Amidst Recent Rise in Antisemitism, Film Funder has Disbursed $1.5 Million Since 2021 Launch to 58 Documentaries Telling Diverse Jewish Stories
Jewish Story Partners Has Led with Early Support for Films Including Oscar Contender Last Flight Home and Holocaust Resistance Tale Four Winters
Call for Entries Now Open for Next Granting Cycle
LOS ANGELES – Jewish Story Partners (JSP), a Los Angeles-based non-profit film funding organization, announced its fourth round of grantees today, with $550,000 in new grants distributed among 20 documentary films. JSP, which launched in April 2021 with support from Kate Capshaw and Steven Spielberg’s Righteous Persons Foundation, has an ambitious vision to stimulate and support the highest caliber independent Jewish films.
JSP also announced plans to increase its annual giving to $1.3 million in 2023 (on top of total grants of $1 million in 2022 and $500,000 in 2021).
JSP responds to the wide gap in funding for independent Jewish films, as well as to the pressing need for films that reflect the full spectrum of Jewish experiences, cultures, and encounters. In addition to supporting projects financially, JSP offers a continuum of support—providing filmmakers with advisory services at critical points in their process.
The fourth round of JSP grants, announced today, includes powerful new documentaries from award-winning producers, directors, and artists including Kirstine Barfod, Abner Benaim, Jeff Bieber, Joan Churchill, David Fisher, Oren Rudavsky, Regina Spektor, and Femke Wolting. Learn more about our grantees here: jewishstorypartners.org/projects.
The jury for the Fall 2022 funding round included independent film executive Claire Aguilar (ITVS, IDA, Sheffield Film Festival), producer Ina Fichman (Fire of Love, The Oslo Diaries), and filmmaker Lacey Schwartz Delgado (Black x Jewish, The Loving Generation, Little White Lie).
The jury released the following statement: “Films that showcase the variety and complexity of Jewish experiences provide a needed counterpoint to reductive, headline-grabbing antisemitism. These exciting films, from a remarkable group of filmmakers, inspire provocative and passionate conversations about Jewish perspectives and intersectional identities, and the infinite creative possibilities in documentary storytelling.”
Among the excellent projects supported in past JSP funding cycles, are films from such highly respected filmmakers as Kate Amend (Judy Chicago Untitled), Sandi DuBowski (Rabbi), Amber Fares and Rachel Leah Jones (Coexistence My Ass!), Michel Franco (New Mistakes), Luke Lorentzen (Spiritual Care Documentary (Untitled)), Marilyn Ness (Post Mortem), Pratibha Parmar (My Name is Andrea), Maxim Pozdorovkin (The Conspiracy), Pierre Sauvage (And Crown Thy Good), Joey Soloway (South Commons), and Dan Sturman (Four Winters, The Liegnitz Plot).
A number of JSP-funded films are reaching audiences. Maxim Pozdorovkin’s The Conspiracy and Valerie Kontakos’ Queen of the Deuce premiered at DOC NYC this month. After launching at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, Ondi Timoner’s Last Flight Home, about her father’s life and conscious death, is currently in release by MTV Films; amongst a litany of spectacular reviews, The New York Times published a feature about the Timoner family’s evolving relationship with the film and its ultimate catharsis. Trish Adlesic’s A Tree of Life: The Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting, which The Hollywood Reporter described as “an act of love toward humanity,” aired on HBO in October, and Julia Mintz’s myth-shattering Four Winters was released theatrically in September and hailed by Ms. Magazine as “stunning.” This spring, Daniel Raim’s Fiddler’s Journey to the Big Screen, called “gleefully reverent” by The New York Times, was released in theaters by Zeitgeist/Kino Lorber, while Pratibha Parmar’s My Name is Andrea and Tessa Louise-Salomé’s The Wild One bowed at the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival.
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 13, 2023. JSP accepts submissions via two open calls per year, with juried decisions made in spring and fall. Filmmakers may learn more here: jewishstorypartners.org/apply.
FALL 2022 NEW GRANTEES
Film descriptions provided by grantees.
All God’s Children
Director and Producer Ondi Timoner, Producer David Turner
As a White Reform Jewish rabbi and a Black Baptist reverend bring their congregations together to combat the entrenched racism and antisemitism that plague their Brooklyn communities, they wrestle with the possibility that the chasm between intention and reality may be too great to cross.
Becoming Elie Wiesel
Director and Producer David Fisher, Producer Michael Berenbaum
What does it mean to be the world’s most famous Holocaust survivor? Becoming Elie Wiesel uncovers the complex and conflicted person behind the legend, and his role in shaping the global conversation about the Holocaust and beyond.
Elie Wiesel: Soul on Fire
Director and Producer Oren Rudavsky
With unique access to Elie Wiesel’s family and his personal archives, Elie Wiesel: Soul on Fire (working title) explores the known and unknown Elie Wiesel through his private and public life: his passions, his conflicts, and his legacy.
Escape from History
Directors Piet de Blaauw and Jan Pieter Tuinstra, Producer Femke Wolting
Polish-Ukraine border, 1943. Two Jewish men lead the impossible escape of 400 prisoners from Sobibor, a Nazi extermination camp—killing 20 SS guards in their wake. Through never-before-seen 1980s interviews with the two heroes and those they saved, Escape From History unveils this remarkable story and traces the challenges of rebuilding life in Ukraine after the war. Years later, their descendants struggle with this trauma as they endure the horror of the current war on Ukraine.
