Skip to main content


Dear grantees and friends,

I am pleased to share with you that in 2015 the Journalism and Media program was identified as an enduring commitment for the MacArthur Foundation, and, in response, we have begun a process of strengthening our support of the field of independent journalism and media. A public announcement of the new and expanded program - which includes deepening of our work to support professional nonprofit reporting and nonfiction multimedia storytelling as well as new investments - will be made later in the year, but I wanted to preview one aspect of our program that is particularly relevant for the documentary community.

For many years, we have witnessed the powerful ways in which organizations like Sundance Institute and Firelight Media provide comprehensive support to filmmakers and new media artists, deploying MacArthur's financial resources with razor sharp intentionality, while serving many more filmmakers and artists than we possibly could directly. As a result, we have decided to reinforce and expand the Foundation's support of documentary filmmakers and nonfiction media producers through partner organizations. In fact, we have been steadily increasing grant levels to Sundance Institute, Firelight Media, POV, Kartemquin and others, and we plan to establish new relationships with additional partners that fund nonfiction film and new media projects, provide training and mentorship, and assist with distribution, engagement and impact. By 2017, MacArthur's total investment in the documentary community is expected to be larger than ever.

At the same time, we have made the decision to discontinue the Foundation's Open Call for Documentary Films. We thank the thousands of filmmakers that have applied to MacArthur with their individual projects. It has been our honor to look at each one. At the end of the day, this decision is a reflection of our deep respect for the filmmaker and the arduous path one takes to completing a film and bringing it to an audience. Rather than supporting a small number of individual makers each year, we hope this transition ensures that many more filmmakers, artists, and technologists will find the support they need to tell stories that inform, engage, and compel viewers to make changes to themselves or their communities for a more just, verdant and peaceful society.


Kathy Im 
Director, Journalism and Media

Still images above, from left: 3 1/2 Minutes, directed by Marc Silver (2014 MacArthur Documentary Fund Grantee); Charge, directed by Mike Plunkett (2013 MacArthur Documentary Fund Grantee).