Jewish Story Partners (JSP), a Los Angeles-based nonprofit film funding organization, has announced its new slate of grants to 19 documentary film projects.
The org, which was launched in April 2021 with support from Kate Capshaw and Steven Spielberg’s Righteous Persons Foundation, will distribute $490,000 among these independent films, all of which explore the vast and vibrant terrain of the Jewish storytelling space. The announcement coincides with Jewish American Heritage Month and a commitment from President Joe Biden’s White House administration to develop a national strategy to counter antisemitism and “address increasing awareness and understanding of both antisemitism and Jewish American heritage.”
Since its inception, JSP has disbursed $2 million in funding to 72 documentaries telling diverse Jewish stories.
On the heels of previous JSP-funded films that have premiered at Sundance — including Paula Eiselt’s “Under G-d,” Luke Lorentzen’s “A Still Small Voice” and Ondi Timoner’s Oscar-shortlisted and Emmy contender “Last Flight Home” — new grantees comprise a wide-ranging spectrum of artists and thematic stories.
JSP is also kickstarting its Reprise Program to deepen investment in previous grantees, and has announced its call for entries for the next granting cycle, which will be announced in 2024.
The 2023 JSP grantees are: “Ain’t No Back to a Merry-Go-Round” (director and producer Ilana Trachtman); “Alliance of Shame” (director and producer Jeremy Borison); “Angels of Amsterdam” (director Eric J. Adams, executive producers Mitch Albom, Ulrika Grünwald Citron, and Eric Leemon); “At the Barricades” (director and producer David France, producer Paul McGuire, executive producer Soledad O’Brien); “Carlebach Project Untitled” (director Simon Mendes, producer Heidi Reinberg); “Earth Camp One” (director and producer Jennie Livingston); “GPS vs. The Knowledge” (director and producer David Shapiro); “Jews by Choice” (directors Tomer Slutzky and Justyna Gawelko, producers Dan Shadur, Michał Szymanowicz, and Abraham Troen); “Mother India, Father Israel” (director Avi Dabach, co-producer Ram Devineni); “Our Home Is Not of This World” (director Russ Finkelstein, producers Phil Pinto and Manuel F. Contreras); “Plunderer” (director Hugo Macgregor, producer John S. Friedman); “A Pocketful of Miracles: A Tale of Two Siblings” (director and producer Aviva Kempner); “The Trouble With Betty” (director and producer Elizabeth Wolff, producer Holly Meehl Chapman; and “Yair” (director Deem Banton, producer Stephen Tedeschi).
The jury for the spring 2023 funding round included Senain Kheshgi, director-producer and founder of Majority; Jenny Raskin, executive director of Impact Partners; and Josh Siegel, curator, department of film at the Museum of Modern Art.
The jurors issued a collective statement, noting that “constant questioning is a fundamental Jewish practice, and one that is also embedded in the very nature of documentary filmmaking. Encompassing a diversity of artistic approaches, contexts, perspectives and communities, the films we selected demonstrate that there is no singular Jewish experience. Each, instead, reminds us of our individual and collective struggle to find our common humanity.”
JSP co-executive directors Roberta Grossman and Caroline Libresco called the organization “a dream come true.”
“Funding documentary films has always been an uphill climb,” they continued in a statement. “Funding for independent and diverse Jewish documentary films an even steeper ascent. From this challenging reality was born the now realized vision of creating a source of support for a wide array of fiercely independent Jewish documentary films. We couldn’t be prouder of the excellent films that have come to life with the support of JSP.”
New JSP donor Stephanie DeVaan said, “I invest in JSP because films have the power to distill stereotypes or completely upend them. By supporting projects which depict nuanced and diverse Jewish experiences, JSP invites audiences into all kinds of stories and worlds, building understanding across our perceived divisions. In this tumultuous world, our only path to survival is an understanding of each other. The defining trait of Jewish experience? No two are the same. I am so very proud to support an organization that is broadening the Jewish stories we see on screen.”
Other JSP donor partners include Maimonides Fund, the Jim Joseph Foundation, Adam Irving, The Klarman Family Foundation, Koret Foundation, Lynn and Jules Kroll Fund for Jewish Documentary Films, Kronhill Pletka Foundation, Julie Platt, Mara Burros Sandler, Be Forward Productions, Chara Schreyer, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies and Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan.
For more information and call for entries, log onto: jewishstorypartners.org