With major support from XRM Media, the Catapult Research Grant is the newest expansion of Catapult Film Fund’s ongoing commitment to support nonfiction films and filmmakers.
This program provides a $10,000 grant plus six months of mentorship and professional development to five filmmakers in the early conception and research phase of developing a new film idea.
Too often filmmakers are expected to self-fund research and development on new projects. This can be a long and costly process. By offering research funding, the Catapult Research Grant can help sustain filmmakers during this early period while also reducing barriers to entry for a diverse slate of voices. By launching the Catapult Research Grant we hope to help contribute to filmmaker sustainability and diversity in the field.
XRM Media is an award-winning entertainment and media technology company dedicated to supporting, producing and financing diversity-driven, BIPOC content across all mediums with its global partners. XRM Media’s interests vary across all stages of the development, production, and distribution processes, including but not limited to, equity financing, co-financing, financial modeling and fund management.
Chris Filippone is a documentary filmmaker whose works have screened in Berlinale, Visions du Réel, SXSW, Hot Docs, Sheffield Doc/Fest, and on The New York Times Op-Docs. His films are aesthetically immersive, exploring social issues and themes around the survival economy, marginalized perspectives, and liminal spaces. He is a graduate of Stanford University’s M.F.A. Documentary Film program.
Sofian is an Emmy-nominated filmmaker and founder of Capital K Pictures. He directed, produced and shot THE INTERPRETERS, a feature-length documentary following Afghan and Iraqi interpreters being targeted for their work helping American forces that made its broadcast premiere on the 2019 season of PBS Independent Lens. His episode of the PBS American Masters series IN THE MAKING (2021), co-directed with Joseph Patel, received a Webby Award and an NAACP Image nomination. In 2022, Sofian directed an episode of the new series TAKEOUT WITH LISA LING on HBOMax and produced AN ACT OF WORSHIP under the Capital K Pictures banner, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and broadcasted on PBS' POV series. He was one of DOCNYC’s 40 Under 40 in 2019 and a Sundance Producing Fellow in 2019-2020. His short work has appeared on Field of Vision, The Atlantic, TOPIC, Al Jazeera and NBC Digital.
R.J. Lozada is a Filipino-American documentary filmmaker whose works have screened at Sundance, Tribeca, The New York Times, The Atlantic, and more. Lozada focuses his work on communities in flux, from those affected by America’s criminal justice system to the breadth of experiences in the Filipino diaspora. Lozada is a graduate of Stanford University’s M.F.A. Documentary Film program.
Sam Osborn is a filmmaker of Mexican-American descent. His debut feature-length documentary, Universe, was awarded Best Music Documentary by the International Documentary Association in 2021. His short film Folk Frontera was awarded the Jury Prize for Texas Short Film at SXSW 2022 and premiered on PBS’ The Latino Experience. His second film Going Varsity in Mariachi premiered at Sundance 2023 and won the Jonathan Oppenheim Editing Award for the U.S. Documentary Competition.
Alejandra Vasquez is a Mexican-American director and producer. Raised in rural Texas, Vasquez directed the short films “Folk Frontera,” winner of Best Texas Short at SXSW, and “When It’s Good, It’s Good,” co-produced with Latino Public Broadcasting. She cut her teeth on the producing side as part of the teams behind the award-winning features Matangi/Maya/M.IA. (2018) and Us Kids (2020) and is set to co-produce an upcoming feature directed by Nanfu Wang. Her directorial feature-length debut Going Varsity in Mariachi premiered at Sundance 2023.
Lauren Wimbush is a documentary filmmaker and archival researcher dedicated to telling thought-provoking stories featuring underrepresented characters and communities. Her work has been featured in theaters and on multiple networks including Hulu, OWN, PBS, BET and ABC. Her current projects include a short for MTV Documentaries and a series for NBC News Studios. A Dream Displaced is her directorial debut.
Farihah Zaman is a queer Bangladeshi-American filmmaker, critic, educator, and curator, whose award-winning work includes directing the films Remote Area Medical, To Be Queen, which is part of the Emmy-nominated New York Times Op-Doc series From Here to Home, and producing the Netflix Original, Ghosts of Sugar Land, which won a Grand Jury Prize at its Sundance Premiere in 2020 and was subsequently shortlisted for an Academy Award nomination. She is the Director of Grants and Fellowships for Brown Girls Doc Mafia, a nonprofit supporting women and nonbinary people of color working in nonfiction.
