Spring 2019 Newsletter

Meet our 2019 Docs In Progress Filmmaker-in-Residence. Our move date is official. Peer Pitch returns home. Plus news from alums, upcoming funding deadlines, hot reads, and more...


Docs In Progress will finally be moving into our new space at Alexander House the end of this month after three years of planning and collaboration with Montgomery County's Housing Opportunities Commission. 

"Fifteen years ago this very month, Docs In Progress was born," noted Executive Director and co-founder Erica Ginsberg, "with our first documentary work-in-progress screening. What started as a single program evolved into many programs, a nonprofit and a space for engaging, connecting, and empowering the DC-area documentary community. Now we have a facility that can accommodate that growing community for professional development, screenings, filmmaker gatherings, adult and youth classes, and much more."

"We are excited and cannot wait to introduce you -- the documentary community -- to our new home," said Docs In Progress Board President Barbara Valentino. "I am so proud to serve as Board Chair this year in this most pivotal time for Docs In Progress. After seeing the space as a construction zone, we recently had a chance to show the space to one of our co-founders Sam Hampton, and I was heartened to hear him say 'This has been my dream and now it is real.' Reality is now set for June and, while we are excited for the future, with new opportunities come new challenges. The new 'Doc House' is here but now we need to furnish it."

Docs In Progress has an active Capital Campaign to raise funds to furnish and equip the space and create a technology reserves fund to ensure equipment is maintained and upgraded. We have already raised more than $80,000, including generous contributions from the Arts & Humanities Council of Montgomery County, the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, and private donors. Donors may opt for getting their or their company's name on a chair, the wall of our entry hallway, or naming rights for rooms. Learn more.

While programs will start up at the new space the week of June 3 (including a new class from Docs In Progress co-founder Adele Schmidt), a larger public event will be scheduled later in the year.

The new address for Docs In Progress as of June 1 will be 8560 Second Avenue, Suite 113 Silver Spring, MD 20910. This is only one block from the Silver Spring Metro and across the street from a parking garage. Our phone and e-mails will remain the same. Please note that, between May 21-28, our phone lines will be down during the transition. Staff will be keeping on top of e-mails daily, but may be slower to respond since we will be preparing for and implementing the move. Thanks for your patience.


We are pleased to announce that our 2019 Filmmaker-in-Residence will be Gene Graham.

Gene is an award-winning director and editor, working in documentary, narrative fiction, and branded content. His latest documentary This One's for the Ladies begins as a story about male exotic dancers and the women who love them, but pivots into a conversation about race, class, family, sisterhood and community. The film won the Special Jury Award at SXSW 2018 and will be released theatrically by Neon this summer. 

While resident at Docs In Progress, Graham will be developing a new documentary feature that probes political conservatism among American communities of color. Graham will also engage with the local film community through a mentorship session with our Fellows, a workshop and a public screening. We will be announcing more details soon and look forward to introducing our community to Graham and vice-versa. We are also delighted that he will be our first filmmaker-in-residence in our new space.

The annual Docs In Progress Filmmaker Residency has provided a seasoned documentarian office space, honoraria, and access to Docs In Progress and other Washington DC-area resources. Past residents include Tamara Dawit, André Perez, and Jeff Krulik. Thank you to all who applied for this opportunity. We received a wealth of top-quality applications from around the world.

Made possible in part through the support of the National Endowment for the Arts.


After traveling to California, North Carolina, and Illinois where we facilitated 40 pitches of new documentary works-in-progress , Peer Pitch returns to our home base of Silver Spring, Maryland (just outside of Washington DC) on Wednesday, June 19 as a prelude event to the AFI DOCS Film Festival.

Peer Pitch is just what it sounds like -- an opportunity to practice presenting your project to fellow filmmakers and get feedback on your pitch, your concept, or your trailer in a facilitated and friendly setting. While this is NOT an industry pitch, it IS the pitch you want to do to work out the kinks before trying it out in front of industry. Plus several projects may be selected to come back a second time in the fall for a follow-up pitch in front of funders and broadcasters.

