The Bertha Film Fund provides small grant funding of up to USD $25,000 for social justice filmmaking - including cinema, video and digital media. Funding can be awarded for short form or long form films and new media at development, production and post-production stages, with nonfiction and fiction accepted.
Preference is given to generative and non-extractive storytelling, diverse production teams representative of the protagonist communities, storytelling that highlights authentic resistance narratives, storytelling with calls to action that engage audiences as changemakers and stories that are dangerous but essential to tell.
The Bertha Film Fund is currently by invitation only.
Goals of the Fund
The Bertha Film Fund seeks to fund creative interventions that build pathways to action against injustice, particularly where small funding can have a major impact. By prioritizing ‘audience as changemaker’ we look to attract projects with social change woven intentionally into their narrative, form and aesthetic choices.
The Fund aims to support generative, non-extractive storytelling that makes people the active protagonists of their own stories, not just the subjects of a story. It is storytelling told from within communities, told by and with people, not about or at them.
We are seeking film projects that strive to reframe inclusivity at all levels of production - who is telling, capturing, shaping, editing narratives and who owns them - as an intentional act of social justice. Included within this is having plans for ongoing engagement, support and care for welfare with communities following the release of a film.
The above is of particular importance for storytelling which highlights authentic resistance narratives and stories that are dangerous but essential to tell. It is the duty of care to the storyteller to assess and mitigate risk, considering how best to tell a story responsibly when the protagonists, communities and movements may all be under threats to their lives and livelihood.
What we Offer
Successful Bertha Film Fund applicants will receive grant funding of up to USD $25,000 offered per project. Impact campaign focused funding applications will receive grant funding of up to USD $10,000 offered per project.
Projects are welcome from any region of the world. We select a limited number of applications on a rolling basis based on the volume of applicants. If you have not heard back from our selection team after 90 days your project has not been selected for funding.
Applicants can only apply once per calendar year.
Criteria for Applicants
Film Projects considered will have:
- compelling narratives, artful composition, unique perspectives and original points of view
- innovative storytelling techniques and creative use of media content and form to reach specific intended audiences
- a clear understanding of and strong personal connection to the social justice issues being confronted by the communities the film exists to serve
- diverse and inclusive production teams connected to the protagonist communities
- a clear vision for short and long term social change outcomes they hope to achieve
- a well defined impact campaign that extends the reach and outcomes of the project
- an intention and enthusiasm to observe and support the evolution of the project after it transitions into the hands of its audience
We urge you not to apply if your project does not meet the above criteria.
Bertha Film Fund recipients must document the process and impact of the project for reflection, evaluation and learning.
At a frequency and in a format to be determined by the project leads with Bertha's Creative Director, project leads will update the Bertha Film Fund of the progress of the films during:
- project development
- project production
- project launch, coverage of events and audience engagement
At the conclusion of the project film teams will provide Bertha Film Fund with:
- testimony and insights from the project team & partners
- feedback from the target audiences and communities
- opportunities for screening of the film and Q&A with Bertha Foundation, Bertha Spaces and partners
Resources for Applicants
Below is a brief list of links to resources that may be of use to applicants:
- Committee to Protect Journalists safety kit https://cpj.org/safety-kit/
- WITNESS toolkits https://www.witness.org/resources/
- Safe and Secure (DocSociety) https://safeandsecure.film/
Diversity Equity Inclusion / Inclusive Productions
Other Funding Opportunities
Before submitting an application film teams are encouraged to explore whether their project might be better suited for support through another Bertha Foundation fund. For documentary filmmakers you may be looking to apply for the IDFA Bertha Fund, which supports independent, critical and artistic voices from Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Oceania (IBF regions) with the aim of stimulating and empowering the creative documentary sector in these regions. https://www.idfa.nl/en/info/idfa-bertha-fund
Beyond Bertha Foundation many other film funding organizations exist such as those on the International Documentary Association resource list.
Still images and press photographs from Bertha Film Fund supported films in order of appearance: Naila and the Uprising, The Territory, Delikado, Crip Camp and Arica.
African Apocalypse photo credit: Souley Abdoulaye / LemKino. Caption: Femi Nylander, Rob Lemkin, Amina Weira, Assan ag Midal and Diassibo Tchiombiano at the Galerie Taweydo screening.
Still Image from IDFA Bertha Fund supported film: Children of the Mist.
About Bertha Foundation
Bertha Foundation fights for a more just world. We support activists, storytellers and lawyers who are working to bring about social and economic justice and human rights for all.