All Funded Projects

California Documentary Project

Grants Awarded in 2017

Production Grant Awards


Project Director: Sam Ball
Sponsor Organization: Citizen Film, Inc.
By presenting the stories of a wide range of civic activists in California and across the US, each striving to build community and affirm a shared “American creed” across deep divides, this documentary film asks: In a fractured nation, what ideals do we share in common? An accompanying national public engagement campaign seeks to foster meaningful dialogue and exchange across opposing beliefs.

Project Director: Lisa Morehouse
Sponsor Organization: Food and Environment Reporting Network
California Foodways is public radio series that documents stories of food, culture and history county by county throughout the entire state California. New episodes will cover stories from far northern California and the Central Valley.

Project Director: John Jota Leaños
Sponsor Organization: Galeria De La Raza
This multi-platform, half-hour animated documentary and interactive graphic novel traces key moments of colonial California and the making of the West from Native and Latina/o perspectives. The documentary uses cartoons, music and humor to weave an alternative social history of California.

Project Directors: Eugene Yi and Julie Ha
Sponsor Organization: International Documentary Association
Free Chol Soo Lee tells the story of a Korean American immigrant wrongfully convicted of a 1973 Chinatown gangland murder, and the activists who form a historic pan-Asian American movement to free him.

Project Director: Grace Lee
Sponsor Organization: Visual Communications
This interactive web documentary is designed to offer new and timely perspective on the 1992 Los Angeles riots, seen specifically through the lens of the experience of LA’s Korean American community. KTWON 92’s launch will coincide with the 25th anniversary of the civil unrest.

Project Director: Midge Costin
Sponsor Organization: International Documentary Association
Making Waves explores the history, art and science of sound in California’s motion picture industry and offers an entry point to understanding the degree to which the human experience is shaped by what we hear.

Project Directors: Hana Baba and Leila Day
Sponsor Organization: Left of Center Art Gallery and Studio
The Stoop is a podcast and radio series produced for San Francisco’s KALW featuring stories about black identity and examining issues of race and culture among African American and African immigrant communities.

Project Director: Jane Greenberg
Sponsor Organization: Interfaze Educational Productions, Inc.
The Surrender of Waymond Hall is an hour-long film exploring questions of race, justice and redemption as a young Oakland man turns himself in to face the consequences of a crime committed a decade earlier.

Project Director: Debbie Lum
Sponsor Organization: Catticus Corporation
TRY HARDER! follows students in their senior year at San Francisco’s iconic Lowell High School, a rigorous, "college-preparatory" public school, where admission is competitive and merit-based, and sheds light on the intense pressures faced by many students in America today.

UNSETTLED: The Refugee and Asylum Documentary Project
Project Director: Tom Shepard
Sponsor Organization: Tides Foundation
This 90-minute film documents the experiences of refugees and asylum seekers from Africa and the Middle East as they seek resettlement in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Research & Development Grants


Project Director: Renee Tajima-Peña
Sponsor Organization: Regents of the University of California
The Asian Americans is a 6-hour primetime television series produced for PBS that looks at ways in which the Asian experience in California and the United States illuminates the larger American story.

Project Director: David Grabias
Sponsor Organization: Los Angeles Filmforum
This portrait of the Portuguese American community in California’s Central Valley explores the cultural traditions and religious celebrations that help maintain a sense of identity for this farming community coping with an evolving agricultural industry and economy.

Project Director: Alix Blair
Sponsor Organization: San Francisco Film Society
An intimate portrait of political renegade, war hero, environmental champion and ex-Republican Congressman Pete McCloskey, who, with his fiery younger wife Helen, continues to defy political expectations at age 89.

Project Director: Sara Terry
Sponsor Organization: International Documentary Association
As the American dream of home ownership becomes increasingly difficult for many in California, this film explores the last accessible frontier in housing and the changing American stereotype of mobile home parks.

Grants Awarded in 2016

Production Grant Awards 

The Pushouts 
Director: Sharon Tiller, Sponsor: Center for Investigative Reporting

The Pushouts tells the story of once gang-involved teen and now celebrated University of California professor Victor Rios, examining the role positive mentorship can play in disrupting the school to prison pipeline.

Lost L.A. 
Director: Hugh McHarg, Sponsor: University of Southern California Department of Contracts and Grants

Lost L.A., a co-production of USC Libraries and KCETLink, explores hidden and all-but lost aspects of Southern California’s environmental and social history, including the origins of iconic locations like Dodger Stadium, downtown Los Angeles, its freeway system, and the now-paved-over canals of Venice.

The First Day of the Rest of Your Life 
Director: David Lalé, Sponsor: Hartley Film Foundation 

The First Day of the Rest of Your Life documents the rise and fall of Synanon, a drug and alcohol recovery-based alternative community founded in 1970’s Los Angeles. Through interviews with former members the film delves deeply into the idea of community and California’s role as an epicenter of social experimentation.

How to Have an American Baby  
Director: Leslie Tai, Sponsor: From the Heart Productions, Inc.

How to Have an American Baby examines the phenomenon of “birth tourism” in Southern California’s San Gabriel Valley. Set primarily in a community known in parts of China as “the City of Big-bellied Women,” the film tells the stories of Chinese women who travel to the U.S. to give birth in order to obtain US citizenship for their babies and the “baby hotels” that accommodate them.

Oscar Zeta Acosta: The Brown Buffalo 
Director: Phillip Rodriguez, Sponsor: CCNMA: Latino Journalists of California

Oscar Zeta Acosta: The Brown Buffalo documents the life and legacy of the Chicano writer, lawyer, and activist who has best been remembered in popular culture for his fictionalized depiction as Dr. Gonzo in Hunter S. Thompson’s classic novel, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

The Specialist  
Director: Casey Miner, Sponsor: Bay Area Video Coalition

The Specialist is a radio series and podcast examining the changing nature of work as told through the experiences of the people doing the labor. The series reveals hidden stories of essential though behind-the-scenes jobs and examines the impact of a labor market that increasingly employs people for part-time, contract-based work.

