Commissioned to apply realistic graffiti to sets for the popular Showtime series Homeland, three artists and activists took the opportunity to critique their employer by painting satirical and damning phrases in Arabic — such as “Homeland is NOT a series” and “Homeland is racist” — that nobody on the Homeland team seemed to notice. That is, until an episode that aired worldwide in October was watched by viewers who could read Arabic. Within days, the political prank became an international media sensation.

The conspirators behind the Homeland hack, Heba Yehia Amin, Caram Kapp, and Don Karl, come from a diverse array of disciplines and backgrounds. Amin is a visual artist and professor born and based in Cairo; Kapp is a Cairo-born, Berlin-based graphic designer and multimedia artist; and Karl is a Berlin-based graffiti writer and author. When the following interview was conducted, kaleidoscopically via Google Hangout, the trio was collaborating on the edit for Homeland Is Not a Series from three separate cities.

In anticipation of bringing this latest iteration of their project to Field of Vision, the “Arabian Street Artists,” as they cheekily refer to themselves, talked about the effectiveness of humor as a weapon against intolerance, the challenges of making a movie when they don’t consider themselves filmmakers by trade, and how they’re trying to foster further discussion around Western representations of Middle Eastern culture.

So how did this start? Since you’re all coming from slightly different disciplines, as well as different areas of the world — how did you wind up collaborating on this covert sabotaging of the Homeland TV show?

Don Karl: I got a call from Homeland that they were looking for “Arabian street artists.” I reached out to several artists, and one of them was Caram, with whom I worked on several other projects — including Walls of Freedom a book about graffiti art and the Egyptian revolution. We gathered in front of a street art exhibit in Berlin, which is where I met Heba for the first time, and the question was, “Do we want to do this kind of thing? Do we need money so urgently that we need to work for Homeland?”

Heba Yehia Amin: None of us were certain that we wanted to work with them. In fact, Don struggled to find people who actually wanted to take on this job, because we so strongly oppose the politics of this show.

Karl: We had this idea spinning around that we could sabotage them, but it wasn’t really concrete.

Amin: We decided at that point to at least meet with the set designers, and see exactly that they wanted us to do. It turned out that it was a much easier set up than we thought it would be. In fact, they came with references for us — they brought images of what they wanted this graffiti to look like. And the images they brought us were of pro-Assad graffiti — they had no clue about the content of what they were showing us. So we already knew that they didn’t have a concrete idea of what they wanted us to write. They just wanted decoration on the set.

They basically said, “Write whatever you want, we just don’t want you to copy these references because of copyright issues. And oh yeah, we don’t necessarily want anything too political.” Then we discovered that there was no contract — they were making no agreement with us. So just in terms of our concerns about the legalities of doing something like this, we felt like this was really working in our favor. At that point we were really convinced about moving forward with this idea.

Caram Kapp: Visually, they did very good research. On a superficial level, the set is very convincing. When we went there, it was as if we were in parts of Lebanon. But obviously they didn’t know the deeper meaning of what they were talking about, and they’d either never talked to people from an Arab country or learned enough Arabic to be able to know what was actually going to be written on the set.

Did the three of you come up with the text for the graffiti together?

Kapp: Heba and I, and a lot of friends and relations helped us out. We asked them, “Can you send us quotes?” And we actually were prepared to do a less subversive job if the situation developed that way.

Karl: At first we worked with quotes that had double meanings — we were thinking of ways to insert the message very subtly. Then when we found that nobody looks at it, they started to write all those very blatant sayings.

Amin: Arabic proverbs in general have these double meanings, so if you don’t know the language you won’t understand the context of it. If you just take it for its literal face value, it won’t have the critical meaning we were after. But it turned out that we didn’t even need to be that subtle. So we basically improvised once we were on set. Caram and I were having a lot of fun with this, just writing really stupid stuff that was also attempting to undermine the show in a more comical way.

Now I’m not at all a graffiti artist, so that’s also comical, that I was brought on as a graffiti artist and had never held a spray can in my life. I’m very familiar with politically subversive artistic tactics, but it was interesting for me to be represented as this graffiti artist when that’s not what I am at all.

Karl: We were misinterpreted in all kinds of ways. We were called a collection of Muslim street artists, and that doesn’t fit any of us.

Amin: We’ve played with it. We named ourselves the Arabian Street Artists because when the set designers were communicating with us via email, they kept referring to us as the Arabian street artists. We found this quite funny.

Karl: I became an Arab, even though I’m so German.

Amin: We also played with it in the text itself. These Orientalist texts like 1001 Arabian Nights — like “1001 Jokes,” or “1001 Calamities.” We played with that Orientalist depiction that was imposed on us.

Kapp: Once we realized that we could get away with it, we started becoming really spontaneous. We began to tell more jokes after being very serious in the beginning. It was very liberating.

Did anybody notice what you were writing on the walls? Or is it something you had to reveal afterwards?

Karl: I heard from one guy, who was working on set and read it but didn’t tell anyone, because he hated the show himself. Maybe others saw it and didn’t tell. All these lawyers and people looking at every frame, hundreds of people looking at it before it airs, and they have not one person who understands or reads Arabic?