Ramona S. Diaz
Ramona S. Diaz is a Peabody and Emmy-award-winning Asian American filmmaker best known for her compelling character-driven documentaries that combine a profound appreciation for cinematic aesthetics and potent storytelling. Ramona’s films have demonstrated her ability to gain intimate access to the people she films - rock stars, first ladies, dissidents, teachers, or journalists – resulting in keenly observed moments and unforgettable nuanced narratives. Her films have been screened and won awards at Sundance, Berlin, Tribeca, SXSW, IDFA, HotDocs, and many other top-tier film festivals. All of Ramona’s feature-length independent films— Imelda (2004), The Learning (2011), Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey (2012) and, Motherland (2017), A Thousand Cuts (2020)—have been nationally broadcast on PBS, Arte, and the BBC amongst others. Ramona is both a Guggenheim Fellow and a USA Fellow – prestigious awards given to artists with singular visions who have significantly contributed to the arts in the United States. She was recently named the inaugural McGurn Family Trust Resident in Film by the American Academy in Rome. Ramona is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and the Producers and Writers Guilds of America. In 2017, she received a Women at Sundance Fellowship, a Creative Capital Award, and a Chicken & Egg Pictures Filmmaker Award. Ramona is a graduate of Emerson College and holds an MA from Stanford University.
Sara Dosa is an Indie Spirit Award-nominated nonfiction director and Peabody award-winning producer whose film work explores the human relationship to non-human nature often through tropes of allegory, myth and magic realism. Her work has been shown at festivals worldwide such as Sundance, SXSW, New Directors/New Films, CPH:DOX and Visions du Réel and has screened in partnership with museums such as the MOMA, BAMPFA and The Louvre. Most recently, Dosa directed Fire of Love, which premiered on Opening Night of Sundance 2022 where it won the Jonathan Oppenheimer Editing Award and was acquired by National Geographic Films and Neon for a 2022 release. Other directing titles include the Indie-Spirited Award nominated The Last Season a verité portrait of two Oregon veterans turned wild mushroom hunters; and the Golden Gate Award-winning The Seer & The Unseen, a magic realist fable about and Icelandic woman in communication with spirits of nature. Dosa's producing credits include the Peabody winning Audrie & Daisy (Sundance / Netflix 2016) and the Peabody and Emmy-nominated Survivors (IDFA / POV 2018). Dosa co-produced the Academy Award-nominated The Edge of Democracy (Sundance / Netflix 2019) as well as An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power (Sundance/Paramount 2017). In 2018, Dosa was named to the inaugural class of DOCNYC's "40 under 40" and was also inducted into the Academy of Motion Picture's Documentary Branch. She graduated with a high honors degree in anthropology from Wesleyan University and with a joint masters in cultural anthropology and international development studies from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Dosa lives and works in Berkeley, California.
Jacqueline Olive is an independent filmmaker with nearly twenty years of experience in journalism and film. Her award-winning debut feature documentary film, Always in Season, has received numerous honors including winner of the 2019 Sundance Festival Special Jury Prize for Moral Urgency and nominations for 2019 Best Writing from IDA Documentary Awards and Cinema Eye Honors. Always in Season broadcast on PBS on Independent Lens, in 2020 and was the highest rated film of the season. In addition to creating the 2022 Peabody Award-winning virtual reality, role-playing environment called Always in Season Island, Jackie has directed, produced, and written the documentary film, Death is Our Business, which broadcast on FRONTLINE/PBS and the WORLD Channel in February 2021, and executive produced and directed Lincoln’s Dilemma, a 4-part unscripted 2022 Apple TV series. After teaching film at the University of California, Santa Cruz through 2022, Jackie remains on the Central Coast of California happily making films and immersive media projects full-time.
