The Redford Center Grants Program Awards Development Funds to Seven Environmental Documentary Filmmakers

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Story development support and $20,000 grants awarded to early-stage, feature-length environmental film projects.

Redford Center Grants

Today The Redford Center today announced its 2018 grantee cohort, which consists of seven film projects currently in development selected from over 130 applicant projects focused on environmental issues relevant to the United States.

The Redford Center, a 501(c)3 dedicated to environmental storytelling and action, today announced its 2018 grantee cohort, which consists of seven film projects currently in development selected from over 130 applicant projects focused on environmental issues relevant to the United States. The projects reflect a diversity of issues, approaches, and filmmaker backgrounds with seventy percent of the grantees being female filmmakers.

“We couldn’t have dreamed up a more electric group of grantee films,” said Jill Tidman, executive director of The Redford Center. “We had such a strong applicant pool, the decision-making was hard. We are witnessing a surge in the quality of environmental storytelling as well as a growing diversity of filmmakers who are seeing not only the need, but opportunity to use film as a tool to educate and engage the public in taking action to protect and restore our planet.”

The 2018 cohort film topics range from the growing “clean” meat industry, to the story behind the U.S. youth who are taking the federal government to court for its inaction on climate change. Other topics covered in the grantee projects include the geopolitical implications of climate change in the Bering Strait, environmental justice organizing in Uniontown, Alabama, community adaptation in response to climate change, everyday women from the Arab World and the West traversing climate change ground zero to reach the north pole, and a young person’s artistic response to environmental pollution and destruction in her post-Hurricane Harvey Texas community.

“To me, what really stands out in the group—in almost all the applications, in fact—is that these are not the usual doomsday climate change stories,” said James Redford, co-founder and chairman of The Redford Center. “There is of course struggle and environmental degradation happening, but what are we doing about it? That’s the common thread here—hope, and some really great characters with amazing solutions.”

An essential element of The Redford Center’s production model is identifying the opportunity for a film’s impact and engaging issue experts from the start. Next month, the filmmaking teams behind the winning projects will gather at The Redford Center Storytelling Summit at the Sundance Mountain Resort in Provo, Utah to test and refine their story ideas with advisors and experts in film, media, funding and policy. “We’ve experienced first-hand the power of inviting stakeholders to weigh in on a films’ narrative early on in the development process and it can make all the difference,” said Tidman. “That’s why we give development grants and our primary goal is to set the filmmakers up so their films can reach intended target audiences and achieve their impact goals, and for that to happen, early collaboration is key.”

The Redford Center Grants program currently operates on a two-year grant cycle and is funded by The New York Community Trust. The program provides filmmaker support, $20,000 development grants to produce a proof-of-concept short film, access to a network of industry and environmental experts, and the opportunity to apply for up to $100,000 in production funds in year two. The 2016 Redford Center grantees cohort includes the films Inventing Tomorrow, which opened in theaters on August 31, 2018, Akicita, which premiered at Sundance 2018, How We Grow, which won the Best of the Fest Award at the Colorado Environmental Film Festival, and the short film Reefs At Risk, which successfully supported the campaign to ban sunscreens in the state of Hawaii that contain oxybenzone and octinoxate, both harmful to coral reefs.

The seven winning Redford Center grantees for 2018 are:

Adaptation, directed by Alizé Carrère
With the persistence of climate change, people across the world are experimenting with different adaptive methods on the ground. At a time when doomsday narratives dominate the current climate conversation, adaptation plays an increasingly vital role for both its practical application and as a hopeful reminder of our resilience as a species.

Alizé Carrère is a National Geographic Explorer and PhD student researching and documenting climate change adaptation in practice. Raised in a treehouse in Ithaca, NY, her childhood primed her for a unique perspective on what it means to live with, and respond to, environmental change. In 2012, Alizé received support from National Geographic to conduct research in Madagascar, where she spent several months uncovering an unlikely agricultural adaptation in response to severe deforestation. Her work evolved into a greater story of creativity and resourcefulness amongst the oft-repeated narrative of climate doom. She continues to work on stories of adaptations to environmental change, highlighting the remarkable resilience of the human species.

The Bering Gate, directed by Gabrielle Tenenbaum
There are places on Earth that are unknown in one century and vital the next—the Bering Strait is one such place. As an impassable sea of ice transforms into traversable waters, this film spotlights the narrow passageway between Russia and Alaska that's quickly becoming the chokepoint of the Arctic world. Can our two nations cooperate to develop, police, and protect the Great White North—or will the Strait become a geopolitical and environmental hotbed ripe for disaster?
Gabrielle Tenenbaum is an award-winning director and producer and one of The Documentary Group’s founding members. She has worked around the world on feature films, limited series and broadcast journalism including Invisible Killers, a three-part series about viruses (Discovery); the Peabody Award-winning To Iraq and Back (ABC); The Homefront, about military families (PBS); STEEP, a theatrical documentary about big mountain skiing; and Answering Children’s Questions, a town hall meeting for kids in the aftermath of 9/11, which won a duPont-Columbia Award. Prior to Doc Group’s founding, Tenenbaum was part of Peter Jennings’ producing team at ABC News.

Exposure, directed by Holly Morris
Taking place during one of the most chaotic polar seasons in history, 11 women from the Arab World and the West struggle together to reach climate change ground zero: The North Pole. Facing wild challenges - from Russian helicopter crashes and moving Arctic sea ice, to punishing frostbite and open leads of water – an unlikely story of resilience and global citizenry emerges.