Amin: We were asked to write signs for these makeshift storefronts in this supposed refugee camp. And Caram came up with this really great sign for a falafel joint, where he wrote, “Falafel and Alcohol Made with the Hands of Faiza.” And in his mind he created this whole character of Faiza being a Christian Syrian refugee remembering the old times, this whole comical narrative of who the characters of the refugee camp are.

And the next day we got an email from the set designer and she said, “Somebody just told me that you wrote falafel and alcohol on the sign — why would you do that?” So Caram responds to her very seriously, and says, “Well, you know, this store belongs to Faiza from Syria,” and he gives her this whole backstory of who Faiza is to justify what he put on the sign. After this email we didn’t hear anything back so we were thinking they probably noticed all the other graffiti we put in there as well. So we weren’t sure that any of it was going to show up — that they would have covered it up or taken it out in postproduction.

But then the episode airs, and that’s not what happened at all.

Amin: We were caught off guard. None of us were prepared. I was in the airport when Caram and Don sent me screenshots of the episode. We decided that we needed to write a statement as quickly as possible, which the three of us put together in a day or two. Then we posted it on my website and shared it through social media, and within an hour we started getting messages. The first big paper that wrote about it was Time magazine — they sent me an email saying we want some feedback and before we could even write them back they posted the article. And from there it went viral in a matter of hours.

Kapp: After that it was three days of absolute media mayhem. The phone was ringing about 50 times an hour.

Karl: I gave a shaky handheld phone interview with somebody, I didn’t know who, and it turned out to be AJ+. Three million people saw it.

Kapp: I was brought into a studio interview, watching the news, and I thought to myself — there’s stuff erupting in Palestine, there’s Nigerian stuff going on at the same time, and this is the headline story from the Middle East?

Karl: It was discomforting in a way, but at least it was something to make people laugh.

Amin: It wasn’t just that we made people laugh — it was also a form of criticism. It was in keeping with a point we were making, the idea that media manipulates the narrative, how the region is depicted. The fact that we became a big story kind of furthered our point of what the focus is on in the region. We tried to use the opportunity to talk about those issues — about what consequences a show like Homeland and many others have on an entire region — and not just about our media hack.

Karl: It started a discussion. You could see on CNN people talking about the racism of Homeland, and then good journalists started to write articles that went much deeper, that didn’t just talk about the hack but really about the issues we touched on.

So that’s what happened in the public sphere, but now there’s this other piece, this film you’ve been working on. Do you consider this all part of the same project?

Amin: When Caram and I were on set we were documenting the graffiti, but very secretly. We didn’t have the idea that we were going to make a film, we were just documenting. Then we got an email from Laura [Poitras] who expressed that she really enjoyed the hack and was straightforward about wanting to collaborate with us. From there we’ve been playing around with the footage, trying to further the point that we’ve already made, as well as address some of these deeper issues.

Do you consider yourselves filmmakers?

Kapp: We’ve all worked with film at some point in our lives. Heba uses it in her practice, Don has worked with an animation studio for awhile, and I’ve made a documentary film. But like graffiti, it’s not our main area of expertise. It’s another tool in our toolkit.

How do you employ it as a tool? And since it’s not your primary area of expertise, what have been some of the challenges posed by the form?

[All three start laughing.]

Kapp: You’re asking the most pertinent question to ask at this point.

Karl: We’re challenged for sure.

Kapp: Let’s put it this way: This is a very organic process that we’re engaged in. Basically from the time Laura contacted us, we’ve been working nonstop. Creating new versions, discussing what can be done with it. It’s the challenges of doing something professional that’s spontaneous.

Amin: We’re trying to live up to what we’ve already done. We feel that pressure in some ways. But we also want to use the opportunity to add to it, to not just reiterate what we’ve done. We want to deal with racism and visual representation, which is a very heavy story, but in a way that lightens them up a bit so that we can talk about them, which is why our graffiti hack worked in the first place. It was through that humor that people were able to access it on such a wide scale.

Kapp: This is also something we’re struggling really hard to achieve, the balance between this very sarcastic, very satirical, comedic voice and something on a slightly more abstract level. And to hear an actual Syrian talk about Syria, which doesn’t happen too often.

Whose voice is it in the film?

Kapp: The voice is from a Syrian man who knows many sides of the Syrian uprising. I got the idea that this is actually the guy to talk to. He knows all these facets of life in Syria of life during the revolution, then the whole aspect of being a refugee.

Amin: We’re trying to very carefully work with this text as a way of representing a particular voice, but also putting it within a real context, because this set and this series is surreal.

There is a sense of déjà vu, with that voice walking us through that imagery — Is it a movie set? Is it a real refugee camp? — that is really disorienting and compelling.

Karl: We tried to play with that, with what we called the first Arabian zombie movie, but without going over the top with it. The challenge right now is that I think we have too many ideas for a short movie.

Kapp: The greatest challenge for us is not to undermine what we already did and lessen it.

