Now in its fourth 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, we will be providing $30,000 in impact campaign funding to each recipient, in addition to our in-kind services. Impact Kickstart recipients will use these grants toward the implementation of each film’s impact campaign.

In reflection about the evolution of Impact Kickstart, Gerry Leonard, who now leads the program says, “In all of our work, we prioritize amplifying and increasing support for underrepresented artists. We believe the intentionality in our Impact Kickstart program reflects our commitment to redistributing resources and access within documentary filmmaking as well as highlighting critical stories that illuminate the complex intersections between people and issues.”

We are thrilled to announce the two films receiving an Impact Kickstart in 2021!

BRING HER HOME by Leya Hale (Director/Producer) and Sergio Mata’u Rapu (Producer/Editor)

Native women make up less than one percent of the U.S. population yet face murder rates that are more than ten times the national average. Bring Her Home follows three indigenous women – an artist, an activist, and a politician – as they fight to vindicate and honor their missing and murdered relatives who have fallen victims to a growing epidemic across Indian country. Despite the lasting effects from colonization, each woman must search for healing while navigating racist systems that brought about this very crisis.

FIRE THROUGH DRY GRASS by Andres “Jay” Molina (Co-Director), Alexis Neophytides (Co-Director/Producer), Jennilie Brewster (Producer), Peter Yearwood (Associate Impact Producer), and Vincent Pierce (Impact Strategist/Musician)

Fire Through Dry Grass uncovers in real time, and with singular access, the devastation nursing home residents experienced during the coronavirus pandemic. Co-Director Andres “Jay” Molina is one of the Reality Poets, Black and Brown disabled artists who live in an NYC nursing facility. Prior to Covid, they traveled throughout the city sharing their art and wisdom. Using GoPros clamped to their wheelchairs, the Poets document the harrowing year on “lock down.” Nurses beg for PPE, sick patients are moved into crowded rooms with the healthy, while refrigerated-trailer morgues hum outside the windows and city officials lie to hide their deadly decisions. Fire proceeds from the Poets’ world to unmask the many issues and inequities that historically impact those most vulnerable, and shows the power of community and creativity. The Poets’ rhymes flow throughout the film, revealing their inner lives and describing life in the city-run institution, now as dangerous as the streets they once ran.

Congratulations to the film teams selected. We look forward to the work ahead! Special acknowledgement to all the individuals who played a role in seeing this process through.


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 and the Perspective Fund.

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