Abigail Disney’s Fork Films Announces $625,000 in Grant Funding to Docs

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Abigail Disney’s Fork Films Announces $625,000 in Grant Funding to Docs

Fork Films is at it again. Abigail Disney’s company announced that it has provided $625,000 in grant funding to 16 new documentaries “that align with the company’s dedication to promoting peacebuilding, human rights, and social justice.” Committed to supporting voices that are often absent from mainstream media, Fork Films has given out nearly $5,000,000 in grant and investments to more than 100 documentaries to date. Previous recipients of Fork Films grants have gone on to receive Oscar nods and win Emmy and Peabody awards.

Chosen from a pool of over 500 applicants, the projects tackle subjects as varied as depictions of the off clothes female body in Hollywood media (Kristy Guevara-Flanagan’s “Body Parts”) to a camp for disabled teenagers ( Nicole Newnham and Jim LeBrecht’s “Crip Camp”).

Other titles to receive funding include Hana Mire’s “Rajada Dalka/Nations Hope,” a look inside the Somali National Women’s basketball team, and Hillary Bachelder’s “Represent,” which tells the stories of three women running for local office in the Midwest. “Hooligan Sparrow” and “I Am Another You” director Nanfu Wang earned a grant for “Born in China,” an investigation into the history of China’s One-Child policy.

“The films we selected are sprawling in their subject matter, but they share an urgency and boldness in their DNA that makes it impossible to look away,” said Disney, CEO and President of Fork Films.

Chief Creative Officer Gini Reticker added, “We’re deeply impressed by the incredible, diverse group of filmmakers. This slate of projects tell compelling, powerfully human stories from around the world that force you to reconsider your perspective on topics you thought you knew about.”

Of 16 docs to receive funding, 14 are helmed by women, one by a trans director, and one by a man.

Previous grantees include Paula Eiselt’s “93Queen,” Cynthia Lowen’s “Netizens,” and Nancy Schwartzman’s “Roll Red Roll.”

Disney is also a director. She made her debut with 2015’s “Armor of Light,” a doc about an Evangelical minister who wants to preach about gun violence in the U.S.

Check out the complete list of 2018 grantees below, courtesy of Fork Films.


Alabamaland
Jones Farm is a lush, 688-acre farm situated in the heart of western Alabama. Three generations of black women explore their very different ties to this place that shaped them and continues to exert a strange hold on their identities. This is the same plot of land that their ancestors once worked as slaves—a history that is important to their identities and to how they navigate the world.

Directed by April Dobbins; Produced by Moira Griffin, Trevite Willis, April Dobbins

Project Stage: Production

Body Parts
“Body Parts” (working title) is a documentary feature exploring the off clothes female body in Hollywood media—hyper-sexualized, under attack, exploited on- and off- screen. From a wide range of perspectives, the film examines how actresses protect their bodies, how studios push back, and how unions have fought for better standards. The film also looks at how the female and queer gaze are redefining desire and sexuality. From the first body doubles in the 1920s to the digital enhancements of the internet age, the film asks: when scenes are about sex, to whom are they sexy? By what standards? How do race, age and body type factor in?

Directed by Kristy Guevara-Flanagan; Produced by Helen Hood Scheer

Project Stage: Development

Born In China
First-time mother and filmmaker Nanfu Wang uncovers the untold history of China’s One-Child policy and the generations of parents and children forever shaped by this social experiment.

Directed by Nanfu Wang and Lynn Zhang; Produced by Christoph Jorg, Julie Goldman, and Christopher Clements

Project Stage: Post Production

Crip Camp
They came as campers, and left as rebels. Just down the road from Woodstock, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, a parallel revolution blossomed in a ramshackle summer camp for disabled teenagers. “Crip Camp” explores summer camp awakenings that would transform young lives, and America, forever. Told from the point of view of former camper Jim LeBrecht, the film traces the journeys of several teenagers from camp to the raucous early days of the disability rights movement – and up to the present, in this compelling and untold story of a powerful journey towards inclusion.

Directed by Nicole Newnham and Jim LeBrecht; Produced by Nicole Newnham, Jim LeBrecht, and Sara Bolder

Project Stage: Post

Disclosure: Trans Lives On Screen
Disclosure: Trans Lives On Screen is an unprecedented, groundbreaking look at the depiction of transgender people and experiences throughout the history of film and television. Over 100 years of footage, from A Florida Enchantment (1914) to Pose (2018), is woven together with the personal stories of prominent media figures like Laverne Cox, revealing how Hollywood has simultaneously reflected and manufactured our deepest anxieties about gender. Through the specific lens of trans representation on screen, Disclosure shows both the consequences of depicting marginalized communities without their participation, and the liberatory potential of the medium when their voices are centered.

Directed by Sam Feder; Produced by Amy Scholder

Project Stage: Development

El Retorno / The Return
El Retorno /The Return is the story of Aura Taibel, an immigrant woman with a gut-wrenching backstory who arrived in the U.S. to work, to forge a new path in her life. The film follows Aura during her last months in New York before joining the wave of Colombians returning home since peace was declared.

Directed by Luz Zamora; Produced by Luz Zamora, Neyda Martínez, Carol Colmenares

Project Stage: Production

Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project
Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project recounts the story of acclaimed poet, Nikki Giovanni and the revolutionary historical periods through which she lived—from the Civil Rights and Black Arts Movement, to present-day Black Lives Matter. Combining visually innovative treatments of her poetry, along with intimate vérité, rich archival footage, and Giovanni’s own captivating contemporary performances, Going to Mars pushes the boundaries of biographical documentary film to reveal the enduring influence of one of America’s greatest living artists and social commentators.

