Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw are helping to launch Jewish Story Partners, an LA-based film foundation to support diverse Jewish voices.
Through their Righteous Persons Foundation, Spielberg and Capshaw have donated $1 million. Maimonides Fund, a private grantmaking organization that operates in North America and Israel, matched the initial funding, with additional support from Jim Joseph Foundation. Collectively, Jewish Story Partners has $2.25 million in financing.
“There is nothing like storytelling to foster connections and help us understand life’s deepest truths,” Spielberg and Capshaw said in a statement. “We are especially proud to help establish this initiative — which will make visible a fuller range of Jewish voices, identities, experiences, and perspectives — at a time when social divisions run painfully deep and mainstream depictions too often fail to reflect the Jewish community in all its complexity. We hope that JSP projects will long be a source of meaning within the Jewish community and beyond.”
The organization’s mission statement involves expanding the range of stories reflecting Jewish lives. Filmmaker Roberta Grossman will serve as Jewish Story Partner’s producing director, with Sundance Film Festival alum Caroline Libresco joining as artistic director.
“We’re thrilled to create something that is both additive to the independent film community as well as critical to the Jewish arts and culture landscape,” Grossman and Libresco said in a statement. “With the support of our incredible partners, Righteous Persons Foundation, Maimonides Fund, and Jim Joseph Foundation, we can accelerate the production and impact of excellent independent films.”
In 2021, the organization plans to provide $500,000 in grants to U.S.-based feature length documentaries. The grantees will be selected by jury panels, with the inaugural round of recipients expected to be announced soon. In addition to financial support, Jewish Story Partners intends to offer creative guidance to maximize audience impact.
The founding Jewish Story Partners board of directors includes film producer Dan Cogan, “Friends” showrunner Marta Kauffman and television executive Simon Kilmurry.
“Storytelling is crucial so that we may understand each other,” Kauffman said. “Jewish stories are important, not only so others may understand us, but so we may understand ourselves. As a member of the inaugural board of directors of Jewish Story Partners, I’m looking forward to helping create a stable and lasting funding organization that can fill the funding gap for independent filmmakers who want to tell a Jewish story.”