True Life Fund
The True Life Fund demonstrates that documentaries can create change by offering tangible assistance to the real-life subjects of a new non-fiction film. It acknowledges that documentary filmmakers and festivals thrive because of the stories given to us by people often of limited means.
While we can’t yet raise money for the subjects of every film (one day!) we can spotlight one film each year and raise funds to support and honor those who appear in front of the camera. We do this by actively collaborating with filmmakers, whose intimate knowledge of their "characters" enables us to pinpoint needs and most effectively target our efforts.
The 2016 True Life Fund film will be announced in January.
- 2015: With the continuing generous help from The Crossing and The Bertha Foundation, we were able to raise $35,000 for Adi Rukun, the courageous protagonist of Joshua Oppenheimer's staggering documentary The Look of Silence. Adi plans to use the funds to open his own brick-and-mortar optometry shop in Indonesia.
- 2014: We collected funds to support the work of the courageous advocates and families featured in Cynthia Hill's Private Violence, and a total of $23,000 was sent to four women featured in the film: $10,000 each to Deanna Walters and Kit Gruelle, plus $1,500 each to Stacy Cox and Naomi Jean Kilpatrick. Once again, the TLF was supported with a generous matching grant from the Bertha Foundation.
- 2013: We raised a total of $36,760, with $20,000 going to RISC, an organization founded by the film’s director Sebastian Junger in honor of his fallen colleague and Restrepo co-director, Tim Hetherington. The remainder was given to The Milton Margai School for the Blind. Thanks again to the Bertha Foundation for their matching grant.
- 2012: With the help of a generous matching grant from the Bertha Foundation, we distributed $30,000 to the five brave families featured in Lee Hirsch’s Bully.
- 2011: Working closely with The Interrupters director Steve James and the team at Kartemquin, we raised $15,000 to help three real-life Midwestern superheroes Ameena Matthews, Cobe Williams and Eddie Bocanegra of the anti-violence group CeaseFire.
- 2010: With Enemies of the People co-directors Thet Sambath and Rob Lemkin, the fund sent $10,000 to help Sambath's efforts to interview former members of the Khmer Rogue in Cambodia.
- 2009: With Burma VJ director Anders Østergaard, we sent over $9,000 to support the intrepid, underground journalists featured in his film Burma VJ to help purchase cameras and other equipment vital to their efforts to document the ongoing revolution in Burma.
- 2008: With Very Young Girls director David Schisgall and GEMS (Girls Educational & Mentoring Service) founder Rachel Lloyd, the fund raised $9,000 to provide services to girls recovering from the trauma of sexual exploitation.
- 2007: Working with We Are Together director Paul Taylor and producer Teddy Leifer, the fund raised $8,500 to buy school supplies for the Children of Agape singing choir of South Africa.