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List of California Documentary Project Grants



The Asian Americans
Sponsor Organization: Center for Asian American Media
Project Director: Donald Young
The Asian Americans is a public media initiative that examines ways in which the US Asian experience illuminates the larger American story. With California figuring centrally in the narrative, the series will explore the role Asian Americans have played in the evolution of American identity in the context of migration, diversity, and global connectedness.

Coming Round: The Kashia Pomo Struggle for Homeland
Sponsor Organization: Fort Ross Conservancy
Project Director: J Mitchell Johnson
Coming Round chronicles the unique history of California’s Kashia Pomo tribe. In their creation story, the Kashia walked from the ocean onto solid ground 12,000 years ago at Danaka (now Stewart’s Point, CA).  Now, more than 150 years after being forcibly removed, the Kashia are unexpectedly regaining access and ownership to their tribal lands and setting a model for other displaced Native American tribes.

Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen
Sponsor Organization: International Documentary Association
Project Director: Sam Feder
Disclosure is an unprecedented look at Hollywood’s role in creating and perpetuating historical stereotypes of trans people. More than 100 years of footage from A Florida Enchantment (1914) to Pose (2018) is woven together with the personal stories of prominent media figures like Laverne Cox, revealing how Hollywood has simultaneously reflected and manufactured our deepest anxieties about gender.

FANNY: The Right to Rock
Sponsor Organization: Moving Train Inc.
Project Director: Bobbi Jo Hart
Part road trip, part inquiry, part political, social, and cultural mirror, FANNY: The Right to Rock reveals the untold story of the Filipina American California rock band Fanny, the first female band to release an LP with a major record label (Warner Music/1970). Adored by David Bowie, the groundbreaking impact of these women of color has been lost in the mists of time… until now.

Fruits of Labor/La Bendita Fresa
Sponsor Organization: International Documentary Association
Project Director: Emily Cohen Ibañez
Fruits of Labor is a portrait of Ashley, a seasonal strawberry picker and factory worker in California, who dreams of graduating from high school and going to college. But in this coming-of-age tale, tensions build as Ashley’s family struggles with poverty and the threat of family separation due to increased deportations in her community.

The Third Act (formerly: Living in the Layers: Upending Ageism in the Golden State)
Sponsor Organization: International Media Project
Project Director: Tina Antolini
Living in the Layers is an audio series that takes on one of the most socially accepted forms of prejudice: ageism. By combining narrative storytelling with elders’ audio diaries, the project challenges the stereotypes that plague many Californians over age 65, the state’s fastest growing demographic.

Sponsor Organization: Intersection for the Arts
Project Directors: Meklit Hadero
Movement is a podcast and live show that tells stories of global migration through music. Hosted by Ethiopian-American singer Meklit Hadero, it features the stories of an LA-based Indian-American Grammy-nominated songwriter, an undocumented singer in San Francisco on a long-awaited trip back to Mexico, and more, blending songs and stories in a meditation on what it means to be American.

Return to Oaxacalifornia
Sponsor Organization: International Documentary Association
Project Director: Trisha Ziff
Return to Oaxacalifornia tells the story of three generations of one Mexican American family over 25 years and reflects on the complexity of transnational migration between Mexico and the US. Set in Fresno, California, the film explores questions of family and assimilation, what remains important and what is lost.

Untitled Dwarfism Project
Sponsor Organization: Women Make Movies Inc.
Project Director: Julie Wyman
Untitled Dwarfism Project follows filmmaker Julie Wyman’s personal exploration of dwarfism in her family during a moment when genetic research is promising new pharmaceutical treatments for dwarfism.

Untitled Oral History of Jerry Brown’s California Political Career
Sponsor Organization: KQED
Project Director: Scott Shafer
Through exclusive interviews with former Governor Jerry Brown, KQED political journalists will produce a series of programs for radio broadcast and podcast that weave Brown’s reflections on his experiences as California’s longest-serving governor with context and insight from journalists, scholars, and peers.