Thanks to the support of the AFI DOCS Film Festival, we have a limited number of Industry Passes available for Peer Pitch registrants for the same cost as the Industry Pass alone.  


Made possible in part through the support and partnership of the National Endowment for the Arts, The D-Word, and AFI DOCS Documentary Film Festival.


National Endowment for the Arts Acting Chairman Mary Anne Carter has approved more than $80 million in grants as part of the Arts Endowment’s second major funding announcement for fiscal year 2019. Included in this announcement is an Art Works grant of $25,000 to Docs In Progress to support our artist services. Art Works is the Arts Endowment’s principal grantmaking program. The agency received 1,592 Art Works applications for this round of grantmaking, and will award 977 grants in this category.

“These awards, reaching every corner of the United States, are a testament to the artistic richness and diversity in our country,” said Carter. “Organizations such as Docs In Progress are giving people in their community the opportunity to learn, create, and be inspired.” "NEA support has made it possible for us to build out many of our artist services," said Docs In Progress Executive Director Erica Ginsberg, "including allowing us to expand the Peer Pitch program to different regions of the country, expand the professional development opportunities for our Fellows, and support a filmmaking residency at our space." 

Documentary Happenings in the DMV

AFI DOCS Returns June 19-23 - Full Festival Slate is Out Now
The Washington area's own all-documentary film festival, AFI DOCS, returns June 19-23. Screenings during this annual five-day event take place in landmark venues in Washington DC and at the AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring, MD.  The full slate of films is available here. In addition to the film festival, AFI DOCS features a Film Forum featuring panels, talks, and events focused on documentary filmmaker professional development. The schedule for the Forum will be available by May 20. The festival is offering a variety of passes, including Industry Passes (for film professionals), Film Pass (for documentary film lovers), and a Forum Pass (for filmmakers on a budget who want to attend the Forum sessions only). Passes are available now and individual tickets will go on sale beginning on May 15. Docs In Progress is also thankful to AFI DOCS for providing Forum Passes for our 2019 Fellows and making Industry Passes available as a combo for those registering for Peer Pitch through Docs In Progress.

Women in Film and Video Program on the Craft of Producing June 3 
Join a wide ranging conversation, moderated by producer Tim Perell. Tim will be joined by Kyle David Crosby, Catherine Hand, and Andrea Meditch to discuss the varied roles of a producer, the relationship between a producer and director, the process of financing, and the basics of what drives them each to get involved with a project. The discussion will cover both scripted and non-fiction films with an emphasis on feature length projects. Documentary Roundtable members are encouraged to attend. Free for WIFV Members and Docs In Progress Docs Insiders Premium members (select general payment option and use provided promo code). $10 for all others. This will take place Monday, June 3 at Interface Media in downtown Washington DC. Organized and Co-sponsored by JHU Film and Media. Learn more.

Humanities DC Launches New Documentary Fund
While Humanities DC has supported documentary projects as part of its regular funding program, the organization has launched a special initiative to provide up to $30,000 for documentary short films about Washington DC topics. Applying projects must be from a film under a nonprofit or nonprofit fiscal sponsor, must be by an established filmmaker, must incorporate humanities scholarship, and must be no longer than 40 minutes. The deadline to apply is May 29. Learn more.

Video Consortium Hosts Their May Gathering
DC's chapter of the Video Consortium will be hosting their May gathering on Thursday, May 16 at the Hecht Warehouse Cellar (1401 New York Avenue, NE Washington DC), where they will screen short documentary films around the theme of “Playful Hearts.” Be sure to bring out your game face because the Cellar has foosball, ping pong, billiards, shuffleboard and pinball! Pizza and drinks will be served and, as always, you’ll be able to connect with fellow filmmakers. Doors open at 6:30pm. Please arrive by 7:20pm. The screening starts at 7:30pm and lasts for about an hour. Each film is followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers. Tickets are $10. Learn more.

