2016 Grantees

2017 Grantee - Thavary Krouch

Why do we eat? What do we chew on?

Bitter Melons is a story about a young chef working as a line cook who has to decide if she's willing to face her past in order to succeed in her NOW. Find out what happens when she does. Food can do more than fill our bellies, it can feed our souls.

Brown Girls (2016 Grantee)

‘Brown Girls’ is an intimate, fictional series focused on the stories of two young women of color as they explore their sexuality, personal aspirations, and familial relationships in the vibrant Chicago neighborhood of Pilsen. Leila is a South Asian-American writer just now owning her queerness. Patricia is a sex-positive Black-American musician struggling to commit to anything: job, art and relationships. They navigate their mid-twenties with love for each other. The project was created in response to a lack of representation of nuanced portrayals of young brown women.

BRUJOS (2016 Grantee)

This dynamic web-series blends Latin American soap opera, American sitcom, and critical theory as it follows four gay Latino grad students—who are also witches—as they navigate magic, nightlife, intimacy, and final papers while trying to survive a witch-hunt. These unlikely heroes confront historical and present racial and gendered inequality as they battle the secret society of white, heteronormative male descendants of the first New World colonizers leading the witch-hunt. Politically, BRUJOS centers the lives, struggles, and resilience of non-normative people. Grassroots filmmaking that focuses on community building further underline that BRUJOS is not just about artistic conceit, but also social mission. BRUJOS matters. It is dark, funny, sincere, critical--and needed.

Raina's Not Here (2016 Grantee)

Raina's Not Here presents a series of vignettes showing Raina, a young black American, as she travels to Ghana. Raina is compelled to travel there after discovering a podcast by a Ghanaian artist. The film is bookended by scenes set in Chicago, contrasting her ordinary life to her time spent abroad. Raina’s journey is fraught with her own misconceptions of Africa, false ideas about the nature of transformation, and ultimately her struggles with her own identity. Raina's Not Here presents a complex character of color whose story evolves in a realistic manner. This is not a story of transformation, it’s a story about transformation.

Soteria - Dreams as Currency

Soteria – Dreams as Currency (SDC) is a metaphorical, single-player, 3D adventure game intended to promote players’ readiness to use psycho-therapeutically proven yet counter-intuitive strategies to overcome general anxiety disorder.

Stranded by the State

STRANDED BY THE STATE is an eight-part webseries that examines the impact of the Illinois budget crisis on average workers and social service users, by telling stories in their own voices. Mainstream media covers the Illinois state budget crisis regularly, but often times the tangible impact on those relying on the state, either for work or for social services, becomes subsumed by the political coverage. In creating this webseries, we aim to refocus attention to where it belongs—on the people. Each webisode will center around one person who is currently experiencing a disruption in services or resources due to the budget impasse. They will share how their life was before, and how it changed after the cuts. Each episode gives viewers a glimpse into their lives. The resulting personal stories– their struggles, their hopes, and their humor–help connect the viewer to the larger social issue at play.

The Doula is IN

The Doula Project is an animated web series created by a group of female filmmakers, animators, and a professional doula. Its purpose is to provide practical, educational, and emotional support to women concerning reproduction and childbirth. Each episode will deal with a different theme that ranges from the origin of midwives to the chemical breakdown of the birth process. The video series will adapt a dialogue between millennial women and a practicing doula (Katy Collins) into five video episodes that illustrate scientifically (and humorously) what happens to women’s bodies during the birth process.

The Orange Story - A Cinematic Digital History Project

The Orange Story employs the power of cinema and transmedia platforms to introduce the history of Japanese American incarceration during WWII, its aftermath, and the implications for future generations of Americans by emphasizing both the historical importance and continued relevance of these events, with the aim of reaching the broadest possible audience through a powerful, accessible, and unique interactive website. 

Zero Weeks

Zero Weeks will be the first feature documentary to analyze America’s desperate need for modern paid family leave policies. Through Ellen’s passionate career, we follow the historical arc of family and medical leave and how our nation arrived to where it is now. Zero Weeks argues an economic, social, medical, political and global case for paid family leave by creating a poignant, hopeful and honest snapshot of how the work-life balance impacts American families and businesses. The film follows various American families from different socioeconomic backgrounds as they are forced to choose between the family they love and the job they need.