Acting Like Women: Performance Art and The Woman’s Building
Sponsor Organization: Chimaera Project
Project Director: Cheri Gaulke
Acting Like Women revisits the California feminist art movement of the 1970s and examines its influence on today’s art and social movements. The film will focus on the Woman’s Building in Los Angeles as an incubator for new art forms and practices and as a model and inspiration for women artists all over the country.

The Dressmaker Strike of 1933
Sponsor Organization: International Documentary Association
Project Director: Mylene Moreno
The Dressmaker Strike of 1933 documents a little-known strike during the Great Depression by Mexicana women that brought the downtown Los Angeles garment industry to a halt. The film will bring hidden voices and perspectives in California history to life and situate the strikers at the center of a pivotal year for labor activism throughout California’s fields and factories.

On the Edge of Tomorrow
Sponsor Organization: International Documentary Association
Project Director: William Versaci
On the Edge of Tomorrow examines the confluence of people, environment, and technology that enabled modern architecture to develop in Southern California in the first half of the 20th century. Through the stories of the architects, their clients, and an experimental building industry, the film focuses on the participants and their roles as much as the buildings themselves.

Third Act
Sponsor Organization: LTSC Community Development Corporation
Project Director: Tadashi Nakamura
Third Act is a look into the life and work of pioneering filmmaker Robert A. Nakamura, considered the “Godfather of Asian American media,” as he reflects on his 50-year career and the psychological wounds from his family’s incarceration during WWII. Told by his son Tadashi, the film examines questions of trauma, memory, and historical amnesia.



Chinatown Rising
Project Director: Harry Chuck
Organization: Cameron House
Set against the backdrop of the Civil Rights movement, between 1965 and 1985 a young film student from San Francisco Chinatown documented his community’s struggles for self-determination. Now forty-five years later, this unreleased film material uncovers the history of a community in transition and reveals the perspectives of young Chinatown residents on the front lines of the Asian-American movement.

Crip Camp
Project Director: Jim LeBrecht and Nicole Newnham

Organization: Center for Independent Documentary
From a 1970s ramshackle summer camp for disabled teenagers to the birth of disability rights activism in Berkeley, Crip Camp traces the emergence of a new and powerful movement towards inclusion. The 90 minute film is told from the point of view of former camper Jim LeBrecht who, with a group of other young people with disabilities, relocated to Berkeley in the 1970s and went on to spark a revolution for the disabled.

Dreams of Dust
Project Director: Sarah Craig

Organization: Sustainable Markets Foundation
This multimedia radio, photography and interactive project documents stories of climate migration due to drought as groundwater levels continue to drop in in many areas of California’s Central Valley. This project will tell the stories of people who are left without water or without work, and explore how water stress begets instability and reflects historical patterns of migration and inequality.

KCET Artbound 
Project Director: Juan Devis
Organization: KCET
Artbound is KCET’s award-winning multi-platform journalism program dedicated to exploring cultural issues reflective of California’s diverse and complex communities. The series brings humanities-based content and analysis to each documentary by exploring the intersections of art, culture, history, society and geography. The documentaries are supported with online content that is varied and topical with a constant stream of videos and supporting articles published on the Artbound website.

Sign My Name to Freedom
Project Director: Bryan Gibel

Organization: International Documentary Association
96-year-old Betty Reid Soskin is America’s oldest park ranger, famous for defying old age and tirelessly advocating for civil rights in California. In the 1960s and ‘70s Betty was also a singer/songwriter with a voice like Billie Holiday. Four decades later, this film follows Betty as she teams up with composer Marcus Shelby and a young band to perform new arrangements of her songs, sparking an autobiographical journey through the black experience by three generations of California musicians.

