MacArthur Foundation grants $2 million to documentary projects

By Andrew Lapin

Freedom Fighters, directed by Jamie Melzer, is one of the MacArthur Foundation's grantees.

Freedom Fighters, directed by Jamie Melzer, is one of the MacArthur Foundation’s grantees. (Photo: MacArthur Foundation)

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced today $2 million in new grants to 18 documentary film projects, including some from frequent collaborators with public TV.

Individual grant amounts range from $50,000 to $225,000. The latter amount goes to the film 500 Years, which follows the genocide trial of former Guatemalan President General Efraín Ríos Montt. The film is a follow-up to co-director Pamela Yates’s previous film about the Guatemalan genocide, Granito: How to Nail a Dictator, which became a 2012 episode on PBS’s POV.

A couple of the projects incorporate multiplatform outreach, according to the release: Immigrant Nation is “a multi-platform project that explores the interconnectedness of U.S. immigrants, past and present,” while the team behind Map Your World will build an “interactive web platform enabling global youth to map their communities’ assets and challenges and create media to catalyze positive change.”

Among the other grantees:

  • In the Game, a documentary about Latina adolescents and soccer from pubTV producer Kartemquin Films;
  • Hazing, a film about “the cultural practices of hazing,” from director Byron Hurt, who also made the 2006 Independent Lens episode Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats & Rhymes;
  • Freedom Fighters, a film about exonerated men who start a detective agency, from director Jamie Melzer, who directed the 2003 Independent Lens episode Off the Charts: The Song-Poem Story; and
  • The Arrivals, a story about two undocumented immigrants from director Heidi Ewing, whose PBS credits include The Boys of Baraka and an episode of the now-defunct Now on PBS.
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