Entries have officially opened for the third annual Library of Congress Lavine/Ken Burns Prize for Film, overseen by acclaimed documentarian Ken Burns (pictured), The Better Angels Society, the Library of Congress and the Crimson Lion/Lavine Family Foundation.
The award recognizes one late-stage documentary that uses original research and compelling narrative to tell stories that bring American history to life using archive materials.
A winner is recognized each fall at a ceremony with members of Congress at the Library of Congress, receiving a US$200,000 finishing grant to help with final production and distribution.
Additionally, one runner-up receives a grant of $50,000 and three to four finalists each receive $25,000. The funds are intended for finishing, marketing, distribution and outreach.
Last year, The Better Angels Society and the Crimson Lion/Lavine Family Foundation announced that five additional filmmakers, selected for telling stories that focus on America’s diversity, will each receive The Better Angels/Lavine Fellowship.
The fellowship provides support and mentorship the filmmakers work on their projects. The fellows are selected from the pool of applicants who demonstrate significant potential.
The submission deadline for this year’s prize is June 1.
Among the eligibility requirements, projects must be a late-stage documentary film with a running time of 50 minutes or longer, and applicants must have previously produced or directed at least one long-form documentary for broadcast or online distribution.
Applicants are required to submit 20 minutes of a rough or fine cut and a script of a full-length rough or fine cut. Industrial, promotional, branded content, or instructional films are not eligible.
In 2020, the winning film was Stefan Forbes’ Hold Your Fire, a documentary about the role of policing in the U.S., told through the lens of a 1973 hostage situation in New York City.
“Understanding our history, in all of its complexity and from all perspectives and experiences, is critical to the health of our country and democracy,” Burns said in a statement. “Documentary filmmaking has never been more important as we try to understand the past, but also explore new ways to tell stories that have been largely overlooked. We’re very appreciative that Jonathan and Jeannie Lavine, along with the Library of Congress and The Better Angels Society, recognizes that filmmakers can help all of us navigate some of the challenges we face today by sharing with us stories from the past.”