Directed by Michèle Stephenson and Joe Brewster; Produced by Michèle Stephenson, Joe Brewster and Amilca Palmer

Project Stage: Production

How to Have an American Baby
There is a city in Southern California that is teeming with pregnant women from China. How to Have an American Baby is a kaleidoscopic voyage, told through multiple perspectives, into the booming shadow economy catering to Chinese birth tourists who travel to the U.S. on birthing vacations in order to obtain U.S. citizenship for their babies.

Directed by Leslie Tai; Produced by Leslie Tai, Riel Roch-Decter, Jillian Schultz

Project Stage: Post Production

Lights Camera Uganda
As a child growing up during Uganda’s civil war, Isaac Nabwana escaped into American action movies. As an adult making bricks for a living, he decided one day to abandon brick making to make action movies, and turned his home in the slum into “Wakaliwood,” Uganda’s first action movie studio. When the trailer for their first action movie, Who Killed Captain Alex, goes viral, it attracts the attention of film nerd Alan Hofmanis who shows up unannounced on Isaac’s doorstep one day. With Alan’s marketing skills, they attract international attention and press from all over the world. But their newfound celebrity soon threatens to unravel everything that they’ve built.

Directed by Cathryne Czubek and Hugo Perez

Project Stage: Post Production

Midnight Traveler
In 2015, Hassan Fazili’s documentary Peace aired on Afghan national television, and after it aired, the Taliban assassinated the film’s main subject and put a price on Hassan’s head. He looked at his wife and his daughters, and he knew they had to flee their home. Over the course of their multi-year saga in search of safety, the family grasp onto the only means they have to assert control over their situation: their three camera phones.

Directed by Hassan Fazili; Produced by Emelie Mahdavian and Su Kim

Project Stage: Post

Rajada Dalka/Nations Hope
If playing ball meant risking your life…what would you do?
Diving deep inside the Somali National Women’s basketball team’s first season of since the civil war, former basketball players Mulki Nuur and Suad Galow shepherds their team of fearless young women to overcome violent threats and reclaim their place on the international stage.

Directed by Hana Mire; Produced by Hana Mire, Rufin Mbou Mikima, Cynthia Kane

Project Stage: Production

Reentry (Working Title)
In the era of mass incarceration, women are now the fastest growing population in U.S. prisons. Three unforgettable mothers rebuild their lives and mend relationships with their children after being incarcerated and separated from their families for years.

Directed by Jennifer Redfearn; Produced by Jennifer Redfearn and Tim Metzger

Project Stage: Production

Represent
Represent follows three parallel stories of women stepping up for the first time to run for local office across the Midwest: Myya Jones, a 22-year-old recent graduate running for Mayor of Detroit, Bryn Bird, a produce farmer in rural Ohio fighting for progressive values as township trustee, and Julie Cho, a first-generation Korean American running on the Republican ticket in Illinois. With behind-the-scenes verité and thought-provoking archival, Represent sets these deeply personal stories of triumph and tragedy against a backdrop of the current women’s movement for equal representation in our democracy.

Directed by Hillary Bachelder; Produced by Anne Sobel

Project Stage: Production

Syrian Families Film
No bond is more profound than that between parent and child, and no role more primal than that of protector. That elemental bond is our point of entry for an immersive look at how war fractures families and the choices parents must make to protect and provide for their children. The film unfolds in chapters featuring Syrian families in Turkey, Greece, Germany, the U.S. and Syria. We look beyond the chaotic rawness of war to slow down and connect with four determined families after the bombs are no longer overhead. They have survived the unspeakable – each losing a vital piece of themselves: a spouse, a home, a child, a limb— only to find that the world is not ready to welcome them. Each story is an intimate portrait of discrete human lives—with expectations and aspirations for their futures that have come to a crashing halt.

Directed by Megan Mylan; Produced by Megan Mylan, Robin Hessman, Alaá Hassan

Project Stage: Production

The Rashomon Effect
What happened when unarmed Black teen Michael Brown was fatally shot by White police officer Darren Wilson?

Directed by Lyric R Cabral; Produced by Jessica Devaney

Project Stage: Production

Wednesday in Mississippi
Set in the 1960s, Wednesdays in Mississippi is about the friendship and political work of two visionary, yet extremely different women, Dorothy Height, President of the National Council of Negro Women, and Polly Cowan, an affluent Jewish New Yorker and social activist. Believing women could be a unifying force in the most volatile state in the union, they respond to a request by Mississippi women for help, and start a women-only civil rights project to bring Black and White women from the North and South together to talk about the racial turmoil happening in the state and across the nation. Daring to meet secretly behind closed doors despite the disapproval of their husbands and threats of violence, the women begin dialogues that had never happened before. Out of difficult and often confrontational conversations, relationships developed. From the passage of the Civil Rights Act to the emergence of the Black Power Movement, the film traces the transformation of these women as they journey South and confront their own racial biases and support local human rights struggles both in the South and in the North.

Directed by Marlene McCurtis and Produced by Marlene McCurtis, Cathee Weiss, and Joy Silverman

Project Stage: Post Production

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