Alis, directors Nicolás van Hemelryck and Clare Weiskopf
Dear friends, 

As we reflect on the last five months and the deep period of transition our world is in, we are reminded how important it is to remain open to learning. At its best, nonfiction storytelling allows us to learn deeply, shift perspective, and break down barriers through empathy and exposing truths through captivating storytelling. We are grateful for the continued opportunity to support distinctive nonfiction filmmakers who bring powerful cinematic stories to life. Never has an open mind and the work of nonfiction storytelling been so critical to our national conversation.

Amidst the uncertainties of a global pandemic and challenges to our democracy, we continue to receive as many applications as ever. We are in awe of the ingenuity and perseverance of the filmmakers who apply, and the beauty of the projects we receive. We are thrilled to announce our first group of 2020 grantees awarded to six remarkable films and filmmaking teams. We’re honored by the opportunity to support these filmmakers. You can read more about the films and their makers below and on our website.

At the end of July, we had our 5th annual Rough Cut Retreat. RCR is a partnership between Catapult Film Fund and True/False Film Fest and we were thrilled to partner again this summer with the Chicago Media Project who share our passion for supporting bold and creative new nonfiction filmmaking. This workshop unites filmmakers and mentors in a creative and engaged atmosphere. Due to the global pandemic, it was re-imagined as a 100% virtual experience, dubbed “Assistance from a Distance”. You can read more about the films and the mentors below. 
Finally, we are proud and happy to announce that Catapult’s own Lisa Kleiner Chanoff was invited to join the The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences documentary branch. Congratulations to Lisa and all the new members!  

Onwards and in partnership,

The Catapult Film Fund Team

Catapult Film Fund receives applications on a rolling basis and makes grant decisions throughout the year. These are the first film grants announced for 2020:
Directors: Nicolás van Hemelryck and Clare Weiskopf

How do you build a "new life" when you are born without opportunities? Can you change despair and project another destiny? Through a creative act, eight teenage girls who lived on the streets give life to a fictional classmate. As reality prevails and fiction fades, the innocent game becomes a descent into hell where their luminous faces guide us to the depths of the dark world they once inhabited. How to imagine a different life, break the cycle of violence and embrace the future?

Black Mothers
Director: Débora Souza Silva
Producer: David Felix Sutcliffe

Violence. Outrage. Impunity. Repeat. Black Mothers follows the journey of two women working to disrupt the cycle of racist police violence within our country's judicial system. As one mother investigates her son’s attack by local police, the other channels her grief into organizing mothers to fight for justice.

Coexistence My Ass
Director/Producer: Amber Fares​​​​​​​
Producer: Rachel Leah Jones

Can comedy solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Noam Shuster thinks it's worth a try. An Israeli comedian who embodies the complex identity politics of the Middle East, Noam is on the verge of making it big in the US when COVID-19 sends her home - and straight to the hospital. As a BLM-inspired global movement takes shape, Noam realizes now is the time to focus her ambitions on home and convince her Jewish compatriots to examine their own racism - one joke at a time.
King Coal 
Director/Producer: Elaine McMillion Sheldon 
Producer: Molly Born

An essay from a lost paradise weaved with surreal documentary vignettes explores how coal is imbued in identity. King Coal employs magical realism to discover Appalachia’s purpose and reveal an ongoing struggle for power. A geological exploration of time, King Coal serves as a reminder of why change is painful.
A Song for Summer and Winter
Talal Derki, Sigrid Dyekjaer, Heba Khaled, and others
One project is not mentioned here due to the sensitivity of the topic.

For more about all the grantees, please visit:

Please assume that if you have submitted an application, but have not yet heard from us, that your project is still under consideration by our review team. 
Catapult Film Fund and True/False Film Fest presented the fifth year of Rough Cut Retreat. We were thrilled to partner again this summer with the Chicago Media Project. This week-long event approached the online model with a radically innovative spirit – creating a virtual retreat with the same sense of creative community, camaraderie, and constructive criticism for which the RCR has become known. With a focus on filmmakers who lack traditional support networks, Rough Cut Retreat provides feedback and guidance at a critical moment in the post-production process. Replete with scavenger hunts, spa nights, immersive theater, escape rooms, and mixology lessons from film industry luminaries, the re-imagined RCR successfully experimented with how community, trust, and immersiveness can be created for remote events. 
Bitterbrush (dir. Emelie Mahdavian, prod. Su Kim) A portrait of friendship, life transitions, and hard work, as two young women navigate an isolated and beautiful landscape of the American West. (Catapult grantee 2019)

The In Between (dir. Robie Flores, prod. Alejandro Flores/Kellen Quinn) This interwoven coming-of-age story chronicles the ordinary and extraordinary moments of growing up on the U.S./Mexico border.

