Now in its sixth year, Working Films’ Impact Kickstart program has resourced underrepresented filmmakers to pursue strategic plans for impact and engage audiences, partners, and supporters in meaningful ways. This year, we will be providing in-kind partnership and strategy development, expert 1:1 mentorship, and $60,000 of impact campaign funding to each awardee.

In reflection on the growth and evolution of Impact Kickstart, Gerry Leonard, Director of Filmmaker Services, says, “Each year, we have been able to reflect on and refine Impact Kickstart – from the initial call for applications to offering feedback and insights that came up during the review process to every filmmaker who applied. This year, an external selection panel held final decision-making for the Impact Kickstart award. We believe that Matininó and unseen are powerful examples of our work to reimagine and redefine the ways we can create collective and long-term impact that leverages the catalytic power of documentary film and storytelling.”

We are thrilled to announce the two films receiving an Impact Kickstart in 2024!

MATININÓ by Gabriela Díaz Arp (Director), Karla Claudio Betancourt (Producer), Wendy Muñiz (Producer), Guillermo Zouain ( Producer), and Laura Garcia Reyne (Editor)

Matininó is a hybrid documentary about a multi-generational family of Puerto Rican women transforming their experience with violence into a science-fiction film. Our story begins with the decision of ldaliz Villanueva to flee from a violent marriage when her two daughters—María and Desirée—were 6 months and 7 years old. Thirty years later, the effects of this violence continue to reverberate both in their family and more broadly in their home of Puerto Rico. As a way to find meaning within their family narrative, the women of the Villanueva family come together to write and star in a science fiction film where women hold the power. Their film opens in the year 2080 in an alternative world created by the eight Villanueva women. Our protagonist is 67 year-old Hotu, as imagined and portrayed by ldaliz. Together with her daughters and granddaughters they struggle to escape a world self-destructing from violence and run towards Matininó, an elusive island that—according to Puerto Rican indigenous mythology—is solely inhabited by women. Through creative writing and movement exercises, we witness the family discussing their story and developing a science fiction script reflective of their past experiences and visions for the future.

UNSEEN by Set Hernandez (Director/Producer), Pedro (Protagonist/Co-writer), Qudsiya Naqui (Impact Producer), Conchita Hernandez Legorreta (Impact Producer), Day Al-Mohamed (Producer), Félix Endara (Producer), and Diane Quon (Executive Producer)

Most people dream of a better future. Pedro, an aspiring social worker, is no different. But as a blind, undocumented immigrant, Pedro faces political restrictions to obtain his college degree, secure a job as a health care provider, and support his family. As he finally graduates, uncertainty looms over Pedro. What starts as a journey to provide mental health for his community ultimately transforms into Pedro’s path towards his own healing. Through experimental cinematography and sound, unseen reimagines a cinema accessible for blind/low vision audiences, while exploring the intersections of immigration, disability, and mental health.




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 and funding 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 with support from the Ford Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Kendeda Fund, and the Perspective Fund.

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