The Ford Foundation has announced that five independent films which received a total of $2 million in support through the foundation's JustFilms initiative, a five-year, $50 million effort to support independently made documentaries, are having their world premieres at this year's Sundance Film Festival.
Chosen because they embody JustFilm's vision that independent film can "illuminate the world in which we live and inspire people to engage in pressing social challenges," the films are The House I Live In, which received a $600,000 grant and is directed by Eugene Jarecki; DETROPIA, which was awarded a $450,000 grant and is directed by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady; How to Survive a Plague, which received a $400,000 grant and is directed by David France and; Love Free or Die: How the Bishop of New Hampshire Is Changing the World, which was awarded a $400,000 grant and is directed by Macky Alston; and Red Hook Summer, which received a $200,000 grant and is directed by Spike Lee.
In addition, the foundation announced that nine other films in the festival, which opened last week in Park City, Utah, have received funding through JustFilm's partnerships with the Sundance Documentary Film project and the Independent Television Service.
Launched in 2011, JustFilms has awarded more than $10 million to more than a hundred filmmakers and mediamakers around the world. "While focusing on issues as diverse as human rights, poverty, cultural expression, and sustainable development, every project supported by JustFilms has one thing in common — the power of good storytelling," said JustFilms program director Orlando Bagwell. "These films make complex and often difficult issues accessible and entertaining, opening up whole new opportunities for audiences to engage on topics that may have once felt overwhelming or simply out of reach."