Liz Diller: Making Space for the Future
Director and Producer Brittany Huckabee, Producer Jeff Bieber
Deeply influenced by her family’s 1960 escape from fierce antisemitism in Poland, trailblazing architect Liz Diller is on a provocative quest to redesign how we live, play, study, and work. Highlighting past projects like NYC’s High Line and exciting new projects in progress, Liz Diller: Making Space for the Future explores the power of architecture to drive cultural progress and democratic inclusion.
Director Elan Golod, Producer Melanie Vi Levy
At the end of World War II, Nathan Hilu, the son of Syrian Jewish immigrants to New York, received a life-changing assignment from the U.S. Army: to guard the top Nazi war criminals at the Nuremberg trials. This experience fueled a lifetime of artistic inspiration for Nathan, who spent the next 70 years obsessively creating a visual narrative from his memories. But what happens when those memories take on a life of their own?
A Night at the Stone Burlesk
Director Leigh Jurecka, Producer Rajal Pitroda
A man’s investigation into the adult theater his eccentric grandparents secretly ran in Detroit reveals a complicated family history, as well as uncomfortable truths regarding infidelity, crime, and a history of unaddressed mental illness.
One Generation More II
Directors Joan Churchill and Alan Barker, Producer Kirstine Barfod
In 1989, a young Jewish family living in Soviet Estonia shared their lives with filmmaker Joan Churchill before they emigrated to the US, where they stayed in touch. Decades later, they return together to an Estonia that is again threatened by Russia to see what has changed and what has remained the same.
Director and Producer Abner Benaim, Producers Daniel Junge and Malu Zayon
A psychological docu-thriller, Paraiso Tropical investigates the mysteries and unsolved questions of a terrorist attack in Latin America—one that had profound reverberations among those the victims left behind.
Director Kit Vincent, Producers Alex Lieberman and Ed Owles
When a young filmmaker is diagnosed with terminal cancer, he enlists his family on an intimate and darkly humorous journey—including Jewish conversion, cannabis farming, and shocking family revelations—that all somehow help them to come to terms with his illness.
Sam Marder Project Untitled
Director Daniel Ryan, Producer Regina Spektor
Singer-songwriter Regina Spektor’s life changed forever when, as a child, she was taken under the wings of musicians Sonia Vargas and Samuel Marder. Now a widower in his later years, Marder, a Holocaust survivor, is speaking out about his painful past, with Spektor at his side. The film–grounded in their profound friendship–is a study in empathy, miracles, and resilience.
Directors Tomer Slutzsky and Jacob Tschernia, Producer Kirstine Barfod
In her fight for democracy, Israel’s youngest ever member of parliament is up against three things: Netanyahu, her own camp, and possibly herself.
The Third Reich of Dreams
Director Amanda Rubin-Lewis, Producers Kat Mansoor and Kellen Quinn
Weimar activist, prescient dream collector, and later a New York celebrity stylist, Jewish journalist Charlotte Beradt undertook a secret mission against the Nazi regime to expose the psychological effects of totalitarianism.
This World is Not My Own
Directors Petter Ringbom and Marquise Stillwell, Producer Ruchi Mital
Chewing gum sculptures, a Jewish gallerist, a firebrand wrestler, a notorious murder case, and the segregated south—it’s all part of Nellie Mae Rowe’s fantastical universe. This World is Not My Own reimagines this self-taught artist’s world and her life spanning the 20th century.
Director Anonymous, Producer Anonymous
Due to the sensitive nature of this project’s subject matter, details will not be released at this time.
What We Carry
Director Cady Voge, Producers Laura Pilloni and Laura Tatham
After fleeing violence in Honduras, joining the infamous migrant caravan, and enduring months in a U.S. detention center, the young Lopez-Aldana family is sponsored by a synagogue in Seattle. While struggling to settle into a totally foreign world and processing their trauma, their future—and the future of asylum in America—hangs in the balance.
FALL 2022 REPRISE GRANTEES
From time to time, Jewish Story Partners provides additional support, in the form of Reprise Grants, to previously awarded projects which have made significant progress. Film descriptions provided by grantees.
Director Maxim Pozdorovkin, Producers Joe Bender, Dan Cogan, Caroline Hirsch, and Allison Stern
An animated film about the biggest lie ever told: the myth that Jews are plotting to take over the world.
Meredith Monk in Twelve Pieces
Directors and Producers David Roberts and Billy Shebar
Meredith Monk—Jewish-American composer, singer, choreographer, and filmmaker—is one of the great artistic pioneers of our time, yet her profound influence on contemporary art and music is largely unrecognized. Featuring interviews with Björk and David Byrne and access to her entire archive, Meredith Monk in Twelve Piecesilluminates Monk’s genius through a cinematic playlist rooted in her wildly original vocabulary of sound.
Director and Producer Sandi DuBowski
Filmed over 20 years, Rabbi follows Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie’s epic journey as the dynastic heir of 39 generations of Orthodox rabbis. As he rejects his destiny and becomes a drag-queen rebel, queer father, and founder of an experimental congregation, Amichai is creatively and radically reinventing religion and ritual for a rapidly changing 21st century.
Spiritual Care Documentary (Untitled)
Director Luke Lorentzen, Producer Kellen Quinn
As an aspiring chaplain completes a year-long residency in the spiritual care department of a major New York hospital, she discovers that working with patients requires looking deep within herself. Exploring her own past, her Jewish faith, and her boundaries, she learns what it means—and what it takes—to provide spiritual and emotional care to others.