The Southern Documentary Fund Selected 20 Documentary Film Projects to Receive Grants Totaling $150,000

DURHAM, NC (December 23, 2019) The Southern Documentary Fund (SDF) is proud to announce the documentary film projects awarded Research & Development (10) and Production Grants (10) aimed at supporting Southern filmmakers with compelling stories to tell.  The 20 selected documentary film projects will receive cash awards totaling $150,000 made possible by the generous support of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

“This year we are supporting a cohort of remarkably talented filmmakers committed to elevating a diverse range of complex narratives that are uniquely told through a Southern lens,” said Southern Documentary Fund Interim Executive Director Jenny Slattery. “Providing financial support and mentorship to both emerging and established production teams has particular significance for Southern filmmakers, who so often encounter barriers to bringing their visions to life.”

In 2017, the Southern Documentary Fund received a $900,000 grant from the MacArthur Foundation to be distributed over three years, enabling SDF to deepen support for documentary filmmakers living in the American South. SDF is using the funds to award grants to makers living in the region, expand the Fresh Docs screening series, and establish a filmmaker mentorship program.  “Our goal is to support a democratization of voice from unique authors in a wide array of genres. The more inclusive the narratives, the more authentic the stories,” said Kathy Im, Director of the Journalism and Media program at the MacArthur Foundation. “We congratulate the makers of these exciting projects and look forward to seeing their work.

SDF’s second granting cycle ended in June with more than 200 applications received. Grant applications and work samples were reviewed by panels consisting of regional filmmakers, national documentary industry professionals, and SDF staff.  Between the 2018 & 2019 awards, SDF has provided $300,000 in financial support to Southern makers.

“It was so gratifying to be able to participate on this jury and see firsthand the talent and vision of new projects that are coming out of the South,” shared filmmaker Christine Delp, 2019 jury member and recipient of a 2018 SDF production grant.  “The production grant we received from SDF for our documentary short Santuario was instrumental in providing finishing funds so we could bring the project to completion. I’m so excited to see how each of this year’s supported films will develop and flourish with SDF’s support.

The next round of grants will open in June 2020 with decisions made in September. For more information about grant winners and project descriptions or to learn more about the Southern Documentary Fund’s programs, please visit

Southern Documentary Fund 2019 Jury Participants

  • Christine Delp, Filmmaker and 2018 SDF Grantee for Santuario,
  • Bree Newsome, Award-winning filmmaker and activist
  • Michelle Hamada, Tribeca Film Institute
  • Farrah Rahaman, Blackstar Film Festival
  • Leoneda Inge, Race and Southern Culture Reporter, North Carolina Public Radio
  • Crystal Kayiza, Filmmaker



Southern Documentary Fund

The Southern Documentary Fund (SDF) supports filmmakers and other makers telling stories rooted in the American South.  Currently, SDF’s scope of services includes fiscal sponsorship, Fresh Docs works-in-progress screenings and grant-making while serving as a hub for this unique filmmaking community.

About the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

MacArthur supports creative people, effective institutions, and influential networks building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. MacArthur is placing a few big bets that truly significant progress is possible on some of the world’s most pressing social challenges, including over-incarceration, global climate change, nuclear risk, and significantly increasing financial capital for the social sector. In addition to the MacArthur Fellows Program, the Foundation continues its historic commitments to the role of journalism in a responsible and responsive democracy, as well as to the strength and vitality of our headquarters city, Chicago. More information is available at




A Fine Girl  – Filmmakers: Darcy McKinnon and Biliana Grozdanova, Co-Directors)

Anonymous (Working Title)  – Filmmaker: Zac Manuel

Eve’s Garden – Filmmakers: Carl Harrison, Jr.

Madie Sue – Filmmakers: Abbesi Akhamie

Nuestro South Travel Diaries – Filmmaker: Dorian Gomez Pestana

¿ Que Pasa, USA? – Filmmaker: Danny Mendoza

Saltwata Vibes – Filmmakers: Sherard Duvall, Director; Sarah and Simeon Daise, Executive Producers

Untitled Kristi Jacobson and Angela Tucker Film – Co-Directors Angela Tucker and Kristi Jacobson

Within, Within – Filmmakers: Kiyoko McCrae

You’re Muslim? – Filmmakers: Najma Nuriddin



Commuted – Filmmakers: Nailah Jefferson, Director; Darcy McKinnon, Producer

Hollow Tree – Filmmakers: Kira Akerman, Director; Monique Walton, Jolene Pinder, Chachi Hauser, Producers

The Land of Fish & Grits – Filmmakers: Justin Robinson, Director; D.L. Anderson, Producer

Natour’s Grocery – Filmmaker: Nadine Natour, Director/Editor

The Neutral Ground – Filmmakers: CJ Hunt, Director; Darcy McKinnon, Producer

Prodigal Mary – Filmmaker: Allie Sultan, Director/Producer/Editor

Roleplay – Filmmaker: Katie Matthews Director, Producer, Jenny Mercein

Socks on Fire – Filmmakers: Bo McGuire, Director/Producer; Julie Goldman, Christopher Clements, Carolyn Hepburn, Executive Producers; Tatiana Bears, Amy Dotson, Producers

These Kids This City – Filmmaker: Dorian Emerson Munroe, Director/Producer

Unmarked – Filmmakers: Chris Haley, Co-director/Archival Expert; Brad Bennett, Co-director/Producer/Editor