Winter 2017 Newsletter


As we kick off a new year in a new location, check out what's new from Docs In Progress, including an introduction to our Fellows, a residency open call, Peer Pitch West, and much more.  Plus funding deadlines, hot reads, and much more...

Ribbon_2_Eli_Dweck_Photo_websize.jpgA Message from the Executive Director

Welcome to 2017! Just last week, Docs In Progress officially opened the doors to our new space at 801 Wayne Avenue in downtown Silver Spring, Maryland.

Thank you to our friends at the Greater Silver Spring Chamber of Commerce for helping us cut the ribbon on our new space (pictured at right GSSCC President/CEO Jane Redicker and I are cutting the ribbon held by Scott Gordon from our Platinum Sponsor Word Wizards and our Board Co-Chair Jay Elvove).

We also kicked off our winter season of workshops last week. In the coming weeks, we will be welcoming a new cohort of Fellows (find out who below), hosting our first Roundtable at the new space, organizing our first Work-in-Progress Screening of the year, and welcoming submissions for our Filmmaker-in-Residence and Peer Pitch West programs.

A lot else has happened in recent weeks which may be of concern to many in our community. There are potential threats to federal funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (which supports our artist services programs directly and also provides sizable funding to the Maryland State Arts Council which also supports us). A team member of work-in-progress alum Story of America was arrested and charged with felony rioting while filming street protests on Inauguration Day (the charges were later dropped). Issues of access by journalists to White House news conferences and media blackouts on public affairs offices of certain federal agencies are as worrying to documentary filmmakers as they may be to traditional news journalists.

Still I have hope. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (which had been criticized last year for lack of diversity in nominees) has done due diligence in diversifying its membership, including in the documentary branch; four of the five nominated documentary features are made by people of color (three of these films deal specifically with issues of race) and the fifth is made by non-U.S. filmmakers about the topical issue of refugees. Funders and film institutions are working quickly to support more projects which can help cross the deep political divides of our country. There is a new energy for activism and advocacy which we are seeing from many in our community. I myself will be headed to Maryland Arts Day and Arts Advocacy Day, and have been thinking a lot about ways we can reinforce to our local and national representatives that support for the arts is essential. I hope to share some suggestions on that front soon.

Most of all, I am excited to hear about the projects in the works by many many documentary filmmakers, including those who applied for our Fellowship. The phrase now, more than ever may seem almost clichéd, but it really does apply to the importance of what documentary filmmakers do and can do to share the stories of humanity. Keep on filming!  


Erica Ginsberg
Executive Director, Docs In Progress



Docs In Progress is pleased to announce the participants in our fifth annual Fellowship Program. Selected through a competitive application process, these ten Fellows represent a variety of professional backgrounds and are at different stages of their careers and their current documentaries-in-progress.

Their films range in topic: deeply personal family legacies, anthropological explorations about the keepers of cultural traditions, insights into how different Americans view the current state of politics; stories of unlikely activists fighting to save their communities; and a historical documentary about a song which rose up out of church basements to become an anthem of the civil rights era.

The Fellows will participate as a cohort in a series of monthly meetings from February through September 2017 where they will come together to share and hold each other accountable for progress on these current projects, and have a facilitated discussion with each other and with special guest speakers about issues related to the documentary landscape, work/life balance, and the creative process. They will also attend the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival.

Find out more about this year's Fellows and Their Projects.

Docs In Progress will be hosting a Filmmaker-in-Residence this June. We are on the search for a seasoned documentarian who would like to spend anywhere from two to six weeks in the Washington DC Metropolitan area to do research on or develop a new work-in-progress.

While resident at our space in downtown Silver Spring, the Filmmaker-in-Residence would mentor our Fellows and Peer Pitch participants, give a professional development workshop, and screen and discuss work in a public program. In exchange, the resident would receive office space, an honoraria, and a modest travel stipend.

The deadline to apply for the Residency is Friday, April 14. Find out more.


Docs In Progress is coming back to the west coast in March for our sixth annual Peer Pitch West, held in partnership with the Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival and The D-Word. This is an opportunity for documentary filmmakers to get and give feedback on pitches about their projects. 


All attending will gain valuable insights and new connections which can guide your own filmmaking. Some of the films which have come through Peer Pitch have included Let the Fire Burn, Slingshot, Kandahar Journals, Sweetheart Deal, Out in the Silence, Deej, Indivisible, The New Woman, The Lost Dream, and Uranium Drive-In, and four films which will be screened at the festival: Big Sonia, Dropka, The Groove is Not Trivial, and Twice Upon a Time.

Peer Pitch will take place on Friday, March 24 at the festival which is in Sonoma County, less than a 90 minute drive from the Bay Area.

Pitching slots are offered on a first come, first served basis, so don't wait too long to register.
Find out more.