Curse of the Mutant Heirloom  
Directors: Debra Schaffner and Julie Wyman, Sponsor: Women Make Movies, Inc.

Curse of the Mutant Heirloom tells the story of women who have been diagnosed with the BRCA genetic mutation, or a hereditary predisposition for breast and ovarian cancer. Through the experiences BRCA “previvors”, the film addresses issues of health, gender, and the ethical questions raised by medicine’s increasing capabilities.

Fire on The Hill  
Director: Brett Fallentine, Sponsor: Creative Visions Foundation

Fire on The Hill tells the unexpected story of Compton, California’s African American cowboys and the fight to preserve their community and stable, one of the last remaining vestiges of the Old West in modern day Los Angeles.

Chasing Voices: J.P. Harrington and the Revival of Native Languages  
Director: Daniel Golding, Sponsor: Advocates for Indigenous California Language Survival

Chasing Voices: J.P. Harrington and the Revival of Native Languages is a documentary film about the Native American language revitalization movement and the anthropologist who in the early 1900s created an invaluable archive by recording many of the last Native American language speakers.

Diamond Diplomacy: U.S. Japan Relations Through a Shared Love of Baseball (film)
Director: Yuriko Romer, Sponsor: Center for Independent Documentary

Diamond Diplomacy: U.S. Japan Relations Through a Shared Love of Baseball documents the complex cultural and political relationship between the United States and Japan, as seen through both countries’ long and intertwined history of baseball.

No Straight Lines: 4 Decades of Queer Comics 
Director: Vivian Kleiman, Sponsor: Catticus Corporation

No Straight Lines chronicles the story of LGBTQ comics and provides a unique window into the hopes, fears, and fantasies of LGBTQ people through four decades, from Stonewall, to the AIDS crisis, to same sex marriage.


Director: John Jota Leaños, Sponsor: Galeria De La Raza

¡Eureka! is a half-hour animated documentary and interactive graphic novel that uses cartoons, music, and humor to weave an alternative social history of California, tracing key moments of colonial California and the making of the West from Native and Latina/o perspectives.

Free Chol Soo Lee 
Director: Eugene Yi and Julia ha, Sponsor: The K.W. Lee Center for Leadership

Free Chol Soo Lee explores the little-known story of Korean American Chol Soo Lee, whose wrongful conviction of a 1973 murder sparked an unprecedented pan-Asian American social justice movement. More than 40 years later, the film looks at the legacy of this case and its role in forging a community.

Leaving the Dust  
Director: Zoë Meyer and Sarah Craig, Sponsor: Sustainable Markets Foundation

Leaving the Dust is a multimedia project that documents stories of climate migration due to drought in California, looking at the human stories behind the statistics and exploring the role environmental conditions play in patterns of instability and displacement throughout the Central Valley. 

Living in the Shadows of Serra  
Director: Nanobah Becker, Sponsor: Sacred Places Institute for Indigenous People

Living in the Shadows of Serra explores the complex relationship between California Native Nations and the Mission System, as contemporary descendants of the Acjachemen people and others reflect on the legacy of Junipero Serra.


Production Grant Awards

ArtBound at the Border 
Director: Juan Devis, Sponsor: KCET
A multi-platform documentary series exploring the arts, culture, and social movements of the San Diego and Tijuana border-region produced for online distribution and television broadcast on KCET and Link TV.

Ishi's Return (formerly known as Indians: An Unexpected Story)
Director: Chris Eyre, Sponsor: Katahdin Foundation, Inc.
An historical documentary about five individuals—Luther Standing Bear, Carlos Montezuma, Zitkala-Ša, Charles “Chief” Bender, and Ishi—who helped shape our understanding about what it meant to be Native American in the first quarter of the 20th century.

The Intersection: Bay Area at a Crossroads
Director: David Boyer, Sponsor: Independent Arts & Media
A radio documentary series that explores the impact of the current economic boom on the San Francisco Bay Area by producing sound portraits in communities centered around six vastly different street intersections.

Living Condition
Directors: Dee Hibbert-Jones & Nomi Talisman, Sponsor: Bay Area Video Coalition
An interactive, animated web-documentary telling the stories of families with a relative on death row as they grapple with the tragedy and stigma of violent crime, incarceration, and execution.

The Mojave Project
Director: Kim Stringfellow, Sponsor: Pasadena Arts Council
A transmedia documentary exploring the social, cultural, and physical landscape of the Mojave Desert: a vast, seemingly remote region spanning 45,000 square miles that paradoxically is considered one of the world’s most urbanized deserts.

#NailedIt: Vietnamese & the Nail Industry
Director: Adele Free Pham, Sponsor: Third World Newsreel
A chance encounter in 1975 between 20 Vietnamese women and actress Tippi Hedren at a refugee camp in California lead to the founding of the first Vietnamese nail school.  #NailedIt explores the rise and near-dominance of Vietnamese Americans in today’s multibillion-dollar nail industry.

Romeo is Bleeding
Director: Jason Zeldes, Sponsor: San Francisco Film Society
A portrait of life in inner-city America told through the eyes of 23-year-old Donté Clark: poet, playwright, educator, and activist from Richmond, CA. Donté’s latest production is an urban adaptation of “Romeo and Juliet" set among Richmond’s gang-fueled turf wars titled “Te’s Harmony.”

Sanson and Me
Director: Rodrigo Reyes, Sponsor: Media Arts Center San Diego
A coming-of-age story that weaves together the stories of two Mexican immigrants in California’s Central Valley with parallel but starkly contrasting lives: one is a country-boy serving a life sentence for a murder conviction, and the other a middle-class intellectual from Mexico City.

Setting the Word on Fire 
Directors: David Brown & Ray Telles, Sponsor: San Francisco Film Society
A film about the life and works of Alejandro Murguía, from his involvement in the earliest days of the Chicano Movement of the 1960s to his appointment as San Francisco's first Latino Poet Laureate.

