Society features

The Doc Society Climate Story Fund awards $645,000 in grants to nine new projects

Brazilian activist Neidinha Bandeira appears in Alex Pritz’s The Territory

The Doc Society Climate Story Fund today announced nine new creative projects from around the world that will receive a total of $645,000 in grants, with each work demonstrating a concerted effort to advance climate justice and protect biodiversity.

This is the second cohort to receive the Climate Story Fund, which supports work from a wide range of storytelling mediums, including musical dramas, podcasts and documentaries. The fund prioritizes storytellers from underrepresented communities on the front lines of the global climate crisis, aiming to provide much-needed support, from production to impact campaigns. Particular emphasis is placed on projects that inspire crucial critical conversations and collective action.

“There is not a single story that will facilitate the climate action we seek. And we know there is so much more than the stereotypes and singular narratives that we tend to see in the main stream. We need multitudes as diverse as the communities we need to mobilize and the ecosystems we need to protect,” said Megha Agrawal, director of the Doc Society. Sood in a press release. “We know there are amazing creative stories that work with local movement leaders to activate communities globally and move the conversation forward. This list of beneficiaries is only a small sample of what is created.

Established in 2020, the Climate Story Fund is Doc Society’s way of directly supporting storytellers who amplify the multifaceted realities of living through the ongoing climate crisis. Twenty-seven projects have received a total of $1.9 million in production and impact grants over the past 18 months. Past recipients include feature-length documentary Delikadothe webseries El Temathe comedy special It’s not your mom’s heat wave and the documentary Uýra: the rising forest. These projects encompass the climate crisis as it is experienced in geographies spanning Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia.

Notably, among last year’s winners was the National Geographic documentary The territory, directed by cinematographer Alex Pritz. The film follows the struggle an indigenous Brazilian community faces to protect their home – the Amazon rainforest – from the encroaching threat of rogue development and rampant deforestation. Offering unprecedented access to the farmers and developers behind this crisis, Pritz’s documentary also has the distinction of being co-produced by the Uru-eu-wau-wau indigenous people, allowing them to participate in how their story is captured and represented on -filter.

Pritz added in a statement, “Beyond the financial support, we have deeply appreciated the mentorship and support of the Doc Society team. Learning from and working with climate strategists and impact makers has unlocked the potential of our story and turned it into a catalyst for real and lasting change.

Eighteen projects from the previous grant cycle have already completed production, now focusing on distribution and impact campaigns, reaching critically minded audiences and championing unique narratives. Several projects reach the public via free services and public service broadcasters such as the BBC and POV. Others are distributed through digital platforms like Spotify, YouTube and WhatsApp. A few are embarking on the traditional festival circuits in the hope of future theatrical release. Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+ subscription streamers also picked up a handful of titles.

The Climate Story Fund’s next global call for applications will be announced this fall. For more information, visit their official site.

The second cohort of Doc Society Climate Story Fund grantees are listed below.

I can live? – Musical drama (UK)

Fehinti Balogun (Creator), Tim Bell (Producer), Nur Khairiyah (Impact Producer)

Logline: As Fehinti Balogun weaves her story with spoken word, rap, theatre, animation and scientific facts, it traces a course through the fundamental issues underlying the climate urgency, identifying the intimate relationship between the environmental crisis and the global crisis fighting for social justice and sharing how, as a young black British man, he found his place in the climate movement.

damage – Investigative podcast (Australia, Ecuador, Guyana, USA)

Amy Westervelt (host, producer)

Logline: Law & Order, climate-style podcast from the creators of Drilled. There are nearly 200 court cases around the world aimed at holding governments and corporations accountable for the greatest crime ever committed: the climate crisis.

Hotspot – Docuseries (Southern Africa)

Anita Khanna (producer, Impact Producer), Franco Clerc, Rehad Desai, Sara Gouveia, Mohau Memeza, Jacqueline van Meygaarden (Directors)

Logline: As fossil fuel companies ramp up extraction in less regulated countries of the South, activists in southern Africa are calling for radical solutions to limit escalating heating. The series profiles people at the forefront of overlapping social and climate crises in a global hotspot, where the lives of millions depend on what activists can motivate their governments to do.

Interspecific – Feature documentary (worldwide)

Lucy Walker (director), Aimara Reques (producer), David Rosier (producer), Julian Cautherley (co-producer)

Logline: Interspecies is a sci-fi documentary in which humans dramatically demonstrate and passionately argue that plants are as smart as they are beautiful. What if they actually communicated with us? If they were, what do they have to tell us?

Laikipia – Feature documentary (Kenya)

Daphne Matziaraki (director), Pete Murimi (director), Toni Kamau (producer), Maya Craig (DP, co-producer)

Logline: Climate change and unresolved historical injustices are raising the stakes in a generations-old conflict between indigenous pastoralists and white landowners in the wildlife conservation haven of Laikipia, Kenya.

Manzanar, Diverted: When Water Becomes Dust (United States)

Ann Kaneko (director, producer), Jin Yoo-Kim (producer, impact producer)

Logline: At the foot of the majestic snow-capped Sierras, Manzanar, the WWII concentration camp, becomes the confluence of memories of Payahuunadü, the now parched ‘Land of Flowing Water’. Intergenerational women from Native American, Japanese American, and ranching communities form an unexpected alliance to defend their land and water from Los Angeles.

Nocturnes – Feature documentary (India)

Anupama Srinivasan, Anirban Dutta (director)

Logline: In the dense forests of the Eastern Himalayas, a young female scientist studies moths. A young man rediscovers the forest he grew up with. The film follows their fascinating journey into the secret world of moths, inviting us to witness their beauty, their fragility in the face of rising temperatures, and our own hidden connection to them.

Offshore – Short documentary (UK)

Hazel Falck (director, producer), Emma Hughes (producer of Impact)

Logline: Three weeks on, three weeks off – Offshore unites unique oil workers perspectives on the energy transition ahead and explores what climate justice really looks like for workers and communities around the UK’s North Sea. The film examines how communities have been affected by past industrial decline, the risks workers face in an increasingly precarious industry, and how they can organize for the future.

Self-demarcation and surveillance of the Sawre Muybu IT [Indigenous Territory] – Capacity building workshop and short documentary (Brazil)

Coletivo Audiovisual Munduruku (Director, Producer), Carolina Ribas (Impact Producer)

Logline: Faced with the absence of the government, every year the Munduruku people perform self-demarcation and inspection of the territory of Sawré Muybu, where warriors, chiefs, shamans and children roam the territory to revive the borders, identify and expel invaders and take care of the rainforest, the river and the earth. The project includes a capacity-building workshop on production, legal and impact-making skills.