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Eleven documentary projects from six countries have been selected for the Intl. Documentary Assn.’s annual Enterprise Documentary Fund Production Grant.

Selected from 248 applicants, the 15 directors behind the 11 docus will receive a total of $600,000 in production grants.

Established in 2017, the IDA Enterprise Documentary Fund supports in-depth explorations of original, contemporary stories that integrate journalistic practice into the filmmaking process. The fund is financially supported by John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, with additional support from the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation. In its six-year history, the fund has given over $4.5 million in grant money to nonfiction filmmakers.

The 11 selected projects are currently in production in six countries: Armenia, Ethiopia, India, Japan, Russia and the United States. Of the 15 directors behind the docs, 70% are filmmakers of color, 70% are women or gender-non-conforming filmmakers, and 40% identify as members of the LGBTQ community. 

The docus explore various topics, including the climate crisis, Japan’s antiquated rape laws and institutions, and the Hoolock Gibbons, India’s fast-vanishing ape species.

“These films show that journalism is not a ‘look’ but a methodology, a practice of rigorous, ethical, and intentional truth-seeking,” says Keisha Knight, IDA’s director of funds. “These films have a robust journalistic approach that underpins their storytelling while manifesting distinct and diverse visual aesthetics.”

This year’s selection panel included Robert Chang (“POV” coordinating producer), Andre Gary (director of documentary films at National Geographic), Martine Granby (assistant professor of journalism at the University of Connecticut), Christine Kecher (senior commissioning editor, Op-Docs at the New York Times), Rodrigo Reyes (documentary filmmaker), and Rintu Thomas (documentary filmmaker).

 “As we confront a restructured world, the jurors were impressed by these documentary filmmakers’ deep commitment to telling stories of resistance and resilience while maintaining care for the relationships with the participants and communities centered in their work,” the panel noted in a group statement. “The projects collectively push the boundaries of journalistic engagement with the art of nonfiction as they craft compelling and starkly unique narratives. We hope they will be an inspiration to the field at large.” 

2022 IDA Enterprise Documentary Fund Production Grant Recipients

“Baseline: Part 1”
Director/Producer: John D. Sutter | Producer: Su Kim | Country:  USA
“Baseline: Part 1” tells the story of a year on Earth through four communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis.

“Black Box” 
Director: Shiori Ito | Producer: Eric Nyari | Co-Producer: Hanna Aqvilin | Country: Japan
From confessional-style iPhone and secret recordings mixed with verité shooting, “Black Box” is Shiori Ito’s staggering account of her own improbable fight as both victim and journalist against Japan’s antiquated rape laws and institutions.

“Life + Life”
Director/Producer: Contessa Gayles | Producers: Richie Reseda, David Felix Sutcliffe | Country: USA
An incarcerated musician struggles for healing and peace as he comes of age in this documentary-musical odyssey composed behind bars.

“Made in Ethiopia” 
Director: Xinyan Yu | Co-Director/producer: Max Duncan | Co-Producer: Tamara Dawit | Country: Ethiopia
Three women navigate the bumpy expansion of the biggest Chinese industrial zone in Ethiopia. Ethiopia hopes Chinese investment will help make it the next factory of the world, but will a spreading civil war and other challenges derail its plans?

“My Midwife”
Director/Producer: Elaine Epstein | Country: USA
The arrest of three home birth midwives serving Amish and Mennonite communities in upstate New York ignites a legislative fight for freedom of choice in birthing rights. Through the lens of this modern-day witch hunt, the film examines the battle between medicine and midwifery and its impact on maternal child health.

“Our Hoolocks”
Director: Ragini Nath | Co-Director: Chinmoy Sonowal | Producer: Gary Byung-seok KAM | Co-Producer: Kweighbaye Kotee | Country: India
Sidhanta, a fisherman, has been fighting to protect the Hoolock Gibbons, India’s fast-vanishing ape species, in his village. However, this endearing tale of human-animal coexistence is threatened when a catastrophic oilfield blowout disrupts the delicate ecosystem and his relationship with the Hoolock Gibbons.

“There Was, There Was Not”
Director: Emily Mkrtichian | Producer: Mara Adina | Country:  Armenia
The first line of every Armenian fairy tale, “There Was, There Was Not,” tells the collective myth of a homeland nearly lost to war — and four women’s resistance to that loss.

“Untitled Labor Union Documentary” 
Directors: Stephen Maing, Brett Story | Producers: Samantha Curley, Mars Verrone | Country: USA
An intimate portrait of the Amazon Labor Union (ALU), a group of current and former Amazon workers taking on one of the world’s largest and most powerful companies in the fight to unionize.

“Sugarcane”
Directors: Julian Brave Noisecat, Emily Kassie | Producers: Emily Kassie, Kellen Quinn | Country:  USA
A gripping investigation of unmarked graves at an Indian residential school unearths secrets below and above ground, igniting a reckoning in the lives of survivors and their descendants, including the film’s co-director.

“Untitled Press Freedom Project”
Director: Anonymous | Producer: Anonymous
Names are kept anonymous for filmmakers’ safety.

“Queendom”
Director: Agniia Galdanova | Producer: Igor Myakotin | Country: USA/France
Gena, a queer artist from a small town in Russia, dresses in otherworldly costumes made from junk and tape, and protests the government on the streets of Moscow. She stages radical performances in public that become a new form of art and activism – and put her life in danger.