Who are you working with on the edit? Have you brought another member onto your team?

Karl: Ahmed Hanifa is the editor, and he’s also responsible for all the incredible graphic work.

Amin: Our ideas have been quite abstract, so he’s very integral to the process of deciding how the visuals might turn out. He’s helping us define what we’re doing — his creative energy is a big part of it.

Kapp: We mostly discuss the structural issues among ourselves. We had one discussion about what it might look like and he took it from there and he’s doing this amazing job.

You’ve rolled with things from the beginning, from a for-hire gig that became a media hack, and from managing a media storm to making a film of your own. How do you feel about going out into the world with this film?

Amin: The hope is that this instigates something. We hope it doesn’t end at this act that we did. Our hope is that we can continue this dialogue in other ways, and really address these serious issues.

Karl: It’s not something else or a part two, it’s an extension of what we did.

Kapp: We’re doing something called the Global Watermelon, which brings people together to have a good laugh and celebrate … I don’t know … watermelons.

What is that?

Amin: That was the biggest, most popular graffiti, the one the media most often talked about — “Homeland is a Watermelon.” [The word watermelon can be used to indicate that something is a sham or a joke.] So we’re claiming that. We’re claiming the watermelon. The revolution is on.

Kapp: The watermelon uprising.

Karl: Don’t tell him our secret plan!

Field of Vision is partnering with Lawyers for Reporters to launch a free legal clinic for freelancers working in documentary in the United States. This program will provide legal information about specific topics and possible referrals to pro bono legal counsel.

Lawyers for Reporters is a joint project of the Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice and First Look Media’s Press Freedom Defense Fund that provides pro bono legal assistance to local journalists and media organizations.

Our volunteer lawyers can provide people working as freelancers in the documentary film community in the U.S. with information about the following subjects:

  • Newsgathering rights and potential legal exposure from newsgathering (but we cannot advocate on your behalf regarding Freedom of Information (FOI) requests).
  • Legal risks of publishing content, such as defamation, invasion of privacy, and copyright infringement
  • Licenses, releases, and other content- and distribution-related contracts, but excluding film financing and other complex agreements
  • Risk assessment for filmmaking and security issues

If you are interested in receiving information and a possible referral to pro bono counsel, please fill out the intake form below. After your request is received, a member of our team will let you know whether an information session with our volunteer lawyers can be scheduled.

Intake Form Here.

Please note:

  • This program can only provide information, not legal advice.
  • Completing an intake form does not automatically qualify you for an information session.
  • Submitting an intake form and discussing a matter with a volunteer lawyer does not create an attorney-client relationship that would protect confidential information from disclosure in a legal proceeding.
  • A referral to pro bono counsel is not guaranteed even after a consultation.
Image from The Trial by Johanna Hamilton.

IF/Then Shorts, in partnership with Hulu Documentary Films calls short-documentary filmmakers based in North America to take part in the Inaugural IF/Then x Hulu Short Documentary Lab. This lab will channel Hulu and IF/Then’s shared vision of creating a new pipeline of diverse talent and incubating strong voices who will be the next class of non-fiction storytellers.

Program Details:

Four filmmaking teams will be chosen to participate in a one-year lab focused on short-documentary production and career training. For the first six months, filmmakers will be individually mentored through production by IF/Then staff and take part in monthly virtual cohort trainings, consisting of keynotes from industry heavy-hitters and edit consultations. Upon rough cut of their projects, filmmakers will be invited to debut their works-in-progress to an invitation-only audience and receive feedback. For the remainder of the program, filmmakers will finalize their cuts and receive high-level festival and distribution strategy consultations, along with guidance creating their publicity materials, and pro-bono legal support. Hulu will have the right to review the projects for potential acquisition or further development.

Each team will receive a $25,000 grant to use for the production of their film.

This opportunity will be open to individuals living in/from North America, with an emphasis on Black and/or Indigenous filmmakers, people of color, women, LGBTQ+, recent immigrants, and individuals who identify as having a disability. We will welcome any and all stories from underrepresented voices, with a strong preference around subjects related to gender, the LGTBQ community or issues unique to the BIPOC community.

Project Eligibility:

  • In addition to the identity eligibility of the maker and the theme, eligible IF/Then Shorts projects must meet the following criteria:
  • Be an original short documentary with a final duration of 10-20 minutes
  • Be completed within six to nine months of receiving the IF/Then Shorts grant
  • Be factually accurate, follow best practices in documentary ethics, and be designed for a U.S. audience
  • Be driven by (a) compelling character(s), with access to the character(s) secured
  • Be presented in English or subtitled in English
  • Have no prior distribution attached and be able to participate in the IF/Then Shorts distribution initiative
  • All stories and storytellers coming from countries and territories in North America. This includes the United States and its territories (Puerto Rico, Guam, US Virgin Islands, Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa,) Canada, Greenland, Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, and Venezuela, and countries in the Caribbean: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, The Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Bonaire, British Virgin Islands, US Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Clipperton Island, Cuba, Curacao, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, Montserrat, Saba, St. Andres and Providencia, Saint Barthélemy, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Martin, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sint Eustatius, Sint Maarten, Trinidad and Tobago, and Turks and Caicos Islands.

