LOS ANGELES – Jewish Story Partners (JSP), the rapidly growing, Los Angeles-based non-profit film funding organization that launched six months ago with an ambitious vision, announced its second round of grantees today. This follows an open call for submissions that resulted in a stunning 226% increase in grant applications and an outpouring of excellent projects.
With $280,000 in new grants, this new slate brings Jewish Story Partners’ 2021 granting total to $500,000, distributed among 27 projects. These grants establish JSP as a leading non-profit film funder. In the coming years, JSP plans to significantly increase its funding and expand eligibility to encompass international filmmakers and fiction projects telling diverse Jewish stories. Today JSP announced it expects to provide over $800,000 in funding in 2022, with grants growing to $1 million in 2023 in part thanks to the addition of new funders including the Lynn and Jules Kroll Fund for Jewish Documentary Films, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies, Kronhill Pletka Foundation, and Koret Foundation.
“Jewish documentary films are a window into the richness and complexity of the arc of Jewish history and Jewish lives today,” said Lynn and Jules Kroll of the Lynn and Jules Kroll Fund for Jewish Documentary Films. “We are thrilled to be a part of Jewish Story Partners, which provides a greatly expanded platform for the support of documentary film.”
“Storytelling is at the heart of how we convey the rich tapestry of the modern Jewish experience,” said Lisa Eisen, Co-President, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies, a new funder to Jewish Story Partners. “By supporting stories that lift up the full diversity of the Jewish people, culture and traditions, Jewish Story Partners is helping to foster greater inclusion, belonging, and understanding within and beyond Jewish communities.”
The second round of JSP grants announced today includes powerful new stories from award-winning filmmakers including celebrated editor Kate Amend (Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport, The Case Against 8, The Keepers), Marilyn Ness (Charm City, Dick Johnson is Dead), Pratibha Parmar (Warrior Marks, Alice Waters: Beauty in Truth), Dan Sturman (Twin Towers, Nanking, Soundtrack for a Revolution), and Ondi Timoner (Dig!, We Live in Public).
The selections jury for the Fall 2021 funding round included Bonni Cohen, Director/Producer (Inconvenient Sequel, Athlete A); Dylan Leiner, Executive Vice President of Acquisitions and Production at Sony Pictures Classics; and Rahdi Taylor, Executive Vice President of Artist Residencies at Concordia Studios. The jury released the following statement:
“The courage and creative excellence that has gone into these projects gives us faith in the future of independent filmmaking to expand the boundaries of imagination and discourse. After dynamic deliberation, we landed on a broad-ranging slate of astonishing and original Jewish stories spotlighting radical women, the Holocaust, cross-generational encounters, the power of the creative process, and America today.”
Led by award-winning filmmaker Roberta Grossman, who serves as Producing Director, and veteran film festival programmer, former Sundance Catalyst director, and producer Caroline Libresco, who serves as Artistic Director, Jewish Story Partners responds to a glaring gap in funding for independent Jewish films, as well as the pressing need for films to reflect the full spectrum of Jewish experiences, cultures, and encounters. “This crop of projects blew us away; we saw a panoply of personal stories, which provide doorways into fascinating worlds, as well as inspired portraits of Jewish cultural figures, and new takes on historical material” said Grossman and Libresco.
“The ability of film to uniquely connect us with our past and our present in the most visceral way is a vital tool in maintaining and sustaining Jewish identity,” said Irene Pletka of the Kronhill Pletka Foundation. “For our non-Jewish friends it opens a cornucopia of storytelling, culture, and insights that might never have reached them. I am proud to be associated with this venture!”
“Telling Jewish stories in a manner that reflects the full richness and diversity of the Jewish experience is a vital means of capturing the breadth of perspectives in our community,” said Jeff Farber, CEO of the Koret Foundation. “Not only does doing so hold a mirror to the Jewish community and reflect its vibrancy and its contributions, it’s also an important means of connecting the past with the present.”
Additionally, JSP announced that an open call for entries for its next funding round has opened for feature-length documentaries by U.S.-based producers and/or directors. Applications are due January 13th, 2022. JSP accepts submissions via two open calls per year, with juried decisions made in Spring and Fall. Filmmakers may learn more at jewishstorypartners.org.
JEWISH STORY PARTNERS FALL 2021 JURY GRANTS
Director Yael Melamede, Producers Hilla Medalia and Yael Melamede
Ada is a documentary feature film about Israel’s most celebrated architect, a completely unknown persona, told through the eyes of her daughter—a filmmaker and former architect.
Egypt, A Love Song
Director Iris Zaki, Producers Peter Hutchison and Iris Zaki
Souad Zaki was a popular Jewish Arabic singer in 1940’s Egypt, who married a renowned Muslim musician. When he abandoned her with their child, she was forced to flee to Israel and make ends meet working as a domestic cleaner. Souad’s granddaughter Iris tells her tempestuous story in a hybrid cinematic project that crosses nations, cultures, religions and generations.
Director Rebekah Maysles, Producer Laura Coxson
Pioneer cameraman Albert Maysles (Gimme Shelter, Grey Gardens, Journey to Jerusalem) redefined documentary film in theory and in practice. With unfettered access to his filmography, personal archives, and never-before-seen footage, his oldest daughter Rebekah creates an unconventional portrait of a visionary artist—a father, a husband, a psychologist, a New Yorker, a son of Jewish immigrants, a lover of trains and birds—through the portraits he made of other people.
