The Southern Documentary Fund supports documentary films made in or about North Carolina through our annual filmmaking grants. These grants are made possible thanks to generous support from The Mary Duke Biddle Foundation.

New application opens Spring 2018!


  • Applicants must have a US social security number or US federal tax ID number.
  • Applicants must be 18 years of age or older.
  • Applicants must live and work in North Carolina, or their story must take place in North Carolina.
  • Applicants may be first time filmmakers (if working with experienced collaborators), emerging artists, or veteran producers/directors.
  • Projects must be non-fiction documentaries, 26 minutes or longer in length.
  • Applicants must own the copyright of their production, and have editorial and budgetary control over their project. SDF does not fund works-for-hire.
  • Applicants must not be enrolled in a film school and seeking funds for a student project.  SDF does not fund student films.
  • You do not need a fiscal sponsor in order to apply for a grant, but if you are accepted, you must have a US fiscal sponsor in order to receive the funds.  Projects selected to receive an award are eligible for fiscal sponsorship through SDF.


  • Projects in development, production, or post-production (no grants available for distribution or engagement).
  • Compelling southern stories.
  • Well-written and well-researched proposals.
  • Strong work samples (for films in production or post production).
  • Contemporary relevance.
  • Feasibility of the project (budget, financing, schedule, and scope).
  • Confirmed access to subjects and story.
  • Originality of form, approach, or content.
  • Potential to generate public discourse and social engagement.


  • SDF filmmaking grants range from $1,000 to $5,000.
  • Funds may not be used to cover previously incurred expenses.
  • Applicants may submit only one project per funding cycle.
  • Previously funded projects should not re-apply, even if in a different stage of production.
  • Grantees must submit narrative and financial reports during the course of the grant period, along with photos, other publicity materials, and credits when available.


Previous Grant Recipients:


A Love Supreme: Black, Christian, and Queer in the South (working title) by Kyndra Frazier & Katina Parker
Chinese American Voters Project (working title) by Yi Chen
JIG SHOW: Leon Claxton’s Harlem in Havana by Leslie Cunningham
This Taco Truck Kills Fascists by Rodrigo Dorfman
OVERLAND by Elisabeth Haviland James & Revere La Noue


Always In Season by Jaqueline Olive
Burden Of Proof by Cynthia Hill
Farmsteaders by Shaena Mallett
Reach Back and Fetch It: The Carolina Chocolate Drops Story by John Whitehead


I, Destini by Nicholas Pilarski & Destini Riley
The Nine-Month Withdrawal by Ashley Panzera
Red Wolf Revival by Roshan Patel & Madison McClintock
United Skates by Tina Brown & Dyana Winkler


Raising Bertie by Margaret Byrne
The Last Barn Dance by Jason Arthurs
Living Off the Line: Stories from The Clothesline Muse by Lana Garland
Furniture Workers Story by Phoebe Brush

2017 SDF Filmmaking Grant Panelists

       S. Leo Chiang, Filmmaker
       Sonya Childress, Firelight Media
       Teresa Hollingsworth, South Arts

2016 SDF Filmmaking Grant Panelists

       Duong-Chi Do, ITVS
       N’Jeri Eaton, NPR
       Carlos Sandoval, Camino Bluff Productions

2015 SDF Filmmaking Grant Panelists

Katy Chevigny, Big Mouth Productions
Seth Gadsden, Indie Grits Film Festival
Jacquie Jones, Jacquie Jones Media

2014 SDF Filmmaking Grant Panelists

Eric Martin, ITVS
Molly Murphy, Working Films
Amy Shumaker, SCETV