In-kind impact campaign strategy support to feature length documentary filmmakers

For a documentary film to make a difference, a solid strategy for audience engagement and strong partnerships are key. 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 artists can face the biggest hurdles, despite the potential of their projects. Working Films’ response to this challenge is the Impact Kickstart, a program offering in-kind strategy development to underrepresented documentary makers with feature films in progress that hold great promise to catalyze action to address critical issues of our time.

Up to four filmmakers receive an Impact Kickstart from Working Films each year. The 2020 Impact Kickstart application will be posted online in December 2019. Please check back for updates or sign up for our email list to be notified when it is posted.

2019 Impact Kickstart Films

EATING UP EASTER Directed by Sergio Mata’u Rapu

The iconic statues and sensationalized “mysteries” of Easter Island (Rapa Nui) have drawn the interest of the world for centuries, attracting curious visitors to its shores. Today, this tiny, barren island is experiencing an economic boon as tourism skyrockets. Yet the indigenous culture and the island’s fragile environment are suffering.

Eating Up Easter, directed by native Rapanui filmmaker Sergio Mata’u Rapu, explores the dilemma his people are facing. Crafted as a story passed down to his newborn son, Sergio intertwines the authentic history of the island with the stories of four islanders. In their own voices, these Rapanui reveal the reality of modern life and the actions they are taking to preserve their culture and environment amidst rapid development.

GOING TO MARS: THE NIKKI GIOVANNI PROJECT Directed by Michèle Stephenson and Joe Brewster

Going to Mars is a feature length documentary film in which Nikki Giovanni, one of America’s greatest living poets, orators and social commentators, will compel audiences to laugh and cry using her poetry and biting social commentary.  As a social commentator Nikki Giovanni stands toe-to-toe with the best. She has the satirical wit of a Will Rogers and the comedic timing of David Letterman. She has influenced both her contemporaries, from Muhammad Ali to Maya Angelou, as well as today’s hip-hop artists such as Kanye West. She in turn demands, using a contrarian point of view, that we question our assumptions about race, gender, equity and privilege and challenges us to hope and dream for a better tomorrow.

THE FIRST RAINBOW COALITION Directed by Ray Santisteban

In 1969, the Chicago Black Panther Party began to form alliances across lines of race and ethnicity with other community-based movements in the city, including the Latino group the Young Lords Organization and the southern whites of the Young Patriots organization. Banding together in one of the most segregated cities in postwar America to collectively confront issues such as police brutality and substandard housing, they called themselves the Rainbow Coalition. By 1973, the coalition had collapsed under the weight of relentless harassment by local and federal law enforcement. Although short-lived, it had an outsize impact: Breaking down barriers between communities, it created a permanent shift in Chicago politics and an organizing model for future activists and politicians across the nation. The First Rainbow Coalition tells the movement’s little-known story through rare archival footage and interviews with former coalition members.

WARRIOR WOMEN Directed by Christina King and Elizabeth Castle

In the 1970s, with the swagger of unapologetic Indianness, organizers of the American Indian Movement (AIM) fought for Native liberation and survival as a community of extended families. Warrior Women is the story of Madonna Thunder Hawk, one such AIM leader who shaped a kindred group of activists’ children – including her daughter Marcy – into the “We Will Remember” Survival School as a Native alternative to government-run education. Together, Madonna and Marcy fought for Native rights in an environment that made them more comrades than mother-daughter. Today, with Marcy now a mother herself, both are still at the forefront of Native issues, fighting against the environmental devastation of the Dakota Access Pipeline and for Indigenous cultural values.

2018 Impact Kickstart Films

ALWAYS IN SEASON by Jacqueline Olive

As the trauma of more than a century of lynching African Americans bleeds into the present, Always in Season follows relatives of the perpetrators and victims seeking justice and reconciliation in the midst of racial profiling, police shootings, and heated national debate about the value of black lives.

CRIP CAMP by Jim LeBrecht and Nicole Newnham

Down the road from Woodstock, in the early 1970s, a parallel revolution blossomed in a ramshackle summer camp for disabled teenagers. Crip Camp explores summer camp awakenings that would transform lives and shape the disability rights movement, and America, forever. Told from the point of view of former camper Jim LeBrecht, and steeped in the humor and music of the era, the film traces the journeys of campers up to the present day, in this untold story of a powerful journey towards inclusion.

DECADE OF FIRE by Vivian Vazquez, Gretchen Hildebran, Julia Steele Allen and Neyda Martinez

As cities today struggle with gentrification and social inequity, Decade of Fire offers an intimate historic portrait of the burning of the Bronx in the 1970’s, transcending era and geography. Set against irrefutably insurmountable odds, and told from the perspectives of the people who survived it, the film’s heroes demonstrate the lengths to which everyday people will go to save their communities; in this case – defending and rebuilding their neighborhoods with their bare hands.

 NAILED IT by Adele Pham

Nailed It chronicles the genesis and 40 year legacy of the Vietnamese nail salon and its influence on an $8 billion-dollar American industry. For mixed-race Vietnamese filmmaker Adele Pham, it’s personal as she confronts her conflicts with the culture and discovers a place within a trade seen by everyone but known to few.

Impact Kickstart is a program of Working Films supported by the John D. And Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

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2019 Impact Kickstart Awardees

Four new documentaries are getting an IMPACT KICKSTART from Working Films! Congratulations to the film teams selected for the second round of in-kind impact campaign support. They include:  EATING UP EASTER Directed by Sergio Mata’u Rapu The iconic statues and sensationalized “mysteries” of Easter Island (Rapa Nui) have drawn the interest…

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8 ORGANIZATIONS SELECTED TO PUT FILMS TO WORK

We are excited to announce the 8 organizations selected to participate in Putting Films to Work, a year-long training institute for Georgia-based nonprofits that will leverage the power of documentary media to advance their organizing, educational, and advocacy goals. The program is designed to help organizations embrace nonfiction film as…

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2 Opportunities for In-Kind & Monetary...

For a documentary film to make a difference, a solid strategy for audience engagement and strong partnerships are key. 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 artists can face the…

READ MORE