JustFilms, the Ford Foundation’s film and digital storytelling initiative, is proud to have supported four films selected for this year’s Tribeca Film Festival—the New York–based celebration of independent filmmaking.
A Ballerina’s Tale
Directed by Nelson George
A feature documentary on African American ballerina Misty Copeland that examines her prodigious rise and her potentially career-ending injury alongside themes of race and body image in the elite ballet world.
Directed by David Holbrooke
The remarkable story of the life and legacy of Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, whose singular career spanned 50 years of American foreign policy—from Vietnam to Afghanistan.
The Trials of Constance Baker Motley
Directed by Rick Rodgers
The story of Constance Baker Motley, a civil rights leader who met prejudice and danger with elegance and humor and went on to become the first black woman named to a federal judgeship.
Among the Believers
Directed by Mohammed Ali Naqvi and Hemal Trivedi
Firebrand cleric Maulana Aziz, an ISIS supporter and Taliban ally, is waging jihad against the Pakistani government, and two of his young students’ lives hang in the balance.
In addition, a series of projects to be presented at the TFI Interactive Summit in New York this weekend were supported by the TFI New Media Fund, a Ford-funded program that uses new media platforms and modern storytelling techniques to engage audiences around issues of inequality and social justice.
The TFI New Media Fund has granted over $1.7 million to support 26 projects since 2011, including 15 storytelling hackathons, new technologies like the virtual reality used in Nonny de la Peña’s Use of Force, and definition-defying projects like Priya’s Shakti, an augmented reality comic book and exhibition challenging gender-based violence in India.
The TFI Interactive Summit, which is now in its fourth year, brings together directors, artists, activists, journalists, developers, and gamers to celebrate creative storytelling and explore cutting-edge modes of creating immersive, compelling narrative experiences.
“Artists and filmmakers are developing new ways to express the complexities of existence, exposing us to new narratives that undermine complacency and challenge us to think more, and do more,” said Cara Mertes, director of JustFilms. “As a social justice organization, we know the power of art—to give a voice to the vulnerable, to tell the stories that were previously hidden or silenced, and to inspire us to take action for the greater good.”
Launched in 2011, JustFilms was established to support filmmakers and artists from around the world who use creative visual storytelling to highlight issues of justice, rights, and equity and drive social change. The five-year, $50 million commitment has helped lift up quality films and digital projects tackling urgent social justice issues in innovative and inspiring ways.
In recognition of the Ford Foundation’s bold commitment to independent filmmakers, the Tribeca Film Institute named Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, a 2015 Innovative Disruptor for his audacious leadership supporting art as a tool for social change.
“Freedom of expression is a powerful ally of equality, inclusion, and change,” said Walker. “We are proud to support these artists and filmmakers in realizing their visions, and thankful for their incredible work to help us fulfill our own vision—of a society that is more engaged, more aware, and more just.”
That commitment to the transformative power of arts and culture was further underlined this month with the launch of The Art of Change, a yearlong exploration of culture, the arts, and creativity to develop a dialogue with artists, scholars, activists, filmmakers, and cultural leaders on the interplay of art and social justice.
The Ford Foundation
The Ford Foundation is an independent organization working to address inequality and build a future grounded in justice. For more than 85 years, it has supported visionaries on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. Today, with an endowment of $16 billion, the foundation has headquarters in New York and 10 regional offices across Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East.
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