20K to support the next phase of this project’s outreach and engagement. We also have provided support for the earlier planning phases of the audience engagement campaign.

Directed by Joe Gantz and Harry Gantz
American Winter follows the personal stories of families struggling in the aftermath of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.  Filmed over the course of one winter in Portland, Oregon.  American Winter presents an intimate and emotionally evocative snapshot of the state of our economy as it is playing out in many American families.  >> Fledgling and an anonymous donor have committed $25K to support the outreach and audience engagement campaign.  This is the second grant we have provided to this film.

Directed by Paulina Tervo
Forty years ago, a young farmer decided to start an egalitarian village with a group of friends in the poorest, most conservative part of Northern Ethiopia. Today, their village has become a model for sustainable development across the country and beyond.  The Awra Amba Experience tell this fascinating story in an interactive web experience where participants can explore the village in an immersive landscape, opening up 10 huts in 360º view.  >>  Fledgling has committed $20K to support the continued development of this interactive platform.  We have previously supported this project.

Directed by Cecilia Peck
Brave Miss World is the inspiring story of a former Miss World, who after experiencing a violent abduction and rape, battles for justice and devotes her life to helping other survivors. >>  Fledgling, Artemis Rising Foundation and an anonymous donor have committed a total of $50K to support outreach and engagement activities for this film.

Directed by Richard Chisolm
While others may talk about what it takes to transform the school lunch programs in our public schools Anthony (Tony) Geraci has done what seems like an impossible task. His story, as chronicled in the film Cafeteria Man is the inspirational jumping off point for this mission. Tony’s success within the Baltimore Public School system, one of the poorest in the nation, offers practical insights into the complexity of such an initiative and what it takes to achieve long-term, lasting results. >> In partnership with an anonymous funder, Fledgling has committed $20K to the next phase of the campaign. Fledgling, in partnership with The Arthur M. Blank Foundation, supported this campaign in 2012.

Directed by Tia Lessin and Carl Deal
The Supreme Court's 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. FEC that reversed a century-long ban on direct corporate spending on elections, made it possible for corporations to spend unlimited sums to defeat or support political candidates, and to cloak their donations through SuperPacs and other third parties. Citizen Koch tells the story of a divided court's decision in Citizens United.  >> Fledgling has committed $20K in this round to support the film’s premiere at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and the launch of the outreach and audience engagement campaign.  This is the second grant we have made to this project.

Directed by Matthew Heineman and Susan Froemke
Escape Fire tackles one of the most pressing issues of our time: how can we save our badly broken healthcare system? It follows dramatic human stories as well as leaders fighting to transform healthcare at the highest levels of medicine, industry, government, and even the US military.  >> Fledgling and an anonymous funding partner have committed $35K to the next phase of this film’s outreach and engagement campaign. This is Fledgling’s second grant to this project.

Directed by Banker White and Anna Fitch

The Genius of Marian is a visually rich, emotionally complex story that follows Pam White in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease as her son, the filmmaker, documents her struggles to retain her sense of self. >> Fledgling has committed $20K to support this film’s outreach and engagement campaign. This is our second grant to this project.

Directed by Ashley Sabin and David Redmon
Despite a lack of obvious similarities between Siberia and Tokyo, a thriving model industry connects these distant regions. Girl Model follows two protagonists involved in this industry: Ashley, a deeply ambivalent model scout who scours the Siberian countryside looking for fresh faces to send to the Japanese market, and one of her discoveries, Nadya, a thirteen year-old plucked from the Siberian countryside and dropped into the center of Tokyo with promises of a profitable career.  >>  Fledgling has committed $15K for the continuation of the outreach and engagement campaign.  Fledgling has previously supported this project.

Directed by Dawn Porter
Gideon’s Army follows Travis Williams, Brandy Alexander and June Hardwick, three young public defenders who are part of a small group of idealistic lawyers in the Deep South challenging the assumptions that drive a criminal justice system strained to the breaking point.  >>Fledgling provided seed funding for this film’s outreach and engagement campaign and has committed an additional $20K to support the next phase of this campaign.

