Inaugural Redford Center Awards Grants to Six Indie Documentaries Focused on Environmental Filmmaking

Exclusive: Plus, the Center names the year's honorees.
Inaugural Redford Center Awards Grants to Six Indie Documentaries
The Redford Center

The Redford Center has announced its inaugural round of grants for six indie documentaries, all focused on “pushing the boundaries of environmental filmmaking.” In addition, the official Selection Committee has also singled out 7 honorees from a robust bunch of applicants that included 282 applications received from 28 countries worldwide (of particular note: 67% of the Grantees are female filmmakers).

“We have been humbled by the global response to our first-ever call to support films with innovative approaches to the challenges of environmental storytelling,” said Jamie Redford, Chair and Co-Founder of The Redford Center, of the announcement and their brand new honorees. “We said we were seeking the weird and the wild, and we got it. The range of creative and intelligent filmmakers working in this space only makes us more determined than ever to support and mentor more of their work in the future. It’s incredibly exciting.”

READ MORE: San Francisco Film Society Announces Fall 2016 Narrative Filmmaking Grant Finalists

The winning projects will travel and gather next month at the Sundance Mountain Resort in Provo, Utah at The Redford Center Storytelling Summit to workshop their ideas with mentors and experts in film, media, funding and policy. Funded by The New York Community Trust, the six filmmaking teams will each receive a $15,000 development grant to produce a written film treatment and short proof-of-concept film over a 3-month timeframe, mentorship from issue experts and industry leaders to refine their project narratives and impact goals, a GoPro Hero 4 Black Camera, film distribution as part of Redford Center Grants’ series of shorts and consideration for co-production with The Redford Center.

“Some of the most moving and inspirational environmental stories are the ones that highlight what people are doing every day to ensure the health of our planet for generations to come,” said Robert Redford, Co-Founder of The Redford Center. “These grants enable us to support the development of films that showcase solutions and demonstrate what’s possible.”

The six-winning Redford Center Grantees for 2016 are as follows:

“Brainiacs,” Directed by Laura Nix

What’s it like to grow up during the end of the world? Three precocious high-school scientists from around the globe are vying to become finalists at the world’s most prestigious science fair, ISEF, the International Science and Engineering Fair. While navigating the drama of adolescence, these creative disruptors propose cutting-edge solutions to the world’s climate crisis, competing for the grand prize against the brightest young minds on the planet.

“The Coverup,” Directed by Malina Fagan & Lynn Pelletier

This powerful exposé uncovers hidden truths about the toxic chemicals found in everyday cosmetics and personal care products (soaps, baby shampoos, sunscreens, etc.) and explores the harmful effects they are having on human health, coral reefs and marine life. This solution-oriented film will empower consumers and companies alike and challenge our government to protect the public.

“How We Grow,” Directed by Haley Thompson & Tomas Zuccareno

A film about ambitious young farmers, ranchers and chefs building community around locally grown food in the Roaring Fork Valley of Western Colorado.

“Hwangsa,” Directed by Claire Sanford

A documentary feature about dust and our relationship to the air we breathe. Told from the point of view of a Canadian cinematographer with an intimate relationship to nature, the film traces dust found on the shores of Western Canada back to its origins in China’s Gobi Desert where storm clouds of yellow dust evaporate the skylines, swallowing up everything in sight.

“Nobody Loves Me,” Directed by Jeff Reichert & Farihah Zaman

In a time of rapidly dwindling global biodiversity, the animals that are earmarked for protection efforts are often those considered by humans to be the most adorable. But what happens to those many curious species under the sun that are just plain … ugly? Should only the cute survive?

“Oceti Sakowin (Seven Council Fires),” Directed by Cody Lucich

In the shadow of the largest Native American political occupation since Wounded Knee 1973 uncertainty fills the air, as thousands of earth guardians descend on Standing Rock, North Dakota. It has become a catalyst for new life changes and rediscovery, as people from all four corners of the globe congregate on an international stage.

The seven Redford Center Honorees for 2016 are as follows:

(These are finalists specifically saluted by the Selection Committee for their unique vision, narrative innovation and passionate commitment to their stories. Honorees may choose to receive ongoing production and fiscal sponsorship support from the organization.)

“Animal Party,” Directed by Christian Scheider & Tucker Marder

A bumbling office worker from the hermetic future slips on a speck of bird droppings and plummets to present day earth, where she encounters animals for the first time. To survive, she must learn the ways of human-animal rituals the world over.

“Brooklyn / Alaska,” Directed by Erica Sterne

Twelve teenage boys from Brooklyn’s toughest neighborhoods embark on an adventure through the remote Alaskan wilderness and are forever transformed by the emotional and physical challenges overcome along the way.

“California Unincorporated,” Directed by David Brick & Noah Stout

Drought, climate change and systematic exclusion from accessing basic life necessities plague small, impoverished communities across California’s agriculturally rich San Joaquin Valley. Community grassroots efforts to organize and participate in local and state planning aim to create power shift necessary for their survival.

READ MORE: Attention, Filmmakers: Apply Here for Micro Grants for Short Docs About Social Inequality

“Dark Tide,” Directed by Shalini Kantayya

A feature-length documentary that follows a pediatrician, a single mom, and a NAACP lawyer, as they unravel the worst man-made environmental crisis in U.S. history and are forced to confront the politicians that created the water catastrophe in Flint, MI.

“Holy Water,” Directed by David Regos

Water has no boundaries. The Jordan River is a sacred site to Jews, Muslims and Christians. Situated in the middle of an ongoing conflict between Israel, Jordan and Palestine, this once glorious river, a source of life in the region, is dying. Now, amidst the political turmoil, activists on all sides are coming together to save this precious resource.

“The Other 97%,” Directed by Sandya Viswanathan

How can we save Earth’s biodiversity when we only know 3% of it? “The Other 97 Percent” is a journey into the hidden world of eccentric, obsessive scientists devoted to a 300-year old quest: to find and describe every living thing on Earth.

“Pleistocene Park,” Directed by Luke Griswold-Tergis

An eccentric Russian scientist plans to stave off a catastrophic global warming feedback loop caused by melting permafrost by recreating the vanished Ice Age “mammoth steppe” ecosystem — complete with massive herds of wooly herbivores roaming the Arctic.

You can find out more about the Center at its official website.

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