For two decades Holly Morris has told, and championed, pro-woman stories on the global stage. She is an internationally-known filmmaker, author, and presenter (Adventure Divas, Globe Trekker). Her most recent film, The Babushkas of Chernobyl ("Beautiful, affectionate and stirring"- NYT) premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival, where it won the Jury Award for Directing, the first of nearly two dozen awards received before being broadcast world-wide. The film’s story, based on her print journalism, is about a defiant community of women who live inside Ukraine’s radioactive “Exclusion Zone,” also forms the basis of her popular TED Talk.

In the Air, directed by John Fiege
In the Air tells the story of Aniya Wingate, a 16-year-old dancer, who sets out on a creative journey to choreograph and produce a performance in response to the destruction of Hurricane Harvey and the legacy of environmental pollution in her Houston neighborhood. The film is a coming-of-age story that combines cinematically filmed dance sequences with observational cinematography of a young artist striving to make sense of her world.

John Fiege is a director, cinematographer, and photographer whose latest feature documentary, Above All Else, premiered at SXSW, with an international premiere at Hot Docs, and won awards at other festivals. His first feature documentary, Mississippi Chicken, was nominated for a Gotham Award. He photographed the Sundance documentary selection, No No: A Dockumentary. He has received numerous fellowships and grants, including from the Redford Center, Princess Grace Foundation, Austin Film Society, University of Texas, Kodak, and Smithsonian Institution. He holds graduate degrees in geography and film and lectures in the film school at the University of Texas at Austin.

Meat the Future, directed by Liz Marshall
Meat the Future lifts the veil and journeys to the outer edges of innovation while exploring the personal and moral underpinnings that motivate leaders of a colossal market opportunity. If scientists can grow human tissue from stem cells for use in medical procedures, then why not a similar process to “brew” real pork, beef, and poultry? Meat the Future chronicles the potentially game-changing birth of a new industry referred to as “clean” “cell-based” and “cultured” meat – a term hotly debated as the industry approaches commercialization.
Uniontown

Liz Marshall is a Canadian documentary filmmaker. Since the 1990s she has directed and produced independent projects and been part of film and television teams, creating broadcast, theatrical, campaign and cross-platform productions shot around the globe. Liz's immersive feature length documentaries illuminate social justice and environmental themes through strong characters. She is known for the multi-award-winning THE GHOSTS IN OUR MACHINE (2013) and WATER ON THE TABLE (2010). Liz is currently completing MIDIAN FARM, about a 1970s back-to-the-land social experiment she spent formative years at. Liz is in production of MEAT THE FUTURE, chronicling the birth of the “clean” “cell-based” meat industry, a story she has been following since 2016.

Uniontown, directed by Fraser Jones
Uniontown weaves together the untold narratives of residents in Uniontown, Alabama, a long-silenced southern city continuously polluted by industrial waste and acts of environmental racism. Driven by the story of Esther Calhoun, a community leader and president of the Black Belt Citizens Fighting for Health and Justice, the film is an intimate look at the lives of modern-day freedom fighters determined to clean up their town and preserve what’s left of their natural resources.

Fraser Jones is an independent filmmaker from Atlanta, Georgia. After receiving a B.F.A. in Film from NYU in 2016, Fraser soon moved to Sydney, Australia to write a children’s television series for Nickelodeon and currently directs short documentary content for major record labels and various non-profit organizations across America and Europe. Whether creating social justice documentaries or improvised comedic narratives, Fraser uses his strong interest and background in poetry, analog photography, and clowning to create personal films, which aim to deliver light to audiences while still maintaining a strong sense of realism and empathy.

Youth V Gov, directed by Christi Cooper
YOUTH v GOV is the story of America’s youth taking on the world’s most powerful government. In 2015, 21 young plaintiffs, ages 8 to 19, filed suit against the U.S. government asserting a willful violation of their constitutional rights in creating our climate crisis. If they’re successful, they’ll not only make history, they’ll change the future.

Emmy-award winning cinematographer, Christi uses storytelling and visual narrative to create human connection and impact around the most pressing issues of our time. With a MS in Microbiology and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience, she left a scientific career in Europe to obtain an MFA in Science & Natural History Filmmaking, after which she co-created TRUST: Calling for Climate Recovery, with WITNESS. Her awards include a Wildscreen Panda Award for Best Campaign Film, Best Environmental Film from Backcountry Film Festival, Best Youth Film from Colorado Environmental Film Festival, and Best Made in Montana from the International Wildlife Film Festival, among others.

For more information about Redford Center Grants, please visit https://redfordcenter.org/grants.

About The Redford Center:
Co-founded by Robert Redford and his son James in 2005, The Redford Center harnesses the power of documentary films and impact campaigns to help tip the scales on critical environmental and social issues. The Redford Center’s Fiscal Sponsorship Program extends its nonprofit status and excellent filmmaker support to kindred environmental impact film and media projects. The Redford Center’s original productions include: FIGHTING GOLIATH: Texas Coal Wars (2008) which helped prevent the construction of 177 new coal-powered plants. WATERSHED (2012) which secured $10 million to support on-the-ground restoration work and obtain water rights for the delta region. The Redford Center’s current film and campaign, HAPPENING: A CLEAN ENERGY REVOLUTION (2017) has been viewed more than 1.5 million times since its HBO broadcast premier in December 2017 and won “Best Environmental Film” at the 2018 NYWILD Film Festival. And Redford Center Grants provides funding, filmmaker support, and networking to filmmakers with feature film projects in early development that are focused on driving awareness, education and tangible action on a variety of environmental topics. To learn more, please visit redfordcenter.org or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Vimeo and YouTube.

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