KEY DATES:

The application portal will open on January 15, 2021 and close at 11:59pm EST on Feb 15th.

  • January 15, 2021: Open call for IF/Then x Hulu Short Documentary Lab
  • March 31, 2021: Finalists announced
  • April 5, 2021: Virtual Program Kickoff

APPLY:

Submissions are now closed.

Please direct any questions regarding this application to ifthenshorts@fieldofvision.org

Starting July 22, IF/Then Shorts has a new home at Field of Vision. Joining Field of Vision will be IF/Then Shorts Program Director Chloe Gbai and Supervising Producer Caitlin Mae Burke. Founded in 2017 with support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, IF/Then Shorts is a fund and mentorship program that supports storytellers in breaking barriers to access, exposure, and sustainability in the media landscape. IF/Then works with creators who experience inequity based on factors such as race, gender, class, sexuality, ability, ethnicity, age, citizenship, and/or geography.

IF/Then Shorts taps into the need for broader geographical representation in the stories that get told through its regional pitch events. It holistically supports short documentary storytellers in their creation of compelling, character-led, community-inspired stories that embody the breadth and diversity of the people and places they represent.

The program addresses the imbalance of representation, perspective, power, compensation, and career longevity among independent filmmakers and media artists. IF/Then Shorts leverages access, expertise, network, and brand to address these challenges. Through grants, mentorship, industry connections, and professional development, IF/Then Shorts helps to ensure that storytellers from a multitude of backgrounds have access to the resources and tools they need to tell their stories, connect with audiences, and thrive in their careers. IF/Then Shorts was previously part of the Tribeca Film Institute, which is planning to pause operations indefinitely in September. "IF/Then Shorts is an incredible program, and one that’s vital to the field," said Charlotte Cook, Field of Vision's Co-Founder and Executive Producer. "We’re so glad that they can find their new home with Field of Vision. The program’s values align perfectly with Field of Vision, and further our overall commitment to shorts and advocating for filmmakers. Chloe and Caitlin are phenomenal, and I feel so lucky that they’ll be joining our team."

IF/Then Program Director Chloe Gbai said of the move: "We’re so excited that thanks to the MacArthur Foundation and Field of Vision we can keep this funding and development pipeline open to diverse, creative nonfiction talent past TFI’s pause this September. This program will have a new life and is ready to uplift the voices that we need to champion during these interesting times."

Supervising Producer Caitlin Mae Burke added: "As a former Field of Vision filmmaker myself, I know how beneficial it is to work with these trailblazers in the short documentary space. I'm overjoyed that all of our active projects and future supported filmmakers will benefit so immensely from this move, and we look forward to the tremendous growth potential for IF/Then possible under the Field of Vision umbrella." IF/Then is currently holding an open call for the North Shorts Grant and Fellowship, in partnership with Points North Institute, The Screening Room, Jigsaw Productions, and the LEF Foundation, for regional filmmakers in the American Northeast. About Chloe Gbai Chloe Gbai is the Director of IF/Then Shorts. Previously, as the POV Shorts and Streaming Producer, she launched POV Shorts, which earned POV its third documentary short Oscar® nomination, two News & Doc Emmy nominations and an IDA Awards nomination for Best Short Form Series.  She has previously worked at Teen Vogue and Viacom, as well as served on review panels and juries for the National Endowment for the Arts, Sheffield Doc/Fest, ITVS, IDA Awards, Black Public Media, Creative Capital, and various other film organizations. She is a member of Brown Girls Doc Mafia and a member-in-residence of the Meerkat Media Collective.

About Caitlin Mae Burke Caitlin Mae Burke is an Emmy-winning producer. Her films have screened and won awards at top tier festivals including Sundance, Berlinale, and Tribeca Film Festival and have been broadcast across the US and around the world. Her work has screened at MoMA, The Museum of the Moving Image, and in movie theaters internationally. She is an inaugural inductee to DOC NYC's "40 Under 40" and alumna of Berlinale Talents. IF/Then currently has funding opportunities available for filmmakers. Please find more information here.

Field of Vision has partnered with Doc Society and Sundance Institute to launch Independent Documentary: Filming in the Time of Corona, a new Risk Assessment Guide for independent documentary filmmakers who are considering starting or resuming production during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.

Many filmmakers are asking themselves — and others in the documentary field — the big question: Should I be filming at all?

As our field discusses and debates this particular question — and its ethical and and public health implications — Field of Vision, Doc Society, Sundance Institute, and our co-signatories are offering a “living document” that provides guidelines, a checklist, and questions for independent documentary film teams to ask themselves, each other and their partners. It is our hope that this guide will help filmmakers make informed decisions and help keep everyone safe.

