Jewish Story Partners Announce 2023 Film Grantees

Jewish Story Partners (JSP), a Los Angeles-based nonprofit movie funding group, has introduced  its new slate of grants to 19 documentary movie initiatives.

The org, which was launched in April 2021 with help from Kate Capshaw and Steven Spielberg’s Righteous Persons Foundation, will distribute $490,000 amongst these impartial movies, all of which discover the huge and vibrant terrain of the Jewish storytelling area. The announcement coincides with Jewish American Heritage Month and a dedication from President Joe Biden’s White House administration to develop a nationwide technique to counter antisemitism and “address increasing awareness and understanding of both antisemitism and Jewish American heritage.” 

Since its inception, JSP has disbursed $2 million in funding to 72 documentaries telling various Jewish tales. 

On the heels of earlier JSP-funded movies which have premiered at Sundance — together with Paula Eiselt’s “Under G-d,” Luke Lorentzen’s “A Still Small Voice” and Ondi Timoner’s Oscar-shortlisted and Emmy contender “Last Flight Home” — new grantees comprise a wide-ranging spectrum of artists and thematic tales. 

JSP can also be kickstarting its Reprise Program to deepen funding in earlier grantees, and has introduced its name for entries for the following granting cycle, which shall be introduced in 2024. 

The 2023 JSP grantees are: “Ain’t No Back to a Merry-Go-Round” (director and producer Ilana Trachtman);  “Alliance of Shame” (director and producer Jeremy Borison); “Angels of Amsterdam” (director Eric J. Adams, govt producers Mitch Albom, Ulrika Grünwald Citron, and Eric  Leemon); “At the Barricades” (director and producer David France, producer Paul McGuire, govt producer Soledad  O’Brien); “Carlebach Project Untitled” (director Simon Mendes, producer Heidi Reinberg); “Earth Camp One” (director and producer Jennie Livingston); “GPS vs. The Knowledge” (director and producer David Shapiro); “Jews by Choice” (administrators Tomer Slutzky and Justyna Gawelko, producers Dan Shadur, Michał Szymanowicz, and Abraham Troen); “Mother India, Father Israel” (director Avi Dabach, co-producer Ram Devineni); “Our Home Is Not of This World” (director Russ Finkelstein, producers Phil Pinto and Manuel F. Contreras); “Plunderer” (director Hugo Macgregor, producer John S. Friedman); “A Pocketful of Miracles: A Tale of Two Siblings” (director and producer Aviva Kempner); “The Trouble With Betty” (director and producer Elizabeth Wolff, producer Holly Meehl Chapman; and “Yair” (director Deem Banton, producer Stephen Tedeschi). 

The jury for the spring 2023 funding spherical included Senain Kheshgi, director-producer and founding father of Majority; Jenny Raskin, govt director of Impact Partners; and Josh Siegel, curator, division of movie on the Museum of Modern Art. 

The jurors issued a collective assertion, noting that “constant questioning is a fundamental Jewish practice, and one that is also embedded in the very nature of documentary filmmaking. Encompassing a diversity of artistic approaches, contexts, perspectives and communities, the films we selected demonstrate that there is no singular Jewish experience. Each, instead, reminds us of our individual and collective struggle to find our common humanity.” 

JSP co-executive administrators Roberta Grossman and  Caroline Libresco known as the group “a dream come true.” 

“Funding documentary films has always been an uphill climb,” they continued in a press release. “Funding for independent and diverse Jewish documentary films an even steeper ascent. From this  challenging reality was born the now realized vision of creating a source of support for a wide array of fiercely independent Jewish documentary films. We couldn’t be prouder of the  excellent films that have come to life with the support of JSP.”  

New JSP donor Stephanie DeVaan mentioned, “I invest in JSP because films have the power to distill stereotypes or completely upend them. By supporting projects which depict nuanced and diverse Jewish experiences, JSP invites audiences into all kinds of stories and worlds, building understanding across our perceived divisions. In this tumultuous world, our only path to  survival is an understanding of each other. The defining trait of Jewish experience? No two are the same. I am so very proud to support an organization that is broadening the Jewish stories we see on screen.”  

Other JSP donor companions embody Maimonides Fund, the Jim Joseph Foundation, Adam Irving, The Klarman Family Foundation, Koret Foundation, Lynn and Jules Kroll Fund for Jewish Documentary Films, Kronhill Pletka Foundation, Julie Platt, Mara Burros Sandler, Be Forward Productions, Chara Schreyer, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies and Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan. 

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