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2015 Pare Lorentz Documentary Fund Grantees Announced

By Lisa Hasko

Ten feature-length documentary films have been selected to receive a total of $195,000 from the Pare Lorentz Documentary Fund this year.

The Pare Lorentz Documentary Fund was created with support from The New York Community Trust to honor the legacy of legendary American documentary filmmaker Pare Lorentz. Grants are made to documentary projects that shed light on critical issues in the United States and focus on Pare Lorentz’s central concerns: the appropriate use of the natural environment, justice for all and the illumination of pressing social problems. 

This year the Fund received over 220 applications from across the US and around the world. The ten documentaries receiving production support focus on a variety of critical issues and were chosen for their artful storytelling, strong visual style and high production values, as well as their reflection of the spirit and nature of Pare Lorentz’s work. 

The documentaries receiving support from the Pare Lorentz Documentary Fund this year are:

The Bad Kids
Directors: Lou Pepe and Keith Fulton
At a remote Mojave Desert high school, extraordinary educators believe that empathy and life skills, more than academics, give at-risk students command of their own futures. This coming-of-age story watches education combat the crippling effects of poverty in the lives of these so-called "bad kids."

Director: Cassidy Friedman
A former football star and refugee of Hurricane Katrina shakes up a troubled West Oakland high school with his edgy and unorthodox approach to keeping Black and Latino kids in school.

Director: Derek Hallquist
Denial is a movie about electricity, about gender, about filmmaking, and about all the ways we lie to ourselves even when faced with overwhelming facts. It is the story of a family coming to terms with hard personal truths against the backdrop of a global crisis.

Mr. SOUL! Ellis Haizlip and the Birth of Black Power TV
Directors: Melissa Haizlip and Sam D. Pollard
Before Oprah, before Arsenio, there was Mr. SOUL! Ellis Haizlip makes television broadcast history with SOUL!, America's first "black Tonight Show."

Director: Kim A. Snyder
In the aftermath of the worst mass shooting of schoolchildren in American history, Newtown documents a traumatized community fractured by grief and driven toward a sense of purpose. Joining the ranks of a growing club to which no one wants to belong, a cast of characters within Newtown and beyond interconnect to weave an intimate story of community resilience.

Director: Jehane Noujaim
Radicals tells the harrowing story of ISIS from the perspective of the mothers of “foreign fighters”, as they attempt to grapple with the sudden and disruptive transformation of the world around them.

The Return
Directors: Kelly Duane De La Vega and Katie Galloway
At a moment of national reckoning on mass incarceration, what can California’s experiment teach the nation?

Rodents of Unusual Size
Directors: Quinn Costello, Chris Metzler, and Jeff Springer
A story about giant swamp rats invading coastal Louisiana and the defiant people on the edge of the world, who are defending their communities, culture, and livelihoods from the onslaught of this curious and unexpected invasive species.

Roll Red Roll
Director: Nancy Schwartzman
The story of a football town divided, Roll Red Roll is an true crime thriller examining sexual assault in small town America.

Whose Streets?
Directors: Damon Davis and Sabaah Jordon
A first-hand look at how the murder of a teenage boy became the last straw for a community under siege. Whose Streets? is a story of love, loss, conflict, and ambition; the journey of everyday people turned freedom fighters, whose lives intertwined with a burgeoning national movement for black liberation.

The Pare Lorentz Documentary Fund has now made grants of $575,000 to 30 films. Previous grantees include After Tiller, No Más Bebés, Remote Area Medical, Rich Hill and (T)ERROR.

More information about filmmaker this year’s grantees, please visit