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MacArthur Foundation Announces Open Call for Documentary Film Proposals

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Media, Culture, and Special Initiatives program supports the production and distribution of social-issue documentary films intended for a broad audience. The foundation has announced it will be accepting proposals for documentary film projects from November 1, 2011, to December 2, 2011.

This highly competitive program seeks to fund documentary projects that address the significant social challenges of our time and/or explore important but under-reported topics. Domestic and international topics are welcome, and preference will be given to projects that align with one of MacArthur’s grantmaking areas.

Support for production and post-production activities will be provided to experienced filmmakers based in the United States with a track record of completing feature-length films that have been broadcast nationally and internationally.

In selecting documentary films for support, the foundation looks for projects that address important contemporary social topics, both international and domestic; that align with MacArthur’s programmatic interests in the U.S. and abroad; that follow an issue over time, providing in-depth reporting that goes beyond conventional news coverage; that utilize compelling personal stories to engage viewers and create empathy; that appeal to a broad audience because they are accessible, interesting, and balanced (treat different points of view respectfully); and that have a strong likelihood of broadcast in the U.S. and elsewhere, as well as thoughtful plans for broad dissemination in educational, community, and policy settings.

MacArthur does not accept proposals for documentaries that are biographical, historical, or personal in nature; short, experimental, or fictional films; films by youth or first-time filmmakers; or films intended to feature a single organization for promotional purpose.

Grants will only be made to eligible organizations. MacArthur does not make grants to individuals and does not make grants through fiscal agents or sponsors. In order to qualify for a MacArthur grant, a project must be applied for through a nonprofit or for-profit incorporated entity that has complete financial and editorial control over the documentary film project for which it is seeking support.

Applicants may request any amount, but the typical grant range is between $50,000 and $200,000.

Proposals will not be accepted prior to November 1, 2011, or after December 2, 2011.

Complete program criteria, application guidelines, and an FAQ are available at the MacArthur Foundation Web site.

Link to Complete RFP

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