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Women Documentary Filmmakers Receive Grants

MacArthur Foundation
Women filmmakers are making not only films but also impressions because of their work in documentary films. One of the most prestigious awards recently included two women who have not only been recognized for directing extraordinary documentaries that brilliantly touch on important social issues but have also been recipients of the coveted MacArthur Foundation genius grants.

The MacArthur Foundation is one of the nation’s largest independent foundations with assets of approximately $5.7 billion and annual giving of approximately $210 million. Grants are awarded through the foundation to creative people and organizations whose work helps to build a more peaceful world. Two recipients this year were women. Each won $500,000 for the genius of their
non-fiction films. In fact, this was the first year in which two recipients, both women, received the genius title.

One award winner directed a documentary film entitled El Velador that follows the story of a man in Mexico who guards the mausoleums in a cemetery where notorious drug leaders are buried. The other award winner's documentary included, in part, a conversation with a cab driver who was a former bodyguard for Asama bin Laden.

Grants from the MacArthur Foundation are awarded for work in medicine, science, arts and journalism. They are paid over a period of five years. Since its beginning, the foundation has awarded the grants to 873 winners. Award winners are nominated but the nominations remain anonymous.

The foundation was created by John and Catherine MacArthur whose businesses included Bankers Life and Casualty insurance company as well as property in several cities. They were large philanthropists, donating money to causes that made a difference in communities and people's lives. Some of their primary causes include human rights, affordable housing, and community and economic development.

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