United Skates
Directors: Dyana Winkler & Tina Brown, Sponsor: Film Forum, Inc.
This character-driven film explores the rich history and culture of roller skating in African American communities across the United States.

Research & Development Grant Awards

American Veda Documentary Project
Director: Lisa Leeman, Sponsor: International Documentary Association
This multi-platform documentary project explores how precepts and practices from ancient India have influenced American life, from the Transcendentalists to the ’60s counterculture to today's Yoga trend.

In-Between Places
Director: Aggie Ebrahimi Bazaz, Co-Director: Andrew Bateman, Sponsor: Independent Arts & Media
A study of migrant farmworker families living in segregated housing communities in California’s San Joaquin Valley that explores how people living in ongoing conditions of veritable statelessness make a home and develop community.  

My Name is Waymond Hall
Director: Jane Greenberg, Sponsor: Interfaze Educational Productions, Inc.
A redemption story of a young black fugitive on the run for a crime he committed a decade ago, this verité documentary follows Way as he wrestles with the excruciating decision to turn himself in and grapples with a criminal justice system accused of discriminating against people just like him.

My Tiger Mom
Director: Debbie Lum, Sponsor: Catticus Corporation
Filmed in the high-pressure setting of competitive high schools in the San Francisco Bay Area, this film examines the social, cultural, and gender dynamics behind the stereotype of so-called "Tiger Mothers.” This intimate story asks: what is the price we pay for success and achievement today?


Production Grant Awards 

The Return, $50,000 (film)
Project Directors: Katie Galloway and Kelly Duane de la Vega
Sponsor: Loteria Films
The Return is film and multimedia project that examines the impact of the recent passage of Proposition 36 and the amendment of California’s Three Strikes Law to exclude nonviolent offenders. The film will follow individuals and families affected by Prop 36 over two years and document a pivotal moment in American criminal justice.

The California Tribal Justice Project, $40,000 (film)
Project Director: Anne Makepeace
Sponsor: The Morris & Ruth B. Cowan Foundation
The California Tribal Justice Project (working title) is a feature-length documentary about the female chief justices of California’s two largest tribes, Yurok and Quechan, who are working to reintroduce traditional cultural values back into the courtroom. Through focusing primarily on the tribes’ community-based legal processes and restorative justice models, the film provides an illustrative contrast to California’s current state justice system.

California Foodways (fka Edible Atlas: California Food Stories, County by County), $40,000 (radio)
Project Director: Lisa Morehouse
Sponsor: The Kitchen Sisters Productions
Edible Atlas is a radio and web series documenting the stories of food and the lives and culture of the people who produce it throughout the state of California. These evocative, sound-rich stories will be broadcast statewide on KQED’s The California Report and nationally through other NPR strands.

Real Boy, $40,000 (film)
Project Director: Shaleece Haas
Sponsor: San Francisco Film Society
Real Boy follows 19-year-old Bennett through the first two years of gender transition. With California at the center of the struggle for transgender rights and visibility, this film provides a window into a complex and emotionally-charged topic and sheds light on the growing community of trans youth.

Frank Wong's Chinatown, $30,000 (film)
Project Director:  James Q. Chan
Sponsor: Reflective Images, Inc.
Frank Wong's Chinatown (working title) tells the story of an 80-year-old long-time resident of San Francisco’s Chinatown who documents his memories of the community by building detailed miniature models of the neighborhood’s streets and establishments as they looked in the 1940s.The film is both a portrait of a skilled artist as well as a meditation on history, memory, and preserving one’s own legacy.

Geographies of Kinship - The Korean Adoption Story, $30,000 (film)
Project Director: Deann Borshay Liem
Sponsor: Mu Films
Geographies of Kinship is a feature-length documentary about Korean adoption and the legacy of the Korean War. As the film follows adoptees in California and internationally searching for their roots, reconnecting with birth families, or seeking community among other adoptees, it raises broader questions about race, family, and transnational adoption.

Mad as Hell!: Howard Jarvis, Prop. 13 and the Birth of the Tax Revolt, $30,000 (film)
Project Director: Jason Cohn
Sponsor: Catticus Corporation
Mad as Hell! is a 60-minute documentary about anti-tax activist Howard Jarvis, California’s Proposition 13, and the campaign that launched the American tax revolt. While focusing primarily on the details of Jarvis and the grassroots anti-tax campaign, the film also encourages a deeper understanding of the initiative process and the roots of contemporary tax revolts.

The Ovarian Psycos, $30,000 (film)
Project Director: Joanna Sokolowski & Kate Trumbull-LaValle 
Sponsor: Women Make Movies, Inc.
The Ovarian Psycos is a feature-length documentary about an irreverently named all-female bicycle collective that formed to protest violence against women in their East Los Angeles communities. Inspired and informed by the Chicano/a Movement of the 1960s and ’70s, the group represents a new generation of grassroots activism by young women of color.

Breathin': the Eddy Zheng Story, $20,000 (film)
Project Director: Ben Wang
Sponsor: Chinese for Affirmative Action
This one-hour documentary follows Chinese immigrant Eddy Zheng after he’s released from two decades in prison and awaiting possible deportation due to his immigration status. In addition to Zhen’s story, the film addresses complex questions of imprisonment and restorative justice, immigration and immigrant rights, and the Asian American “model minority” myth.

Research & Development Awards

The Brown Buffalo Project, $10,000 (film)
Project Director: Phillip Rodriguez
Sponsor: About Productions
The Brown Buffalo Project will tell the story of Oscar Zeta Acosta, a writer, lawyer, and activist, who—despite being a well-known figure in the Chicano Movement—is better known today for his fictionalized role in Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. The film will explore Acosta’s colorful biography, his historical and literary contributions to American Latinos, and his legacy.

California Green Fire, $10,000  (film)
Project Director: Mark Kitchell
Sponsor: San Francisco Film Society
California Green Fire will document California’s environmental movement and tell stories of conservation such as the generations-long effort to save redwood forests, alternative ecology movements and organic agriculture, and attempts at the grassroots and legislative levels to control pollution. This film is a companion to the Cal Humanities-supported documentary A Fierce Green Fire.

