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Color Congress Announces $1.35 Million in Inaugural Grants to 17 People of Color-Led and Serving Doc Organizations

Comfrey Films (Courtesy Color Congress)

Color Congress, “the newly formed documentary intermediary organization,” announced today $1.35 million in two-year unrestricted grants to small-budgeted majority people of color and POC-led doc organizations across the U.S. The 17 grantees, selected from a pool of 120 applying organizations, are ones serving historically marginalized communities, have budgets under $300,000 and operate outside national media hubs. The inaugural grants range in amounts from $45,000 to $90,000.

“Many of these organizations offer a creative home for documentary filmmakers of color that may not otherwise be served, while others ensure there are viable distribution pathways for the films that are produced,” explains Sonya Childress, Color Congress Co-Director in a press release. “Collectively these organizations expand the reach, definition, and impact of documentary film,” she adds.

The recipient organizations are:

From the press release:

“The American South is a place rich in stories, yet lacking in resources for institutions supporting Black, Southern filmmakers. It’s a challenge to be able to consistently provide quality training and exhibition opportunities for these talented creators. With this grant, we’ll be able to elevate filmmakers and their content into a formidable Black, Southern filmmaking ecosystem that we all can be proud,” says Lana Garland, Festival Director, Hayti Heritage Film Festival.

The 17 granted organizations are based in communities across the nation, with special emphasis on entities based in the historically-neglected southern states and Puerto Rico. The grantees constitute some of the most stalwart organizations with decades of service to filmmakers of color, and some of the newest organizations that in only three years have already shifted the reach and power of nonfiction. This inaugural cohort includes organizations that ensure nonfiction film is within reach for all communities of color through micro and nomadic cinemas, industry advocacy, and place-based artist support.

Sahar Driver, Co-Director of the Color Congress explains, “Despite the challenging funding landscape so many people of color-led documentary organizations navigate, these organizations have already proven their value through their innovative programming, curation and industry-wide advocacy. We are optimistic that these funds will ensure their vital contributions will be sustained through these uncertain times.”

Marjan Safinia, a founding member of inaugural grantee Beyond Inclusion, shared, “Color Congress recognizes that change is pushed from the grassroots. It directly addresses inequities in traditional philanthropic funding models, and believes in the networked power of BIPOC serving organizations with deep faith that they know what they need, no matter how new or small they may be. It says, “we see you” in a profound way.” She adds, “The creation of Color Congress is the freshest innovation we’ve seen in the documentary landscape in a long while.”

Color Congress is supported by the Ford Foundation’s JustFilms initiative, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the Perspective Fund. For further information on Color Congress and its grants, visit its website. 

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