NEH grants back pubmedia film on Reconstruction-era armed conflict, biography of author Julia Alvarez

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Public Domain: Harper's Weekly, May 10, 1873, p. 397

Black families gather the dead and wounded following the Colfax Massacre.

The WNET Group, Louisiana Public Broadcasting and Latino Public Broadcasting are among recipients of grants announced Tuesday by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The public TV organizations, along with independent filmmakers and audio producers, received grants totalling more than $3.9 million for film and podcast projects at various stages of research and production.

Louisiana Public Broadcasting received the largest grant, $700,343, for a feature-length film led by independent filmmaker Joseph Dorman. His project, The Colfax Massacre, examines “Reconstruction-era violence between southern whites and African Americans and its legal and social legacy,” according to NEH’s list of grantees. The film’s title refers to the 1873 armed conflict in Colfax, La.

NEH awarded $699,154 to Latino Public Broadcasting, the Los Angeles-based media funding consortium, for a 90-minute biographical documentary on Dominican-American writer Julia Alvarez, author of “How the García Girls Lost Their Accents” and “In the Time of the Butterflies.”

WNET in New York City received $600,000 to produce The First Folio: The Making of Shakespeare, a two-hour PBS documentary on the 400-year history of William Shakespeare’s plays since they were collected in the First Folio in 1623.

During this funding round, NEH’s third and final for fiscal year 2022, the endowment awarded grants totalling $31.5 million to 226 projects in the humanities. “NEH is proud to support the many scholars, curators, storytellers, filmmakers and teachers who are helping preserve, examine and share the country’s rich and expansive history and culture,” said NEH Chair Shelly Lowe in a news release, which lists the grant winners. Earlier this year, NEH granted public media projects nearly $4.3 million.

Production or development grants were also awarded to:

  • International Documentary Association — $625,000 for Meredith Monk: Singing Body, Dancing Voice, a 90-minute documentary on the performing artist, filmmaker, composer and choreographer, led by independent filmmaker William Shebar.
  • University of Southern California — $536,733 for Voces de las Abuelas: Grandmothers’ Food Stories from the Borderlands, a documentary series on Mexican and Mexican-American food culture in Los Angeles; El Paso, Texas; and Tucson, Ariz. It will be led by Amara Aguilar, a journalism professor at the university.
  • Museum of Contemporary Art Flagstaff — $458,000 for an untitled documentary about the relationship between the Diné and Dene clans and the role of language and oral traditions in the formation of Indigenous identity. The doc is directed by independent filmmaker Sarah Del Seronde.
  • Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation — $100,000 for the podcast and multiplatform project New Angle Voice: Pioneering Women of American Architecture, which will look at the contributions of women in architecture.
  • National Council for History Education — $75,000 to develop American Commonwealth, a ten-episode podcast series about canonical and non-canonical founding documents. The funding supports development of two pilot episodes of the series.
  • Historic Columbia Foundation Outright — $74,874 to develop University of Reconstruction, an hour-long film examining the Reconstruction-era integration of the University of South Carolina. The film is led by Betsy Newman, a producer for South Carolina ETV.
  • Stone Soup Productions — $74,710 to develop The People’s Recorder: Revisiting the Federal Writers’ Project and What It Means Today, a podcast series about the history and legacy of the Federal Writers’ Project of the 1930s.

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