Lai Lai, $10,000 (film)
Project Director: Laura Nix
Sponsor: International Documentary Association
Lai Lai is a feature documentary about a ballroom dance studio in suburban Los Angeles where people of Chinese, Taiwanese, European, and Russian ethnicities and cultures mix, creating a portrait of a dance studio and its clientele that illustrates the richness of cultural diversity of Southern California.

The Mojave Project, $10,000 (new media)
Project Director: Kim Stringfellow
Sponsor: Mojave Desert Heritage and Culture Association
The Mojave Project is an experimental transmedia documentary exploring the physical, geological and cultural landscape of the Mojave Desert. The Mojave Project reconsiders and establishes multiple ways in which to interpret this unique and complex landscape through association and connection of seemingly unrelated sites, themes, and subjects thus creating a speculative and immersive experience for its audience. The Mojave Project will materialize as project progresses over time with its production and research made transparent for its audience at and its partner co-publisher, KCET Artbound.



  • American Reds: The Failed Revolution, $20,000 (film)
    Project Director: Richard Wormser
    Sponsor: Catticus Corporation
    This two-part television documentary chronicles the history, significance, and decline of the Communist Party USA. The film will include California subject matter such as the Party’s efforts to unionize San Joaquin Valley cotton workers in 1933, its role in Upton Sinclair’s run for California governor in 1934, and the San Francisco general strike of 1934.
  • Artbound, $20,000 (new media)
    Project Director: Juan Devis
    Sponsor: KCET-Community Television of Southern California
    Artbound is an innovative new transmedia series documenting arts and culture in Southern and Central California. The series employs over 50 writer/bloggers throughout 11 counties to create long-form multimedia articles that are then distributed via the web, and/or are produced into short-form video documentary for television broadcast.
  • Body Politics: The Sterilization Digital Archive, $15,000 (new media)
    Project Director:  Virginia Espino
    Sponsor: Visual Communications
    This interactive web-based documentary and digital archive is a collaboration between media producers, historians, and archivists at UCLA’s Chicano Studies Research Center that maps histories of coercive sterilization practices in California, the United States, and abroad. Through video testimonies, primary documents, and humanities scholarship, website users will be immersed in an alternative history of women's reproductive rights as it relates to immigration, race, and economic status.
  • Free for All: Inside the Public Library, $45,000 (film)
    Project Directors: Dawn Logsdon and Lucie Faulknor
    Sponsor: Video Veracity, Inc.
    Free For All is a feature-length documentary that investigates the history, culture, and significance of the public library in American life by chronicling a year inside the busy San Francisco Public Library. With public libraries around California and the nation facing uncertain futures, the film will challenge viewers to reflect on universal values of literacy, civic good, access to knowledge, diversity and democracy.
  • The Killing Fields of Dr. Haing S. Ngor, $50,000 (film)
    Project Director: Arthur Dong
    Sponsor: Dr. Haing S. Ngor Foundation
    This 82-minute film tells the story of Dr. Haing S. Ngor, Cambodian genocide survivor and Academy Award-winning actor for his role in The Killing Fields. His 1996 murder in Los Angeles brought new attention to the large Cambodian refugee community in California and raised concern over the lasting impact of the Khmer Rouge.
  • Kathleen Cleaver and The Black Panther Symphonies, $20,000 (film)
    Project Director: Manthia Diawara
    Sponsor: National Black Programming Consortium
    In this one-hour documentary, former Black Panther Kathleen Cleaver reflects on the trajectory of her past—from an international upbringing, to student activism with SNCC, to her move to California and early participation in the Black Panther Party, to four years of political exile in Algeria—and offers a new perspective on a turbulent era of racial and political activism.
  • Perry v. Schwarzenegger, $40,000 (film)
    Project Director: Ryan White
    Sponsor: Southern Documentary Fund
    This 90-minute film is a behind-the-scenes look at two famous American litigators from opposite sides of the political spectrum who have joined forces in an historic lawsuit for federal marriage equality as California’s Proposition 8 is argued before the Supreme Court. With unparalleled access to the lawyers and plaintiffs, this documentary will offer unique insight into the American justice system and the Supreme Court.
  • Roots & Webs, $40,000 (film)
    Project Director: Sara Dosa & Josh Penn
    Sponsor: San Francisco Film Society
    This feature-length film reflects on questions of memory, war, family, and survival as it documents an unlikely community of California-based Southeast Asian refugees and Vietnam War veterans that are drawn together for an annual mushroom hunt.
  • Sonic Trace, $40,000 (radio)
    Project Director: Anayansi Diaz-Cortes
    Sponsor: KCRW
    Sonic Trace is a public radio project that explores the stories of Latin American immigrants in Los Angeles and across the border. Radio stories will be accompanied by web-based videos, photos, and maps incorporating geographic and demographic data.
  • Turn it Around, $20,000 (film)
    Project Director: Dawn Valadez
    Sponsor: San Francisco Film Society
    This film documents the experiences of two young aspiring educators as they go through an alternative "Grow Your Own" teacher training program designed to staff underserved schools. Through associated interactive web and mobile applications, the project plans to inspire dialogue and understanding about the role of teachers in California public schools.