David Osit is an Emmy and Peabody Award-winning director, editor and composer. His most recent film MAYOR won a Peabody and Emmy Award, was a New York Times Critics’ Pick, and holds a 100% Certified Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. David directed, produced, edited, filmed and composed the feature documentary Thank You For Playing, which broadcast on POV in 2016, and was nominated for three Emmy awards, winning for Outstanding Arts & Culture Documentary. He also edited and produced Off Frame, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and Berlinale in 2016, and he edited, produced and composed No Man’s Land, which premiered at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival and broadcast on PBS Independent Lens in 2018. David’s feature directorial debut, Building Babel, premiered at True/False in 2012 and broadcast as the series premiere of PBS’s America Reframed in 2013. His work as an editor and consulting editor includes Procession (Netflix), Crime + Punishment (Hulu) and The Vow (HBO). He holds a BA in Middle Eastern and North African Studies from the University of Michigan as a Wallenberg Fellow and studied Refugee Law at the American University in Cairo.
Kristine Samuelson is a documentary essayist; her films (made in collaboration with John Haptas) include Life Overtakes Me, Tokyo Waka, Barn Dance, The Days and The Hours, Riding the Tiger, The World as We Know It, Empire of the Moon, and Wrong Place, Wrong Time. These works have been screened at festivals worldwide, from Sundance and San Francisco to London, Mannheim, São Paulo, India, Australia, and South Korea and have appeared on PBS and at museums including New York MOMA. She is the Edward Crossett Emerita Professor of Humanistic Studies at Stanford University, where she taught in the Documentary Film and Video M.F.A. Program for thirty years. Professor Samuelson was first nominated for an Academy Award for Arthur and Lillie and, more recently, for Life Overtakes Me, which premiered at Sundance 2019, won Audience Awards at the Full Frame and Chicago Critics Film Festivals, and is currently streaming on Netflix.
Adaeze Elechi is an award-winning filmmaker, audio storyteller, and author focused on telling African and Black diaspora stories. Her works are influenced by her desire to better understand the ways individual and collective histories influence our present understanding of ourselves, as well as a desire to explore spaces of intimacy and softness within and between people.
Caitlyn Greene is an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker from the American South. She creates films that push boundaries to tell stories of our beautiful and bizarre existence.
Tracy Jarrett is a Peabody and Emmy-award winning documentary filmmaker whose vérité style storytelling has documented some of the most high-profile stories of the last decade.
Blair McClendon is a filmmaker, editor and writer living in New York.
Yvonne Michelle Shirley
Yvonne Michelle Shirley is a filmmaker based in Newark, NJ. She is Co-Founder of The Newarkive, an arts initiative centering the archives of Newark’s Black communities. She is also a member of the collective, New Negress Film Society.
Marilyn Ness is a two-time Emmy, Peabody, and DuPont Award-winning filmmaker and works as a director and producer. Ness is currently directing, producing, and the playwright for Post Mortem, an inter-disciplinary documentary and theatrical stage production.
Josh Penn is a producer with the Department of Motion Pictures. He produced BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD, which won the Sundance Grand Jury Prize, the Caméra d'Or at Cannes, and was nominated for four Academy Awards (including Best Picture). He has also held producing roles on features and Series including PHILLY D.A., MONSTERS AND MEN, PATTI CAKE$, WESTERN, THE GREAT INVISIBLE, BLOODY NOSE EMPTY POCKETS, WENDY and 32 SOUNDS among others.
Yoruba Richen is an award-winning documentary filmmaker whose work has been featured on multiple outlets including Netflix, MSNBC, FX, HULU, New York Times Op Doc, Frontline, The Atlantic and Field of Vision. Her recent films are the Emmy nominated How It Feels to Be Free which premiered on PBS’s American Masters and the Peabody and Emmy nominated The Sit In: Harry Belafonte Hosts the Tonight Show which is streaming on Peacock.
Nanfu Wang is an award-winning Chinese filmmaker based in the U.S. She is a recipient of the 2020 MacArthur Genius Grant. Her feature documentaries include Hooligan Sparrow (Sundance 2016), I Am Another You (SXSW 2017, Special Jury Prize winner), One Child Nation (Sundance 2019, Grand Jury Prize Winner), and In the Same Breath (Sundance 2021).