We’d like to acknowledge our gratitude to all of the the co-signatories of the Risk Assessment Guide, who helped consult on, and improve the guide: Asian American Documentary Network (ADoc), Asociación de Documentalistas de Puerto Rico (ADocPR), ACOS (A Culture Of Safety) Alliance, Ambulante, American Documentary/POV, Black Public Media, Brown Girls Doc Mafia, Center for Asian American Media (CAAM), Chicken & Egg, DOCUBOX, Impact Partners, Indian Documentary Foundation, Latino Public Broadcasting, National Association of Latino Producers (NALIP), Pacific Islanders in Communications, Perspective Fund, Scottish Documentary Institute, Topic, Vision Maker Media: Native Stories for Public Broadcasting, and others.

This is a rapidly changing situation as well as a long-term reality. Those of us in the documentary field will need to be mindful, flexible, and diligent as our risk assessment continues to evolve in order to keep not only our community safe but also the communities we collaborate with in the stories we tell. This new normal is unprecedented, but our documentary community is nothing if not committed to responding to this profoundly unique situation.

The guide will be updated as the situation develops and as we receive additional feedback from filmmakers and support organizations.

This list has been compiled as a guide to help documentary filmmakers in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and its impact on the filmmaking community.

We’re going to keep adding to this document as we find any more support available to the community.

We’re also hoping to provide more initiatives and services ourselves, and you’ll be able to find all of those as we add them on this page.

This guide is separated into the following sections:

  • Field of Vision Resources
  • General Data and Preparation
  • Industry Work Information
  • Relief Funds for Filmmakers & Small Business
  • Current Project Funding
  • COVID-19 Financial Help: Resource Lists and Guides
  • Industry COVID-19 News
  • Festival Status & Updates
  • Other Resources

This is a living document and will be updated as more information becomes available.

We'd like to acknowledge and thank the organizations who have made their own compilations of resources available to the community, including: Creative Capital, Brown Girls Doc Mafia, Washington Filmworks, Coronavirus Resource Kit, Collective Care By State, Dear Producer Blog, and Independent Cinema Office.

If you know of any other support available to filmmakers, please email saeedah@fieldofvision.org with information.

Field of Vision Resources

Mentorship & Consultation Service

Our virtual "office hours" service is available for filmmakers, and offers consultation on a variety of areas. We’re prioritising filmmakers who’ve been affected by festival postponements and production changes, but will also be available to offer a range of mentorship and consultation around a variety of areas.

We have booked up our first 200 allocated meetings, but are running a waitlist and hope to open up more slots asap. The waitlist is here.

Documentary Freelancer Relief Fund

A $250,000 fund to provide grants for freelancers working in the Documentary field. The fund distributes unrestricted grants of up to $2000 to support personal financial needs during the COVID19 pandemic to freelancers who have experienced hardship from loss of income or opportunity as a result of the pandemic.

The fund is open to freelancers working. worldwide

The fund will open next on May 6th from 9am ET until May 8th at 6pm ET or until we reach 750 applications.

Information about the fund can be found here.

Field of Vision Project Funding

Field of Vision provides funding for both Short, Feature-length and Episodic projects at all stages of development, production and post-production. We have no deadlines and commission and fund on a rolling basis. We are looking for a strong artistic vision and approach and films that tell the stories of our world from new perspectives.

To see our criteria please visit our submissions guidelines here

Shorts

https://fieldofvision.org/submit-short

Features & Episodic

https://fieldofvision.org/submit-feature

General Data and Preparation

As the COVID-19 outbreak continues, it is important to stay up to date with information related to public health and civic engagement. Below are sources for general information and statistics about the outbreak:

COVID-19 Data Pack from Information is Beautiful

Symptoms and Statistics

Emergency Kit- Al Jazeera

Legal rights in a quarantine

Industry Work Information

The nature of our industry makes work stoppage and social distancing difficult. Below are resources for filmmakers who have to travel, work on location, or work from home for the first time:

The Economic Impact of Coronavirus Survey

Travel and On Set Information

How to travel during the international coronavirus outbreak

On Set Tips: From Washington’s Film Worker (bottom of page)

Film and TV Charity Covid-19 Advice

Working from Home

Work from home securely

These are the internet providers offering free Wi-Fi during coronavirus

Avid free 90-day licenses

FREE Temporary Licenses and More to Help You Work from Home

How to Disinfect Camera Equipment and Spaces

Series of webinars for the suddenly remote workforce

Other Industry Resources

What You Should Know About Online Tools During the COVID-19 Crisis

Pro Bono PR Services for Films with Festival Cancellations

Ways to Help Artists and Creatives During the COVID-19 Outbreak

Ideas for responding to COVID-19 in the Film Industry

Cash Flow for Filmmakers Webinar

Please note: Specific filming restrictions can vary from state to state, country to country, and so on. You should check with your local film office regarding filming on location at this time.

Relief Funds for Filmmakers and Small Business

Below are new funds set up specifically to relieve filmmakers during this time:

Artist Relief - This fund will distribute $5,000 grants to artists facing dire financial emergencies due to COVID-19. It was designed by Americans for the Arts to better identify and address the needs of artists.