  • Kashaya/Fort Ross Film Project, $10,000 (film)
    Project Director: Rick Tejada-Flores
    Sponsor: Interfaze Educational Productions
    This one-hour documentary explores the unique relationship between the Kashaya Pomo people of Northern California and the Russian Fort Ross Settlement between 1812 and 1840. The film follows a delegation of Kashaya who travel to Russia to search for artifacts and the descendants of Kashaya women and children who had been taken to Russia when the settlers left.
  • Living Condition, $10,000 (new media)
    Project Directors: Dee Hibbert-Jones and Nomi Talisman
    Sponsor: Bay Area Video Coalition
    This animated, interactive, web-based documentary encourages viewers/users to reflect on questions of morality, economics, race, and justice as it examines the impact of capital punishment on families and communities. Funding is requested to support consultation with humanities advisors and establishing a community advisory board.
  • Model City, $10,000 (film)
    Project Director: Lev Anderson
    Sponsor: International Documentary Association
    Model City is a feature-length film that examines the history and social and physical contours of Irvine, CA. As a study of place, community, and policy, the film reflects on questions public vs. private, economic and cultural diversity, urban planning and the built environment, and notions of utopia.
  • Splitting the Second: The Brilliant, Eccentric Life of Eadweard Muybridge, $10,000 (film)
    Project Director: Jackie Krentzman
    Sponsor: Inside Out Media
    This 60-minute documentary film will explore the life, work, and legacy of one of the photographic pioneers of the 19th century, Eadweard Muybridge. Muybridge’s photography changed the way in which we see the world and had a significant impact on art, technology, industry, cinema, and our basic understanding of California and the American West.
  • Wherever There's a Fight: Radio Stories of Unsung Heroes, $10,000 (radio)
    Project Director: Laura Saponara
    Sponsor: Heyday
    This documentary radio series will tell the stories of individuals profiled in the book Wherever There's A Fight: How Runaway Slaves, Suffragists, Immigrants, Strikers and Poets Shaped Civil Liberties in California. Funding is requested to refine content and develop a stylistic approach that will lay the groundwork for a longer series produced for public radio.



  • Adios Amor - The Search for Maria Moreno, $40,000 (film)
    Project Director: Laurie Coyle
    Maria Moreno was an under-recognized organizer who put almost everything at risk to fight for migrant farm workers’ rights 50 years ago. This one-hour documentary interweaves the filmmaker's quest to find out what became of Maria with a journey through California's agricultural belt and historical archives. Through a little documented migrant mother's life, Adios Amor tells a story about the struggle of migrant workers, while exploring the question of whose lives are remembered by history.
  • Another California: Loggers, Hippies and Immigrants in the State's Small Towns, $35,000 (radio)
    Project Director: Lisa Morehouse
    California’s small towns developed around the economies that built our state—mining, logging, oil drilling, agriculture—but as these industries change or disappear, how will these towns survive? Another California is an audio documentary and multi-media project featuring voices and stories from California’s small towns as they grapple with change. Through short feature stories airing on KQED’s "California Report," an hour-long documentary, and an interactive website, this project will explore issues that are often overshadowed by those of California's urban and political centers.
  • California Indians: We're Still Here, $15,000 (new media)
    Project Director: Christiaan Klieger
    California Indians: We’re Still Here will record, contextualize, and deliver by podcast and web-based video oral histories of individuals from California’s more than 150 native tribes. Produced in conjunction with The California Museum’s recently opened gallery, “California Indians: Making a Difference,” the program will highlight the survival and contemporary achievements of the state’s native peoples and work to challenge pervasive stereotypes.
  • Dorothea Lange: Grab a Hunk of Lightning, $50,000 (film)
    Project Director: Dyanna Taylor
    Dorothea Lange’s iconic photographs have come to define critical eras of American history—the Great Depression, the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, and the unprecedented growth and change of postwar society. This 90-minute documentary will incorporate new scholarship and previously unseen archival materials to explore Lange’s life, work, and mark on history. Directed by Lange's granddaughter, Grab a Hunk of Lightning will be broadcast nationally on the PBS series American Masters in 2013.
  • John Brown's Body at San Quentin Prison, $44,000 (film)
    Project Director: Joe De Francesco
    In 2002, after three years of work, a group of primarily African American inmates at San Quentin Prison staged a performance of “John Brown's Body,” an epic poem about race, slavery, freedom, and the Civil War. Ten years later, John Brown's Body at San Quentin Prison revisits the participants and reflects on questions of race, justice, and incarceration. The hour-long film will follow former inmates as they reenter society, as well as those who are still in prison.
  • Line in the Sand, $40,000 (film)
    Project Director: Kevin McKiernan
    For members of California’s Yurok, Hoopa, and Karuk tribes, the 1973 confrontation between federal authorities and members of the American Indian Movement at Wounded Knee, South Dakota was a pivotal event in the resurgence of tribal culture and pride. Now, almost 40 years later, Line in the Sand will explore the legacy of Wounded Knee and examine its role in guiding Northern California tribes’ efforts to retain and restore cultural and environmental practices.
  • Mrs. Judo: Be Strong, Be Gentle, Be Beautiful, $30,000 (film)
    Project Director: Yuriko Romer
    Keiko Fukuda is 98 years old and the highest-ranked woman in judo’s history. Be Strong, Be Gentle, Be Beautiful is a one-hour film highlighting the unique details of Fukuda’s life—her introduction to judo in 1934, life in Tokyo during World War II, participation in the 1964 Olympics, immigration to the United States, and many years of teaching in the San Francisco Bay Area—while also examining her defiance of stereotypes and culturally-defined roles for women.
  • Redemption, $44,000 (film)
    Project Director: Amir Soltani
    For a number of residents in Dogtown, one of Oakland’s poorest neighborhoods, income from collecting and recycling others’ trash is a primary source of income. To other residents, however, recycling only adds to the dirt and noise in the community. Redemption is an 80-minute film that explores the complex dynamics of race, class, and systemic poverty as it tells the story of four recyclers who struggle to survive in a neighborhood already decimated by unemployment, addiction, and violence.
  • Siqueiros: Walls of Passion, $20,000 (film)
    Project Director: Lorena Manríquez
    In the 1930s, the controversial mural “América Tropical" on Los Angeles’ Olvera Street was whitewashed over for its political content and its artist, David Alfaro Siqueiros, was deported from the country. Siqueiros: Walls of Passion is a one-hour documentary about the life and work of Siqueiros and tells how, as the whitewash faded in the 1960 and 1970s, “América Tropical" became a symbolic inspiration for the growing Chicano Movement.
  • Spirits of Rebellion: Black Cinema at UCLA, $20,000 (film)
    Project Director: Zeinabu Davis
    Spirits of Rebellion documents the lives and work of a small group of critically acclaimed, but relatively unknown group of Black filmmakers and media artists known as the Los Angeles Rebellion. Formed while students at UCLA and inspired by the social, political, and cultural dynamics of 1970s Los Angeles, the group was the first sustained movement in the United States by a collective of minority filmmakers to represent, reflect upon, and enrich the day-to-day lives of people in their own communities.
  • A Wild Woman Sings the Blues, $20,000 (radio)
    Project Director: Ian Ruskin
    A Wild Woman Sings the Blues is a one-hour radio documentary about singer, songwriter, activist, and impresario Barbara Dane. Closely associated with the Los Angeles and San Francisco folk and blues communities, her story reflects the integral role music has played in American social and protest movements since the 1950s.


