American documentary film funder and distributor ITVS is launching a fellowship to support independent documentary filmmakers and advisors affected by the pandemic.
The US$1.7 million ITVS Humanities Documentary Development Fellowship launching this month, supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities’ SHARP funding (Sustaining the Humanities through the American Rescue Plan), will help filmmakers develop high-potential projects. The projects selected will be ones that ITVS believes increase the diversity, urgency and relevance of humanities-centered documentaries in the U.S.
The fellowship will provide 12-month stipends to a cohort of 20 filmmakers at various stages of their careers, as well as advisors working in the humanities who will provide input and counsel to strengthen filmmaking humanities practices. Advisors will include thought leaders, as well as experts in archival research and third-party rights clearance.
ITVS says it is launching the fellowship because it sees the U.S. currently needs a greater diversity of perspectives, deeper cultural understanding and strong humanities storytelling. The selected cohort will develop and nurture their projects through research and development, positioning a project to compete for development and production funding with a full treatment, advisors, and a plan for production, distribution and engagement.
Filmmakers can apply to the fellowship via an open call for applications at ITVS.org beginning Oct. 15. Further details about the selection process will be shared at that time, ITVS said.
“Our hope is that this fellowship will provide needed support to documentary filmmakers greatly affected by the pandemic while also amplifying and strengthening humanities stories, particularly stories by makers who are traditionally underrepresented in the humanities documentary pipeline for public television,” said Keri Archer Brown, ITVS director of content and initiatives, via a statement.
“Not only can we support filmmakers, but NEH funding allows us to strengthen a critical link between filmmakers and expert humanities advisors that is needed to succeed in deepening the power of their stories.”
The NEH is also providing SHARP grantmaking awards to Firelight Media for a grant program for mid-career Black, Indigenous and people of color filmmakers whose historical or humanities-focused documentary project was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic; and the Sundance Institute to support 20 humanities-focused nonfiction media-makers adversely affected by the pandemic.