Spring 2017 Newsletter


Spring happenings from Docs In Progress; tips from the trenches on fighting for the arts; a missive from Full Frame, funding deadlines, alumni news, hot reads, and happenings from the wider world of documentary...

Meet Our 2017 Filmmaker in Residence

AndrePerezHeadshot.jpgDocs In Progress is pleased to announce our 2017 Filmmaker-in-Residence will be André Perez.

André is an oral historian, educator, filmmaker, and community organizer based in Chicago. His passion is empowering marginalized communities through media production, leadership development, and creating platforms to share underrepresented stories. He is currently at work on America In Transition, a documentary series that takes a look at social change from the perspective of transgender people in marginalized communities.

While at Docs In Progress, André will be editing an episode from the series; will participate in our Peer Pitch program; will screen and discuss some of his work, and will give a talk on how models from community organizing, interactive design, and citizen journalism can help move towards more just, collaborative, and participatory storytelling. We look forward to introducing him to the Docs In Progress community.

Fighting for the Arts: Some Tips From The Trenches


Even when you live in the belly of the beast of politics, complacency is possible... until now. While we can celebrate the fact that Congress voted this week to increase funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities for the current fiscal year, threats remain to these agencies and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Docs In Progress Executive Director Erica Ginsberg recently attended Arts Advocacy Day in Washington DC, and reports back on some tips she learned along the way. Read more.

Peer Pitch in Chicago and Silver Spring


Is your documentary film pitch ready for primetime? What if you had the opportunity to give your pitch a test run? Peer Pitch provides an opportunity to get feedback on your pitch and trailer from other filmmakers in a safe and supportive environment.

Films which have been presented at past Peer Pitch workshops have gone on to pitching forums, funding, festivals, broadcast, and distribution. Participants have also made connections with other filmmakers which have led to later collaborations. Some Peer Pitch alums include: Let the Fire Burn, Slingshot, Kandahar Journals, Sweetheart Deal, Big Sonia, Out in the Silence, Deej, Indivisible, The Lost Dream, and Uranium Drive-In

Thanks to support from the National Endowment for the Arts and a partnership with The D-Word, we have organized three regional Peer Pitches this year. The first took place in March at the Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival. Next week, we are headed to Chicago for Peer Pitch Midwest in partnership with Columbia College's #DocYourWorld Festival. June will bring the event back home as a lead-in event to the AFI DOCS Film Festival. Pitching slots are available on a first come, first served basis.

Find out more about Peer Pitch Midwest in Chicago on May 10.

Find out more about Peer Pitch in Silver Spring on June 14.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Supports Master Classes

Academy.jpgDocs In Progress is pleased to announce we have received support from
The Academy Foundation of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Funds will support a series of weekend master classes with seasoned documentary filmmakers to showcase the range and diversity of documentary film approaches. The first of these master classes (which will be free for our 2017 Fellows) will take place this August and will be announced soon.

Docs In Progress is one of 44 organizations from 24 communities across the United States which has received support from The Academy's FilmCraft and FilmWatch grants established to identify and empower future filmmakers from nontraditional backgrounds, cultivate new and diverse talent, promote motion pictures as an art form, and provide a platform for underrepresented artists.

Find out more. 

Full Frame, Fellows, and First-Timers


For four days each April, the Full Frame Documentary Festival has drawn filmmakers and film lovers to North Carolina for what is often considered a "filmmaker's festival." This year Full Frame marked its 20th anniversary, and not even tornado warnings along the I-95/I-85 corridor could keep our community from heading down to Durham to celebrate. Docs In Progress fellows and staff made the trek south to fully participate in the event. This was a first time at the festival for many of our fellows, as well as our Marketing Manager Monica Sanjur. She and some of the fellows reflected on a first-timer's experience of the festival. Read more. 