BFI and the Film and TV Charity’s Covid-19 Film and TV Emergency Relief Fund - BFI and Film and TV Charity have partnered to create a new industry-backed Covid-19 Film and TV Emergency Relief Fund to help support the creative community in the UK.

Covid-19 Freelance Artist Resource - A list specifically designed to serve all types of freelance artists and those interested in supporting the independent artist community during this time

COVID-19 WOC Artists Relief Fund - This fund is specifically for women of color working artists or creatives that have been directly impacted financially in light of COVID-19.

Disability Arts New Commissions - Disability Arts Online is a UK-based small organisation, committed to supporting their community during this time they’ve allocated £8,000 to new commissions for artists with disabilities.

Facebook Small Business Grants Program - Facebook is providing assistance in cash grants and ad credits.

Freelancers Relief Fund - Freelancers Relief Fund will provide financial assistance of up to $1,000 to freelancers who are experiencing sudden hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, whether as a result of illness, lost work, or caregiving responsibilities.

Global Open Call for Art - Amplifier has created an open call for work that focuses on public health, flattening the curve, and mental health during this global crisis. The organization will award $1,000 apiece to 50 artists, with new winning works announced each week, starting the first week of April.

NYFA Emergency Grants - Resources for arts and cultural organizations based here in New York and elsewhere.

PEN Writers’ Emergency Fund - PEN America will distribute grants of $500 to $1,000 based on applications that demonstrate an inability to meet an acute financial need, especially one resulting from the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Rauschenberg Emergency Grants Program - Expected to be rolled out in late May or early June the grant will provide visual artists, media artists, and choreographers up to $5,000 worth of assistance for medical emergencies.

Relief Fund for Hollywood Support Staff - The entertainment organizations #PayUpHollywood, Scriptnotes Podcast and YEA! have teamed up to create the Hollywood Support Staff COVID-19 Relief Fund, aimed to assist LA-based support staffers affected by the COVID-19 shutdowns.

SAG-AFTRA Disaster Relief - Financial help to SAG-AFTRA members who have been impacted by this pandemic

Current Project Funding

Compiled Lists of Project Funding

American Documentary’s Filmmaker Resources - An extensive list of US and international funding sources

Doc Society Resource List - These links and documents are designed to connect you to the organisations you need to know to get your doc funded and make it all happen.

The EDN DOCalendar - The EDN DOCalendar provides an overview of what's happening in the international documentary industry.

International Documentary Association - Fiscal Sponsorship & Grants - A searchable database of available grants and fellowships

Upcoming Funding Deadlines

Here are a few upcoming deadlines for key funding opportunities. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list, but we’ll be adding to it over time

April

SFFILM Documentary Film Fund

The SFFILM Documentary Film Fund (DFF) supports engaging documentaries in post-production which exhibit compelling stories, intriguing characters and an innovative visual approach.

Deadline: April 30th, 2020

Stage: Late Production and Post-Production

Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund

Provides funds to feature-length documentaries which highlight and humanize issues of social importance from around the world.

Deadline: April 30th, 2020

Stage: Production or Post-Production

May

Rogovy/Miller Packan Doc Fund

Supports Docs that address social issues that inspire others.

Stage: Advanced Development, Production or Post-Production

William Greaves Fund

Firelight’s William Greaves Fund is a research and development grant that supports nonfiction filmmakers of color based in the United States, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Colombia, and Brazil.

Stage: Development

June

IDA/Pare Lorentz

2020 funding focus is on criminal justice.

Stage: Early Production

Sundance Doc Fund

The Sundance Institute Documentary Fund provides grants to filmmakers worldwide for feature-length projects that display artful and innovative film language and techniques, rigorous research, originality, project feasibility, contemporary cultural relevance, and the potential to reach and connect with its intended audience.

Stage: Development, Production & Post-Production

July

ITVS Open Call

The documentary can be on any subject, viewpoint or style as long as it is in active production already, as evidenced via a ten to fifteen-minute work in progress sample. *not a grant, co-production agreement.

Deadline: July and then re-opens again in Feb 2021.

Stage: Production

NYC Women’s Fund for Media, Music and Theater

NYC Women’s Fund provides grants to encourage and support the creation of digital, film, music, television, and live theatre content that reflects the voices and perspectives of all who identify as women.

Deadline:*Opens Summer 2020/check site for updates.

Stage: Post-Production/Finishing Funds

September

ITVS Diversity Development Fund

The Fund looks to support exceptional stories by filmmakers from diverse backgrounds: stories that take creative risks, inspire dialogue, and are rarely seen on public media.

Stage: Development

Puffin Foundation

The Puffin Foundation has sought to open the doors of artistic expression by providing grants to artists and art organizations who are often excluded from mainstream opportunities due to their race, gender, or social philosophy.

Stage: Any

October

Tribeca Film Institute Doc Fund

The TFI fund sponsors documentaries that spotlight contemporary themes with unique, creative filmmaking.

Deadline: Opens in the fall.

Stage: Any stage of development or production

Fledgling Film Fund

Most recently interested in climate change, but social justice/impact is at the core of the fund.

