UnionDocs is a Center for Documentary Art that presents, produces, publishes, and educates. We lead a diverse community on a search for urgent expressions of the human experience, practical perspectives on the world today, and compelling visions for the future.
Check out what we got up to last year—
From humble roots as a collective of emerging artists and curators living and working out of a 3-story walk-up in Brooklyn, UnionDocs has become an internationally-recognized center for documentary art. The small scale of the building belies the bustling and varied set of activities inside on any given day.
Each year we: produce 3 LABS for 36 filmmakers supporting new work and encouraging long-lasting collaborations; design 24+ WORKSHOPS on the strongest traditions and most forward-looking experiments in documentary for 400+ participants;
program 60+ EVENTS in person and online, that connect powerful nonfiction to relevant audiences and partner organizations, hosting important idea-driven conversations; manage $500,000+ in grants toward sponsored artist’s PRODUCTION; and run a FELLOWSHIP program pairing 4 artists and 4 writers, each receiving $20,000. Our major productions, like Living Los Sures and Say Something Bunny! have received outstanding critical praise and reached international audiences.
These efforts spring from the belief that documentary art, when paired with thoughtful context and open debate, is an invaluable tool for understanding the complexities of contemporary life and creating a more just and equitable society.
60+ annual events highlighting 100+ artists for a local audience of 6000+ and an expanding international membership.
Through 60+ public EVENTS each year, UnionDocs showcases powerful works of nonfiction (film, video, sound, photography, oral history, printed word, and performance). Programming includes premieres by established and upcoming artists and rare archival screenings, highlighting artful and inventive work that is otherwise difficult to access. Our goal in exhibition is to continue to be at the helm of the most innovative and necessary documentary art, to increase exposure, provide contexts for new developments in form, and inspire both the creation of new work and thoughtful public dialogue about important societal issues.
UNDO Study Group
A monthly multi-part event, each highlighting a different filmmaker and writer.
A kind of grassroots book club, but for documentary art, The UNDO Study Group focuses on sharing ideas, urgent issues, and inventive approaches. Curious to engage deeply on a specific topic with a passionate group of thinkers, practitioners, and enthusiasts? Then you’ll want in on this experience, a mode of studying that we are doing our best to make social, participatory, rigorous and fun.
Participants get some material to read and a few links to films to watch. Then, they engage in a highly structured conversation led by a writer where there is the chance to ask questions, discuss in smaller groups, and contribute to a collective video essay.
24+ workshops for 400+ emerging artists creating teaching opportunities for 168 established artists.
We offer a robust calendar of highly-specialized growth experiences taught by top practitioners to transform participants’ practices, motivating them to take risks, broaden their capabilities in their field and complete new projects. Topics include the most quickly evolving methodologies alongside the strongest traditions in documentary arts.
"UnionDocs has shown itself to be deeply engaged with the history and culture of its neighborhood, uplifting otherwise marginalized stories and showing the rest of the city what it really means to be a “good neighbor.”"
3 labs for 36+ filmmakers aiding production of 24 early stage features and 8 shorts docs.
Steadily growing over the past decade, we initiated a singular model for workshops and launched our unique and intensive Summer Labs for early feature documentaries. In many ways, the rhythm of our twice-weekly public events became both R&D and a space for relationship building. The benefits of this work then filtered into our educational and project-mentoring roles.
UnionDocs Collaborative Studio Program
We also run a kind of alternative doc film school, that gathers 12 emerging, international artists for 10 months and provides them with a deep immersion in theory and practice, while focusing their creative energy on local, socially-relevant issues to produce a collection of new short films, which are shown locally, and reach at top festivals like Sundance, Tribeca, and have been broadcast on POV.
Summer Documentary Labs
We offer 2 intensive labs that mentor 24 exciting feature doc projects at early stages from around the world, offering a major springboard to seek funding, build out their team, and ultimately make and distribute their doc. Filmmakers have come from Australia, India, Sudan, Egypt, Israel, Denmark, Vietnam, Mexico, Argentina.
A fellowship program that pairs 4 artists with 4 writers to expand radical filmmaking practices and research new languages of documentary cinema.
In 2019, with funding from the Ford Foundation, we established THE UNDO FELLOWSHIP pairing celebrated experimental doc filmmakers with established writers to research new practices in documentary art, offering 8 fellows $20k each along with significant opportunities for creative and intellectual work. The writing that results from these research projects are published in an annual volume, and shared during a two-day culminating symposium.
"The collaborative nature and willingness to experiment means they are comfortable with an iterative design process, are willing to embrace a multi-faceted project and are able to take a considered approach to community participation."
Productions + Publications
In designing collaborative projects, we bring together 20th Century documentary practice and contemporary networked culture. What opportunities do new technologies offer non-fiction? When is mastering age-old techniques the best route? We experiment with these questions and seek to bring together individual talents, voices, and stories and create multi-dimensional documentaries.
The success of our biggest productions, Living Los Sures (2015) and Say Something Bunny! (2017), made it clear that UnionDocs is more than an environment for aspiring documentarians to convene for knowledge and support. We also design and produce groundbreaking documentary projects that have gained recognition at the highest levels of our field.