Investigative Documentary Focus of May Documentary Roundtable

Nina_Katie.jpgInvestigative documentary will be the topic of the next WIFV/Docs In Progress Documentary Roundtable. Nina Gilden Seavey from The Documentary Center at the George Washington University will explore the challenges of investigative documentary and present clips from her 30-year-in-the-making investigative film, My Fugitive. Katie Townsend from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press will provide an update on the state of investigative work in the current political environment. This will take place on Monday, May 8 (6:30 pm Networking, 7:00 pm Program) at Interface Media Group (1233 20th St. NW, Washington DC). Free for Docs Insiders and WIFV Members. $15 for all others.

Find out more.

Upcoming Docs In Progress Programs and Deadlines

May 8 (Monday): Documentary Roundtable DC: Investigative Documentary Case Study

May 10 (Wednesday): Peer Pitch Midwest in Chicago

May 11 (Thursday): Free Screening of Charles Cohen's The Crooked Tune

May 21 (Sunday): Work-in-Progress Screening of My Dear Children at WJFF

June 10 (Saturday): How to Get Great Interviews Workshop

June 14 (Wednesday): Peer Pitch in Silver Spring

June 22 (Thursday): Save the date for Filmmaker-in-Residence Presentation

June 24 (Saturday): Filmmaking at Your Fingertips: The Smartphone Documentarian

June 26–July 7 (Monday–Friday): Documentary Filmmaking Summer Camp (Ages 12-17) 

July 11–August 1 (Tuesdays & Thursdays): Hands-on Video Production for Nonprofits

July 15 (Saturday): Legal Issues in Documentary Production

August 5 (Saturday): Save the date for Producing Masterclass with Doug Block

August 6 (Sunday): Save the date for Docs In The City screenings and discussion of personal documentaries

