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MacArthur Foundation to Cease Supporting Individual Documentary Film Projects

Rich Hill

The MacArthur Foundation, which has supported over 300 documentary films since the mid-1980s, is ceasing grant support for individual documentary film projects. In a change announced on its website, MacArthur writes that it will actually increase its overall support for the documentary field but will do so by supporting partner organizations, many of whom have individual granting programs. Indeed, the announcement redirects filmmakers to POV, Firelight Media, ITVS, Sundance Documentary Fund and Tribeca Film Institute.

In the post, MacArthur cites the more expansive work done by these partner organizations, which includes mentorship, editorial advice and audience engagement. From the site:

This decision reflects a continuing commitment to the documentary community and a desire to deploy MacArthur resources in a way that will allow many more filmmakers, artists and technologists to find the support they need to tell stories that inform, engage, and compel viewers to make changes in themselves or their communities for a more just, verdant and peaceful society.

For documentary filmmaker, the positives here are that MacArthur is remaining in the documentary field, and that increased funding to other granting organizations will allow them to service more filmmakers and who may take greater risks in their grant decisions. The potential downside is the loss of an independent panel that, in any given year, might have made different decisions than those made by the partner organizations.

(Pictured above: Rich Hill, funded by MacArthur in 2013.)

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