NEH backs public media projects, independent productions in the humanities

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Ted Bruehl

Fred McDowell, left, talks to Bobby Ray Watson at the 1969 Memphis Country Blues Festival. A documentary feature on the legacy of the festival received a major post-production grant from the NEH.

Futuro Media Group, Maryland Public Broadcasting Foundation and KYUK in Bethel, Alaska, are among recipients of grants announced Wednesday by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The public media organizations, along with independent filmmakers and audio producers, received a total of nearly $4.3 million for film and podcasts at various stages of research and production. KYUK’s project, for example, will create a digital archive of Native Alaskan language video and audio recordings for preservation and public access.

NEH awarded grants totalling $33.17 million to 245 projects in the humanities. “NEH is proud to support these exemplary education, media, preservation, research, and infrastructure projects,” said NEH Chair Shelly C. Lowe in a news release, which lists the grant winners.

KYUK’s project, “Nutarrluki: Make Them New,” received $350,000 to reformat and catalog more than 1,000 hours of video and audio recordings documenting the traditional language, lifestyle and culture of Yup’ik and Cup’ik Alaska Native people. The archival project, led by photojournalist Katie Basile, will build a collection that will be searchable through the American Archive of Public Broadcasting’s website.

Futuro Media Group was awarded $75,000 to develop a documentary series called To Have and to Hold: A History of Marriage. The project director is Charlotte Mangin, creator of the public media series Unladylike2020, which documented women who changed America. Mangin has also been interim executive director for Futuro and held executive roles for Futuro Studios.

Another $75,000 grant went to Maryland Public Broadcasting Foundation to develop Here, The People Rule, a two-hour film about U.S. presidential transitions. The project is led by Martin Huberman, owner of VideoArt Productions, who has worked with a variety of corporations, universities and nonprofits.

The Center for Independent Documentary received three separate grants for film projects: $550,000 for production of Eyes on the Prize Reclaimed, a documentary about the legacy of the landmark Eyes on the Prize public television series; $291,480 for post-production of The Blues Society, exploring the legacy of the Memphis Country Blues Festival and development of a website offering teaching resources; and $75,000 for planning of Diamond Diplomacy, an hour-long documentary about U.S.-Japanese relations around professional baseball.

The International Documentary Foundation received $75,000 for Bombshell, a documentary film about propaganda about the use of atomic weapons during World War II.

Production grants were also awarded to:

  • UnionDocs, which received $644,525 for Speaking Freely: The First Amendment and the Work of Preeminent Attorney Floyd Abrams, a film about the First Amendment and free speech.
  • The Filmmakers Collaborative, which received $500,000 for The Library of Darkness, an hour-long documentary about computer scientists imaging 2,000-year-old papyrus scrolls from Herculaneum.
  • Women Make Movies, which received $500,000 for Jamaica Kincaid: Liberating the Daffodil, a film about the Antiguan-American author.
  • The State Historical Society of Colorado Outright, which received $360,938 for season 4 of Lost Highways, a podcast about the history of the Rocky Mountain West.
  • The Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, which received $330,349 for Uncovering Margaret Mead, a 10 episode podcast series on Mead’s anthropology work.
  • Rectors and Visitors of the University of Virginia, which received $199,663 for Between Heaven and Earth: An Audio Documentary Series on Spirituality, Place, and Climate in America, a 10-episode podcast series about religious groups and movements and their intersection with environmental issues.
  • The University of California at Davis, which received $149,996 to produce a 30-minute documentary about Elayne Jones, a percussionist who broke racial and gender barriers in classical music in the 20th century.
  • The Fort Ross Conservancy in California, which received $74,261 for development of Coming Round: The Kashia-Pomo Struggle for Homeland, a documentary film about the history of a Native American tribe’s displacement and eventual return to their ancestral homeland.

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