Deadline: Re-opens in the Fall. *check site for updates

Stage: Typically Post

Rolling Deadlines

Perspective Fund

Perspective provides grant support to independently produced documentary films that highlight social justice and human rights issues, that align with our priority areas.

Stage: Any stage of development or production

Catapult Film Fund

Catapult is not tied to any specific social issue agenda. We support and encourage filmmakers to tell a full range of stories on film in whatever form fits the film and artist.

Stage: Development

Cinereach Feature Film Fund

Cinereach awards grants ranging from $5,000 to $50,000 to support any stage of feature film production

Stage: Any stage of development or production.

COVID-19 Financial Help: Resource Lists and Guides

Creative Capital List - Creative capital aggregated list of resources for artists working in all disciplines, as well as arts philanthropists, and arts professionals.

Disaster Unemployment Assistance - The US Department of Labor’s Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) program provides temporary benefits to people who, due to a major disaster, lost or had their employment or self-employment interrupted.

Emergency Funds for Freelancers - A list of mutual aid funds that distribute emergency grants to artists, creative professionals and freelancers facing financial hardships

Firelight SBA Loan Consultation - With the support of the Perspective Fund, Firelight Media is offering 30 minute one-on-one consultations for filmmakers of color who are applying for US Coronavirus Federal Relief.

IFP Resources for Filmmakers - Independent Filmmaker Project has curated a list of resource pages and opportunities we’ve found particularly useful and inspiring in these uncertain times.

ITVS: Applying for Federal Coronavirus Relief as a Filmmaker - Firelight Media, IDA, and ITVS are hosting a series of hour-long webinars to learn the basics of applying for the various SBA programs.

National Endowment for the Arts: COVID-19 Resources for Artists and Arts Organizations - A list of organizations that are currently providing frequently updated news and resources for artists and arts organizations.

New York State: Resources for New York State Arts and Cultural Organizations - The New York State Council on the Arts is compiling and daily updating resources to support New York State's artists and arts organizations, including emergency funds, small business support, learning opportunities, management support, and discipline-specific resources.

NYC Assistance & Guidance for Businesses Impacted Due to Novel Coronavirus - Applications for the NYC Business Continuity Loan Fund may be paused for now, but there are other resources here for businesses operating in the five boroughs.

Southern Documentary Fund: Resources for Southern Filmmakers - A list of the websites, emergency funds and resource listings for Covid-19 response to artists and freelancers from the twelve Southern states that SDF serves

Small Business Guidance and Loan Resources - The US Small Business Administration’s (SBA) page for coronavirus funding options, CDC guidance for businesses and employers, and more.

Women Arts Media Coalition - A glossary and links to many resources, brought to you by the Women in the Arts & Media Coalition with the assistance WomenArts

Women Make Movies: Regional Resources - Many organizations are providing resources and support on the local level. Check out WWM’s list of regional resources to see if your local arts organization can help.

Remote Work Sites, Opportunities, Resources

Remote Work Opportunities

Remote Film Jobs Bechance

Fiverr

Upwork

Creative Commissions

Industry COVID-19 News

Break COVID-19 Industry Cancellations

Privilege and Pandemic: How COVID-19 Reveals the Documentary Sustainability Crisis

Most SXSW Shorts Are Streaming Free Thanks to Oscilloscope and Mailchimp

A Way of Life in Peril

Select Film Festivals and Indie Movies Figure Out Online Access

Alamo Drafthouse relief fund for furloughed staff members

Festival Status & Updates

Below you’ll find links to the latest festival news. Many festivals are still scheduled for the fall; we've included submission dates for several below. We’ve also included links to updates from festivals that have been cancelled and postponed. Please feel free to send updates to help our community stay informed.

And please check out our Google calendar for upcoming festival deadlines: https://bit.ly/3bnJnaQ

Festivals: Upcoming Deadlines

Toronto International Film Festival

Regular Deadline - May 29

Final Deadline - June 12

AFI Festival

Late Deadline - June 5

Open City Documentary Film Festival

Regular Deadline - April 24

Late Deadline - May 8

Camden International Film Festival

Regular Deadline - April 27

Late Deadline - May 26

Extended Deadline - June 29

DOC NYC

Late Deadline - May 1

Extended Deadline - July 1

IDFA

Early Deadline - May 1

Late Deadline - August 1

New Orleans Film Festival

Late Deadline - May 8

Extended Deadline - June 19

Jihlava

Late Deadline - May 31, 2020

Extended Deadline - July 31, 2020

DOK Leipzig

Deadline - July 7

List of Festivals that have been affected by the pandemic:

Cancelled

Full Frame

Ebertfest

Sun Valley Film Festival

TCM Classic Film Festival

International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights

European media arts festival

The Miami Film Festival

San Diego Latino Film Festival

Ashland Independent Film Festival

Watsonville Film Festival

Indie Grits

Provincetown International Film Festival

International Uranium Film Festival (Almeria)

BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival

San Francisco International Film Festival

BAMcinemaFest

Cleveland International Film Festival

Ebertfest

SXSW

Garden State Film Festival

SIFF

Sydney Film Festival

BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival

SFFILM

Riverrun International Film

Fargo Film Festival

Columbus Documentary Week

Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival

Sun Valley Film Festival

Online Only

Thin Line

CPH:DOX

Garden State Film Festival

Films on Art Festival (FIFA) Montreal

Movies that Matter film festival

DC Environmental

Hot Docs

Vilnius IFF

Visions du Reel

Environmental Film Festival (Washington, D.C.)