Since 2004, Docs In Progress has facilitated feedback sessions on the rough cuts of more than 150 documentaries...with your help. Join us on Friday, February 24 at 7:00 pm at the George Washington University in Washington DC to watch two not-quite-finished documentaries and participate in a facilitated workshop-style feedback session with the audience. This honest and constructive feedback is aimed at helping the filmmakers get to the next stage of completing and distributing the film. This program is open to filmmakers and film lovers! This event is sponsored by The Documentary Center at the George Washington University. We'll be screening: 

Girls Are Always Shrieking by Hamid Reza Tabarraei
A look at gender roles in Iran from the perspective of girls and boys in two Tehran primary schools.

America: an Immigration Nation by Ronald Stevens
The United States has seen four great waves of immigration, as well as xenophobia faced by various immigrant groups upon arriving to these shores.

Find out more.


Vintage_Movie_Night_Feb_Promo.jpgThanks to support from the City of Takoma Park, we will be organizing screening on the second Thursday of every month in the winter, spring, and fall. Coming up this week:

Thursday, February 9: Vintage Movie Night
Join Richard Hall as he opens the archival vaults of educational and industrial films that reveal a sometimes humorous, sometimes eye-opening, sometime cringe-worthy window into society and attitudes of other earlier eras. At this program, Hall will present travel films shown in American classrooms from the 1920s to the 1960s.

Save the dates for the following programs:

Thursday, March 9: Demythologizing the American West Through Documentary
Perspectives from filmmaker Paul Moon and photographer Rebecca Drobis will present how they've approached documenting stories respectively from today's western ranch culture and a remote Montana Blackfeet reservation

Thursday, April 13: Vintage Movie Night
Docs In Progress Presents Vintage Movie Night with Richard Hall

Thursday, May 11: The Crooked Tune
Filmmaker Charles Cohen presents his film about fiddler Dave Bing's efforts to keep West Virginia Old Time Music alive.  



Docs In Progress is pleased to welcome Barbara Valentino to our Board of Directors. She is the Principal of Evolving Communications, a multimedia production company in Washington DC with a speciality in producing media on science and technology for a variety of clients, including international organizations, government agencies, associations, and academic and research institutions. 

Prior to establishing this company, Ms. Valentino served as director of the television office of the National Academy of Sciences. During that tenure, she coordinated the Academy’s involvement in its partnership with public television on three major prime-time series: Planet Earth, The Infinite Voyage and Space Age

Ms. Valentino participated in a five-year government-funded committee to examine best practices for science communication in the 21st Century, served as executive vice president of the Washington DC chapter of Women in Film and Video and has been a member of the advisory board to The Ruby Bridges Foundation in addition to many film and video juried competitions and advisory committees.


February 9 (Thursday evening): Vintage Movie Night with Richard Hall at the Takoma Park Community Center FREE

ebruary 13 (Monday evening): Documentary Roundtable Silver Spring: Trailer Night

February 15 (Wednesday): Deadline to Apply for April Work-in-Progress Screening

February 24 (Friday evening): Work-in-Progress Screening

February 28 (Tuesday evening): Inside Film Festivals: What are Festival Programmers Thinking?

March 6–15 (Monday/Wednesday evenings): Backpack Filmmaker Bootcamp 1: The Self-Sufficient Doc Shooter

March 9 (Thursday evening): Demythologizing the West with Paul Moon and Rebecca Droibis at Takoma Park Community Center FREE

March 13: Documentary Roundtable Washington DC at Interface Media 

March 15 (Wednesday): Deadline to Apply for April Documentary Roundtable Trailer Night

March 18 (Saturday full day):
 Intermediate Adobe Premiere Editing Bootcamp with Paul Moon

March 24 (Friday full day): Peer Pitch West at the Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival

March 25 (Saturday morning): Filmmaking at Your Fingertips: The Smartphone Documentarian with Larry Engel

April 3 (Monday): Documentary Roundtable Silver Spring: Trailer Night

April 14 (Friday): Deadline to Apply for Filmmaker Residency

June 26–July 7:
 Youth Summer Camp: Documentary Filmmaking Summer Camp (Ages 12-17) at the Takoma Park Community Center 


Congratulations to Ramona Diaz on Award at Sundance
For those who were at the Documentary Inspiration Awards last October, honoree Ramona Diaz mentioned that she was working on a new film. That film Motherland recently premiered at the Sundance Documentary Film Festival where it won the World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Commanding Vision. The film, which has been acquired for distribution by Dogwoof, next heads to the Berlin International Film Festival.

Quince Orchard Project Featured on Local News
Fiscal sponsoree and alum of our Fellowship program Jason Green recently talked on WJLA TV news about The Quince Orchard Project. He is directing and co-producing the film which presents the unlikely merger of three racially segregated churches in 1968 in the Quince Orchard community of Gaithersburg, Maryland as an example of how communities can unite during divided times.

Paul Moon's Latest Documentary To Make Bi-Coastal Premieres in March 
After opening at film festivals in Germany and Portugal, Docs In Progress alum and teaching artist Paul Moon's newest feature film Samuel Barber: Absolute Beauty will premiere at the Classical Arts Festival in Napa, CA on February 10 and will screen in Washington, DC at the Phillips Collection  on March 23. This was a true Docs In Progress collaboration since Paul created the documentary with help from several other members of our community, including Emily Wathen, Richard Chisolm and Jeff Krulik. This screening is free but reservations are strongly recommended. Find out more.  

