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California Council for the Humanities Awards $400,000 to 18 Documentary Projects

SAN FRANCISCO, March 28, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --The California Council for the Humanities has announced its most recent California Documentary Project grant awards -- a set of eighteen film, radio, and new media projects chosen from among a record 167 applications. Awards totaling $400,000 will support work in production or research and development on projects with topics ranging from major literary figures Susan Sontag and Ursula K. Le Guin to political figure Howard Jarvis and the story of California's tax revolt; from the California Hmong community's struggles with the legacy of the Vietnam War to the first Muslim liberal arts college in the country.

Ralph Lewin, President and CEO of the Council, said, "These documentaries are shedding light on important figures, institutions, and communities that can help us better understand our shared past, present, and future. Each has the potential to spark meaningful discussions around California. We're proud to be supporting work like this -- especially at a time when funding for the public humanities is being threatened."

Since opening its doors in 1975, the Council has developed and conducted numerous award-winning programs of its own and awarded nearly $22 million in grant funding. The Council has supported dozens of Sundance, Emmy®, and Academy Award®-winning and -nominated documentaries through its California Documentary Project (CDP) program.

More information about Council-supported films and CDP can be found on the Programs section of the Council website, www.calhum.org. The following projects received awards:

CDP Production Grants

Agents of Change: Black Students and the Transformation of the American University, $40,000 (film)

Project Director: Abby Ginzberg

Sponsoring Organization: Kovno Communications

In the late 1960s, African American students fought for and achieved more inclusive, relevant, and democratic education at American universities. The film examines the impact and historical legacy of student action that led to the first university Ethnic and African American Studies programs -- and raises questions about how far we have come since then.

Big Joy Project, $20,000 (film)

Project Director: Stephen Silha

Sponsoring Organization: Northwest Film Forum

California poet and filmmaker James Broughton (1913-1999) was a central figure in the San Francisco Renaissance and pre-Beat era counterculture and remained a creative, playful, and provocative critic of mainstream American society throughout his life.

Departures: Leimert Park/Little Tokyo, $20,000 (new media)

Project Director: Juan Devis

Sponsoring Organization: KCET Community Television of Southern California

Two new installments in KCET's online documentary series: Leimert Park explores the heart of LA's black arts scene while Little Tokyo/Arts District chronicles the city's historic Japanese American cultural district and neighboring arts enclave.

From Ghost Town to Havana, $30,000 (film)

Project Director: Eugene Corr

Sponsoring Organization: Moenkopi Group, Inc.

Baseball offers an alternative to the gangs and violence of a Ghost Town neighborhood. The film documents a unique and revealing cross-cultural experience as a young West Oakland baseball team travels to Cuba to play. Issues of race, class, and masculinity are explored.

L.A. Rebellion Website, $20,000 (new media)

Project Director: Jan-Christopher Horak

Sponsoring Organization: UCLA Film & Television Archive

The L.A. Rebellion Website will be a permanent interactive online resource on the "L.A. School of Black Filmmakers." The site will contain essays, oral history interviews, and film excerpts for students, scholars, and the public and will work in tandem with the Archive's screening series and touring exhibition of the same name.

Mas Bebes?, $50,000 (film)

Project Director: Renee Tajima-Pena

Sponsoring Organization: Visual Communications

Mexican-origin women were coercively sterilized at Los Angeles County Medical Center-USC during the late 1960s and 70s, often based on little more than the question "More babies?" The film tells this story and examines the history of the eugenics movement in California as well as current-day issues of immigration and immigrant populations.

Operation Popcorn, $30,000 (film)

Project Director: David Grabias

Sponsoring Organization: Los Angeles Film Forum

This film follows Lo Cha Thao, a Hmong-American businessman in Fresno who got caught up in an alleged plot to launch a coup in Laos, as he faces Federal terrorism charges and life in prison. In the process, it provides a unique and intimate portrait of a California refugee community.