North By Current (dir. Angelo Madsen Minax, prod. Felix Endara) A deep personal history of the complex relationships shared between mothers and their children, this film creatively reframes narratives about incarceration, addiction, trans embodiment, and ruralness.

Razing Liberty Square (dir. Katja Esson, prod. Ann Bennett) After years of neglect, residents of Miami’s oldest public housing project learn about an urban revitalization project and brace themselves to fight a new form of racial injustice: climate gentrification. (Catapult grantee 2018)

Untitled PRC Project (dir. Jessica Kingdon, prod. Kira Simon-Kennedy/Nathan Truesdell) This multi-faceted portrait takes us inside the growing behemoth that is the nominally communist yet hyper-capitalist People’s Republic of China – and questions what it actually means to live the so-called “Chinese Dream.”
Producer/Director Bonni Cohen (Athlete A, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, Audrie & Daisy) is a co-founder of Actual Films and Catapult Film Fund and has produced and directed an array of award-winning films.

Editor David Teague (Cutie and the Boxer, Freeheld, Spaceship Earth) is an Emmy-winning documentary film editor and writer who has served as a mentor at the IFP Documentary Labs, the Karen Schmeer Film Editing Fellowship and the Tribeca Film Institute Doc Program.

Editor Don Bernier (Athlete A, Always in Season) is an Emmy-nominated documentary film editor currently serving on the SFFILM Makers Mentor Advisory Board as well as being a BAVC MediaMaker Mentor.

Producer Rahdi Taylor (Time) is the Head of Artists in Residence at Concordia Studio after spending 10 years at Sundance Institute as Associate Director and then Film Fund Director for the Sundance Documentary Fund.

Director/Cinematographer Omar Mullick (These Birds Walk) is one of the most sought-after field reporters for work in the Middle East and South Asia and was a member of the inaugural cohort of Sundance’s Art of Nonfiction project as well as co-directing These Birds Walk.
In grantee news, we are excited to see Catapult-supported films Ringside (Andre Hörmann, Ingmar Trost, Julie Goldman, Carolyn Hepburn, Christopher Clements) premiere on SHOWTIME, and Welcome to Chechnya (David France, Alice Henty, Askold Kurov, Joy A. Tomchin) premiere on HBOAdditionally, Ramona Diaz premiered the trailer for A Thousand Cuts and announced a virtual theatrical run nationwide, via Deadline. It will also play nationally on PBS’ Frontline
“A gripping film profiling a remarkable journalist.”
-Los Angeles Times

“Highly relevant... a political thriller.”

Winner of the prestigious Peabody Award was The Silence of Others (Almudena Carracedo and Robert Bahar). The winners are recognized as “the most compelling and empowering stories released in broadcasting and digital media during 2019.” 

Four grantees are nominated for this year's Emmys! In the Television category is American Factory (Steven Bognar, Julia Reichert) for Outstanding Cinematography, Directing, and Editing. In the News and Documentary category are: Charm City (Marilyn Ness, Katy Chevigny) for Outstanding Politics & Government Documentary, The Silence of Others for Best Documentary and Outstanding Politics & Government Documentary, and XY Chelsea (Tim Travers Hawkins, Julia Nottingham) for Outstanding Politics & Government Documentary and Sound. The awards will be held September 21st and 22nd. 
In July, we hosted a webinar for our grantees with Submarine Entertainment’s co-president Josh Braun to discuss documentary sales and distribution in the era of Covid-19. Moderated by Catapult’s Bonni Cohen, we answered questions like, “What are the upward trends, how have sales shifted, and what can we expect going forward in this unprecedented time?” We were happy to see so many Catapult Film Fund grantees in attendance - a total of 57 zoom faces! The response was consistently positive; one grantee emailed us to say “That was so informative and, in many ways, encouraging to hear what is happening out there from such an insider."

Thank you Josh for sharing your expertise with our grantees. 

Catapult Film Fund provides development funding to help story-driven and cinematic documentary films get off the ground.

Catapult Film Fund
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