September 7–October 5 (Thursdays): Documentary Filmmaking from A to Z Class


Ramona Diaz Heads From Sundance and Berlin to Baltimore
During last year's Documentary Inspiration Awards, honoree Ramona Diaz revealed that she was in the final stages of a new documentary. That film Motherland premiered at the Sundance Documentary Film Festival in January and is making its way through the festival circuit. It stops next in Diaz' hometown of Baltimore for the Maryland Film Festival where it will screen on Friday, May 5 and Sunday, May 7. Find out more.
Indivisible_Fence_Reunion_with_Branding.jpgIndivisible Returns to Washington DC, May 5 and 6
Join 2013 Fellow Hilary Linder for two special screenings of Indivisible followed by a discussion with the filmmakers and the three Dreamers featured in the film, Antonio Alarcon, Evelyn Rivera Portillo and Renata Borges Teodoro. 
Lance Kramer Selected to Impact Partner's 2017 Documentary Producers Fellowship
Former Board Member Lance Kramer is one of eleven fellows picked to be in Impact Partner's 2017 cohort. Fellows participate in six workshops lead by experts in such areas as film finance, festival and sales strategy, distribution, and legal topics. Fellows receive hands-on advice that has immediate relevancy to their current work.
Day Al-Mohamed Presents at SXSW
2015 Fellow Day Al-Mohamed participated in a panel discussion at SXSW titled Disasters in Diversity: Disability in Media. She discussed how to develop authentic disabled characters and stories and avoiding the pitfalls of stereotyping.
Women of Maidan Wins Best Documentary Award at the Fort Myers Film Festival
Congratulations to fiscal sponsoree Olha Onyshko, director and producer of Women of Maidan, who received the 2017 Best Documentary Award at the Fort Myers Film Festival. Her film was also selected for showings in March at the Institute for Peace and sponsored by Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) to celebrate Women's Month at the U.S. Capitol.
Exotic Documentary Screens in DC and Across the Midwest this Summer
2014 Fellow Amy Oden's film Exotic, a feature documentary about sex workers in Guam, is screening across the Midwest this June, including the Leather Archives & Museum in Chicago, the Cactus Club in Milwaukee, and Art In in Madison. The film also recently screened at Artomatic in the DC area. In addiotion, Action! Library Media Service is now carrying DVDs of the film, and will soon be offered digitally on demand.
Heavy_Metal_Parking_Lot.jpgHeavy Metal Parking Lot Exhibit at the University of Maryland Closes Memorial Day Weekend
The exhibit celebrating the 30-year ride of Heavy Metal Parking Lot closes after Memorial Day Weekend. 2015 Filmmaker-in-Residence Jeff Krulik reflects on his accomplishment, "What fun it has been celebrating this milestone, and thanks to all for the support. The exhibit will live on in a soon-to-be released university website, and my collection (which was aided greatly by Docs In Progress support) will be organized by student archivists-in-training for years to come. Special thanks to my parents for indulging my hoarder tendencies." See the exhibit at Clarice Smith Performing Arts Library at the University of Maryland before it closes. Find out more.
Feminine Transitions Photo Exhibit On Display This Fall at VisArts
2016 Fellow and Fiscal Sponsoree Alyscia Cunningham's Feminine Transitions photography project that inspired her documentary promotes the importance of self-love for our authentic selves as women. She will have an upcoming exhibition at VisArts in Rockville, Maryland. The exhibition includes portraits that reveal the elegance and subtly honest beauty of female faces between the ages of 7 weeks and 103 years, unaltered by Photoshop. Find out more.
Digital Dreamers Speeding to Docs Barcelona
Digital Dreamers has been selected to participate in Docs Barcelona's Speed Meetings, part of events focused on connecting documentary filmmakers with works-in-progress with commissioning editors and other industry. The film by Kenji Yamamoto and Nancy Kelly was pitched at this year's Peer Pitch West.
LionCub2.jpgThe Roar of a Lion Cub Receives 2017 NYSCA Award
Peer Pitch Alum The Roar of a Lion Cub has received support from the New York State Council on the Arts and the American Documentary Film Fund. Congratulations to Martina Radwan!
Five Peer Pitch Alums Featured at Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival
Docs In Progress Executive Director, Erica Ginsberg was again at the Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival in March, facilitating another successful Peer Pitch West. But, she was not alone. Five Peer Pitch alums screened their finished films at the festival, including Niam Itani (Twice Upon a Time), Vanessa LeMaire (An Acquired Taste), Yan Chun Su (Drokpa), Leah Warshawski (Big Sonia), and Tommie Dell Smith (The Groove is Not Trivial).
Canadian Premiere of Drokpa at DOXA Documentary Film Festival 
Peer Pitch alum Yan Chun Su's film Drokpa will be having its Canadian Premiere at DOXA Documentary Film Festival in Vancouver on May 7.
America: an Immigration Nation Screening at Busboys and Poets May 9
This recent work-in-progress screening alumni film will screen next Tuesday, May 9 at Busboys and Poets' 5th & K location as part of the Focus-In! Film Series: Cinema for a Conscious Community Find out more.
The Farthest Makes its International Premiere at Tribeca
The Farthest made its premiere at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival. Peer Pitch alum Zlata Filipovic was line producer on the film which was directed by Emer Reynolds and produced by Crossing The Line Productions.
In Lorton's Darkroom Gets Best of Fest in Richmond
2016 Fellow and Fiscal Sponsoree Karen Ruckman's film In Lorton's Darkroom was awarded "Best of Festival—Documentary Short" at the Richmond International Film Festival in March. The film was also selected to be in The NOVA Fest Artist Circle in April. Previously it was awarded "Special Recognition" at the 2016 (in)Justice for All Film Festival International.

Cheers of JOY Premieres in the DC area
Cheers of JOY, a Documentary Roundtable alum directed and produced by Nancy Frohman premiered earlier this year at Bethesda Row Cinema. It has also aired on Montgomery County public access television, and was included in the Artist Circle of the Northern Virginia International Film and Music Festival.
Breaking Free Making the Festival Rounds
Breaking Free about a survivor of sex trafficking who was helped by Amara Legal Center in DC, screened at Rosebud Film Festival, Garden State Film Festival and Women in Film/Newark and was accepted in four other festivals. The film was directed by class alum John Mills.
Keep These Docs on Your Radar
Congratulations to Connie Rinehart on completing her latest film Genius of Place about an architect revitalizing a DC landmark, the old Georgetown movie theater. Also kudos to former board member Leon Gerskovic who joined forces once again with our Executive Director Erica Ginsberg on Creative Feds about putting a face on the "faceless bureaucrats" of the federal government by following several who are also accomplished musicians. Both films will be coming soon to a film festival or community screening. Meanwhile Peer Pitch alum Bill Doorley will be screening a work-in-progress of his film The Remarkable Journey of Dr. Warden at the Neuro Film Festival.
Alums: Don't be left out! Send your news via our new online form. The Summer Newsletter will be published July 10. Deadline for submissions is June 30