News From Our Community

We were saddened to learn of the deaths of several members of the Docs In Progress and DC film communities in recent months:

Former Board Member Susan Winchell passed away in March. Like many members of our local community, Susan was someone who found her way to film after a career in government. Even before Docs In Progress became a nonprofit, we were guiding her on a documentary project she was developing, and she was also working on several fiction screenplays. We are grateful for Susan's wisdom and her benevolence, including designating Docs In Progress as her charity of choice for memorial donations.

Brian Dragonuk was a treasured member of the broader Washington DC and Baltimore film communities. A longtime member of the regional acting community, he was perhaps best known for his role in being a generous resource for other members of the community through his online DragonukConnects resource. Just this past fall, he had been awarded a Community Partner Award at the TIVA Peer Awards.

Last but not least, we are still in shock at the passing of Andrew Berends earlier this year. An accomplished documentary filmmaker whose work took him to places around the world facing humanitarian crises, Andy was a recipient of the International Documentary Association's Courage Under Fire Award. He had workshopped his film When Adnan Comes Home through a precursor program to what has become Peer Pitch. There will be a memorial service on May 24 in his hometown of Hastings-on-Hudson, New York and a special tribute at the IFC Center in New York City on May 28. His friends and colleagues are working to launch the Andrew Berends Film Fellowship to provide mentorship and networking opportunities for emerging filmmakers.


Meridian Hill Pictures was named recipient of the 2019 Visionary Arts Award from Sitar Arts Center for their "remarkable contributions in the arts and inspired generosity to our community." Life as a Collage, a youth-produced film developed through a program they facilitated at Sitar was workshopped through a Docs In Progress Work-in-Progress screening and featured at our Decade of Docs programming in 2014. Congratulations to Meridian Hill Pictures co-founders Lance Kramer and Brandon Kramer.

In honor of Mother's Day, Stage Four: a Love Story (Work-in-Progress Screening Alum and former Fiscal Sponsoree) has been released for free on Vimeo. The film by Benjamin Steger is an intimate and rich portrait of a mother and her family as she faces terminal illness. 

Finding Yingying (Peer Pitch Alum) was selected for TFI Network, a market at the Tribeca Film Festival. The investigative documentary by Jiayan “Jenny” Shi follows a Chinese family who arrives in the U.S. to search for their daughter, an international student kidnapped within her first weeks at university. The film also won funding from AmDocs.

After screenings at several "Cons," Eye of the Beholder: The Art of Dungeons & Dragons (edited by 2016 Fellow Kelley Slagle) has been released on iTunes. The documentary explores the history, influence, and stories behind the artwork that helped create the world’s most popular role playing game. 

American Feud: A History of Conservatives and Liberals (Work-in-Progress Screening Alum) was presented by directors Richard Hall and Simone Fary at the Organization of American Historians Annual Conference in Philadelphia.

Dear Walmart (Fiscal Sponsoree and Peer Pitch Alum) premiered at FilmFest DC as part of its Justice Matters series. The film about Walmart workers fighting to organize was co-directed by 2014 Fellow Michael Blain and former board member Kiley Kraskouskas. Following its DC premiere, the film screened in New York at the Workers Unite Film Festival.

Our Daughters (Peer Pitch Alum) has received funding from the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM). The film by 2013 Fellow Chithra Jeyaram explores transracial adoption from the perspective of an Indian American couple that adopts twin white daughters while retaining connections with their birth mother.

Docs In Progress Teaching Artist Richard Chisolm premiered his latest documentary short Gun Show at the Maryland Film Festival. The short documentary profiles a Baltimore-based sculptor who creates mock assault rifles out of everyday found objects and takes them on the road to explore America's obsession with guns.

Alyscia Cunningham will screen a trailer of I Am More Than My Hair (Fiscal Sponsoree and Roundtable Alum) about redefining the beauty of female baldness at the Heritage Film Festival at the New Carrollton Library this Thursday, May 16. Tickets are free.

A Diplomat of Consequence (Roundtable Alum) has continued screenings, most recently at the Ralph J Bunche Center at Howard University. The film by Christopher Teal follows the story of Ebenezer D. Bassett, the United States' first African American diplomat. 

