IDA Awards Grants to Three Docs, Including Berlin-Bound ‘Hummingbirds’

The Intl. Documentary Association (IDA) has announced three $25,000 grants for upcoming films through its Pare Lorentz Documentary Fund.

The three documentaries are: Adamu Chan’s “What These Walls Won’t Hold”; Jalena Keane-Lee’s “Standing Above the Clouds”; and Silvia Del Carmen Castaños and Estefanía “Beba” Contreras’s “Hummingbirds,” which will have its world premiere at the 2023 Berlin Intl. Film Festival.

Organizers of the fund, created in 2011 with support from the New York Community Trust, received more than 19 applications in 2021. Named in honor of American documentary filmmaker Pare Lorentz, who was known for films including “The Plow That Broke The Plains” (1936), “The River” (1938) and “The Fight for Life” (1940), the fund provides production and post-production grants to be used in the creation of original, independent documentary films that illuminate issues in the United States. 

“This year, we tried to consider broadly what Pare Lorentz’s legacy is for the 21st century,” says Keisha Knight, IDA’s director of funds. “In a time when it is increasingly more difficult to maintain independent media practices, we asked ourselves what it means to center filmmakers who are thinking in innovative ways about non-fiction filmmaking, be it formal/positional innovation, collective filmmaking practices, or productions that prioritize care.”

Anuradha Rana, filmmaker and associate professor and co-chair of the documentary program at DePaul University’s School, Inti Cordera, filmmaker and founder of DocsMX festival and La Maroma production company, and Dr. Kameelah Mu’Min Rashad, “Subject” executive producer, served on the selection committee panel.

This year, for the first time in the Pare Lorentz Documentary Fund’s 11-year history, instead of an open call, nominees were selected by the IDA and three partner organizations representing different regions and constituencies in the documentary field, including Working Films, The Chicago Media Coalition, and ADocPR.

“Our present moment reveals to us the persistent challenges as well as incredible opportunities to reimagine the world, as it could be,” the selection committee panel said in a prepared statement. “The creative power necessary to propel us forward may be ignited by those whose lived experiences are often pushed to the margins. These projects center the complicated and nuanced narratives of the human spirit. The contemporary relevance is undeniable, and the connection to contemporary issues make these films urgent, necessary, and inspirational.”

Documentaries receiving Pare Lorentz funding this year, with descriptions provided by the IDA, are:

Directors: Silvia Del Carmen Castaños, Estefanía “Beba” Contreras| Producers: Jillian Schlesinger, Miguel Drake-McLaughlin, Leslie Benavides, Ana Rodriguez-Falco, Diane Ng |
In this late-night summer self-portrait, Silvia Castaños and Estefanía Contreras make magic of everyday moments coming of age on the Texas-Mexico border.

“Standing Above the Clouds”
Directors: Jalena Keane-Lee| Producers: Jalena Keane-Lee, Amber Espinosa-Jones, Erin Lau |
Three Native Hawaiian families dedicate their lives to defending their sacred mountain Mauna Kea from the building of the world’s largest telescope. Through the lens of mothers and daughters, Standing Above the Clouds explores sisterhood and the social and emotional labor of retaining ancient ceremonies in a rapidly modernizing world.

“What These Walls Won’t Hold”
Director: Adamu Chan | Producer: Christian Lee Collins | Executive Producer: Pete Nicks |
Set against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic at San Quentin State Prison, What These Walls Won’t Hold chronicles the organizing and relationships of people who came together beyond the separations created by incarceration, to respond to this crisis. Filmmaker Adamu Chan, who was incarcerated at San Quentin during the height of the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, documents his path through incarceration and beyond.

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