December 9, 2016

The IDA Documentary Journalism Project with Major Support from the MacArthur Foundation

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced a new investment in documentary film with a four-year, $5 million grant to the International Documentary Association to establish the IDA Documentary/Journalism Project. The initiative was announced by Kathy Im, Director of MacArthur’s Journalism and Media Program, at IDA’s 32nd annual IDA Awards ceremony.

The IDA Documentary/Journalism Project will support:

  • $1 million annually for four years in production and development grants to nonfiction filmmakers taking on in-depth exploration of contemporary stories through a journalistic lens; and

  • Support, mentorship, training and access to resources for both grantees and the broader field, to support their work including the development of a network of partner organizations focused on issues such as legal resources, research tools and other support services

Independent documentarians are increasingly relied upon to investigate essential news stories, covering issues that need considerable time and depth to develop. The IDA Documentary/Journalism Project will provide a much-needed source of development and production grants for a diverse cohort of filmmakers, create a network of leading organizations in the legal, indemnity, academic and other fields to share expertise, and offer its grantees and the broader field long overdue access to relevant educational opportunities and resources for documentary journalists.

The Project will enable documentarians to report important stories more effectively; journalists to utilize film more artfully; and all who work in these fields to achieve their goals in greater safety and with greater impact.

"The MacArthur Foundation supports independent inquiry and storytelling that helps to inform, engage and inspire the American public to think critically and deeply about the challenges we face as a nation," said Kathy Im, Director of the Journalism and Media program at MacArthur. "Support for this new fund at IDA is an expression of the Foundation’s enduring commitment to independent media, and part of a broader set of investments aimed at building strong institutions in the fields of nonprofit journalism, nonfiction storytelling, and participatory civic media."

"Independent documentary makers play an essential role in contemporary journalism - uncovering, investigating and investing the time to follow a story. But too often they work with few resources and little support," said Simon Kilmurry, executive director of the International Documentary Association, "With the support of the MacArthur Foundation, the IDA Documentary/Journalism Project will provide critical support to projects and a wealth of resources to the broader documentary field."

The Project will engage an advisory committee made up of filmmakers and journalists to provide 10 production grants of between $75,000 - $100,000 to films in production. Additionally, the Project will provide 10-15 development grants in a range of $10,000 - $15,000 each to films in early stages. Submission information, funding criteria and more details are set to be announced in January 2017.