At least three filmmakers affiliated with public media will receive part of $2 million in grants for documentaries announced today by the MacArthur Foundation. The foundation received nearly 400 proposals and is awarding 15 projects with cash ranging from $50,000 to $300,000. Filmmaker Robert Kenner, who previously directed the Academy Award nominee Food Inc., is receiving $200,000 to direct Command and Control for WGBH in Boston. The film is based on Eric Schlosser’s critically acclaimed book that examines the safety of America’s nuclear weapons arsenal. Chicago-based filmmaker Ines Sommer is getting $150,000 for Count Me In, which follows several residents in a “participatory budgeting” experiment that gives them direct say over portions of taxpayer spending in the city’s budget.
At least two public television networks opted not to air this week the POV documentary After Tiller, which profiles four late-term abortion providers and prompted a campaign among anti-abortion organizations. POV’s plans to air the film’s national broadcast premiere at 10 p.m. Sept. 1 spurred an Aug. 27 online statement from Judie Brown, president of the American Life League, who called the documentary “nothing short of pure propaganda intended to demonize the entire pro-life movement and drum up support for late-term abortion.” Several other anti-abortion websites urged visitors to contact PBS headquarters or PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler to protest stations airing the film. South Carolina ETV in Columbia and Mississippi Public Broadcasting in Jackson declined to air After Tiller.
WEDU’s Too Close to Home, which was previewed to a packed theatre before its Sept. 26 broadcast debut, reports personal stories behind a troubling trend in the Sunshine State: Florida has become a huge destination state for human trafficking, ranking third in the nation.
Wendy Levy, the director of arts consultancy group New Arts AXIS, called for documentary filmmakers to embrace big data tools as a permanent part of their storytelling process during the keynote address at the Media That Matters Conference, held Feb. 15 in Washington, D.C.