Malika Zouhali-Worrall is an Afro-Arab/British filmmaker based in New York. An Emmy Award-winning director, her directing credits include the feature-length documentaries, Call Me Kuchu (Berlin Film Festival, Netflix, BBC World, 2012) and Thank you for Playing (Tribeca, POV/ITVS, News & Television Emmy Award, 2015), both of which were theatrically released to critical acclaim in the U.S. Malika’s short form directing credits include Strange Grace: The Art of Amyra León (PBS American Masters, 2020), and her recent film for Field of Vision, Video Visit (SXSW 2022, AFI Fest 2021).
Jameka Autry is a producer, director, and 2020 Women at Sundance | Adobe Fellow. Past fellowships and honors include the 2019 Sundance Creative Producing Lab Fellowship, 2017 Impact Partners Creative Producing Fellowship, and 2018 Double Exposure Investigative Film Fellowship.
Reid Davenport makes films about disability from an overtly political perspective. He was named to DOC NYC’s “40 Filmmakers Under 40” in 2020.
Jon-Sesrie Goff is a multidisciplinary artist, curator, and arts administrator. He has an MFA in Experimental and Documentary Arts from Duke University. He is in production for his feature-length documentary, "After Sherman."
Priscilla González Sainz
Priscilla González Sainz is a Mexican-American documentary filmmaker and writer based in Southern California. Her documentary ROOM 140 was nominated for an IDA Award, and her most recent film STATUS PENDING won the IF/Then Shorts Pitch for the American West, receiving funding and distribution mentorship. The film was supported by Tribeca Film Institute and NALIP.
Edwin Martinez is a Bronx-born filmmaker whose award-winning first feature documentary TO BE HEARD was named a New York Times critics pick and “one of the best documentaries of the year.”
S. Leo Chiang
S. Leo Chiang is based in San Francisco & Taipei. His Emmy-nominated film, A VILLAGE CALLED VERSAILLES, picked up eight film festival awards and aired on PBS’ Independent Lens series. OUT RUN, his recently completed film, received support from ITVS, Sundance, & Tribeca and will have its European premiere at this year’s Sheffield Doc Fest. His other films include MR. CAO GOES TO WASHINGTON (Inspiration Award, Full Frame 2012) and TO YOU SWEETHEART, ALOHA. Leo received his MFA in film production from the University of Southern California. He is also a consulting producer for CNEX, the Chinese documentary foundation.
Jessica Devaney (she/her) is the founder and president of Multitude Films, an LGBTQ-led independent production company dedicated to telling stories by and about underrepresented communities. Her latest feature documentary, PRAY AWAY, produced in association with Blumhouse, was slated to premiere in competition at the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival and was chosen as a “critics pick” by The Hollywood Reporter. She produced ALWAYS IN SEASON (Independent Lens), which premiered in competition at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival where it won the Special Jury Award for Moral Urgency and was then nominated for an IDA Award.
Sahar Driver, PhD, is a documentary impact and engagement strategist. In her work she helps filmmakers, funders, and movement leaders advance their strategic use of film and media to support meaningful and sustainable change on a range of issues. Campaigns and projects that she has contributed to have gone on to influence public discourse and measurable change related to aging and eldercare, immigration, racial justice, worker advocacy and more. Sahar is also an educator and researcher and a consultant to the Hartley Media Impact Initiative at Auburn, the Ford Foundation's JustFilms, and to Firelight Media.
Rahdi Taylor is EVP of Artists in Residence at Concordia Studio, where she leads the company’s action to develop, advance and champion a select team of diverse documentary filmmakers from the US. Previously, she spent 10 years at Sundance Institute as Director of the Sundance Documentary Fund, awarding financing and creative support to films globally, including a dozen Academy Award nominees. She designed and directed the Documentary Core Application, and also created the Doc Film Money Map to champion use of state film incentives for indie doc financing. Prior to Sundance, Taylor worked in film distribution for California Newsreel, and at Women Make Movies in New York. She serves frequently in the field as a juror, panelist and creative advisor for funding panels, pitch forums and creative labs and retreats.
Noland Walker is a co-programmer of ITVS's Independent Lens series on PBS, and prior documentary credits include award-winning films such as Africans in America, Citizen King, Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple, and Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story. At ITVS, Walker has led talent expansion efforts, shaped editorial for co-produced broadcast projects, and was key in the story development of the News and Documentary Emmy ® award-winners In Football We Trust and (T)ERROR, plus Peabody nominee One Child Nation, among many others.