NEWS & GRANTEES                   ROUGH CUT RETREAT                   IN DISTRIBUTION    
Bitterbrush, director Emelie Mahdavian  
Catapult is pleased to announce the first of our 2019 grantees. This cohort is one of three that will be announced this year; projects are selected as part of an open call. 

From an intimate story of a veteran filmmaker losing her sight, to a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist fighting to keep his independent family newspaper afloat in Iowa, to an unconventional story of two women herding cattle in the remote and rugged Idaho mountains, these films break new ground. We are proud to be supporting this unique and diverse set of stories. Read more about our recent grantees below and on our website.

We’re gearing up for our annual Rough Cut Retreat in collaboration with the True/False Film Fest. This year, we are pleased to expand our efforts to include a new partnership with the Chicago Media Project. At the retreat, we'll unite five film projects with mentors in the beautiful Catskill Mountains. Amidst a supportive atmosphere, filmmakers will have the goal of evolving their film projects from rough cut to fine cut. Read more about the projects below.  

On the festival circuit, we are thrilled to see Catapult-supported projects continue to be well received. Three Catapult-supported films premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival to packed theaters and standing ovations. At the Hot Docs Pitch Forum, Colour of the Wind (Claire Sanford) won the First Place Investor Prize. Also pitching were Catapult grantees The Bones (Jeremy Xido) and Instant Life (Mark Becker & Aaron Schock). We were excited to see Hail Satan? and The Raft begin a national theatrical distribution campaign, Showtime air XY Chelsea, and POV include three Catapult supported projects in their upcoming season (Grit, The Silence of Others and The Feeling of Being Watched). 

The Catapult Film Fund Team


Director: Emelie Mahdavian  
Producer: Su Kim

In the remote and rugged mountains of the American West, two young women work alone herding cattle.

Director/Producer: Johnny Symons
Co-Director: Kenyon Symons-Rogers
Co-Director/Co-Producer: Daniel Chein

As told through 17 years of archival footage and dialogue, a Black teenager and his white father intimately navigate an unusual journey to adulthood.

Patagonia Park
Director: Stephanie Spray
Producer: Sara Archambault

A vast park is created to re-wild iconic animals. Patagonia Park is a portrait of labor driving the world’s most ambitious contemporary public park project.

Storm Lake
Directors: Jerry Risius
Producer: Beth Levison

Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Art Cullen fights to protect his rural town from powerful local and national forces while his family newspaper hangs on by a thread.

Directors/Producers: Shirley Abraham and Amit Madheshiya  

A film set in the heart of contemporary India.

Vivien's Wild Ride
Director: Vivien Hillgrove
Producer: Janet Cole

When veteran film editor Vivien Hillgrove discovers that she is losing her sight, she embarks on an unconventional and magical documentary memoir. Beginning in San Francisco in the notorious 1960s, Vivien uses her adventures as an editor to reflect upon 50 years of Bay Area filmmaking, intertwined with a personal odyssey as she conjures ghosts, discovers her artistic voice, and develops a sensory survival manual.
For more about the grantees, please visit:

Please assume that if you have submitted an application, but have not yet heard from us, that your project is still under consideration by our review team. 

In April 2019, Higher Ground Productions, Barack and Michelle Obama’s production company in partnership with Netflix, unveiled an initial slate of projects. They chose two feature length documentary projects, both of which received initial support from Catapult Film Fund.  
Congratulations to Crip Camp (director/producers Jim LeBrecht and Nicole Newnham, producer Sara Bolder) and American Factory (director/producers Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert, producers Jeff Reichert and Julie Parker Benello).
It's been an exciting festival season! Here is a recap of where some of our grantees have screened: 

17 Blocks
Winner - Best Editing 
Always in Season
Hot Docs

American Factory
Hot Docs

Berlinale & Hot Docs
Midnight Family 
Hot Docs
Our Time Machine
Tribeca & Hot Docs
Winner - Best Cinematography at Tribeca

When We Walk
Hot Docs
XY Chelsea
Tribeca & Hot Docs

Called "A must see!" by the New York Times, Hail Satan? (Penny Lane and Gabriel Sedgwick) was acquired by Magnolia Pictures and after a very successful festival run, it is now screening in theaters across the US and is headed to the UK!

John Haptas and Kristine Samuelson's immersive and moving Life Overtakes Me is now available to stream on Netflix following a premiere at this year's Sundance. 

 XY Chelsea (Tim Travers Hawkins and Julia Nottingham) is now available to watch on Showtime following a premiere at 2019 Tribeca Film Festival.  

PBS' POV will kick off its 32nd season with three Catapult-supported films: The Feeling of Being Watched (Assia Boundoui and Jessica Devaney), Grit (Cynthia Wade and Sasha Friedlander), and Oscar-shortlisted The Silence of Others (Almudena Carracedo and Robert Bahar)

Called "...sensitive and spellbinding..." by Indiewire and the New York Times' Critic's Pick, Marcus Lindeen's The Raft is now playing in theaters across the US. 
A Catapult Film Fund and True/False Film Fest Collaboration
Catapult Film Fund and the True/False Film Fest will host our fourth annual Rough Cut Retreat - a four day retreat for documentary films in the rough cut stage. The retreat will convene at the Carey Institute for Global Good from August 4th-8th. 


With support from the Chicago Media Project
2019 Projects:

Mayor (director David Osit) follows a charismatic leader's quixotic quest to build the city of the future in a land paralyzed by its past.

Socks on Fire (director Bo McGuire) is a transgenerational docudrama couched in the familial battle between a homophobic aunt and drag-queen uncle over an Alabama grandmother’s estate. 

Unapologetic (director Ashley O’Shay) During the height of the Movement for Black Lives in Chicago, Unapologetic captures a community of millennial organizers confronting an administration complicit in state violence against its Black residents, through the intimate stories of two Black queer women, Janaé and Bella.

Untitled Meme Movie (director Arthur Jones) explores the current cultural moment and political climate through the lens of the Internet's dankest meme.

What We Leave Behind (director Iliana Sosa) follows the director’s 89-year-old grandfather on his monthly 17-hour bus ride from Primo de Verdad (a rural town in northern Mexico) to El Paso, Texas and Albuquerque, New Mexico to reunite with family separated by borders.

Time for Ilhan (Norah Shapiro) takes home a Daytime Emmy!

Atomic Homefront (Rebecca Cammisa) wins a 2019 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award in Domestic Television.

Catapult Film Fund provides development funding to help story-driven and cinematic documentary films get off the ground.

Catapult Film Fund
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