JDC Archives Launches a Documentary Film Grant

November 10, 2016

When Linda Levi, Director of JDC Global Archives, invited a documentary filmmaker to screen a clip from her upcoming film at the JDC Archives Committee meeting in September 2016, Levi’s aim was to demonstrate to Committee members some of the creative ways in which researchers utilize our historical records. The lively discussion that ensued, and the enthusiastic response from the audience, led JDC Board and Archives Committee member Jane Swergold to spearhead an effort to create a funding opportunity for such filmmakers. This is how the JDC Archives Documentary Film Grant came to fruition. The grant has garnered the interest of respected filmmakers and film scholars, who have worked with the Archives team to structure the grant program, and who serve on the Advisory Committee that will select the awarded filmmaker and film.

In 2017, one film grant in the amount of $10,000 will be awarded to cover post-production and/or distribution costs of a documentary film, which draws on the JDC archival collections. Eligible films will focus on twentieth century Jewish history, humanitarian assistance, and related topics. Topics can include issues, events, and personalities related to overseas Jewish communities during the last century. We seek applicants with a proven track record as filmmakers. Online applications are due by February 15, 2017, and should consist of a description of a film project, a proposal for use of grant funds, a link to prior film sample(s), and a link to a sample clip from the proposed film.

The rich holdings of the JDC Archives cover more than 90 countries in which JDC has worked since its founding in 1914. These include over 3 miles of text documents; 100,000 photographs; 1100 audio recordings, including oral histories, historic speeches, and broadcasts; and 1300 video recordings. JDC’s historical films comprise another invaluable resource, ranging from the late 1920’s to 1979. Sources found in the JDC archival collections provide a compelling audiovisual, text, and photographic representation of JDC’s global rescue, relief, and rehabilitation activities. More broadly, they provide insight into the events that affected Jewish life and culture worldwide, and provide a glimpse into the way that American Jews have addressed the situation of vulnerable people around the world.