Fledgling’s Rapid Story Deployment Fund Awards Over $270,000 in Grants in its First Year
In late 2016, Fledgling launched its Rapid Story Deployment Fund to provide quick turnaround grants to support short films and/or other visual stories that could be completed and distributed quickly. The political climate requires the need for a vibrant public debate grounded in an understanding of the myriad ways that important policy issues affect individuals, families and communities. Through this fund, we have supported 28 projects across a range of issues including, immigration and refugee issues, democracy, environmental justice, women’s empowerment, criminal justice reform and equality. Here they are: A Debtor’s Prison – $10,000 Directed by Todd Chandler and Brett Story The film follows two plaintiffs in an unfolding court case as they describe the matrix of controls that subjected them to incarceration for being poor. Across the racially segregated landscape of St. Louis County, Missouri, thousands of people are routinely sent to jail because they cannot pay local court fines and fees. It premiered at the 2017 Camden International Film Festival and screened at AFI’s Meet the Press Film Festival. Angry White Men: Life After Hate – $10,000 Directed by Peter Hutchison Film examines the root causes and conditions of racism and xenophobia through the lens of the bold work of former hate group members – “Life After Hate” – now engaged in transforming attitudes of intolerance. The film team is working with key partners including Life After Hate, Southern Poverty Law Center and ADL. Asthma Alley -$10,000 Directed by Beth Murphy and Dan Levitt A short film focused on a teenage girl in the South Bronx who finds hope in music when climate change, air pollution and worsening pollen seasons intertwine in ways that make it hard for her to breathe. Part of our Climate Change and Health Initiative. Beyond the Wall – $30,000 (2 Grants) Stories Without Borders The project aims to flip the script on the political rhetoric and enthusiasm around “the wall” and deporting immigrants and balance it with empathy for children who are living in fear. They hope to build enough public understanding and will to speak out for the human rights of those affected. Chasing Energy – $10,000 Center for Investigative Reporting Chasing Energy uses Standing Rock as a jumping off point for understanding the critical global debate about America’s quest for energy and its impact on public lands, the environment and indigenous peoples. Four videos were produced with support from the Fledgling Fund. Councilwoman Reflective Democracy Shorts – $5,000 Directed by Margo Guernsey Councilwoman is about the right to have a voice in democracy. Carmen, a Dominican housekeeper in a Providence hotel, takes her advocacy for low-income workers from the margins to a seat on the City Council. The feature film and accompanying shorts will inspire reflection and enhance conversations about how the intersections of race, class and gender affect public policy decisions. Chronic Exposure: Working to Death in Bajo Tempo – $10,000 Directed by Tom Jennings A short film about dramatic temperature increases that are threatening the lives of agricultural workers around the world. Part of our Climate Change and Health Initiative. Effluent Blues – $10,000 Directed by Casey Beck A film that focuses on the nexus of climate change, farm waste runoff and toxic algae blooms that is creating a drinking water crisis that could undermine the health of millions of Americans. Part of our Climate Change and Health Initiative. Fight for the First – $10,000 Directed by Sharon Liese The film addresses the freedom of the press in the Trump era through the eyes of journalists-in-training at the world’s oldest journalism school. It recently premiered at AFI’s Meet the Press Film Festival. Finding Middle Ground -$10,000 InsideClimate News Two short films that will be part of InsideClimate News’ ongoing Finding Middle Ground project, which highlights conscious, considered and respectful dialogue even when people have opposing viewpoints regarding climate change. Hot Chicken, Fair Chance – $10,000 Directed by Katie Galloway in partnership with The Marshall Project A short film about a Columbus, Ohio-based business whose staff are predominantly formerly incarcerated. Jo DeLoss is a charismatic entrepreneur whose willingness to give ex-prisoners a second chance serves as a model for other business executives. The film was released on both The Marshall Project platform and USA Today. The Last Clinics – $10,000 Directed by Maya Cueva and Leah Galant Conceptualized as a web series, it takes you to the front line of the battle over abortion access across the U.S.