Directed by Jeremy Seifert
Who controls the future of your food? GMO OMG is a documentary in which a father explores the systematic corporate takeover and potential loss of humanity’s most precious and ancient inheritance: seeds. Jeremy Seifert studies how loss of seed diversity – one of our Earth’s most critical natural resources – and how production and consumption of laboratory created genetically modified organisms (GMOs) affect his young children, the health of Planet Earth, and freedom of choice everywhere.  >>  Fledgling and an anonymous donor have committed $40K to support this film's outreach and audience engagement.

Directed by Eugene Jarecki
For over forty years, the War on Drugs has accounted for 45 million arrests, made America the world's largest jailer, and damaged poor communities at home and abroad. Yet for all that, drugs are cheaper, purer, and more available today than ever before. Filmed in more than twenty states, The House I Live In captures heart-wrenching stories at all levels of America's drug war - from the dealer to the grieving mother, the narcotics officer to the senator, the inmate to the federal judge.  >>   Fledgling and an anonymous funder have committed $25K to support the next phase of its campaign.  Fledgling has provided previous support for this project.

Directed by David France
Faced with their own mortality, an improbable group of young people, many of them HIV-positive young men, broke the mold as radical warriors taking on Washington and the medical establishment. How to Survive a Plague is the story of two coalitions—ACT UP and TAG (Treatment Action Group)—whose activism and innovation turned AIDS from a death sentence into a manageable condition. >> Fledgling has committed $10K to support this campaign.

Directed by Dana Nachman and Don Hardy
What if the greatest chemical disaster of our time didn’t involve oil spills or nuclear meltdowns? Instead, imagine much lower levels of exposure, inflicted over generations and affecting every person on the planet. The result: rising rates of everything from cancer to autism to infertility.   The Human Experiment lifts the veil on this shocking reality – where untested chemicals are ubiquitous in our products and the health of future generations is on the line. >>  Fledgling has committed $15K to support the film’s outreach and engagement campaign.

Directed by Jacob Kornbluth
Inequality For All looks at the topic of widening income inequality through the lens of noted economist Robert Reich. At the heart of the film is a simple proposition: what is a good society, and what role does the widening income gap play in the deterioration of our nation’s economic health?   >> Fledgling and two anonymous donors have committed $45K to support this film's outreach and audience engagement. 

Directed by Helen De Michiel
The Lunch Love Community Documentary Project explores the community-based school lunch reform movement now spreading across the nation. It is a mosaic-like story of how passionate and dedicated individuals – parents, educators, and school administrators along with agriculture and food professionals - are discovering common ground to work together through struggles and controversy to change the way children eat, how they learn in school, and how to think about food systems in a climate-changing world.   >> Fledgling provided previous support for this project and has committed another $10K to support this next phase.

Directed by Roland Legiardi-Laura
Power Poetry is the world’s first online/mobile community for youth. Launched in April 2012, Power Poetry offers young poets a platform to produce and share multimedia poetry that impacts their lives and communities. The award-winning, and Fledgling supported, documentary To Be Heard is the inspiration for Power Poetry; the film depicts the lives of three Bronx teenagers who learn to use their words as tools for personal and social transformation.  >>  Fledgling has committed an additional $15K to continue our support for this platform. 

Directed by Debra Anderson
Imagine discovering that you don't own the mineral rights under your land, and that an energy company plans to drill for natural gas two hundred feet from your front door.  Imagine having little recourse, other than accepting an unregulated industry in your backyard. Split Estate maps a tragedy in the making, as citizens in the path of a new drilling boom in the Rocky Mountain West struggle against the erosion of their civil liberties, their communities and their health.  >>  Fledgling has committed $15K to support the continuation of the outreach and engagement campaign.  We have previously supported this project.