  • American Reds: The Failed Revolution, $7,000 (film)
    Project Director: Richard Wormser
    American Reds: The Failed Revolution is a 90-minute television documentary examining the history, significance, and decline of the Communist Party USA. Funding is provided to research California subject matter, such as the Party’s efforts to unionize San Joaquin Valley cotton workers in 1933, its role in Upton Sinclair’s run for governor in 1934, and the San Francisco general strike of 1934.
  • Free For All: Inside the Public Library, $7,000 (film)
    Project Director: Dawn Logsdon
    Free For All is a feature-length documentary that will chronicle a year inside a busy urban public library, San Francisco Public Library. With public libraries around California and the nation facing drastic budget cuts and closures, the film investigates why Americans today are using their libraries more than ever before and assesses the high stakes for democracy if public libraries become extinct.
  • The Haing S. Ngor Film Project, $7,000 (film)
    Project Director: Arthur Dong
    Long Beach is home to the largest population of Cambodians outside Cambodia. Yet stories about this immigrant group in our state's history are relatively untold. To help fill this gap, The Haing S. Ngor Film Project will examine the life and experiences of Dr. Haing S. Ngor, a Khmer Rouge prison survivor who escaped to Los Angeles and unexpectedly won an Oscar for his role in The Killing Fields.
  • Marked for Life, $7,000 (new media)
    Project Director: Monika Navarro
    Marked for Life is a series of web-based documentary shorts that examines the challenges gang-affiliated youth face to change direction and become contributing members of a society that long ago gave up on them. From a young father trying to get himself removed from a gang injunction; to a single mother balancing sobriety, parenting, and her new job as a farmers’ market manager; to a parolee who is gradually removing his gang tattoos, the project will document the difficult process of leaving street life behind.
  • Memories to Light: Filipino American Home Movies, $7,000 (new media)
    Project Director: Stephen Gong
    Memories to Light: Filipino American Home Movies is a participatory transmedia initiative utilizing digital and social media, public engagement, interactive communal screenings, curated programs, web streaming, and a digital archive. Funding is provided to consult with humanities advisors with specialized expertise in Filipino American history and culture to further develop the project’s social and historical context.
  • Tales of California: Briggs, Bryant, Homophobia and the Coming Pandemic, $7,000 (new media)
    Project Director: Glenn McElhinney
    Tales of California will record and contextualize first-person accounts of the 1970-1982 "Golden Age" of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender experiences in California. Framed by the 1969 Stonewall Uprising and the advent of the AIDS crisis, this digital humanities project will produce video vignettes weaving together oral histories with LGBT Californians who shaped the era and archival footage as it traces the evolution of the movement from protest to celebration to tragedy.


  • Mrs. Judo: Be Strong, Be Gentle, Be Beautiful, $10,000
    Project Director: Yuriko Romer
    A public engagement grant was awarded to Mrs. Judo: Be Strong, Be Gentle, Be Beautiful (CDP 2012) to support the creation of discussion guides, an expanded website, community screenings, judo demonstrations, and discussions at museums and Buddhist temples throughout California.
  • Rebels With a Cause, $10,000
    Project Director: Nancy Kelly
    A public engagement grant was awarded to Rebels With a Cause (CDP 2008) to support a series of community screenings and panel discussions focusing on the film’s themes of history, economics, geography, and politics. The project will also create a mobile application in partnership with the Marin History Museum that highlights places of historical significance to the region’s environmental movement.
  • Wonder Women!: The Untold Stories of American Superheroines, $10,000
    Project Director: Kristy Guevara-Flanagan
    A public engagement grant was awarded to Wonder Women!: The Untold Stories of American Superheroines (CDP 2009 and 2010) to support the creation of WONDER CITY, an interactive game that encourages young female audiences to think critically about issues of gender and power. (Wonder Women!: The Untold Stories of American Superheroines will be broadcast nationally on the PBS series Independent Lens on March 2013.)