Unladylike: Unsung Californian Women of the Progressive Era
Project Director: Charlotte Mangin
Organization: The Futuro Media Group
Honoring the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in 2020, UNLADYLIKE is a multimedia series featuring unsung American “s/heroes” from the early years of feminism. Through 31 five-minute animated documentary shorts for each day of Women’s History Month, the series profiles female trailblazers from the Progressive Era who changed America, including five powerful Californians: a desegregation activist, botanist, newspaper editor, painter, and polar explorer. Through community and educational outreach and online distribution, the series will offer audiences a nuanced, inclusive understanding of women’s history and the role these Californians played in it.

Untitled McCloskey Project
Project Director:
Alix Blair
Organization: San Francisco Film Society
Untitled McCloskey Project is a feature documentary about the unconventional relationship between Helen, a passionately independent 63-year-old woman, and her husband Pete McCloskey, an iconic California Republican Congressman thirty years her senior. Told from Helen’s perspective, this film captures a fiery political couple forced to evaluate their contribution to American politics and explores the burdens a public spotlight puts on private lives.

Untitled Oxnard Project
Project Director: Robin Rosenthal and Bill Yahraus 
Organization: International Documentary Association
This documentary explores the lives and experiences of Mexican-born Mixtec, Zapotec and Purépecha teens living in Oxnard, the Strawberry Capital of the World. The film takes an intimate look at the unique challenges they face, both individually and together, as they navigate economic necessity, access to higher education, cultural preservation, and the social and environmental justice needs of their indigenous farmworker community.

The World According to Sound
Project Directors: Chris Hoff and Sam Harnett

Organization: International Media Project
This podcast and live performance series produced in partnership with LightHouse Center for the Blind examines the world through our ears instead of our eyes. The sound-focused format will explore the lives and experiences of visually impaired people living in California, and with them as guides, will gather recordings and create evocative soundscapes that will be featured on public radio, in a touring performance, and in an archive, allowing anyone to listen to what California sounded like in 2018.


3G Tattoo Project
Project Director: Cathy R. Fischer
Organization: The Film Collaborative
The 3G Tattoo Project is a character-driven film featuring three individuals who have made the provocative decision to tattoo their grandparents’ concentration camp numbers on their own bodies. The film explores questions about the reenactment of trauma, healing, and historical remembrance as an essential part of engaging with the critical social issues of today.

Body Parts
Project Directors:
Kristy Guevara-Flanagan and Helen Hood Scheer
Organization: The Film Collaborative
Body Parts is a documentary film exploring the female body as the site of a cultural battle in Hollywood media. Interweaving film and television clips with reenactments and interviews, this essay film traces how the female body––from pre-production through distribution–– is the locus of fraught, often public, negotiation.

Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen 
Project Director: Sam Feder
Organization: International Documentary Association
At a time of increasing visibility for trans characters and actors in the media, this film explores and analyzes Hollywood’s role in creating and perpetuating historical stereotypes of trans people and images. Through interviews with actors and scholars and with illuminating excerpts from popular film and television, Disclosure will deconstruct and critique stubbornly persistent tropes and highlight occasional breakthroughs in which trans creatives take control.

My Uncle the Fugitive
Project Director:
Kathy Huang
Organization: Catticus Corporation
When an American-born filmmaker looks into her estranged uncle’s political past in Taiwan, she uncovers a tale of corruption, political intrigue, and a host of family secrets. Her uncle, living in exile in Orange County, is the key to understanding a family history that her immigrant Taiwanese parents always avoided talking about.

Radius: Stories of Asian Americans and Immigration
Project Director: Erica Mu
Organization: Visual Communications
Radius is a podcast series that illuminates the contours of Asian American identity. Dealing with topics from the mundane to mayhem, the series visits parachute kids, the American Air Force, the Chinese Army, refugees in Orange County, restaurateurs, wedding crashers, and more, to shed light on the Asian American experience through powerful narrative stories. Through immersive, documentary-style storytelling, Radius carefully humanizes Asian American journeys, from Asia, to California, and back.

View a list of California Documentary Project grants from 2009–2017.