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The MacDowell Colony Announces Fledgling Fund Fellowship for Documentary Filmmakers

Press Release - July 14, 2010

Type: Press Releases, Artist News, Fellowships

Grant to provide a residency for filmmakers working on socially engaged film projects.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – July 14, 2010 -- The Fledgling Fund has established a new Fellowship at MacDowell to provide a residency for filmmakers engaged in documentary work that explores critical social issues. Supported by a $10,000 grant from the foundation, The Fledgling Fund Fellowship is the first designated specifically to support the work of documentary filmmakers at MacDowell. The Fellowship will cover all costs of a residency for a filmmaker to live and work in an artist studio on MacDowell’s 450 woodland acres in Peterborough, New Hampshire, for up to two months.

“The Fledgling Fund is delighted to be supporting this fellowship,” says Sheila Leddy, Fledgling’s executive director. “MacDowell is a terrific organization and we are thrilled to support this kind of experience for a social issue documentary filmmaker. It provides a wonderful opportunity to not only focus on their individual work but also be part of a larger artistic community.”

One of the nation’s leading artist residency programs founded in 1907, MacDowell awards Fellowships to more than 250 composers, writers, visual artists, architects, playwrights, filmmakers, and interdisciplinary artists from the United States and abroad each year. MacDowell artists-in-residence receive use of a private studio, living accommodations, meals, and the benefits of working in a dynamic multidisciplinary community of fellow artists.

The Fledgling Fund seeks to improve the lives of vulnerable individuals, families, and communities by supporting innovative media projects that target entrenched social problems. Many important documentary projects have been supported by Fledgling Fund grants, including Lioness — a film by MacDowell Colony Fellows Meg McLagan and Daria Sommers about the experiences of Army support soldiers who became the first women in American history to be sent into direct ground combat. McLagan and Sommers worked on the film at MacDowell during a 2009 collaborative residency. The Fund’s grant program supports both post-production work and outreach projects designed to engage audiences around documentaries that examine social issues. “We are so excited to be partnering with The Fledgling Fund, which supports some of the most important and socially conscious documentary work being made today,” MacDowell’s Executive Director, Cheryl Young, says. “Documentary filmmakers add so much to life at the Colony in terms of the critical exchange of ideas. The topics they tackle challenge us to better our world. This new Fellowship says, ‘We want to help you make a difference.’”

In 1971, MacDowell became one of the first artist residency programs to recognize filmmaking as a separate discipline. Since then, more than 240 directors, screenwriters, and cinematographers have worked at the Colony, including Michael Almereyda, L.M. Kit Carson, Sharon Greytak, Heiko Kalmbach, Aviva Kempner, Anne Makepeace, David Petersen, and Jessica Yu. MacDowell gives these filmmakers the creative time, resources, and freedom to script and flesh out their narratives, edit new material, and assemble content into complete works. Films created by Colony Fellows are featured frequently on PBS’s Independent Lens and P.O.V. and on HBO, and often go on to receive wide acclaim and recognition, including EMMY, Sundance, and Academy Awards. Annual filmmaking residencies at MacDowell have quadrupled over the past decade, increasing by more than half since 2003.

While Fellowships at MacDowell are not monetary awards, they carry prestige for the recipients and help the Colony to fund residencies for all artists who work at MacDowell. Through partnerships with funders and arts patrons, the Colony raises not only critical funds but also its visibility, which helps to attract artists who may not know about residency opportunities.

To receive The Fledgling Fund Fellowship, filmmakers must first be accepted for a residency at MacDowell by following the Colony’s standard application process. Application deadlines for MacDowell’s three residency periods are January 15th, April 15th, and September 15th of each year. The sole criterion for acceptance is talent; a panel of experts in each discipline determines which applicants receive Fellowships and residencies. Applications are available on MacDowell’s Web site at