Independent Filmmaking and Social Issues

How does a great film idea receive the funding to get off the ground and onto the screen? Some succeed with the help of organizations such as Cinereach. The New York-based organization has the simple mission of supporting vital stories artfully told. Its mission is carried out in three ways: giving grants to filmmakers, supporting recent graduates through The Reach Film Fellowship, and producing its own films.

Cinereach has made grants to more than thirty socially relevant film projects, including acclaimed films such “October Country,” “High Rise” and “A Jihad for Love”. The success of these projects is important to Cinereach because, like NEED, it believes in putting a spotlight on important social issues.

Still image from Cinereach's Bronx Princess (a film by Cinereach Grantees Yoni Brook and Musa Syeed) scheduled to air on PBS' POV series September 22

As a complement to the grants Cinereach makes to emerging and established filmmakers, Cinereach’s Reach Film Fellowship provides socially conscious filmmakers early in their careers with the resources they need to become working professionals. Four applicants are selected each year to participate in the fellowship and receive a grant, work with a mentor, and walk away with a finished 10-minute film relating to a socially relevant idea. From the 2007 fellowship, the short film “So the Wind Won’t Blow it all Away” will be broadcast on PBS’s POV program on September 22, programmed alongside Cinereach grant recipient film “Bronx Princess.”

Partnerships with other film organizations and foundations are also key to the Cinereach agenda. Cinereach recently announced a partnership with the Sundance Institute involving a $1.5 million, three-year grant. This discretionary grant will be used to help push works-in-progress to the finish line as they participate in Sundance’s existing Feature and Documentary Film Labs. At least 12 films with socially relevant causes will receive support by the end of the three-year period. The project will also include a fellowship opportunity for emerging filmmakers who will receive funding and support from Cinereach as well as access to Sundance’s resources.

Still image from Cinereach's So the Wind Won't Blow it All Away (a film by Annie Waldman, a Reach Film Fellow)) scheduled to air on PBS' POV series September 22

On top of their grants, fellowships, projects and productions, Cinereach recently formed a funder-partnership to share resources with Arts Engine for the Media that Matters Film Festival, which makes socially relevant films freely available to activists and educators online. “Media that Matters is a program that we really believe in,” said Reva Goldberg, communications and special projects manager at Cinereach, “in terms of how artful story telling can really transform the conversation about an important topic.” NEED will screen the films selected for this year’s Media that Matters Film Festival on October 8, at the Oak Street Cinema in Minneapolis, to make public the films’ social issues.


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