Launched in 2011, JustFilms fosters film and media makers who are creating passionate and purposeful narratives. Film is an ideal medium to present a wide range of complex issues in a way that engages and inspires. Over the course of two years, JustFilms has given grants totaling $20 million to hundreds of exceptionally talented individuals and has partnered with numerous organizations such as The Sundance Institute, ITVS, HBO, Tribeca Film Institute, the Princess Grace Foundation and many others.
One of the five JustFilms-funded projects that premiered at last year's Sundance Film Festival, "How to Survive a Plague," has been nominated for a 2013 Academy Award in the category of Best Documentary Feature. This powerful, inspiring movie exemplifies film's ability to educate and motivate.
"We are constantly thinking of ways to inspire and bring attention to the intractable issues of our time," said Darren Walker, vice president of Ford's Education, Creativity and Free Expression program. "Our JustFilms initiative seeks inventive ways to creatively, financially and programmatically support underrepresented and deserving filmmakers who highlight courageous people confronting difficult issues and actively pursuing a more just, secure and sustainable world."
The Ford Foundation works with many partners in an effort to lift up worthy films during the long cycle of production. In addition to the films that received major support from the Ford Foundation, twelve films premiering at this year's festival were produced by the foundation in collaboration with the Sundance Documentary Film Program. A partnership with ITVS yielded "Fallen City" by Qi Zhao, furthering the international perspective of JustFilms. And the film "When I Walk," a moving chronicle of filmmaker Jason DaSilva 's experience of learning to live with multiple sclerosis, received a finishing grant from the Princess Grace Foundation in support of South East Asian American filmmakers, funded by the Ford Foundation for this very purpose.
"Through collaboration with our valued partners we endeavor to find support for under-represented and deserving filmmakers," said Orlando Bagwell , director of Ford's JustFilms initiative. "The fruits of those labors are on display at International Festivals like Sundance, in creative and dramatic films that bring social justice issues to the forefront."
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.
The eight films premiering at the Sundance Film Festival with major financial support from JustFilms are:
American Promise (US Documentary Competition)
Directors: Joe Brewster and Michele Stephenson
As two African-American boys journey from kindergarten through High School graduation at an elite prep school, they encounter hurdles both in and out of the classroom.
Citizen Koch (US Documentary Competition)
Directors: Carl Deal and Tia Lessin
Following the 2010 Supreme Court decision Citizens United, corporate money played a political role during a contentious decision on organized labor in the state of Wisconsin.
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