January 12, 2011

Foundation for Jewish Culture Announces Recipients of Kroll Fund for Jewish Doc

The Foundation for Jewish Culture, whose mission is to "invest in creative individuals in order to nurture a vibrant and enduring Jewish identity, culture and community," recently granted $140,000 to five exemplary documentaries, ensuring their delivery to film festivals, television and other distribution outlets. The grants, which range between$20,000 and $35,000 each, will enable filmmakers to pay license fees for archival footage, complete additional shooting, and reach a wider audience through outreach and engagement strategies.

This year's grantees of the Foundation's Lynn and Jules Kroll Fund for Jewish Documentary Film include: Joann Sfar Draws From Memory (Dir./Prod.: Sam Ball; US/France), a portrait of one of France's most celebrated graphic novelists; Regarding Susan Sontag (Dir./Prod.: Nancy Kates; US), a spotlight on the life and work of the late American writer and icon; The Law in These Parts (Dir.: Ra'anan Alexandrowicz; Prod.: Laura Poitras; Israel/US), an examination of Israeli military tribunals in the Occupied Territories; Numbered (Dirs.: Dana Doron and Uriel Sinai; Israel), a meditation on the relationship between Holocaust survivors and their tattoos; and The Hangman (Dirs.:  Netalie Braun and Avigail Sperber; Israel), a chronicle of Adolf Eichmann's executioner.

The foundation received nearly 100 grant applications from around the world. Selected by a rigorous panel of scholars, critics, filmmakers and curators that included IDA's own executive director, Michael Lumpkin, the 2010 grantees reflect the global diversity of contemporary Jewish culture. Elise Bernhardt, president and CEO of the Foundation for Jewish Culture, said in a statement, "This year's films are notable for the extraordinary characters they follow and the passionate way in which they live their lives and follow their internal sense of what is right and true."

Since 1996, the Lynn and Jules Kroll Fund for Jewish Documentary Film has supported the completion of original documentaries that explore the Jewish experience in all its complexity. The fund was created with a lead grant from Steven Spielberg's Righteous Persons Foundation and sustained over 10 years with major support from the Charles H. Revson Foundation. The priority of the fund is to support projects that address significant subjects; offer fresh, challenging perspectives; engage audiences across cultural lines; and expand the understanding of Jewish experiences.

Foundation for Jewish Culture Board Member Lynn Kroll said in the statement, "The annual funding of works-in-progress is always an exciting risk. Jules and I were impressed with this year's submissions and grantees.  We are confident that the excellent and diverse panel of judges has made sound, informed recommendations.  I am particularly pleased that our challenge grant was matched by Ellen and Steve Susman, the Simms/Mann Family Foundation, Linda Platt, and others who share our belief in the power of documentary film to stimulate productive dialogue and debate."

In the past 14 years, documentary films supported by the Kroll Fund have received Academy Award nominations, Golden Globe Awards, Emmy Award Nominees, George Foster Peabody Awards, and prizes at festivals such as Berlin International Film Festival, Silverdocs, Sundance Film Festival and Tribeca Film Festival. Past grantees include Waltz with Bashir, Budrus, Blessed is the Match: The Life and Death of Hannah Senesh, Crime After Crime, William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe, Off and Running: An American Coming of Age Story, The Rape of Europa, among others.

Besides Michael Lumpkin, the panelists included Natan Meir, the Lorry I. Lokey Assistant Professor of Judaic Studies at Portland State University; Kenneth Turan, film critic for the Los Angeles Times and NPR's Morning Edition, as well as the director of the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes; cinematpographer John-Keith Wasson, whose credits include The Devil Came on Horseback, and Surviving Hitler: A Love Story; and Pamela Brown Lavitt, director of the Seattle Jewish Film Festival.