Cal Humanities

"The understanding of a culture comes from hearing the language, tasting the food, seeing personal interactions, experiencing the traditions, and so much more in context."

— Elizabeth Laval & Candice Pendergrass, Sikh Youth Public History Project

"The understanding of a culture comes from hearing the language, tasting the food, seeing personal interactions, experiencing the traditions, and so much more when it is in context."

— Elizabeth Laval & Candice Pendergrass, Sikh Youth Public History Project

California Humanities Awards $400k to 13 New California Documentary Project Grantees  

A selection of CDP 2024 grantees.

For Immediate Release 
Media Contact: Kerri Young, Communications Manager,

April 29, 2024—(Oakland, CA)—California Humanities is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2024 California Documentary Project (CDP) grants, awarding $400,000 to 13 new film, audio, and interactive media productions that document California in all its complexity. 

Collage of four documentary film stills, with California Humanities logo.
Clockwise from top left: Still from LIVING HARRIET TUBMAN, photo credit Brandon Tauszik; Still from UNTITLED STOCKTON DOCUMENTARY; Still from FINDING MÁ, featuring Ba Ngoai (maternal grandmother); Still from FAR EAST L.A., featuring Gajin Fujita. Photo credit Erika Ito, courtesy of Pachuke Films LLC.

From a docuseries highlighting the culture and diversity of Siskiyou County; to a portrait of a long-term Fresno-based Harriet Tubman Civil War reenactor; to a podcast documenting a San Francisco church and its LGBTQ+ congregation during the height of the AIDS epidemic; to a film examining the aftermath and legacy of a 1989 school shooting on Stockton’s Cambodian community; this year’s nine CDP Production Grants and four Research and Development Grants will support documentary media projects that tell essential and timely California stories from around the state.  

Collage of four documentary film stills, with California Humanities logo.
Clockwise from top left: Still from HANGTOWN; WHEN WE ALL GET TO HEAVEN: Kittredge Cherry’s Consecration to the Ministry, August 6, 1989. Audrey Lockwood, photographer. Kittredge Cherry and Audrey Lockwood Collection; Still from UNTITLED VALE PROJECT; MAKING HISTORY/HACIENDO HISTORIA: LATINAS/OS IN MENDOCINO: Director A. Loreto Rojas with podcast and oral history training participant, Ligia.

CDP is a competitive grant program that supports nonfiction media productions exploring California subjects and issues; use the humanities to provide context, depth, and perspective; and reach and engage broad audiences through multiple means, including radio and television broadcasts, podcasts, at community screenings and discussions, in classrooms and libraries, at film festivals, and beyond. Since 2003, we have awarded over $8 million to media projects that together help us better understand who we are and where we live. 

Promotional graphic with photographs of a Black man and a white woman, text "Shasta Stories" overlaid in yellow script.

For almost 50 years, California Humanities has been the leading funder of documentaries by, for, and about Californians. The 13 new CDP-supported projects for 2024 continue this important tradition of bringing essential California stories to both statewide and national audiences. 

“We are pleased to support this remarkable group of documentary media makers,” said California Humanities President and CEO Rick Noguchi. “The broad range of their stories, many of them deeply personal family histories, shine a light on new insights into a shifting narrative of California.” 

California Documentary Projects Awarded in 2024 

CDP Production Grants up to $50,000 are designed to strengthen the humanities content and approach of documentary media productions and help propel projects toward completion. 

Project Director: Brydie O’Connor  
Applicant Organization: Kartemquin Educational Films  

This documentary portrait explores the films, archive, and ongoing cultural impact of artist and filmmaker Barbara Hammer, and her career-long effort to create and record lesbian histories.  

Project Director: Rubén Guevara III  
Applicant Organization: Visual Communications  

FAR EAST L.A. is a community-based documentary series which explores the historic connections between Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo and Boyle Heights, delving into a century of overlap and intersectionality through the lenses of residents and institutions.  

Project Director: Thanh Tran  
Applicant Organization: International Documentary Association  

FINDING MÁ is a personal documentary about a bi-racial Vietnamese and Black family grappling with intergenerational trauma, the legacy of war in Vietnam, and a complicated family history of migration, poverty, incarceration, and drug addiction.  

Project Director: Stuart Harmon  
Applicant Organization: From the Heart Productions Inc  

HANGTOWN interrogates how California’s “pioneer” myth still resonates deeply in the foothills of northern California’s historic Gold Rush country, oftentimes masking a legacy of racism and violence.  

Project Director: Brandon Tauszik  
Applicant Organization: Bay Area Video Coalition Inc 

LIVING HARRIET TUBMAN chronicles the story of Nancy Whittle, who has spent thirty years performing as Harriet Tubman at contentious Civil War reenactments across California. 

Project Director: A. Loreto Rojas  
Applicant Organization: Mendocino County Public Broadcasting  

This bilingual podcast series by, for, and about the Latino community living in the Mendocino Coast region brings the stories, struggles, contributions, and perspectives of new immigrants and long-time residents to diverse audiences.  
Project Director: Autie Carlisle  
Applicant Organization: Northern California Resource Center  

This multi-episode docuseries highlights the diversity and range of personal histories in Siskiyou County by exploring the idea of what home means through the eyes of long-time residents, Indigenous tribes and individuals with ancestral land in Siskiyou County, new immigrants, and more.  
Project Directors: Kitty Hu and Jessica Seng  
Applicant Organization: Writing Downtown Inc.  

Told from the perspectives of survivors, this film examines the aftermath and legacy of the 1989 school playground shooting and its ongoing impact on Stockton’s Cambodian and Vietnamese communities.  

Project Director: Lynne Gerber  
Applicant Organization: FJC – A Foundation of Donor Advised Funds  

This audio documentary uses archival recordings to tell the story of how a San Francisco church serving an LGBTQ+ congregation faced the spiritual, social, and political trials of the AIDS epidemic in the years before treatment. 

CDP Research and Development Grants up to $15,000 are designed to strengthen the humanities content and approach of documentary media productions in their earliest stages.  

Project Director: Sonia Paul  
Applicant Organization: KALW Public Media Inc.  

Taking the recent veto of California’s proposed legislation to outlaw discrimination based on caste as a starting point, this podcast series investigates and illuminates the longer history of caste in California and transnational anti-caste activism.  
Project Directors: Sally Rubin and Kristy Guevara-Flanagan 
Applicant Organization: Center for Independent Documentary Inc.  

This feature-length documentary examines the unique figure of the cowboy in America’s popular imagination and its role in shaping myths and identities throughout our nation’s history, including those of marginalized Americans such as the Compton Cowboys who have often been cast out of both these regional and national narratives. 

Project Director: Sandi Tan and Sam Green  
Applicant Organization: The Free History Project Inc  

This short documentary is a portrait of V. Vale, a little-known but influential Japanese American cultural anthropologist in San Francisco publishing zines and documenting movements like punk rock, industrial culture, feminist performance art, and tattooing/body-modification, before such practices became mainstream.  

Project Director: Babette Thomas  
Applicant Organization: Independent Arts & Media  

This 3-D web-based virtual walking tour documents the cycles of Black displacement and housing insecurity in West Oakland and aims to preserve the Black voices Oakland is rapidly losing. 

Learn more about the California Documentary Project Grant Program here.

About California Humanities
California Humanities, a nonprofit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities, promotes the humanities—focused on ideas, conversation and learning—as relevant, meaningful ways to understand the human condition and connect people to each other in order to help strengthen California. California Humanities has provided grants and programs across the state since 1975. To learn more, visit, or like and follow on FacebookXInstagram, and LinkedIn.  


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