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2013 Pare Lorentz Documentary Fund Grantees Announced

By Amy Halpin

Six feature-length documentary films have been selected to receive a total of $95,000 from the IDA Pare Lorentz Documentary Fund this year.

The Pare Lorentz Documentary fund was created with support from The New York Community trust to honor the legacy of legendary American documentary filmmaker Pare Lorentz by making grants to documentary projects that shed light on critical issues in the United States and focus on Pare Lorentz’s central concerns—the appropriate use of the natural environment, justice for all and the illumination of pressing social problems.

This year the fund received over 250 applications from 28 US states and 13 countries. The six documentaries receiving production support focus on a variety of critical issues and were chosen for their artful storytelling, strong visual style, and high production values, as well as their reflection of the spirit and nature of Pare Lorentz’s work.

For the first time since the fund was launched in 2010, two of the grantees telling these all American stories hail from outside of the US.

The Punch, from German team André Hörmann, Ingmar Trost and Thomas Bergmann, tells the story of a relationship between a father and his son, a talented amateur boxer, striving for a better life in a tough Chicago neighborhood residents refer to as “Murdertown”.

Switzerland native Nick Brandestini travelled to Northern Alaska to shoot a portrait of five Native Alaskan teenagers growing up in Barrow - the northernmost community in the United States with Children of the Arctic. As their climate and culture undergo profound changes, these teens strive to balance being modern American kids and the inheritors of an endangered way of life.

Teenagers facing challenges are also featured in two other projects to receive grants this year. Check It, from filmmakers Dana Flor and Toby Oppenheimer, peers into the lives of a group of gay and transgender youth from a tough inner-city Washington DC neighborhood who form an unlikely gang in order to fight back against the daily dangers and indignities they face. The documentary will offer an intimate portrait of 5 childhood friends as they attempt to claw themselves out of poverty and gang life through an unlikely avenue – fashion. While, Rich Hill, from filmmakers Tracy Droz Tragos and Andrew Droz Palermo offers an affecting and intimate look at a year in the lives of three teenage boys growing up in the rural Missouri town of Rich Hill where they face heartbreaking choices, find comfort in family bonds and dream of a future of possibility.

My Country, No More, from filmmakers Rita Amal Baghdadi and Jeremiah Hammerling, also explores contemporary issues facing rural America with an artful and lyrical look at the clash resulting when the economy and the environment are placed at odds in a small Western North Dakota farming community where people struggle to maintain their way of life amidst the recent oil boom.

And finally, grantee (T)ERROR, from Lyric R. Cabral and David Felix Sutcliffe explores the ethics of the role of informants in US anti-terror investigations through a surprising and revealing story which shows us, for the first time, an active FBI counter-terrorism sting operation, from both the perspective of a government informant and the suspect that he has been assigned to monitor.

“With powerful imagery, artful storytelling and incredibly intimate access, this year’s grantees offer a unique glimpse into lives and communities that many would never have a chance to see were it not for the unique ability of documentary film to take us to places we’ve never been and expand our understanding of the human experience.” Said IDA Executive Director, Michael Lumpkin. “I can’t think of a better tribute to Pare Lorentz’s legacy than supporting the vital work of these documentary filmmakers–telling stories that illuminate some of the most important issues facing our country today.”

The Pare Lorentz Documentary Fund has now made grants of almost $250,000 to 15 films. Previous grantees include As Goes Janesville, Citizen Koch, After Tiller, The New Black and Remote Area Medical.

More information about filmmaker Pare Lorentz, the Pare Lorenz Documentary fund or this years grantees, please visit