  • Agents of Change: Black Students and the Transformation of the American University, $40,000 (film)
    Project Director: Abby Ginzberg
    Agents of Change tells the story of African American students who in the late 1960s fought for and achieved more inclusive, relevant, and democratic education at American universities. From the strike at San Francisco State to protests at Cornell, the film examines the impact and historical legacy of this student action that led to the first university Ethnic and African American Studies programs, and raises questions about how far we have come in the intervening 40 years.
  • Big Joy Project, $20,000 (film)
    Project Director: Stephen Silha
    The Big Joy Project is a feature-length documentary about the life, work, and legacy of California poet and filmmaker James Broughton (1913-1999). Broughton was a central figure in the San Francisco Renaissance and pre-Beat era counterculture and remained a creative, playful, and provocative critic of mainstream American society throughout his life. 
  • Departures: Leimert Park/Little Tokyo, $20,000 (new media)
    Project Director: Juan Devis
    Departures: Leimert Park and Little Tokyo/Arts District are two new installments in KCET's online documentary series on the neighborhoods of Southern California. Leimert Park explores the heart of Los Angeles’ black arts scene and Little Tokyo/Arts District chronicles the city's historic Japanese American cultural district and neighboring arts enclave. Each episode features interactive murals, video portraits, and interviews with community members and humanities scholars about the cultural and historical significance of the neighborhood. 
  • From Ghost Town to Havana, $30,000 (film)
    Project Director: Eugene Corr
    From Ghost Town to Havana tells the story of a young West Oakland baseball team, their coach, and the role baseball plays as an alternative to the gangs and violence of their Ghost Town neighborhood. Informed by a humanities-based approach to issues of race, class, and masculinity, the film documents a unique and revealing cross-cultural experience as the team travels to Cuba to play baseball.
  • L.A. Rebellion Website, $20,000 (new media)
    Project Director: Jan-Christopher Horak
    The L.A. Rebellion Website will be a permanent interactive online resource on the “L.A. School of Black Filmmakers,” one of the first independent African American cinema movements that emerged in the late 1960s at UCLA Film School. Intended for use by students, scholars, and the general public, the site will contain essays, oral history interviews, and film excerpts and will work in tandem with the Archive's public screening series and touring exhibition of the same name.
  • Life After Life, $20,000 (film)
    Project Director: Tamara Perkins
    Life After Life is an intimate portrait of two life-term inmates with violent pasts as they return home after decades of incarceration and face an indifferent community and countless challenges. In documenting the process of the former inmates’ release and reintegration, the film examines the social and cultural dynamics behind California’s soaring incarceration rate. 
  • ¿Más Bebés?, $50,000 (film)
    Project Director: Renee Tajima-Peña
    ¿Más Bebés? explores the history of Mexican-origin women who were sterilized at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center during the late 1960s and 70s. The story will be told through the multiple perspectives of key participants in the events, and is contextualized by examining the history and contemporary issues of population measures in California, immigrants, and women's reproductive health.
  • Operation Popcorn, $30,000 (film)
    Project Director: David Grabias Operation Popcorn tells the story of Lo Cha Thao, a Hmong-American businessman in Fresno who got caught up in an alleged plot to launch a coup in Laos. The film follows Lo as he faces Federal terrorism charges and life in prison, and in the process, provides a unique and intimate portrait of a California refugee community and its complicated relationship with the United States. Operation Popcorn received CDP R&D funding in 2009.
  • Regarding Susan Sontag, $40,000 (film)
    Project Director: Nancy D. Kates
    Regarding Susan Sontag will be the first feature-length documentary on the late Susan Sontag (1933-2004). The film is a critical examination of Sontag’s life and work, addressing her public and often controversial roles as a writer and intellectual, as well her less well-known personal history that included a formative period in the San Francisco Bay Area. 
  • Ruben Salazar: Man in the Middle, $40,000 (film)
    Project Director: Phillip Rodriguez
    Ruben Salazar: Man in the Middle tells of story of the life and mysterious death of Ruben Salazar, a prominent 20th-century Mexican-American journalist. Central to the film is Salazar's transformation from a mainstream, middle-of-the-road reporter to a supporter and primary chronicler of the radical Chicano movement. The film will also embark on an in-depth investigation of his mysterious death – still an unresolved chapter in American history. Ruben Salazar received CDP R&D funding in 2010.
  • Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin, $20,000 (film)
    Project Director: Arwen Curry
    Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin is a feature-length documentary film exploring the life, roots, and ideas of the celebrated Bay Area-born writer Ursula K. Le Guin (1929-). Known primarily as the grande dame of science fiction and fantasy, Le Guin is also an established literary figure in the mainstream and a pioneer in feminist thought and activism. Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin received CDP R&D funding in 2009.
  • Zydeco Nation, $30,000 (radio)
    Project Director: Richard Ziglar
    Zydeco Nation is a one-hour, character-driven radio documentary on the zydeco community of northern California. The project explores issues surrounding the assertion and maintenance of ethnic identity through the re-creation of the musical culture of one's original home. Zydeco artists such as Queen Ida, Ray Stevens and André Thierry will be interviewed. Zydeco Nation (previously titled Zydeco in Northern California: Ethnic Identity in a Migrant Community) received CDP R&D funding in 2010.


  • Borderlands, $5,000 (film)
    Project Director: Carl Byker
    Borderlands will be a two-hour television documentary that takes viewers on a road-trip along the US-Mexico border. Hosted by writer and journalist Rubén Martínez, the film will explore the borderlands’ culture and history, reflecting on subjects ranging from the region’s pre-European society and culture to contemporary conflicts over immigration.
  • Chasing Voices: The Story of John Peabody Harrington and the Indigenous Language Revitalization Movement, $7,000 (film)
    Project Director: Daniel Golding
    Native American filmmaker Daniel Golding will produce a one-hour documentary examining the legacy of anthropologist John Harrington, who in the early 20th century recorded and preserved endangered California Indian languages. The film will also explore contemporary issues surrounding language survival among California's Indian tribes today.
  • Chinese Whispers: Mapping the Traces, $7,000 (new media)
    Project Director: Rene Yung
    Chinese Whispers: Mapping the Traces is an interactive, online mapping project that links historical information with contemporary folk memories of the Chinese in Sierra Nevada settlements who worked the mines and helped build the Transcontinental Railroad. Using locative media to bring together humanities research and vernacular content, the project will reframe the contributions of the early Chinese immigrants to the building of the West and connect local histories to the national narrative. 
  • Hunting Stories, $7,000 (film)
    Project Director: Singeli Agnew
    Hunting Stories is a character-driven documentary film about one of the oldest activities known to humans — hunting. The film will follow hunters in California and other regions of the United States as it seeks to answer the question, why do Americans hunt? By taking an observational and non-judgmental tone, the film will encourage viewers to reflect on questions of class, culture, politics, ethics, and our own relationship to the wild.
  • MAD! Howard Jarvis and the Birth of the Tax Revolt, $7,000 (film)
    Project Director: Jason Cohn
    MAD! Howard Jarvis and the Birth of the Tax Revolt chronicles the story of Howard Jarvis and the California campaign for Prop 13. While focusing primarily on the dramatic details of Jarvis and the campaign, the film will also encourage a deeper understanding of the initiative process and the roots of contemporary tax revolts.
  • Untitled Zaytuna Project, $7,000 (film)
    Project Director: Maryam Kashani
    This as yet untitled project will document over the course of a year the experiences of students and faculty at Berkeley’s Zaytuna College, the first accredited Muslim liberal arts college in North America. The film will document how amidst fears of homegrown terrorism and a changing America, Zaytuna students and teachers are negotiating Islam's past and its possible futures as they define what it is to be and become American Muslims. 


