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NEH Bridging Cultures through Film

On May 18, the NEH announced a new funding program, Bridging Cultures through Film: International Topics. This program supports projects that examine international and transnational themes in the humanities through documentary films. The first biannual deadline is July 28 2010; the second, January 5 2011.

Bridging Cultures through Film: International Topics offers two levels of support for documentary films. Filmmakers can apply for either development or production funding. Awards are for 1-3 years–up to $75,000 (development)  or $800,000 (for production).

See the earlier post on Bridging Cultures for more information about this 2010 NEH initiative.

Development funds support filmmakers for a wide range of activities that include but are not limited to collaboration with scholars to develop humanities content, research, preliminary interviews, travel, and the creation of partnerships for outreach activities (public engagement with the humanities). Applicants must have obtained the commitment of humanities scholars to serve as advisers to the project prior to applying for a development grant.

Development funds should culminate in a script and identify the producer, director, and writer for the production phase. Funds may also be applied to the production of a trailer.

Production funds support filmmakers in various stages of production and post-production. Applicants must submit a script for a production grant. This script should demonstrate a solid command of the humanities ideas and scholarship related to the subject matter. Applicants must have consulted with appropriate humanities scholars about the project and must have obtained their commitment to advise the project.

Applicants are encouraged to contact NEH program officers about the review process. Draft proposals may be sent as attachments to e-mail messages to publicpgms@neh.gov.
Here are the basic application requirements to be submitted through Grants.gov.
  1. Table of contents
  2. Brief description
  3. Summary of topic (fifteen pages maximum)

    This narrative portion of the proposal should provide a clear explanation of the story that the film will tell and the humanities ideas informing the film; demonstrate that the project’s themes and ideas are informed by relevant humanities scholarship; and explain the film’s narrative arc, point of view, structure, storyline, and filmic style (i.e., reenactment, cinema verité, animation, or other approach). Issues that this section must address include the following:

    • narrative synopsis, including subject, plot, setting, character, point of view, and structure;
    • humanities content ( significant humanities themesaddressed in the film, and the scholarship that provides the foundation);
    • visual approach;
    • resources to be used, including interviews, archival materials, and audio and visual materials;
    • audience for this film (who will be interested, how they will be reached, what they will learn);
    • other activities or products related to the project.
  4. Project team

    Each project must involve both a media team and a team of humanities advisers. At least one member of the media team must demonstrate previous film or television production experience in a principal role by submitting a previously completed work sample.

    NEH strongly encourages applicants to include on at least one of the two teams participants from different countries. Summarize for each team member his or her qualifications and his or her contribution to the project’s content. Submit letters of commitment and CVs  for the media team and the humanities advisers.

  5. Organization profile

    Describe briefly the application institution and, if different, the production organization, and the other collaborating organizations. Provide information about each organization’s aims, origin, special characteristics, current activities, and experience with humanities programs. Each profile should be only one paragraph.

  6. Treatment  or script
    • A development application must include a treatment, which should not exceed a maximum of ten pages per hour of the proposed final documentary. (A proposed two-hour documentary may include a treatment no longer than twenty pages.)
    • A production application must include a working script, which should not exceed a maximum of thirty pages per hour of the proposed final documentary. (A proposed three-hour documentary may include a script no longer than ninety pages.)
    • The treatment or script should demonstrate how the program integrates the humanities content and analysis.
  7. Status of film and work plan (two pages maximum)

    Provide a synopsis of the current creative and financial state of the film. Describe the work completed to date, including research, interviews, filming, and collaboration. Include a plan of work for the activities that will be undertaken during the requested grant period, fundraising plans, and distribution goals.

  8. Sample

    A previously completed film that best represents the applicants’ work must be included with the proposal. Additionally, a production application may include a work-in-progress sample.


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