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Film News Roundup: SAG-AFTRA Foundation Launches Coronavirus Disaster Fund for Union Members

SAG-AFTRA HQ
Courtesy of SAG-AFTRA

In today’s film news roundup, a disaster fund for SAG-AFTRA members is launched, the Doc10 festival is postponed and the Miami Film Festival plans to present awards, even though the event was called off in the middle of the festival with 27 films still to screen.

DISASTER RELIEF

The SAG-AFTRA Foundation and the SAG-AFTRA Motion Picture Players Welfare Fund have created the COVID-19 Disaster Fund for eligible SAG-AFTRA members impacted by this pandemic.

SAG-AFTRA members are eligible to apply to the Fund if they are currently active and paid up on their dues through October, 2019. The Fund — which has distributed more than $12 million to members over the past 35 years — covers members who are in an emergency financial crisis related to the Coronavirus to cover basic expenses such as rent, mortgage, utilities, medical bills and other essential needs.

The Actors Fund will assist by administering these resources. All applications are confidential and anonymous.

Executive Director Cyd Wilson told Variety that the foundation has received more than 140 requests since Friday, while the usual weekly number is seven to 10. She also said the staff is hopeful that the foundation can supply financial aid within five days and that the organization is seeking donations.

FILM FESTIVALS

The Chicago Media Project has postponed its fifth annual Doc10 Film Festival, which had been set for April 16-19, due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.

“We take the health and safety of both our audience and staff very seriously and we are taking preventative steps to ensure the wellbeing of our community,” the project said. “Over the last five years, we have built a community of extraordinary film-lovers, activists, and philanthropists who believe in the power of storytelling to create real, meaningful change. This community has supported filmmakers who bridge the gap between the silver screen and the hearts and minds of audiences, and we will continue to do that work together.”

Organizers will arrange refunds in the coming days. CMP plans to hold Doc10 at a yet-to-determined date this summer.

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The Miami Film Festival, which ended prematurely on March 12 after six days of operations due to the coronavirus, plans to complete the remaining competitions and announce award winners in the upcoming days.

“We are grateful to have been able to premiere so many filmmaker’s works and bear witness to artist interaction with our community audiences during the Festival’s first six days,” said Festival director Jaie Laplante. “At the same time we are profoundly saddened that premieres and events scheduled for the Festival’s remaining four days could not occur. We vow to continue supporting our artists to the fullest extent possible during and after this current crisis.”

Before the festival’s closure, 66 feature and 42 short films were screened, and three master classes took place. Meanwhile, 21 features and six shorts did not receive the opportunity to screen for the public, including the intended world premieres of “Reefa” “They Call Me Dr. Miami” and “A Mother”; North American premieres of “Dolly Kitty and Those Twinkling Stars” and “Out in the Open”; U.S. premieres of “Window to the Sea” and “This is Cristina;” and the festival’s gala presentation of “Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado.”