Out of 1,600 applicants who applied to the latest ITVS Open Call for funding they selected 12 filmmakers. Out of the 12 – TWO are MFA Soc Doc 2011 graduates who received funding for completing the thesis films started at SocDoc! Congratulations to Sasha Friedlander and David Osit for each receiving between $130,000-$170,000 to finish your films and guaranteed national broadcast in 2013.
Sasha’s film “Where Heaven Meets Hell” tells the story of an active volcano in East Java, Indonesia – Kawah Ijen, that houses a grueling, labor-intensive sulfur mining operation. Before daybreak, five hundred independent miners begin to collect and haul loads of up to 200lbs. of pure sulfur. They trek up a treacherous four-kilometer path out of the crater, engulfed in billowing clouds of sulfur dioxide gases. They then climb down to the village at the base of the volcano and unload, only to repeat the round trip journey several times before the day ends.Over a six-month period, this film follows four miners and their families, all at different stages in their lives. Where Heaven Meets Hell is a study of endurance and the sustaining power of faith, love and family through desperate times; a portrait of endemic poverty and the costs of modernity on unprotected laborers.
“Where Heaven Meets Hell” will premiere at the Hong Kong International Film Festival and will broadcast nationally in the US in 2013.
David’s film “Building Babel” follows Sharif el-Gamal as he builds a community center in New York City. People who’ve never met Sharif el-Gamal hate his guts. He receives threatening, hysterical phone messages. Protesters angrily confront him on his way to work. And why? He’s just trying to build a community center. Of course, there’s the matter of what kind (an Islamic center) and its location (two blocks from where the World Trade Center towers once stood). Dubbed the “Ground Zero mosque” by the media and far nastier names by its opponents, Park51 makes el-Gamal the target of widespread suspicion and conservative wrath. As he struggles to keep his fledgling organization alive, el-Gamal finds his past scrutinized and his relationships—both familial and collegial—strained. With the feel of a Maysles Brothers classic updated for the twenty-first century, Building Babel demonstrates how our best intentions can bring terrible consequences, and offers a glimpse of the small victories that come with weathering them.
David’s film will have a “sneak peek” screening at the True/False Film Festival in March and will broadcast nationally in the US in 2013.
The Independent Television Service (ITVS) funds, presents, and promotes award-winning documentaries and dramas on public television and cable, innovative new media projects on the Web, and the Emmy Award-winning weekly series Independent Lens Thursday nights at 10:00 PM on PBS.
ITVS International is a division of the Independent Television Service that runs the Global Perspectives Project (GPP), an international exchange of documentary films made by independent producers, bringing international voices to U.S. audiences and American stories to audiences abroad.
ITVS receives core funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people. The GPP is made possible through the support of Ford Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Wyncote Foundation, and Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art.