The Ford Foundation Justfilms

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“The Ford Foundation seeks to reduce inequality.” Ford funds a range of progressive organizations such as the Environmental Defense Fund, the Natural Resources Defense Fund, National Council of La Raza, Mexican American Legal Defense Fund, and the Center for American Progress, Tides Foundation, National Network of Abortion Funds, Sojourners, and the National Health Law Program.

To reduce inequality “in all of its forms…artist-driven documentary and emerging media projects are crucial to this effort. JustFilms, part of Ford’s Creativity and Free Expression program supports artist-driven film and new media storytelling projects that explore aspects of inequality. Grants are judged for their potential to transform stereotypes, beliefs, and value systems about vulnerable populations.”

Ford Foundation gave JustFilms $50 million over five years to collaborate directly with Ford programs on human rights, economic equality and criminal justice. Orlando Bagwell led JustFilms in supporting more than 80 documentary films in its first three years including “Eyes on the Prize” and “Citizen King.” The Sundance Film Festival regularly screens JustFilms productions. “How to Survive a Plague,” was an Oscar nominee in 2010. George Soros earmarked $10 million to Sundance Institute for documentaries, many highly critical of capitalism, American society, or Western culture. The Ford Foundation gave another $5 million grant to the Soros created Sundance Documentary Fund “assist more (in producing) human rights films.”

Orlando Bagwell says, “A lot of filmmakers want to change the worl. . .but they haven’t done a lot of thinking about the translation of those things into stories.” Orlando Bagwell was interested less in history, than in “the power of activism and the power of the individual to make social change.”

To replace Bagwell, The Ford Foundation appointed Cara Mertes to direct JustFilms She placed the Ford Foundation at the forefront of social justice filmmaking. Mertes says, “JustFilms will continue to advance the social justice work of the institution through creative storytelling.”

Open Secrets reports Orlando Bagwell donating $1,000 to Barack Obama and Cara Mertes gave one small donation to a Democrat.

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