2015 AFI Docs/NBCUniversal Impact Grant Winners Announced


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2015 AFI Docs/NBCUniversal Impact Grant Winners Announced
December 02, 2015
The AFI DOCS Film Festival is a five day event in Washington, D.C. where filmmakers, political leaders and audiences gather together for informative documentaries and discussion. Uniquely positioned as the only film festival in the U.S. dedicated to screenings and events that connect audiences, filmmakers and policy leaders, AFI DOCS is one of the most noteworthy documentary film festivals in the world. 
This year, for the first time, NBCUniversal powered the AFI DOCS Impact Lab, an innovative two-day intensive program that provides filmmakers with training in advocacy, community organizing and action. In addition to hearing from prominent leaders in the documentary and changemaking field and learning how to utilize technology to engage viewers, the lab participants met with senators and congressmen on Capitol Hill to discuss how filmmakers can help impact community policy and inspire change. The AFI DOCS Impact Lab powered by NBCUniversal is incredibly unique and powerful tool for filmmakers to advance the reach of the advocacy of their films’ subject matter. 
In addition to the AFI DOCS Impact Lab powered by NBCUniversal, four films that participated in the Impact Lab won AFI DOCS/NBCUniversal Impact Grants. The NBCUniversal Impact Grants leverages the power of story and film to catalyze social change. By funding the outreach and social action campaigns for select films, NBCUniversal is empowering filmmakers to exponentially increase their impact and effect lasting change by supporting the social action campaigns for each of the winning documentaries. 
The documentary projects receiving support from the 2015 AFI DOCS/NBCUniversal Impact Grants are:
Across the Jordanian border from Syria lies the world’s second largest refugee camp.  In an effort to understand the growing crisis, a film team spends one month living in Za’tari.  The Syrian families they meet aren’t just displaced, they have no promise of a future with sufficient food, security, education or peace.  SALAM NEIGHBOR offers personal insights into the complexities of refugee life and challenges audiences to express neighborly love for people in crisis.

THE CONVERSATION, a series of short films, uses powerful personal narratives to elevate shared experiences about race and equality that are often only discussed in the confines of like-minded communities.  The series aims to foster a deep dialogue around racial tension and polarization in the United States as well as serve as an outlet for more personal and intimate discussions about race relations in America.  Each film will be a conversation from a different personal perspective, experience and racial lens within our society.

The American education system was developed during the Industrial Revolution to help prepare young people to take on standard jobs of the era, which no longer exist.  So why has that system remained virtually unchanged for more than 100 years when our culture and economy have dramatically shifted to an age of information and technology?  Filmmaker Greg Whiteley explores this paradox and examines the future of education through experimental schools such as San Diego’s High Tech High, where students, teachers and parents embark on a new path that aims to spark an education revolution.

As a sheriff in the 1970s, William “Dub” Lawrence founded Utah’s SWAT team.  Thirty years later, when a police standoff ends with that SWAT team killing his son-in-law, Dub launches a personal investigation into the case.  As the scope of his investigation grows to include several chilling cases of excessive force and questionable techniques used by law enforcement, he finds himself confronting a startling nationwide trend of increasing militarization of police forces.

Next year’s festival will be held June 22–26, 2016 in Washington, D.C. 
Photo: Heidi Nel