  • Claiming the Title: Gay Olympics on Trial, $10,000
    Project Director: Robert Martin
    Claiming the Title is a half-hour documentary film that tells the story of the US Supreme Court battle over a California athletic group’s right to hold a “Gay Olympics.” With the recent enactment of the California FAIR Education Act (SB 48) that mandates that public schools integrate “the role and contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans,” the project will develop standards-aligned curricula and an educational DVD version intended for use in 11th and 12th grade history and government classes. The materials will be targeted to roughly 1,800 high schools and address issues of equal rights, civics, and the workings of the Supreme Court.
  • Seeking Asian Female, $10,000
    Project Director: Debbie Lum
    Seeking Asian Female explores the dynamics of cross-cultural relationships through a very personal tale about love, migration, and “yellow fever.” The proposed engagement activities represent the preliminary stage of a more extensive campaign that aims to launch a national dialogue about race and gender, dismantle stereotypes, and strengthen and build communities invested in pluralism and multicultural understanding. Primary activities include the development of web-based resources such as online contributions from Asian American and women’s studies scholars, webisodes that provide additional context, and a series of focused test screenings and discussions that will help determine how to frame future activities for the most impact.
  • Squeezebox Stories, $10,000
    Project Director: Julie Caine
    Squeezebox Stories is a sound-rich, narrative-driven radio documentary that explores the social history and musical variation of the “ambassador of multiculturalism”: the accordion. With a primary goal to engage audiences beyond public radio listeners in a reflexive and collaborative learning process, public engagement activities include the development of an interactive companion website containing user-generated and repurposed audio content, educational curriculum and participatory workshops, and targeted distribution. Engagement partners include 826 Valencia, UC Berkeley, the California Association for Music Education, the Arhoolie Foundation, and the National Accordion Association.


The 2010 California Documentary Project production and research and development projects were made possible with support from Cal Humanities (then known as the California Council for the Humanities) in partnership with the Skirball Foundation.


  • Everyday Sunshine, $40,000 (film)
    Producers: Lev Anderson and Christopher Metzler
    Narrated by Laurence Fishburne, Everyday Sunshine follows the Black punk/funk band Fishbone from their roots in South Central LA to almost "making it," and, in the process, debunks myths about young Black men from urban America. The film explores the cultural forces that gave rise to the band’s hybridized musical style.
  • A Fierce Green Fire, $30,000 (film)
    Producer: Mark Kitchell
    A Fierce Green Fire is a feature-length documentary that provides an historical overview of environmentalism in the US. The film synthesizes the major issues, events, and eras of the environmental movement, including conservation’s defining battle over Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite and the founding of the Sierra Club.
  • Forty Winters, $50,000 (film)
    Director: Valarie Blue Bird Jernigan
    Forty years after American Indians occupied Alcatraz Island, one of the original activists seeks to re-ignite the American Indian movement by putting the political symbol of the occupation—the tipi—back on the island. Forty Winters is a story about the idealism and the aftermath of the movement as understood through one family’s struggle for cultural identity and survival.
  • The History of the Universe as Told by Wonder Woman, $40,000 (film)
    Director: Kristy Guevara-Flanagan; Producer: Kelcey Edwards
    The History of the Universe as Told by Wonder Woman documents the 67-year career of Wonder Woman and her transformation from comic book character to feminist icon. The film examines the mainstream media industry that creates and perpetuates images of women and also takes a critical look at our evolving values about women as agents of strength, authority, and leadership. 
  • Mobile Hi Fi, $10,000 (new media)
    Directors: Mike Blockstein and Reanne Estrada
    Mobile Hi Fi engages four generations of Los Angeles’ Historic Filipinotown (Hi Fi) community in an exploration of the neighborhood’s history and contemporary character. Digital media elements include locative media GPS guides and web-based, participatory, community-generated story content.
  • Seeking Asian Female, $30,000 (film)
    Director: Debbie Lum; Producer: Cianna Stewart
    Seeking Asian Female explores the dynamic of Asian female-White male outmarriage, cross-cultural relationships, and cultural stereotyping in the US. This self-reflexive tale, told through the filmmaker’s eyes, follows a complicated relationship between a Bay Area man and his young bride from China.
  • The Waiting Room, $20,000 (new media)
    Producer: Peter Nicks
    The Waiting Room is a multi-faceted social media/documentary hybrid that tells the story of Oakland’s Highland Hospital and the community that it serves. Incorporating web-based interactivity and a participatory story booth placed in the hospital’s waiting room, the project is a timely exploration into issues of access to quality health care.
  • WE WERE HERE: Voices from the AIDS Years in San Francisco, $40,000 (film)
    Director: David Weissman
    WE WERE HERE: Voices from the AIDS Years in San Francisco is the first film to take a deep and reflective look back at the impact of the AIDS epidemic in San Francisco. Based on interviews with people who were there at the outset, the film explores the first reaction to the crisis, the response by activists, and how the epidemic played a role in shaping the sociopolitical landscape of San Francisco.


  • Adios Amor-The Search for Maria Moreno, $7,000 (film)
    Producer: Laurie Coyle
    The discovery of forgotten photographs prompts a search for an unsung heroine—a tenacious woman who sacrificed everything but her twelve kids to organize California’s migrant farm workers 50 years ago. The film will trace Maria Moreno’s story through materials found outside the bounds of the sanctioned historical record and, in the process, raise questions about the inclusiveness of "official" histories.
  • Asian American Art Film