APA Film Festival May 19-21
Asian Pacific American Film (APA) will be presenting  entertaining and outstanding films from various directors, cultures, and countries from all around the world. There will also be a Saturday series of workshops on fundraising, distribution, and trailers. All screenings take place at Landmark's Atlantic Plumbing Cinema in Washington DC. Find out more.  

DC LaborFest All Month
More than 20 films on labor themes will be a part of this year's DC LaborFest, which also will offer a variety of other programs, including history walks and bike rides, music events, art tours, and a union beer and whiskey tasting. The labor arts are flourishing, as artists respond and activists find inspiration and sustenance. Find out more.

Washington Jewish Film Festival May 17-28
The Washington Jewish Film Festival (WJFF) kicks off its 27th season with a lineup of international cinema that celebrates the diversity of Jewish history, culture and experience through the moving image. Most screenings are followed by discussions with guest filmmakers and subject matter experts. Docs In Progress will also be back with a work-in-progress screening of LeeAnn Dance and Cliff Hackel's My Dear Children on Sunday, May 21. Find out more. 

GI Film Festival PitchFest Looking for Pitches
Up to 20 filmmakers can give a two minute pitch of new ideas for film and television projects (both fiction and non-fiction) to a panel of industry pros to compete for a chance to pitch in the finals and potentially win a prize package. The GI Film Festival centers on stories of military and veteran issues, but the pitches can cover any topic. PitchFest takes place at the U.S. Navy Memorial in Washington DC the morning of Friday, May 26 and the finalists will return on the evening of Sunday, May 28. Find out more.

First Nepal American International Film Festival May 5-7
Nepal America Film Society will be launching its first Nepal America International Film Festival at the University of Maryland from May 5-7. Find out more.

Call for Submissions, Locavore Film Series
Women in Film and Video (WIFV) is partnering with the Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse to start a Locavore Film Series on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays starting in September. Open to all genres and lengths. In the first year, this opportunity is limited to WIFV Members! Above 50 tickets, the profits will be shared with the filmmaker. We want the filmmaker to be at the screenings for Q&A. Submitted films must be made by filmmaker(s) from the DMV. Send title, crew credits, TRT, year made, synopsis, and a viewing link to Melissa Houghton at Women in Film and Video ([email protected]


Southern Documentary Fund Annual Artists Convening June 9-11 in Durham, NC
The Southern Documentary Fund (SDF) Annual Artists Convening takes place each spring in Durham, NC. Filmmakers from around the South and beyond are invited for a weekend of enlightening workshops, panels, and pitch sessions, combined with a healthy dose of community building and peer networking. Find out more.

Marketing, Distribution, and Finance Symposium May 6-7 in Richmond, VA
Independent filmmakers often find that it’s easier to shoot their films than to navigate the confusing world of film financing and distribution. This two-day symposium will provide invaluable practical information about how to raise money, cultivate an audience and select the best distribution model. The Symposium is a part of the Virginia Film Office's workforce development initiative. Find out more.

IFP Spotlight on Documentaries Forum Open for Submissions
This is an opportunity for U.S. and International buyers, sales agents, and financiers to meet with filmmakers with new documentary feature and serialized projects. Taking place in New York in September, Spotlight on Documentaries will present 60+ documentary projects ranging from those at an early financing stage to those nearing completion, this section includes emerging and established filmmakers working in non-fiction. Accepted filmmakers take part in pre-scheduled one-on-one meetings with potential financing and distribution partners, speed dating meetings with festival programmers, invitations to private documentary events, and exclusive access to the Filmmaker Conference. Deadline to apply is May 23. Find out more.

