Film Independent Mon 6.20.2022

Documentaries! Docuseries! We Love ‘Em! Here’s How We Show It.

If you zoom out wide enough, isn’t every kind of storytelling nonfiction storytelling, really? Even in something as fantastical as Dune, you see the expression of real-life anxieties like ecological disaster, crumbling imperialism and their associated and intersecting social, political and interpersonal dramas. Dr. Strange? A forensic unpacking of dissociative identity prompted by a technocratic reality that seems increasingly unreal each day. Probably. We didn’t see it.

But in another, far more accurate sense of the word, documentaries are what nonfiction storytelling is. And at Film Independent, just as with narrative projects we aim to champion documentary features, shorts and docuseries that embody Fi’s signature gumbo of diversity, innovation and uniqueness of vision.

Just ask Questlove, winner of the 2022 Film Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary:

Or HBO’s Black and Missing, winner of Best new Non-Fiction or Documentary Series:

And you know what, we were just sitting around this morning and thought to ourselves, “Boy, Film Independent sure does a lot to support the nonfiction film space. Hopefully everyone knows that!” But just in case they don’t, we thought it would be worth a post to remind you of all the ways Fi help docs, doc-makers and doc-lovers up-and-down the infotainment food chain.

FI + CNN Docuseries Intensive

We’re now accepting submissions to our 3rd annual FI + CNN Docuseries Intensive. This first-of-its-kind Fellowship program focuses exclusively on supporting nonfiction series projects that are in development. The three-day program offers a stipend of $3,500 per team, along with executive and peer mentorship, workshopping and industry connections. Fellows walk away with specific feedback on their projects as well as tangible next steps to move their projects forward. Learn here about the amazing filmmakers and projects we supported in last year’s intensive and go here to apply for the 2022 program.

Documentary Lab

We just wrapped our 2022 Documentary Lab where we supported 12 filmmakers with remarkable feature-length works-in-progress. Past editions of the Lab have nurtured such talent as Academy Award nominees Bing Liu and Diane Quon (Minding the Gap); Jessica Kingdon (Ascension); Sara Dosa and Shane Boris (Fire of Love, Seer and the Unseen,) and Smriti Mundhra (A Suitable GirlIndian Matchmaking).

Fiscal Sponsorship

Film Independent has a robust fiscal sponsorship program that serves the non-fiction and fiction communities alike. To learn more about it and apply, click here or watch our team talk about it here and here. Fiscal Sponsorship helps filmmakers access charitable financing that is crucial to nonfiction projects. The program comes with the unique added bonus of hands-on support and 1:1 advice from industry professionals.

Fast Track Financing Market

Film Independent’s financing market, Fast Track, welcomed nonfiction projects starting in 2017, and the 2022 edition is now accepting submissions. Notable documentaries that found support in Fast Track include Bing Liu and Diane Quan’s Minding the Gap; Katherine Fairfax Wright and Malika Zouhali-Worrall’s Call Me Kuchu; Tina Brown and Dyana Winkler’s United Skates; Tom Putnam and Brenna Sanchez’s BURN; Jessica Sanders’ After Innocence; and many more. During the finance market, filmmakers have 1:1 meetings with 20 industry executives including distributors, grantors, private financiers, festival programmers and production companies.

Documentary Education

All year long, our Education team offers programs specifically for the documentary community, including workshops on such topics as Fiscal Sponsorship, Educational Distribution for Docs, and the Documentary Filmmaking Toolkit class, as well conversations with leading non-fiction filmmakers, and more. Our annual conference, the Film Independent Forum, regularly features robust panels and keynotes for the documentary community, providing current real world information on financing, distribution, festival strategy, and more.

Film Independent Presents

Film Independent’s year-round screening program regularly features the best of non-fiction filmmaking. Taking place in theaters as well as online and featuring Q&A’s with filmmakers, our screenings are free to Film Independent Members with a guest. In the last year alone, we screened Traci Curry and Stanley Nelson’s Attica; Evgeny Afineevsky’s Francesco; Ting Poo and Leo Scott’s Val; Morgan Neville’s Roadrunner; Nicholas Bruckman’s Not Going Quietly; Mariem Perez Riera’s Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It; as well as the Spirit Award nominated films Flee, Summer of Soul, Ascension, In the Same Breath and Procession. If you love great documentary film join Film Independent and access all these great screenings!

Film Independent Spirit Awards

The Spirit Awards have long recognized the best of non-fiction storytelling every year. We now present three awards recognizing documentary filmmaking at the Spirits – Best Documentary, the Truer than Fiction Award, and as of last year, Best New Non-Scripted or Documentary Series. From Summer of Soul to Faya Dayi to the non-fiction series Black and Missing, we recognize the full range and breadth of great documentary work at the Spirits. The 2023 Film Independent Spirit Awards open for submissions in August, so stay tuned! Also, the winners of the Spirit Awards are chosen by Film Independent’s Members, so once again – please join!

DocuClub LA

Lastly, later this year we are excited to bring back DocuClub LA, in partnership with IDA. This program gives filmmakers the rare opportunity to get feedback on their work in progress from a fresh audience of filmmakers and film lovers and see their film on a big screen prior to picture lock. Film Independent is the LA partner of the now national program.


If you’re a documentary filmmaker or film lover, we hope that the above programming appeals to you. To become a Member of Film Independent, just click here. To support us with a donation, click here.

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(Header: Summer of Soul)