"Snow in the Hollow" and other images from In Lorton's Darkroom (Fiscal Sponsoree and Roundtable Alum directed by Karen Ruckman) will be part of the permanent collection of the Workhouse Gallery, Lorton, Virginia. Taken by participants in a photography workshop in the 1980s, the black-and-white prints are iconic renderings of prison life for DC inmates.

Anything You Lose (Peer Pitch Alum by director Irena Vodar), a full length documentary on infertility and reproductive technologies recently screened as part of Fertility Fest, an arts festivals at the Barbican in London, England. 

By Any Means Necessary (Consultation Alum) recently screened at the NYC Independent Film Festival. The film by Damien Kudelka explores why police departments use deadly force against non-violent minor offenders.


Washington DC Area
May 16: Transmilitary (Peer Pitch Alum) as part of Reel Affirmations Xtra (7:00 pm at Landmark E Street Cinema in Washington DC). The film by Fiona Dawson and Gabriel Silverman puts a human face on the more than 15,500 transgender people who serve in the U.S. military, where they must conceal their gender identity because military policies ban their service. Get tickets

May 18 and 22: The Mamboniks (Work-in-Progress Alum) as part of J&J (Washington Jewish Film Festival) at Landmark Bethesda Row and the AFI Silver Theatre. Lex Gillespie's film looks takes us back to the 1950s when Jewish dancers from New York City fell head over heels for the mambo, a hot dance from Havana, Cuba. Get tickets

May 21: Building the American Dream (Docs In The City Work-in-Progress Alum) will screen as part of the DC Labor Film Festival at Busboys and Poets Takoma. The film by Chelsea Sonnen Hernadez captures a turning point as a movement forms to fight widespread construction industry injustices against immigrant laborers. Get free tickets

June 1: Building the American Dream (Docs In The City Work-in-Progress Alum) will screen at SFDocFest in San Francisco. Get tickets
June 8 and 10: Dusty Groove: the Sound of Transition (Peer Pitch Alum) will premiere at SFDocFest n San Francisco. The film by Danielle Beverly follows vinyl buyer Rick Wojcik as he walks us into the homes – and stories – of strangers, digging their jazz, soul and hip hop records, and exploring love, loss and the human connection to music. Watch the trailerGet tickets

Here's some news from alums on their latest projects:

Amy Oden (2014 Fellow) continues to produce award-winning content for the Maryland PBS affiliate's Digital Studios, including recent segments on Smith Island and Not Without Black Women. She also recently spoke on a panel with the Baltimore Women's Media Alliance at the Maryland Film Festival.

Amy Elliott (former Fiscal Sponsoree) has a new feature Salvage about remote Yellowknife, Canada's most popular and notorious man-made attraction, the town dump. The film premiered at SXSW in March and has screenings at the Independent Film Festival Boston, NorthwestFest and San Francisco DocFest.

Aziza Baccouche (aka Dr. Z) (Work-in-Progress Screening Alum) is on a speaking tour called Having Vision. Having overcome seven brain operations over the course of her life to tackle a slowly growing tumor in her brain that affected her sight, Dr. Z has maintained her life's vision. With a Ph.D in theoretical nuclear physics, Dr. Z manages AZIZA Productions Inc., a science media production company where she focuses on communicating science to the lay public through television.

CJ Crim is launching a crowdfunding campaign for Resisterhood. Since the 2016 election, American women have resisted and persisted. This documentary captures the stories of everyday Americans who became grassroots activists working tirelessly to defend democracy and stop the erosion of civil rights.

Catherine Wyler (Workshop Alum) reports that a new film The Cold Blue has used footage that her father, the late director William Wyler, captured in 1943 over Germany. The new film mixes the footage with contemporary interviews with the few surviving veterans of the WWII air war and will air on HBO in June. 

Isabelle Carbonell (Work-in-Progress Alum) has a new film called The Blessed Assurance, a sensorial documentary meditation on livelihood exploring both man and jellyfish in the otherworldly ecosystem found on an American trawl boat. The film will screen June 7 at the Chicago Underground Film Festival.

