We are pleased to announce the new grant awardees of our California Documentary Project (CDP) program. Through this competitive grants program, Cal Humanities encourages film and radio documentarians to explore issues and stories of critical importance to California. We have awarded $360,000 for production and research and development work to 15 projects.

The production projects range from an investigation into the role of the public library in American life to a behind-the-scenes look at two famous litigators from opposite sides of the political spectrum who have joined forces in an historic lawsuit for federal marriage equality as California’s Proposition 8 is argued before the Supreme Court. Research and development projects tell stories and raise questions about our civil liberties, look at the life and legacy of photographic pioneer Eadweard Muybridge, and more.

California Documentary Project (CDP) grants support documentary film, new media, and radio productions at the research and development, production, and public engagement stages. Since 2003, we have awarded over $3 million to projects that document the California experience and enhance our understanding of California and its cultures, peoples, and histories.


American Reds: The Failed Revolution, $20,000 (film)
Project Director: Richard Wormser
Sponsor: Catticus Corporation
This two-part television documentary chronicles the history, significance, and decline of the Communist Party USA. The film will include California subject matter such as the Party’s efforts to unionize San Joaquin Valley cotton workers in 1933, its role in Upton Sinclair’s run for California governor in 1934, and the San Francisco general strike of 1934.

Artbound, $20,000 (new media)
Project Director: Juan Devis
Sponsor: KCET-Community Television of Southern California
Artbound is an innovative new transmedia series documenting arts and culture in Southern and Central California. The series employs over 50 writer/bloggers throughout 11 counties to create long-form multimedia articles that are then distributed via the web, and/or are produced into short-form video documentary for television broadcast.

Body Politics: The Sterilization Digital Archive, $15,000 (new media)
Project Director:  Virginia Espino
Sponsor: Visual Communications
This interactive web-based documentary and digital archive is a collaboration between media producers, historians, and archivists at UCLA’s Chicano Studies Research Center that maps histories of coercive sterilization practices in California, the United States, and abroad. Through video testimonies, primary documents, and humanities scholarship, website users will be immersed in an alternative history of women’s reproductive rights as it relates to immigration, race, and economic status.

Free for All: Inside the Public Library, $45,000 (film)
Project Directors: Dawn Logsdon and Lucie Faulknor
Sponsor: Video Veracity, Inc.
Free For All is a feature-length documentary that investigates the history, culture, and significance of the public library in American life by chronicling a year inside the busy San Francisco Public Library. With public libraries around California and the nation facing uncertain futures, the film will challenge viewers to reflect on universal values of literacy, civic good, access to knowledge, diversity and democracy.

The Killing Fields of Dr. Haing S. Ngor, $50,000 (film)
Project Director: Arthur Dong
Sponsor: Dr. Haing S. Ngor Foundation
This 82-minute film tells the story of Dr. Haing S. Ngor, Cambodian genocide survivor and Academy Award-winning actor for his role in The Killing Fields. His 1996 murder in Los Angeles brought new attention to the large Cambodian refugee community in California and raised concern over the lasting impact of the Khmer Rouge.

Kathleen Cleaver and The Black Panther Symphonies, $20,000 (film)
Project Director: Manthia Diawara
Sponsor: National Black Programming Consortium
In this one-hour documentary, former Black Panther Kathleen Cleaver reflects on the trajectory of her past—from an international upbringing, to student activism with SNCC, to her move to California and early participation in the Black Panther Party, to four years of political exile in Algeria—and offers a new perspective on a turbulent era of racial and political activism.

Perry v. Schwarzenegger, $40,000 (film)
Project Director: Ryan White
Sponsor: Southern Documentary Fund
This 90-minute film is a behind-the-scenes look at two famous American litigators from opposite sides of the political spectrum who have joined forces in an historic lawsuit for federal marriage equality as California’s Proposition 8 is argued before the Supreme Court. With unparalleled access to the lawyers and plaintiffs, this documentary will offer unique insight into the American justice system and the Supreme Court.

Roots & Webs, $40,000 (film)
Project Director: Sara Dosa & Josh Penn
Sponsor: San Francisco Film Society
This feature-length film reflects on questions of memory, war, family, and survival as it documents an unlikely community of California-based Southeast Asian refugees and Vietnam War veterans that are drawn together for an annual mushroom hunt.

Sonic Trace, $40,000 (radio)
Project Director: Anayansi Diaz-Cortes
Sponsor: KCRW
Sonic Trace is a public radio project that explores the stories of Latin American immigrants in Los Angeles and across the border. Radio stories will be accompanied by web-based videos, photos, and maps incorporating geographic and demographic data.

Turn it Around, $20,000 (film)
Project Director: Dawn Valadez
Sponsor: San Francisco Film Society
This film documents the experiences of two young aspiring educators as they go through an alternative “Grow Your Own” teacher training program designed to staff underserved schools. Through associated interactive web and mobile applications, the project plans to inspire dialogue and understanding about the role of teachers in California public schools.


Kashaya/Fort Ross Film Project, $10,000 (film)
Project Director: Rick Tejada-Flores
Sponsor: Interfaze Educational Productions
This one-hour documentary explores the unique relationship between the Kashaya Pomo people of Northern California and the Russian Fort Ross Settlement between 1812 and 1840. The film follows a delegation of Kashaya who travel to Russia to search for artifacts and the descendants of Kashaya women and children who had been taken to Russia when the settlers left.

Living Condition, $10,000 (new media)
Project Directors: Dee Hibbert-Jones and Nomi Talisman
Sponsor: Bay Area Video Coalition
This animated, interactive, web-based documentary encourages viewers/users to reflect on questions of morality, economics, race, and justice as it examines the impact of capital punishment on families and communities. Funding is requested to support consultation with humanities advisors and establishing a community advisory board.

Model City, $10,000 (film)
Project Director: Lev Anderson
Sponsor: International Documentary Association
Model City is a feature-length film that examines the history and social and physical contours of Irvine, CA. As a study of place, community, and policy, the film reflects on questions public vs. private, economic and cultural diversity, urban planning and the built environment, and notions of utopia.

Splitting the Second: The Brilliant, Eccentric Life of Eadweard Muybridge, $10,000 (film)
Project Director: Jackie Krentzman
Sponsor: Inside Out Media
This 60-minute documentary film will explore the life, work, and legacy of one of the photographic pioneers of the 19th century, Eadweard Muybridge. Muybridge’s photography changed the way in which we see the world and had a significant impact on art, technology, industry, cinema, and our basic understanding of California and the American West.

Wherever There’s a Fight: Radio Stories of Unsung Heroes, $10,000 (radio)
Project Director: Laura Saponara
Sponsor: Heyday
This documentary radio series will tell the stories of individuals profiled in the book Wherever There’s A Fight: How Runaway Slaves, Suffragists, Immigrants, Strikers and Poets Shaped Civil Liberties in California. Funding is requested to refine content and develop a stylistic approach that will lay the groundwork for a longer series produced for public radio.


Click HERE to read more about these and other projects supported by Cal Humanities.