— 19 May 2014

Catapult Film Fund announces ten documentary films as recipients of its Spring 2014 development grants. Since launching in 2010, Catapult Film Fund has supported 47 films with grants and mentorship.

This Spring, Catapult has increased its grant capacity, giving development grants to ten new projects, up from seven in previous rounds.

“The applicant pool has increased dramatically each round highlighting the great need for development funding in the documentary field,” said Catapult Film Fund co-founder Lisa Kleiner Chanoff. “This round we received about 450 applications – including an increase in the number of high quality projects – so it has become more and more important for us to expand our reach and fund more projects. We hope to be able to fund at least 10 projects per round going forward.”

“The film projects receiving grants this round are incredibly diverse but they all have great story and narrative in common,” said Catapult Film Fund co-founder Bonni Cohen. “We are excited to see both seasoned filmmakers, like Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker, amongst the grantees along with emerging filmmakers like Alex Jablonski and Kahlil Hudson who already have an excellent track record.”

The Spring 2014 projects include stories about friendship between a Buddhist monk and a five year old orphan, a lawyer fighting for legal rights for primates, a unique boxing community on the south side of Chicago and a story of friendship between a suicidal activist and the filmmaker who is following him with a camera.

Catapult gives crucial early support to propel projects forward that hold the promise of a unique story that should be told in film.

The following film projects were chosen for funding:

A BLIND EYE, director Kirsten Johnson.  Drawing on footage she’s shot over the course of 25 years, documentary cinematographer Kirsten Johnson searches to reconcile her part in the thorny questions of permission, power, creative ambition, and human obligation that come with filming the lives of others.

AMERICAN WARLORD, director Tony Gerber. AMERICAN WARLORD details the journey of Charles Taylor’s American-born son “Chucky” from the suburban ghettos of Orlando, Florida to one of Africa’s most violent civil wars, charting his transformation from a troubled teenager with hip-hop ambitions to one of his father’s most feared enforcers.

GROWING UP IN OIL, director Anabel Rodriguez.  Congo Mirador is a small settlement built on stilts in the middle of Lake Maracaibo, Latin America’s largest oil field. The village is disappearing as it is turning into a swamp. GROWING UP IN OIL tells this story seen through the eyes of the children who are neglected and about to face the most radical change of their lives.

HAVEABABY.COM, director Amanda Micheli.  HAVEABABY.COM follows the controversial “I Believe” contest, sponsored by a successful in vitro fertilization clinic in Las Vegas. For millions of Americans, IVF may be their last resort to start a family, but for those without $20k to gamble on the unpredictable procedure, this social media sweepstakes is their only hope.

MAD AS HELL, director Jason Cohn.  MAD AS HELL tells the story of Howard Jarvis and his landmark California ballot measure, Proposition 13, which launched a 35-year national tax revolt and fundamentally altered the course of American politics.

TASHI AND THE MONK, directors Andrew Hinton and Johnny Burke.  Former Buddhist monk Lobsang left a life as a spiritual teacher in the US to create a unique community in the foothills of the Himalayas which rescues orphaned and neglected children. Five year-old Tashi is the newest arrival and she is struggling to find her place amongst 84 new siblings. The film follows Lobsang’s efforts to transform her alienation into the capacity to make her first real friend.

THE LAST GO ROUND, director Justin Schein.  THE LAST GO ROUND is a film about the friendship between an aging anti-war activist who has decided that his last political act will be to take his own life and a documentary filmmaker who is struggling to tell the story.

THE PUNCH, director Andre Hörmann.  THE PUNCH tells the dramatic story of a unique boxing community where two fathers and sons pursue their shared dreams for success in the ring, struggling against the odds in their troubled neighborhood on the Southside of Chicago.

UNLOCKING THE CAGE, directors Chris Hegedus and D A Pennebaker.  UNLOCKING THE CAGE follows attorney Steve Wise as he mounts what is perhaps the most revolutionary lawsuit for animal rights: the first lawsuits demanding legal personhood for four chimpanzees in New York State.

YOUNG MEN & FIRE, directors Alex Jablonski and Kahlil Hudson.  Unfolding over the course of one wildfire season in the American West, the film follows the lives of young firefighters irrevocably changed by one summer.

The grants announced today will allow the filmmakers to take crucial next steps in the development of their films, such as enabling a first shoot and editing pieces for production fundraising. In addition to the Catapult Film Fund grants, recipients have access to an informal mentorship program with Catapult’s co-founders, Bonni Cohen and Lisa Kleiner Chanoff, in areas including story development, production process, fundraising and distribution strategy.

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