Directed by Jason DaSilva
In 2006, 25-year-old Jason DaSilva was on a beach with his family when, suddenly, he fell down and couldn’t get back up. Doctors told him he had multiple sclerosis.  When I Walk is an energizing experience whose creative engine is its young filmmaker’s determination to live and his ability to make sense of being plagued by a devastating disease through the art of cinematic storytelling.  The film is directly linked to an engaging platform called AXSmap that will allow viewers to directly contribute to community information about public accessibility. >>  Fledgling has committed $20K to support the film’s premiere at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and the engagement campaign with AXSmap.  This is the second grant Fledgling has provided for this project.

Directed by Dan Habib
Who Cares about Kelsey? follows Kelsey Carroll as she navigates her senior year in a school transformed by the use of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), youth-directed planning and other evidence-based reforms implemented by new leadership to improve the school’s culture, reduce the dropout rate and improve educational opportunities.  >> Fledgling and an anonymous funding partner have committed $25K to support a community screening campaign in conjunction with 25 national partners.  


The mission of the Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital is to advance public understanding of the environment by screening diverse, exceptional films for large public audiences. >>  Fledgling has committed $10K to support the festival.  We have previously supported this project.

The primary goal of the Firelight Media’s Producer’s Lab is to strengthen the capacity of emerging independent producers of color by providing them with a safe environment, professional development support and individual mentoring, workshops and seminars, structured screenings and feedback sessions, networking and a community which supports, encourages and provides an anchor toward completion of their media project. >> Fledgling has committed $7.5K to support this lab.  We have previously supported this project.

The Making Media Now conference brings together a diverse national group of producers, directors, and writers, and mixes them with funders, animators, composers, archival researchers, academic scholars, web designers, editors, marketers, business professionals and others. The goal is to bring independent media-makers from around the country to Boston for a day of connection, learning, and inspiration, giving them the tools needed to thrive in a decentralized/unstable media landscape. >>Fledgling has committed $5K to support this conference.

Latino Producers Academy and the Latino Media Artists Program are two sister programs which fast-track the work of talented filmmakers focusing exclusively on the work of social justice documentarians. >>  Fledgling has committed $7.5K to support this programming.  We have previously supported this project.

The POV Hackathon will provide a unique opportunity for filmmakers, developers and designers to experiment and reinvent documentary for the web. The POV model focuses on the problem of how to advance the field of documentary in the digital age and experiment with new approaches to storytelling while expanding the reach and depth of a specific project.   >> Fledgling has committed $15K to this project.

Reel Economy, part of Working Films' Reel Engagement initiative, is a collection of seven documentaries:  We’re Not Broke; American Winter; Citizen Koch; As Goes Janesville; Solarize This; Xmas Without China; and Escape Fire.  Together, they offer a comprehensive view of the challenges and opportunities within the US and global economic systems. >> Fledgling has committed $15K to the project.  We have previously supported this project.

Rooftop Films combines brilliant, original programming and stunning outdoor venues.  Fledgling’s partnership with Rooftop allows the festival to create supplemental audience engagement programming around a select number of screenings of Fledgling funded films. >> Fledgling has committed $25K to support this dynamic partnership.  We have previously supported this project.

The Tribeca Film Institute will partner with the MIT Open Doc Lab and other stakeholders to examine how participatory media can be used to enhance social justice initiatives.  The goal is to provide a common tool for the measurement and assessment of media-based engagement campaigns.  >> Fledgling has committed $20K to support this project and looks forward to participating in the process.

The True/False Film Festival highlights powerful documentary film with creative takes on contemporary issues.  Audience members are engaged in the documentary film but also engaged with the issues featured in the film through panels, discussions and events.  The festival is a celebration of documentary film and has become a true highlight of the documentary festival circuit. >> Fledgling has committed $8K for this year’s festival programming.  We have previously supported this project.