In focus

Doling out dollars to local filmmakers

Denali Tiller’s “Sons and Daughters of the Incarcerated.”
Denali Tiller’s “Sons and Daughters of the Incarcerated.”Denali Tiller

Ask almost any documentary filmmaker what the most onerous part of the profession is, and invariably they will say it’s raising money. Those in this region, however, have the advantage of the generous grants awarded annually by the LEF New England Moving Image Fund.

This year’s winners, announced last week, include eight films receiving production grants of $15,000 and three receiving $25,000 for post-production.

Here’s a partial list of the winners:

Production grants

Documentary legend and previous grant winner (“National Gallery” in 2014) Frederick Wiseman for his latest project, “Ex Libris: New York Public Library,” about the challenges faced by New York’s greatest cultural institution.


Jodie Mack, whose “The Pleasure of the Textile” relates the history of the production and consumption of textile products through the graphic motifs used in their design.

Véréna Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor (they had won previously for their 2014 “Leviathan”) for “Caniba,” a study of cannibalism through the ages with a focus on two brothers in present-day Japan.

Denali Tiller for “Sons and Daughters of the Incarcerated,” which examines the plight of children with fathers in prison.

Ilisa Barbash (prior winner with Lucien Castaing-Taylor for their 2009 film “Sweetgrass”) and Lucia Small (who previously shared the award with co-director Ed Pincus for their 2014 film “One Cut, One Life”) for “The Debate Film,” about the challenges faced by an all-female high school debating team.

Llewellyn Smith and Franziska Blome, whose “Bound by Blood” brings to light the almost forgotten massacre in 1919 of black sharecroppers by white lynch mobs in the Arkansas Delta.

Jane Gillooly (whose 2013 film “The Suitcase of Love and Shame” was a previous winner) for “Missing,” which parallels the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., in 2014 with a 1968 dispute between Ferguson and the neighboring African-American community of Kinloch over the road blockade that divided the two towns.


Thenmozhi Soundararajan and David Allen for “#DALITWOMENFIGHT!,” which relates the shocking but inspiring story of a group of Dalit women who take a stand against caste-based sexual violence in India.

Post-production grants

Amelia Evans for “Minor Attraction,” which follows the lives of three pedophilic men who have made a commitment not to act on their desires.

Luke Meyer, whose “Fourth Wall” recalls the forgotten story of New York’s “Sullivanians,” a psychotherapy cult that flourished in the 1970s, fell into disrepute in the 1980s, and inflicted psychological damage that still resonates today.

Cynthia Wade and Sasha Friedlander for “Mudflow,” a look at the growing pains of Indonesia’s fledgling democracy as citizens of East Java seek reparations for the damage done by a toxic volcano caused by natural gas drilling.

For more information and how to apply for next year’s grants (deadline is June 3 for pre-production support) go to www.lef-foundation.org.

Peter Keough can be reached at petervkeough@gmail.com.