Interim Editor Needed for The Independent
The Independent (www.independent-magazine.org), a 30-year old publication about independent and grassroots filmmaking, is seeking an interim editor to plan/assign/edit/post articles on the website; maintain and communicate with roster of writers; send out monthly e-mail newsletters via Constant Contact; post regularly to social media; and interact with the board monthly. This is a freelance, at home gig with a $250/month stipend. There is possibility of expanding position based on funding. E-mail [email protected] if interested.


UnionDocs - Producer of Workshops and Labs (Brooklyn, NY)

Firelight Media - Documentary Lab Manager and Documentary Lab Coordinator (New York, NY)

BAVC - Senior Education Manager (San Francisco, CA)


Check out our calendar of upcoming documentary film screenings and events in the Washington DC Metro area at http://www.docsinprogress.org/dcfilmevents.

We love to feature updates from our fellow film organizations. Send us your updates, announcements or deadlines via our new online form. The Summer Newsletter will be published July 10. Deadline for submissions is June 30.


Word_Wizards.jpgIn a new feature in our newsletter, we want to give a shout-out to one of our sponsors by spotlighting the work they do in the industry and how they have made a difference. Once of our longest running sponsors is Word Wizards. Not only are they a neighbor here in the media belt of Silver Spring, but they are a big part of the media industry in the Washington DC Metro area and beyond. They save media-makers time through a variety of services, including time code transcription, closed captioning, and translation services to documentary films and other media projects. They have also been pioneers in media accessibility technology.

Their generosity helps support our Work-in-Progress Screening series and the Community Stories Festival, and Co-Founder Scott Gordon even helped us cut the ribbon at our opening after we moved into our current space. We recently caught up with the Word Wizards team to find out more about how they can be an asset to documentary filmmakers. Read more.


WIFV Seed Fund - Deadline May 19
Open to members of Women in Film and Video-DC, the Seed Fund is intended for filmmakers to use in the research and development phase of any documentary project and must be spent within 12 months of notice of the award. Find out more.

IDA Enterprise Documentary Fund - Deadline May 26
This new production grant from the International Documentary Association (IDA) is providing up to $100,000 for feature-length documentary films taking on in-depth explorations of original, contemporary stories and integrating journalistic practice into the filmmaking process. Find out more.

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

May 14: The Miller/Packan Film Fund

May 15: IDFA Bertha Fund: Project Development

May 15: IDFA Bertha Fund: Production & Post Production

May 19: WIFV Seed Fund

May 26: IDA Enterprise Documentary Fund Production Grant

June 1: Hubert Bals Fund Bright Future

June 1: Pacific Pioneer Fund

June 7: LEF Moving Image Fund: PRe-Production

June 12: Derek Freese Documentary Fund

July 28: IDA Enterprise Documentary Fund Development Grant

July 31: Pare Lorentz Documentary Fund

Rolling Deadlines
Sundance Documentary Fund
Fledgling Fund
HotDocs Ted Rogers Fund
The Bertha BRITDOC Documentary Journalism Fund

Want to see the full list of funding deadlines and more information on funders?
We now have a permanent place on our website which you can bookmark to see a full list of funding and pitch deadlines and 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


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.

Projecting Outside the Echo Chamber (Filmmaker Magazine)

Something's Gotta Give: Documentary Funds Adapt to a New Political Climate (IDA)

One-Person Crew: The Pros and Cons of Making a Documentary By Yourself (Indiewire)

"We Need to Stop Patting Ourselves on the Back": Speakeasy Spotlight at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival's 20th Anniversary Edition (Filmmaker Magazine)

The Messy Truth Behind a Day Job as a Documentarian (Documentary Magazine)

Where are We Now with the Moving Image? (Witness)

How to Cut a Trailer, "Audiencing" as a Verb, and Branded Content: A Report from DOC NYC's Marketing Bootcamp (Filmmaker Magazine)

Documentary Activism in the Age of Alternative Facts (Fast Company)

Diverse Documentaries Under Attack as Congressman Questions Public Broadcasting 'Agenda' (Indiewire)

Cinematic Techniques That Have Become Popular in the Modern Age of Filmmaking (No Film School)

Documentary Filmmakers Fear More Legal Challenges in Trump Era (Columbia Journalism Review)


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


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