Happiness is a Warm TV

$900,000 grant will mean more documentaries about the South

SDF-supported “Farmsteaders” by Shaena Mallett is about an Appalachian man trying to resurrect his family farm.
SDF-supported “Farmsteaders” by Shaena Mallett is about an Appalachian man trying to resurrect his family farm. Farmsteaders / Shaena Mallett

The Durham-based Southern Documentary Fund will receive a $900,000 grant from The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, to be split into three $300,000 installments over three years.

SDF executive director Naomi Walker said half of the money will be re-granted to documentary filmmakers living and working in the American South. The nonprofit group is also expanding its Fresh Docs program, currently active in Durham, which lets filmmakers show rough cuts of their movies to audiences.

“Fresh Docs is expanding to seven cities across the South,” Walker said in a phone interview Thursday. “That program has helped filmmakers a lot because they get audience and community feedback.”

SDF is also creating a peer-to-peer mentoring program where established documentarians will mentor emerging filmmakers.

The MacArthur-funded SDF initiatives begin in 2018.

“[The grant] will have impact in Durham and in North Carolina and throughout the South,” Walker said.

Learn more about the Southern Documentary Fund at southerndocumentaryfund.org.

Six other “nonfiction media” organizations across the country received part of the $5.7 million in MacArthur grants announced this week.

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