Now in its third year, Working Films’ IMPACT KICKSTART program has helped underrepresented filmmakers create strategic goals for impact and specific plans to engage future partners, funders, and audiences in meaningful ways. This year, for the first time ever, we will will be providing $12,000 in impact campaign funding to each recipient, in addition to our in-kind services. We are thrilled to announce the four documentaries getting an Impact Kickstart in 2020!

DUTY FREE by Sian-Pierre Regis (Director) and Meredith Chin (Producer)

After a 75-year-old immigrant mother gets fired from her job, her son takes her on a bucket-list adventure to reclaim her life. As she struggles to find work, he documents a journey that uncovers the betrayals plaguing her past and the economic insecurity shaping not only her future, but also that of an entire generation. Duty Free is a personal adventure documentary that uniquely examines issues of aging, economic insecurity, and family.


LITTLE SALLIE WALKER by Marta Effinger-Crichlow (Director/ Producer), Ann Bennett (Producer), Michael Dinwiddie (Producer), Princess A. Hairston (Editor/Producer)

Play is a lifeline for black girls across the generations. Little Sallie Walker tells the story of Patricia, Billie Jean, Raisha, Kristi and a collection of resilient black women and girls, who understand that coming of age in America has involved creating worlds-of-make-believe through different types of play. Patty cake, dress up, double dutch, doll-making, jacks, and hide-and-seek have offered sanctuary from discrimination, violence, and poverty. From New York, Alabama, California, and Washington State, they share and demonstrate how play lets them take their place in the center of their universe. While it exposes the beauty of black girl culture, play also fuels painful recollections of their struggles within their communities and in the larger society. In this impassioned and lyrical story, black women and girls attempt to find and affirm their whole selves as they navigate America.

UNAPOLOGETIC by Ashley O’Shay (Director/Producer) and Morgan Elise Johnson (Producer)

During the height of the Movement for Black Lives in Chicago, Unapologetic captures a community of millennial organizers confronting an administration complicit in state violence against its Black residents. Janaé and Bella, two Black queer women organizers, provide an intimate peek into the personal and political battles that transformed Chicago, from the police murder of Rekia Boyd to the election of Mayor Lori Lightfoot.




40 DAYS & 40 NIGHTS by Dara Kell (Director) and Sabrina Schmidt Gordon (Producer)

40 Days & 40 Nights follows civil rights leader Reverend Dr. William Barber as he revives Dr. Martin Luther King’s 1968 Poor People’s Campaign. Told through song, prayer and personal narratives, 40 Days & 40 Nights is an intimate account of a “season of resistance” as a diverse coalition of thousands unite to end poverty and heal the nation.



Congratulations to the film teams selected. We look forward to the work ahead! 


Impact Kickstart was launched with the understanding that a solid strategy for audience engagement and strong partnerships are critical for a documentary film to make a difference. Filmmakers often lack time to do this work themselves or the expertise and the funds to pay for it. Emerging artists, creators of color, and other underrepresented filmmakers can face the biggest hurdles, despite the potential of their projects. To respond to this challenge, Working Films offers free impact campaign development services to underrepresented artists whose films hold great promise to shift understanding and catalyze action that addresses some of the most critical issues of our time. Impact Kickstart is made possible through generous support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

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