IDA Pare Lorentz Documentary Fund Supports Three Projects with $75,000
Today, International Documentary Association (IDA) announced the 2023 Pare Lorentz Documentary Fund recipients for the 2023-24 grant cycle.
May the Soil Be Everywhere by director Yehui Zhao, Powwow People by director Sky Hopinka, and Uncharted by co-directors Ainlsee Alem Robson and Kidus Hailesilassie were selected out of 56 nominees to receive $75,000 in production and post-production grants.
Made possible by the New York Community Trust, the Pare Lorentz Documentary Fund has supported 72 documentary projects with $1,285,000 since 2011. The fund supports feature-length documentary films that reflect the spirit and nature of Pare Lorentz, the most influential documentary filmmaker of the Great Depression. Lorentz’s work exhibits objective research, artful storytelling, strong visual style, high production values, artistic writing, outstanding music composition, skillful direction, camerawork, and editing. A selection of Pare Lorentz’s films is available to stream free of charge at documentary.org
IDA’s Director of Funds, Keisha Knight, said, “As we have learned very well this year, change is constant. Our inclusion of immersive media and centering deeply compassionate, community-based, creative nonfiction storytelling is our effort to continue to meet the moment while remaining true to Pare Lorentz's legacy.”
Pare Lorentz Documentary Fund 2023 nominees were selected by IDA and three partner organizations representing different regions and constituencies in the documentary field: Union Docs (New York, NY), Mother Tongue Film Festival (Washington, DC), and Indie Memphis (Memphis, TN).
This year’s selection panel includes filmmaker & curator Cecilia Araneda; curator, programmer, and faculty member Jheanelle Brown; and filmmaker Amir George. In a statement, the panel noted: “In a moment where the world desperately needs to collectively reflect on what binds us together as communities, these three filmmakers take us on personal journeys examining the question, ‘where do we come from?’ These works expand upon the potential of what documentary filmmaking can be. They offer a call to action to move into personal spaces of meaning, asking us to reflect on how personal and public archives intersect and how our individual histories help us find new pathways in our current world and deepen our responsibility within it.”
The 2023 IDA Pare Lorentz Documentary Fund recipients are listed below in alphabetical order by project title.
May the Soil Be Everywhere
Director: Yehui Zhao | Producers: Sanya Yuan, Andrew Felsher | Country: USA, China
In a remote Chinese village, a peasant family survived wars, revolution, and a devastating famine. Hardship eventually forced the family to scatter. Against the backdrop of rapid urbanization, the filmmaker sets out to unearth her family’s enduring bond with this long-forgotten village hidden deeply in the vast mountain range of Loess Plateau.
Yehui Zhao is a multi-media artist whose work explores migration, decolonization, heritage and regeneration. As an immigrant born in China and living in the US, Yehui thinks of film as her third language. Her work takes root in the feminist legacies of the global south, drawing inspirations from revolutionary history, womanhood and daughtership, and communities’ collective memory. Yehui’s films have been featured at UnionDocs, DOC NYC, Prismatic Ground, Microscope Gallery, Asian American International Film Festival, Spain Moving Images Festival, Timeless Awards, Festival of Animated Objects, and other programs.
Director: Sky Hopinka | Producers: John Cardellino, Adam Piron | Country: USA
Powwow People is a feature-length documentary inviting viewers into the world of contemporary Native American powwow culture. Told through the lens of visual artist and filmmaker Sky Hopinka (Ho-Chunk/Pechanga), the film is an intimate portrait of a powwow organized, hosted, and documented through the production of this film. Website
Sky Hopinka (Ho-Chunk Nation/Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians) was born and raised in Ferndale, Washington and spent a number of years in Palm Springs and Riverside, California, Portland, Oregon, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In Portland, he studied and taught chinuk wawa, a language indigenous to the Lower Columbia River Basin. His video, photo, and text work centers around personal positions of Indigenous homeland and landscape, designs of language as containers of culture expressed through personal, documentary, and non fiction forms of media. His work has played at various festivals, including Sundance, Toronto International Film Festival, Ann Arbor, Courtisane Festival, Punto de Vista, and the New York Film Festival. His work was a part of the 2017 Whitney Biennial, the 2018 FRONT Triennial and Prospect.5 in 2021.
Co-Directors: Ainlsee Alem Robson, Kidus Hailesilassie | Country: USA, Ghana
Uncharted is an immersive dance performance inspired by 5,000 years of knowledge generation from the continent of Africa. Uncharted challenges current limitations on the concept and form of an archive by weaving together historical anecdotes, language, and performance with transcontinental unions of Black movement and sound. Uncharted reimagines archives as an experience of embodied collective memory in a virtual space.
Ainslee Alem Robson is an award-winning Ethiopian-American director, writer and media artist, and current Sundance-NEH Fellow. Her interdisciplinary practice involves an amalgam of film, installation, archival material, VR, and emerging technologies in digital art. Her commissions and collaborations have been exhibited by the New York Times, Vellum LA, Ars Electronica, MU, ZHdK, Forum des Images, and MoMA New York respectively. Most recently, Robson has been invited to the Curator’s Special Projects “Guests From the Future” at the 18th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia curated by Lesley Lokko.
Kidus Hailesilassie is an architect and speculative world builder whose practice intersects architecture and contemporary visual art. He focuses on hybrid forms of transcontinental expressions that reimagine and shape counter-narratives of Black consciousness. He is the creator of the Culture Archive, a multidimensional platform for research, think tanks, and dialogues that recenter the writing tapestry from African and diasporic writing systems. His recent project, the Uncharted Installation, an extension of the Culture Archive, won 2023 PitchBLACK by Black Public Media.