– travelling to clinics from communities in Texas, Kentucky, and Louisiana. The film is not just a series about abortion, but about the communities at the center of the state battle against reproductive rights. Letters of Hope – $10,000 C.A.R.E. An initiative of CARE, the Letters of Hope initiative is a letter-writing and digital campaign connecting individuals, including many students, in the U.S. with refugees around the world. The goal is to raise awareness for the urgent needs of today and to diffuse fear and apprehension about diversity among the next generation. Love the Sinner – $10,000 Directed by Jessica Devaney and Geeta Gandbhir A short personal documentary exploring the connection between Christianity and homophobia in the wake of the shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando. It probes our responsibility to face bias in our communities and push for dignity and equality for all. It premiered at 2017 Tribeca Film Festival. The outreach campaign will bring the film churches, seminaries, and Christian colleges across the U.S. Marching Forward – $10,000 Global Girl Media The goal of this short video is to extend the momentum of the Womens’ March by offering an engagement tool to keep girls and women’s issues front and center in the national discourse by offering a easily sharable video experience and an adjacent video program that invites girls to proclaim what inspires them and what actions they will take to continue #MARCHINGFORWARD. Nation of Second Chances – $6,000 Directed by Jonathan Perri The project seeks to humanize the people released from prison through President Obama’s clemency initiative by allowing them to tell their stories in their own voices alongside powerful photos and videos that shine a light on the unfair sentences they received, what they went through in prison, and how the lives they’re living as free people offer society much more than keeping them behind bars. No Jail Time: The Movie – $6,000 Directed by Lance Oppenheim “Justice” in American trials is often determined by which side has the “better story.” While some lawyers are more experienced storytellers than others, some defense attorneys are turning to a new, experimental strategy to defend their convicted clients: filmmaking. These attorneys’ “films” are known in the courtroom as “sentencing videos” – that is, videos designed to mitigate sentences by playing to the emotions of an audience of one: the judge. No Jail Time: The Movie was published by The New York Times. Pulling the Thread – $10,000 Directed by Danny Alpert A digital documentary series and engagement campaign that unravels some of America’s most popular conspiracy theories to reveal the emotional, cognitive and social forces that lead rational people to believe irrational things. Quit this Shit – $10,000 SafeB.A.E. This film raises awareness of the re-victimization of survivors on social media by utilizing the voices of young celebrities alongside the teen subjects of the film Audrie and Daisy. The film launched in early April as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The Ramos Deportation Case – $10,000 Directed by John Kennedy and Jeff Arak A short film about the arrest for deportation of Gioconda Ramos and his wife by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents in New Haven, CT, and the subsequent civil disobedience that followed. Robeson Rises $10,000 Appalachian Voices The film will chronicle the efforts of Robeson County residents — Native, Black, brown and white — uniting against the pipeline and for a renewable future. It will paint a diverse and complex portrait of rural and native America against the grain of the typical post-election narrative. Untitled Refugee Stories – $10,000 Wondros Working with International Refugee Assistance Project: IRAP, this project profiles refugees now leading safe and productive lives in the U.S. By illuminating their experiences fleeing persecution to create new lives here, the films will allow the American people to see refugees as their fellow citizens. Untold America – $10,000 Directed by Andrew Morgan A documentary series focused on the people and places behind the issues facing us today. The focus is on better questions rather than easy answers, opening the door to continued conversation and engagement. What I Fought For – $10,000 Human Rights First Refugees are often depicted as the “other,” a group so unlike us that it should be feared and distrusted. Most U.S. citizens have never met a refugee, much less had a personal connection with one. Military veterans swore an oath to defend the ideals that have made this country great, and many have served overseas alongside and in the communities of the very individuals now being shut out of the United States. #WhatIFoughtFor tells those stories. Welcome Back to Shelbyville Directed by Kim Snyder A follow-up to Welcome to Shelbyville, Kim Snyder’s 2011 film about a small town in the heart of America’s Bible belt grappling with rapidly changing demographics. Eight years later, the filmmaker receives notice that the 2011 film has been cited by the White Supremacist organizers of Charlottesville as impetus for their next rally in the very same town. She and her crew return to revisit original characters as they await the uncertainty of what will happen when hate comes to their community with the shifting backdrop of life in rural Tennessee under the new Administration. Winner Take All – $10,000 Directed by Jeremy Stulberg and Mara Wollong A short film that will complement the feature length film, Winner Take All. The film will educate the American public about voting-rights, how the electoral system works, its constitutional parameters, and how to organize potential change it if necessary. * Two funded projects are not on this list. They would like to remain anonymous at this time.