Linda Booker (Peer Pitch Alum) reports that her latest film Straws recently picked up the Best International Short Documentary award at Rincon International Film Festival. The film about the devastating levels of straws and other plastic pollution in waterways and oceans also recently launched its Impact Campaign in 50 Los Angeles schools with the support of several foundations. The director also recently gave the keynote at Project Green Schools' Green Difference Awards in Boston.

Robin Hamilton (Workshop Alum) has received funding from the Virginia Humanities Council to complete her third documentary about the history of Alexandria, Virginia. Alexandria's Dollhouse History profiles two local artists who tell the story of segregated Alexandria through miniature dollhouses.

Virginia Quesada (Workshop Alum) is completing work on The Humbler, the first in-depth exploration of the life, music and legacy of Danny Gatton, sometimes called "The World's Greatest Unknown Guitarist."

Alums: Don't be left out! Send your news via our new online form. The Summer Newsletter will be published in July. Deadline to submit updates for consideration is June 15.

Upcoming Funding, Lab, Residency and Pitch Deadlines and Opportunities

Note that some are limited by geographic or other requirements. Please read guidelines carefully.

May 15: Cucalorus/Working Films Works-in-Progress Lab

May 17: Women in Film and Video Documentary Seed Fund

May 21: IFP Week Spotlight on Documentaries

May 29: DC Docs Partnership Grant

May 31: Follow Focus Grant

June 1: The Library of Congress Lavine/Ken Burns Prize for Film

June 1: Filmmakers Without Borders

June 3: Latino Public Broadcasting Public Media Content Fund

June 3: Latino Public Broadcasting Current Issues Fund

June 5: SFFILM Vulcan Productions Environmental Fellowship

June 5: SFFILM Documentary Film Fund

June 7: LEF Foundation Moving Image Fund Pre-Production Fund

June 10: Derek Freese Documentary Fund

June 14: The Loreen Arbus Disability Awareness Grant

June 17: Firelight Media Documentary Lab

June 19: ITVS Digital Open Call

June 28: Points North Fellowship

June 28: Points North North Star Residency

June 28: Points North Short Form Editing Residency

June 30: Roy W. Dean Film Grant

July 1: Pare Lorentz Documentary Fund

July 14: Women In Film Finishing Fund

July 15: Southern Documentary Fund Research and Production Grants

July 23: National Endowment for the Arts ArtWorks

August 14: National Endowment for the Humanities Development and Production Grants

September 2: IDA Enterprise Fund Development Grant

Rolling Deadlines

Sundance Documentary Fund
Fledgling Fund
The Bertha BRITDOC Documentary Journalism Fund
AMDOC Artist Emergency Fund

Want to see the full list of film funders?
We now have a permanent place on our website which you can bookmark to get links to more information on major film funders. You can access the page for free as long as you sign in to our website
Here's the link to bookmark: http://www.docsinprogress.org/funding_for_documentaries

Hot Reads

Have you been too busy to keep up with what's been going on in the world of documentary? We've compiled links to some articles and blogs we think you may find of interest.

Documentary Business Reveals Widening Gap Between Rich and Poor (Indiewire)

The Dronepocalypse Is Here — in Documentary Footage, at Least (New York Times)

DocXchange Looks to Boost Doc Biz With Exhibitors Collective (Variety)

IDFA Forum goes tailor-made, expands cross-media market for 2019 (IDFA)

I Finally Made a "Normal" Documentary. Here's What I Learned (Talkhouse)

A (Revised!) Introduction to Documentary Budgeting (Documentary Magazine)

Want to see more? We now have a permanent place on our website which you can bookmark to keep up with the latest articles and blogs of interest. You can access the page for free as long as you sign in to our website.  Bookmark this page: http://www.docsinprogress.org/hotreads

What Else is Coming Up From Docs In Progress?

All programs are at our space in downtown Silver Spring unless otherwise noted.

About Docs In Progress

Docs In Progress is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering, educating, and engaging emerging documentary filmmakers and the audiences they are trying to reach. We offer more than 50 different educational, professional development, screening, and artist services programs every year in the Washington DC Metropolitan area and beyond.