Jewish Story Partners Announces Second Wave of Film Grants, Pledges $1 Million by 2023

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Jewish Story Partners, the non-profit film fund that launched six months ago, announced its second round of grant recipients on Monday. The winners came after an open submissions call that saw a 226% increase in participation from the first round.

An additional $280,000 has been awarded this year, bringing JSP’s 2021 spend to $500,000 as they identify nonfiction work telling diverse Jewish stories. International filmmakers and fiction projects will be sought in the future. The group anticipates to hand out $800,000 in 2022 and $1 million by 2023.

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New funders include the Lynn and Jules Kroll Fund for Jewish Documentary Films, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies, Kronhill Pletka Foundation and Koret Foundation.

Monday’s grants will fund noted documentary filmmakers including: Kate Amend (“Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport,” “The Case Against 8,” “The Keepers”), Marilyn Ness (“Charm City,” “Dick Johnson Is Dead”), Pratibha Parmar (“Warrior Marks,” “Alice Waters: Beauty in Truth”), Dan Sturman (“Twin Towers,” “Soundtrack for a Revolution”) and Ondi Timoner (“Dig!,” “We Live in Public”).

“Jewish documentary films are a window into the richness and complexity of the arc of Jewish history and Jewish lives today,” said Lynn and Jules Kroll of Jewish Documentary Films. “We are thrilled to be a part of Jewish Story Partners, which provides a greatly expanded platform for the support of documentary film.”

The 2021 jury behind the grants was comprised of director Bonni Cohen (“Inconvenient Sequel,” “Athlete A”), Dylan Leiner of Sony Pictures Classics and Rahdi Taylor of Artist Residencies at Concordia Studios.

“The courage and creative excellence that has gone into these projects gives us faith in the future of independent filmmaking to expand the boundaries of imagination and discourse. After dynamic deliberation, we landed on a broad-ranging slate of astonishing and original Jewish stories spotlighting radical women, the Holocaust, cross-generational encounters, the power of the creative process, and America today,” the jury said in a statement.

Jewish Story Partners is led by producing director Roberta Grossman and former Sundance Catalyst director Caroline Libresco. The open call for entries for next year’s funding round has opened for feature docs from U.S.-based producers and directors.

Read the full list of grant recipients below.

“Ada”
Director Yael Melamede; Producers Hilla Medalia and Yael Melamede
Ada is a documentary feature film about Israel’s most celebrated architect, a completely unknown persona, told through the eyes of her daughter—a filmmaker and former architect.

“Egypt, A Love Song”
Director Iris Zaki; Producers Peter Hutchison and Iris Zaki
Souad Zaki was a popular Jewish Arabic singer in 1940’s Egypt, who married a renowned Muslim musician. When he abandoned her with their child, she was forced to flee to Israel and make ends meet working as a domestic cleaner. Souad’s granddaughter Iris tells her tempestuous story in a hybrid cinematic project that crosses nations, cultures, religions and generations.

Handheld”
Director Rebekah Maysles; Producer Laura Coxson
Pioneer cameraman Albert Maysles (Gimme Shelter, Grey Gardens, Journey to Jerusalem) redefined documentary film in theory and in practice. With unfettered access to his filmography, personal archives, and never-before-seen footage, his oldest daughter Rebekah creates an unconventional portrait of a visionary artist—
a father, a husband, a psychologist, a New Yorker, a son of Jewish immigrants, a lover of trains and birds—through the portraits he made of other people.

“Judy Chicago Untitled”
Directors Kate Amend and Tim Marrinan; Producer Lisa Remington
When Judy Chicago, a trailblazing Jewish feminist artist once dismissed by the establishment, steps into the limelight and the #metoo revolution at 80-something, her iconic six decade fight against women’s erasure from the art world takes on new significance. Seamlessly traversing past and present, Judy Chicago Untitled unlocks an electric story of startling resilience and ingenuity, blindspots and blunders—asking whether art can actually transform the world.

