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Banner with name of fund, Pare Lorentz Documentary Fund and vector image of a man working the land with horses, representative of Pare Lorentz's film, The River.

Pare Lorentz Documentary Fund Application Guidelines

Mission and Objective

The Pare Lorentz Documentary Fund will provide annual production and post-production grants totaling $115,000 to be used in the creation of original, independent documentary films that illuminate pressing issues in the United States. Each year the fund will focus on select issue areas that were hallmarks of Pare Lorentz's films. In 2021, the focus is challenging white supremacy. Projects must focus on this area and on one of Pare Lorentz's central concerns—the appropriate use of the natural environment, justice for all or the illumination of pressing social problems. 

White supremacy is foundational to the American experience. It affects how we access and navigate public and private institutions. It influences whose experiences are accorded legitimacy, whose are criminalized, and who gets to successfully pursue and live the American dream.

Examples of previous Pare Lorentz Documentary Fund supported films that embody this theme include Landfall by Cecilia Aldarondo. Aldarondo’s film captures Puerto Ricans' response to US colonialism and capitalism after Hurricane Maria. Kevin Shaw’s A Place to Learn (working title) looks at how gentrification threatens a thriving elementary school in Chicago that's a beacon for Black children. Treva Wurmfeld’s Conscience Point demonstrates the struggle between those with the power to take over valuable land, and the Shinnecock people, who fight for the right to remain.

The fund supports feature length documentary films that reflect the spirit and nature of Pare Lorentz's work, exhibiting objective research, artful storytelling, strong visual style, high production values, artistic writing, and outstanding music composition, as well as skillful direction, camerawork and editing. A program of the International Documentary Association, the Pare Lorentz Documentary Fund is made possible by The New York Community Trust.

For more insight on the theme, read "Why Challenging White Supremacy Matters" by Poh Si Teng, Director of IDA Funds & Enterprise Program. Also view the recorded Q&A session with the grants team here.

Questions on applying? Reference the FAQ with video Q&A or email 

Supported Activities

Eligible projects will be in production, having completed the bulk of research and development but still having substantial production or post-production related work and expenses remaining. Grant funds may be used for production and post-production related expenses incurred during the period of support.

Expenses may include line items such as principal photography, travel, equipment purchase or rental, insurance, rights and clearances, editing and filmmaker salaries. The fund does not support expenses related to fundraising, distribution, publicity, marketing or outreach.

Applications Open: May 5, 2021

Applications Close: June 28, 2021 at 11:00 PM PT


Period of Support

The grant period of support is one year from the date of the grant award. Grant funds will be used to advance or reimburse production and post-production related expenses incurred during that period. 

Grant Range

Grants made will range from approximately $15,000-25,000.


  • The applicant (Project Director) must be 18 years of age or older.

  • The applicant must be a producer and/or director of the submitted work.

  • The applicant must be an independent filmmaker working on an original project. For the purposes of this grant, IDA defines an independent filmmaker as a content creator who both owns the copyright of his or her work and has full artistic, budgetary, and editorial control of the documentary project. Documentaries being produced for or under the direction of a third party, such as a broadcast entity, university, foundation or nonprofit organization are ineligible.

  • The project must address a critical issue in the United States that was a hallmark of Pare Lorentz's films. In 2021 the focus must be on challenging white supremacy.

  • The project must focus on one of Pare Lorentz's central concerns—the appropriate use of the natural environment, justice for all or the illumination of pressing social problems.

  • The project must be in production, having completed the bulk of research and development but still having substantial production and post-production related work and expenses remaining.

  • The applicant should be an experienced filmmaker with at least one key above-the-line (producer, director, co-director, co-producer) or other principal creative (director of photography, editor) credit on a previously completed documentary. Applicants with limited experience or who lack a previous credit as either a producer or director of a completed documentary should have a production team that includes other highly experienced key production personnel and advisors. Key team members and advisors may be contacted during the review process to assess their level of involvement and commitment to the project.

  • The applicant does not need to be a US citizen or US resident. However, grants to non-US citizens or non-US residents may be subject to mandatory US government withholding.

  • The applicant is not required to be a member of IDA to be eligible to apply.

  • The applicant is not required to have nonprofit status or fiscal sponsorship.

  • Student films are ineligible.

  • Completed films are ineligible.

  • Short documentaries (under 40 minutes finished run time) are ineligible.

To Apply:

  1. Click on the application portal. You will be asked to register with Submittable, which involves entering contact information and choosing a username and password.

  2. Fill out our brief online application. You can save it and return to it as often as needed until you are ready to submit.

  3. You will need proposal checklist, line item budget and statement of interest. See the below link for the proposal checklist.

  4. Applicants must submit a link to a streaming version of your visual work sample for the current project you are applying with.

Submission Portal

We welcome applications from all IDA members and non-members. A user account is not necessary. Grant applications are accepted and processed through Please create a separate user account on Submittable. IDA membership logins will not work in conjunction with the application process. If you are experiencing problem logging onto Submittable, please reset your password through the following link:

Proposal Checklist

Please prepare a narrative proposal and line item budget as outlined in our proposal checklist. 

Read the guidelines and proposal checklist carefully, making sure to note which items are required and which are optional. You must answer these questions in a separate document then upload your answers to this checklist via Submittable. 

2021 Pare Lorentz Application Checklist

Evaluation Criteria

Both IDA staff and a committee of distinguished filmmakers will review applications and accompanying materials. Some of the questions that staff and review committee members will use in evaluating applicants include:

  • Does the project, as presented, meet the grant goals and eligibility requirements?

  • Does the project tell a compelling story and address a pressing issue about challenging white supremacy in the United States?

  • Does the project exemplify the spirit and nature of Pare Lorentz's work?

  • Does the project take an innovative approach to the subject matter? Has the story been told before and if so, does this project's approach bring something new to the story?

  • Does the Project Director have the access necessary to tell the story in a compelling way?

  • What is the quality of the work sample provided? Does it have a strong visual style and does it reflect the spirit and nature of Pare Lorentz's films, such as exhibiting high production values, artistic writing, outstanding music composition and skillful direction, camerawork and editing?

  • Is the narrative well written and does it give a clear picture of the film's story and themes?

  • Does the application articulate the film's connection to the grant and its stated objectives?

  • Are the Project Director and production team assembled experienced and capable of completing the project as described?

  • Does the proposal identify an audience and a realistic plan for reaching and engaging that audience? Does the project have a realistic strategic plan for raising the remaining budget and a reasonable chance of securing public distribution in theatrical release, broadcast or cable television, or educational/ancillary distribution (to schools, museums, or other institutions)?

  • Is the budget thorough and realistic? Are line items in the budget within industry norms and standards?

    Apply Here!