Two of our 2017 Fellows Also Honored by Women in Film and Video
Congratulations to Krystal Tingle who has received the Randy Goldman Career Development Scholarship to attend a training at the Maine Media Workshops and to Yi Chen who received Carolyn's First Decade Fund given to support professional development for filmmakers in the first decade of their careers. Both honors were announced by Women in Film and Video's DC chapter at their recent Holiday Party. 

Alums: Don't be left out. Send your news to monica AT docsinprogress DOT org


Sundance Institute Documentary Creative Producing Lab Deadline February 10
This year-long program is designed to nurture emerging producers with project-specific support through the Creative Producing Lab, Creative Producing Summit, Sundance Film Festival attendance, year-round mentorship from industry mentors, and ongoing support from Sundance Institute Staff. The program is designed to hone emerging producers' creative instincts and evolve their communication and problem-solving skills at all stages of their next feature film project. The deadline to apply is February 10. Find out more.

Mother Jones Documentary Filmmaker Residency
If you're a filmmaker interested in partnering with an innovative newsroom focused on accurate, point-of-view narrative storytelling, the new Mother Jones documentary film residency may be perfect for you. This unique new program will give an emerging or early-career filmmaker a yearlong opportunity to embed in the newsroom, with a full-time salary and benefits, and the wraparound support of story editors, fact-checkers, social-media mavens, and crack lawyers. 
Find out more.

IFP Filmmaker Labs Open for Applications
Open to all first-time feature directors with films in post-production, the IFP Filmmaker Labs ensure that talented, emerging voices receive the support, resources, and industry exposure necessary to complete, market and distribute their first feature. Focusing exclusively on low-budget features (<$1million), this highly immersive program provides filmmakers with the technical, creative and strategic tools necessary to launch their films – and their careers. The deadline to apply is March 3. Find out more.


What's Up Docs! Season 2 Documentary Series at George Washington University.
The Documentary Center at The George Washington University hosts this new, curated, monthly Fall and Spring series of feature-length and short documentaries. Each screening will be followed by a post-screening Q&A with a noted author, scholar, film director, or documentary forward-thinker. Starting in February, screenings are held the second Thursday of every month from 7:00-9:30pm at the Marvin Center Amphitheater on GWU's Campus. The theme of this series is "What Do You Believe?" and features documentary films around sub themes of Evidence, Morality, and Faith. Find out more.

DC Independent Film Festival Unveils Documentary SlateDocs In Progress is proud to be a Community Partner for this year's DC Independent Film Festival which is taking place February 15-20 at various venues in Washington DC. The festival has an impressive documentary slate this year, including new films from Docs In Progress community members John Kinhart and Caitlin Carroll. They are also offering various professional development seminars. Find out more.

SVA Social Documentary MFA Open for Applications 
The School of Visual Arts' MFA Social Documentary Film program is now accepting applications for their MFA program beginning this coming fall in New York. Students work collaboratively with their faculty of professional filmmakers to direct several documentary shorts culminating in an individual thesis film while also being guided towards a career in the documentary industry through exposure to guest lectures, internships, and festivals. Program alumni have won Student Academy Awards and Student Emmys, been distributed theatrically, broadcast on television, and shown in festivals worldwide. Find out more.

Check out our calendar of upcoming documentary film screenings and events in the Washington DC Metro area at


Fledgling Fund Launches Special Fund for Rapid Story Development
In response to the current political climate, the Fledgling Fund has launched a special fund to support short films and/or other visual stories that can be completed and distributed quickly. Priority will be given to projects that have a plan to distribute work in ways that deepen the debate around critical social issues. They are open to funding at all stages (production, post-production, distribution and outreach) but will give priority to projects and that are well positioned to make an impact quickly. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis and must be submitted via their online application system. They are committed to an expedited review process and will notify applicants of proposal’s status within two weeks.  Unfortunately, due to volume, we are unable to provide feedback on declined applications. Learn more.

Other Upcoming Opportunities

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

February 10:  ITVS Open Call

February 17: ITVS Digital Open Call

February 27: Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund

February 28: Visions SudEst Fund

March 20: CAAM Media Fund

April 30: Roy W. Dean Grant

May 26: IDA Enterprise Documentary Fund Production Grant

June 12: Derek Freese 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:


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.

Independent Documentary Distribution in Turbulent Times (IDA Documentary Magazine)

Power Struggles: Sundance Documentarians Tell Us What It Means to Collaborate With Their Subjects (Indiewire)

'If It Sucks, You Need to Know!' and More Indispensable Advice from Sundance Filmmakers (No Film School)

20 Honest Observations From the Sundance Film Festival (Filmmaker Magazine)

Crowdsourcing is Still Hard to Do: Some Do's and Don'ts (POV Documentary Blog)

The Documentary Category Makes History, but Not Without Oscar controversy (Los Angeles Times)

Oscar Odds Stacked Against Documentary Directors (Variety)

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:

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