“Learning to Fly”
Director Ondi Timoner; Producers Jenny Hochberg, Ondi Timoner and David Turner
As a Jewish family gathers around their patriarch to shepherd him through his intentional death, long-buried struggles emerge and each family member must step into unimaginable new terrain as they lovingly celebrate and mourn a remarkable life.

“The Liegnitz Plot”
Director Dan Sturman; Producers Gary Gilbert, Dylan Nelson and Dan Sturman
Part detective story, part heist film, part history we must never forget, The Liegnitz Plot investigates a tale dating back to the Holocaust: that a mysterious Nazi stole priceless stamp collections from concentration camp victims and buried the stolen stamps in a small town in Poland.

“Love, Murder and Miracles”
Director and producer Yoav Potash
As the Polish government threatens to imprison anyone who blames Poland for the Holocaust, one aging eyewitness defies the law to search for the Jewish boy she loved 73 years ago, who only could have survived through miracles. Love, Murder and Miracles combines revelatory eyewitness interviews with evocative animation to depict a quest against war, hate, and time itself.

“My Name Is Andrea”
Director Pratibha Parmar; Producer Shaheen Haq
My Name Is Andrea is a hybrid documentary about one of the most controversial, iconoclastic figures of the 20th century: feminist writer and public intellectual Andrea Dworkin. Shaped by the values of justice and equality learnt in Hebrew school, Dworkin offered a revolutionary analysis of male supremacy. Rare archival footage and performances by Ashley Judd, Soko, Amandla Stenberg, Andrea Riseborough, and Christine Lahti bring alive a fighter who demanded women be seen as fully human.

“A Photographic Memory”
Director Rachel Elizabeth Seed; Producers Matt Perniciaro, Rachel Elizabeth Seed, Michael Sherman and Danielle Varga
A daughter attempts to piece together a portrait of her mother, a daring journalist and a woman she never knew. Uncovering the vast archive Sheila Turner-Seed produced, including lost interviews with iconic photographers, the film explores memory, legacy, and stories left untold.

“Post Mortem”
Director Marilyn Ness, Producers Beth Levison and Maureen Ryan
Post Mortem is a documentary feature that is at once personal memoir, true crime, and Jewish family history as director Marilyn Ness confronts a legacy of secrecy and trauma using the communal power of theater and film.

2021 Kroll Artist
Yael Melamede, director of “Ada,” has been selected as this year’s Kroll Artist, which includes an additional grant award to the team.

Jewish Story Partners Fall 2021 Discretionary Grants
Jewish Story Partners deploys discretionary grants from time to time to projects that can benefit from targeted support at a critical moment.

“999: The Young Women of the First Official Transport to Auschwitz”
Director Heather Dune Macadam; Producer Jane Schonberger
The hidden story of 999 unmarried, mostly teenage Jewish girls who were ordered to register for Slovak government service in March 1942 and ended up being secretly deported to Auschwitz.

“Charm Circle”
Director Nira Burstein; Producers Nira Burstein and Betsy Laikin
Charm Circle is a cinéma vérité portrait of an eccentric New York Jewish family navigating the chaos that divides them.

“Curse of the Mutant Heirloom”
Director Debra Schaffner; Producer Julie Wyman
What happens when WWII trauma and a genetic mutation collide in an atheist Jewish home in New Jersey? That’s what filmmaker Debra Schaffner is trying to figure out as she attempts to connect with her estranged mother who is battling ovarian cancer.

“Elsewhere”
Director and producer Melis Birder
Crossing traditional boundaries between history, faith, and memory, Elsewhere is the filmmaker’s journey into the maze of her own family’s secrets, going back 350 years to uncover an underground community that harbored a mysterious belief in a “Jewish Muslim Messiah” who would one day return.

“Fiddler’s Journey to the Big Screen”
Director Daniel Raim; Producers Sasha Berman and Daniel Raim
A documentary about director Norman Jewison and the making of “Fiddler on the Roof.”

“A Tree of Life”
Director Trish Adlesic; Producers Trish Adlesic and Susan Margolin
A shofar blower, a gun shop housed in a former synagogue, and eleven hundred mitzvahs weave this intimate tapestry of a community rebuilding after eleven people are brutally murdered inside their synagogue for being Jewish.

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