IDA Enterprise Documentary Fund Provides $435,000 in Grants to 11 Documentaries (EXCLUSIVE)

Eleven documentary projects from 11 countries have been selected for the Intl. Documentary Assn.’s annual Enterprise Documentary Fund Production Grant.

Selected from 371 applicants, the 15 directors behind the 11 docus will receive a total of $435,000 in production grants.

More from Variety

Established in 2017, the IDA Enterprise Documentary Fund supports in-depth explorations of original, contemporary stories that integrate journalistic practice into the filmmaking process. The fund is financially supported by John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, with additional support from the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation. In its seven-year history, the fund has given over $5 million in grant money to nonfiction filmmakers.

The selected projects are currently in production in 11 countries including the U.S., Philippines, Brazil, France, Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Italy and Afghanistan. Of the 15 directors behind the docs, 46% are filmmakers of color, 69% are women or gender-non-conforming filmmakers, 12% identify as members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and 8% identify as a D/deaf or disabled person or have long-term health conditions.

“Each year that we are able to award the Enterprise Production Fund is an opportunity for us to improve our processes and adapt to meet the ever-changing needs of the field,” says Keisha Knight, IDA’s director of funds and Enterprise program. “This year, in recognition of the labor required to complete funding applications, we introduced honoraria to all finalist projects. We also increased access to international projects and commissioned fact-checking memos on all finalist projects in order to put into action the Enterprise Fund’s commitment to facts-based nonfiction storytelling from around the world.”

This year’s selection panel included Gary Byungseok Kam (documentary filmmaker), Jacqueline Olive (director/producer/writer), Lucila Moctezuma (documentary consultant), Mohamed Said Ouma (DocA-Documentary Africa executive director), Sigal Yehuda (Close Up founder and executive director), and Susanne Reber (executive producer).

“We, as panelists of this year’s IDA Enterprise Production Fund grant round, were impressed by the high level of the projects presented that convinced us with their great access, international scope, intimacy, urgency, and hope,” the panel noted in a group statement. “The courage of the film crews in pushing boundaries politically, socially, and cinematically is refreshing. In a complex and critical period for our Humanity, the bravery in raising voices that challenge official narratives has inspired the committee, and we hope they will activate audiences around the world. We were encouraged by the meticulous approach and care shown to the filmmakers by the IDA Funds team.”

2023 IDA Enterprise Documentary Fund Production Grant Recipients:

Director: Lorena Luciano | Producer: Filippo Piscopo 
Country: Italy, Vatican, USA
In a revelation never before spoken, a small group of nuns exposes a tormented truth within the Catholic Church: the harrowing tales of predatory priests abusing nuns. Shockwaves ripple through religious women determined to defy their second-class status as they ignite a movement to demand the justice they have long yearned for.

Confidential Project
Director: Petra Costa | Co-director & Producer: Alessandra Orofino Country: Brazil, USA

Director: Najiba Noori | Producer: Christian Popp, Hasse van Nunen 
Country: France, Netherlands, Afghanistan
Forty years after her arranged marriage as a child, Hawa is eager to finally begin an independent life and to be literate. However, with the return of the Taliban to power, her dreams, and those of her daughter and grand daughter are shattered.

“Life After” (working title)
Director: Reid Davenport | Producer: Colleen Cassingham | Executive Producer: Jess Devaney Country: USA
“Life After” interrogates the contradictory political ideologies surrounding death and disability while coalescing the missing voices of the disabled community in the contemporary debate around medically assisted suicide.

“The Phantom Pain of Rojava”
Director: Maryam Ebrahimi | Producer: Stina Gardell 
Country: Sweden, Norway
In post-war Rojava five friends live in a house for wounded guerrillas. With a personal touch and a unique access the director depicts the hope and dreams of the soldiers who once were the heroes of the world but now stands abandoned in their struggle for equality in the Middle East.

“The River”
Director: Caitlyn Greene | Producer: Sara Archambault 
Country: USA
“The River” is a vivid, character-driven film about Louisiana’s complicated relationship with the Mississippi River.

“The Strike”
Director/Producer: JoeBill Muñoz and Lucas Guilkey 
Country: USA
A generation of California men endure decades of solitary confinement and, against all odds, launch a protest to regain their freedom.

“This is How it Ends” (working title)
Director/Producer: Ramona Diaz and Raney Aronson Rath 
Country: Philippines, USA
Can kindness, truth, and hope for democracy emerge victorious in an epic battle with fear, lies and surrender to autocracy? Can light conquer darkness? However it ends, the story serves as a testimony to the power of volunteerism and a cautionary tale about the consequences — for better or worse — of choices made.

“To Use a Mountain”
Director: Casey Carter | Producer: Colleen Cassingham 
Country: USA
Physics, geology, and democracy collide across the expansive American interior, in a series of vignettes from six candidate sites for a sacrificial nuclear dumping ground.

Untitled Policing Documentary (working title)
Director: Charles Burnett | Director & Producer: Nicole Lucas Haimes 
Country: USA
Untitled Policing Documentary is a film like no other, an explosive confessional told from behind the thin blue line, it examines police crime and the personal and political consequences of law enforcement wrongdoing on officers and their victims.

“When They Were Here”
Directors: Ivan MacDonald and Ivy MacDonald | Producer: Mridu Chandra 
Country: USA
When They Were Here is a documentary about the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls crisis on the Blackfeet Reservation in northern Montana, told through the eyes of the families and community members left behind. The film traces experiences through time, place, and memory–and examines the legacy of violence in the place they call home.

2023 IDA Enterprise Documentary Fund Production Special Mentions

“The Queendom”
Director: Otilia Portillo Padua | Producers: Paula Arroio Sandoval, Otilia Portillo Padua, Elena Fortes 
Country: Mexico
July, Liz, and Belén are unlikely heroes: instead of weapons and shields, they carry baskets to collect mushrooms. These indigenous scientists and foragers lead this immersive docu-sci fi journey through Mexico’s forests to unveil secrets from the Queendom — the world of fungi and those whose lives intertwine with it.

“The Star”
Director: Alejandro Alonso Estrella | Producers: Daniela Muñoz Barroso, Luis Gutiérrez Arias, Boris Prieto, Zaina Bseiso
Countries: Cuba, USA
Pitufo, a young Cuban shipbreaker, dreams of escaping the remote bay where he spends his days between metal and fire. In search of his freedom, he embarks on a labyrinthine journey to the swamps of Southwest Florida. An uncanny territory where he must face his deepest fears.




Best of Variety

Sign up for Variety’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.