Regarding Susan Sontag, $40,000 (film)

Project Director: Nancy D. Kates

Sponsoring Organization: Center for Independent Documentary

The first feature-length documentary on Susan Sontag (1933-2004) is a critical examination of her life and work that addresses her controversial public roles as a writer and intellectual and her less well-known personal history, including a formative period in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Ruben Salazar: Man in the Middle, $40,000 (film)

Project Director: Phillip Rodriguez

Sponsoring Organization: CCNMA: Latino Journalists of California

How did Ruben Salazar, a prominent 20th-century Mexican-American journalist, transform from a mainstream, middle-of-the-road reporter to a supporter and primary chronicler of the radical Chicano movement? The film tells the story of his life and embarks upon an in-depth investigation of his mysterious death -- still an unresolved chapter in American history.

The Trust, $20,000 (film)

Project Director: Tamara Perkins

Sponsoring Organization: San Francisco Film Society

An intimate portrait of two life-term inmates with violent pasts who return home after decades of incarceration to face countless challenges, this film documents examines social and cultural dynamics behind California's soaring incarceration rate.

Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin, $20,000 (film)

Project Director: Arwen Curry

Sponsoring Organization: San Francisco Film Society

This film explores the life, roots, and ideas of the celebrated Bay Area-born writer Ursula K. Le Guin (1929-). Known primarily as the grande dame of science fiction and fantasy, she is also an established mainstream literary figure and pioneer in feminist thought and activism.

Zydeco in California, $30,000 (radio)

Project Director: Richard Ziglar

Sponsoring Organization: International Documentary Association

This radio documentary on the zydeco community of northern California explores issues surrounding the assertion and maintenance of ethnic identity through the re-creation of the musical culture of one's original home. Artists Queen Ida, Ray Stevens, and Andre Thierry are interviewed.

CDP Research & Development Grants

Borderlands, $5,000 (film)

Project Director: Carl Byker

Sponsoring Organization: Oregon Public Broadcasting

Take a road trip along the U.S.-Mexico border. Hosted by writer and journalist Ruben Martinez, this film will explore the borderlands' culture and history, reflecting on subjects ranging from the region's pre-European society and culture to contemporary conflicts over immigration.

Chasing Voices: The Story of John Peabody Harrington and the Indigenous Language Revitalization Movement, $7,000 (film)

Project Director: Daniel Golding

Sponsoring Organization: Advocates for Indigenous California Language Survival

Native American filmmaker Daniel Golding produces this documentary examining the legacy of anthropologist John Harrington who, in the early 20th century, recorded and preserved endangered California Indian languages. The film explores contemporary issues surrounding language survival among California's Indian tribes today.

Chinese Whispers: Mapping the Traces, $7,000 (new media)

Project Director: Rene Yung

Sponsoring Organization: Sierra College

Historical information is linked with contemporary folk memories of the Chinese in Sierra Nevada settlements who worked the mines and helped build the Transcontinental Railroad. This interactive, online mapping project will reframe the contributions of the early Chinese immigrants to the building of the West and connect local histories to the national narrative.

Hunting Stories, $7,000 (film)

Project Director: Singeli Agnew

Sponsoring Organization: San Francisco Film Society

This documentary film follows hunters in California and elsewhere in the U.S. as it seeks to answer the question "Why do Americans hunt?" By taking an observational and non-judgmental tone, the film encourages viewers to reflect on questions of class, culture, politics, ethics, and our relationship to the wild as it examines one of the oldest activities known to humans.

MAD! Howard Jarvis and the Birth of the Tax Revolt, $7,000 (film)

Project Director: Jason Cohn

Sponsoring Organization: Catticus Corporation

This film chronicles the story of Howard Jarvis and the California campaign for Prop 13 while encouraging a deeper understanding of the initiative process and the roots of contemporary tax revolts.

Zaytuna Project (As Yet Untitled), $7,000 (film)

Project Director: Maryam Kashani

Sponsoring Organization: Visual Communications

Berkeley's Zaytuna College is the first accredited Muslim liberal arts college in North America. Amidst fears of homegrown terrorism and a changing America, Zaytuna students and teachers negotiate Islam's past and its possible futures as they define what it is to be and become American Muslims.

The California Council for the Humanities connects Californians to ideas and one another in order to understand our shared heritage and diverse cultures, inspire civic participation, and shape our future.

The Council is an independent nonprofit organization and state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Originally founded in 1975, the Council is a leader in statewide humanities programming and grant funding. For more information, visit www.calhum.org.

SOURCE The California Council for the Humanities

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