Cinema du Reel

NewportFILM

Greenwich International

AIFF

Postponed

Canadian Film Fest

New Directors New Films

Montclair Film Festival

Tribeca Film Festival

Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles

Beverly Hills Film Festival

Prague International Film Festival

Bentonville Film Festival

Red Sea International Film Festival

Thessaloniki Documentary Festival

Blackbird Film Festival

Cinequest

Dox on the Fox

Oxford Film Festival

Havana Film Festival New York

Cannes Film Festival

Sarasota Film Festival

Edinburgh Film Festival

Sonoma International Film Festival

International Uranium Film Festival (Rio)

Newport Beach Film Festival

Doc10 Film Festival

American Black Film Festival

Sofia Film Festival (Bulgaria)

Red Sea Film Festival (Saudi Arabia)

Seattle Jewish Film Festival

St Patrick's Film Festival London

Calgary Underground Film

QDoc Film Fest

Otff

AKS International Minorities

Kashish Mumbai Queer Film Festival

Northwestfest

Denver Women + Film

Cinema St. Louis Qfest

CAAMFest

Atlanta Film Festival

Salem Film Festival

Philadelphia Environmental Film Festival

Princeton Environmental Film Festival

Millennium Docs Against

ZagrebDox

Sebastopol Documentary

ACT Human Rights Film

IFF Boston

Maine Jewish Film Festival

OutShine Miami LGBT Film

Other Resources

Watch free IDFA movies

Tired of Netflix? Stream Experimental Films and Video Art

Sundance Collab Master Classes

Netflix Party

Ten Free Ebooks from Haymarket Books

Free Quarantine Ebooks

New Day Resources for Educators

Home Grown Home-Based Child Care (HBCC) Emergency Funds

COVID-19 COLLECTIVE DREAM JOURNAL

Women Make Movies Virtual Film Festival

2500 Museums Online/HYPERALLERGIC

CABIN FEVER BGDM: COVID-19 FREE STUFF TO WATCH

Mononoaware Film Care Package

Shorts

Days of Black and Yellow (10 min.)

Lotfy Nathan, Willie Miesmer and Ray Levé

Scenes from a Dry City (12 min.)

Simon Wood and François Verster

More to Watch

The Trial (15 min.)

Johanna Hamilton

Crooked Lines (11 min.)

Monica Berra, Yoruba Richen and Jacqueline Olive

Nuuca (12 min.)

Michelle Latimer

44 Messages from Catalonia (18 min.)

Anna Giralt Gris and Ross Domoney

CamperForce (16 min.)

Brett Story and Jessica Bruder

Graven Image (10 min.)

Sierra Pettengill

Our 100 Days 7/7

American Carnage (9 min.)

Farihah Zaman and Jeff Reichert

The Town I Live In (10 min.)

Matt Wolf and Guadalupe Rosales

Captured in Sudan (28 min.)

Phil Cox, Daoud Hari and Giovanna Stopponi

Timberline (12 min.)

Elaine McMillion Sheldon

Duterte’s Hell (8 min.)

Aaron Goodman and Luis Liwanag

Conditioned Response (6 min.)

Craig Atkinson and Laura Hartrick

Our 100 Days 4/7

Here I’ll Stay (10 min.)

Lorena Manríquez and Marlene McCurtis

Our 100 Days 3/7

An Uncertain Future (11 min.)

Chelsea Hernandez and Iliana Sosa

Our 100 Days 1/7

An Act of Worship (9 min.)

Sofian Khan and Nausheen Dadabhoy

The Moderators (20 min.)

Adrian Chen and Ciaran Cassidy

Clowns (7 min.)

Alex Kliment, Dana O'Keefe and Mike Tucker

Project X (10 min.)

Laura Poitras and Henrik Moltke

Hopewell (3 min.)

Lorena Manríquez

The Vote (12 min.)

Mila Aung-Thwin and Van Royko

Like (9 min.)

Garrett Bradley

Concerned Student 1950 (32 min.)

Adam Dietrich, Varun Bajaj and Kellan Marvin

Peace in the Valley (15 min.)

Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher

Homeland is not a Series (7 min.)

Arabian Street Artists Heba Y. Amin, Caram Kapp and Don Karl aka Stone

#ThisIsACoup 4/4

Surrender or Die (16 min.)

Theopi Skarlatos and Paul Mason

Eric & “Anna” (14 min.)

Kelly Duane de la Vega and Katie Galloway

Birdie (14 min.)

Heloisa Passos

The Above (8 min.)

Kirsten Johnson