Judy Chicago Untitled
Directors Kate Amend and Tim Marrinan, Producer Lisa Remington
When Judy Chicago, a trailblazing Jewish feminist artist once dismissed by the establishment, steps into the limelight and the #metoo revolution at 80-something, her iconic six decade fight against women’s erasure from the art world takes on new significance. Seamlessly traversing past and present, Judy Chicago Untitled unlocks an electric story of startling resilience and ingenuity, blindspots and blunders—asking whether art can actually transform the world.
Last Flight Home
Director Ondi Timoner, Producers Jenny Hochberg, Ondi Timoner, and David Turner
As a Jewish family gathers around their patriarch to shepherd him through his intentional death, long-buried struggles emerge and each family member must step into unimaginable new terrain as they lovingly celebrate and mourn a remarkable life.
The Liegnitz Plot
Director Dan Sturman, Producers Gary Gilbert, Dylan Nelson, and Dan Sturman
Part detective story, part heist film, part history we must never forget, The Liegnitz Plot investigates a tale dating back to the Holocaust: that a mysterious Nazi stole priceless stamp collections from concentration camp victims and buried the stolen stamps in a small town in Poland.
Love, Murder and Miracles
Director and Producer Yoav Potash
As the Polish government threatens to imprison anyone who blames Poland for the Holocaust, one aging eyewitness defies the law to search for the Jewish boy she loved 73 years ago, who only could have survived through miracles. Love, Murder and Miracles combines revelatory eyewitness interviews with evocative animation to depict a quest against war, hate, and time itself.
My Name Is Andrea
Director Pratibha Parmar, Producer Shaheen Haq
My Name Is Andrea is a hybrid documentary about one of the most controversial, iconoclastic figures of the 20th century: feminist writer and public intellectual Andrea Dworkin. Shaped by the values of justice and equality learnt in Hebrew school, Dworkin offered a revolutionary analysis of male supremacy. Rare archival footage and performances by Ashley Judd, Soko, Amandla Stenberg, Andrea Riseborough, and Christine Lahti bring alive a fighter who demanded women be seen as fully human.
A Photographic Memory
Director Rachel Elizabeth Seed, Producers Matt Perniciaro, Rachel Elizabeth Seed, Michael Sherman, and Danielle Varga
A daughter attempts to piece together a portrait of her mother, a daring journalist and a woman she never knew. Uncovering the vast archive Sheila Turner-Seed produced, including lost interviews with iconic photographers, the film explores memory, legacy, and stories left untold.
Director Marilyn Ness, Producers Beth Levison and Maureen Ryan
Post Mortem is a documentary feature that is at once personal memoir, true crime, and Jewish family history as director Marilyn Ness confronts a legacy of secrecy and trauma using the communal power of theater and film.
Announcing the 2021 Kroll Artist
Yael Melamede, director of Ada, has been selected as this year’s Kroll Artist, which includes an additional grant award to the team.
JEWISH STORY PARTNERS FALL 2021 DISCRETIONARY GRANTS
Jewish Story Partners deploys discretionary grants from time to time to projects that can benefit from targeted support at a critical moment.
999: The Young Women of the First Official Transport to Auschwitz
Director Heather Dune Macadam, Producer Jane Schonberger
The hidden story of 999 unmarried, mostly teenage Jewish girls who were ordered to register for Slovak government service in March 1942 and ended up being secretly deported to Auschwitz.
Director Nira Burstein, Producers Nira Burstein and Betsy Laikin
Charm Circle is a cinéma vérité portrait of an eccentric New York Jewish family navigating the chaos that divides them.
Curse of the Mutant Heirloom
Director Debra Schaffner, Producer Julie Wyman
What happens when WWII trauma and a genetic mutation collide in an atheist Jewish home in New Jersey? That’s what filmmaker Debra Schaffner is trying to figure out as she attempts to connect with her estranged mother who is battling ovarian cancer.
Director and Producer Melis Birder
Crossing traditional boundaries between history, faith, and memory, Elsewhere is the filmmaker’s journey into the maze of her own family’s secrets, going back 350 years to uncover an underground community that harbored a mysterious belief in a “Jewish Muslim Messiah” who would one day return.
Fiddler’s Journey to the Big Screen
Director Daniel Raim, Producers Sasha Berman and Daniel Raim
A documentary about director Norman Jewison and the making of “Fiddler on the Roof.”
A Tree of Life
Director Trish Adlesic, Producers Trish Adlesic and Susan Margolin
A shofar blower, a gun shop housed in a former synagogue, and eleven hundred mitzvahs weave this intimate tapestry of a community rebuilding after eleven people are brutally murdered inside their synagogue for being Jewish.
Jewish Story Partners stimulates and supports the highest caliber independent films that use fresh, nuanced perspectives to tell stories about a diverse spectrum of Jewish experiences, cultures, and encounters.
Lead funding for Jewish Story Partners is provided by Righteous Persons Foundation, with a matching gift from Maimonides Fund and additional support from Jim Joseph Foundation. Major support is also provided by the Lynn and Jules Kroll Fund for Jewish Documentary Films, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies, Kronhill Pletka Foundation, and Koret Foundation. Additional donors include Jennifer and Grant Dinner, and Adam Irving.
Adam J. Segal of The 2050 Group – Publicity