UnionDocs is assembling four pairs of artists and writers to expand radical filmmaking practices and research new languages of documentary cinema. This fellowship aims to both support inventive forms and methods of nonfiction filmmaking and to study the effects of these conceptual and practical choices, offering better ways to understand how such work operates in the world and engages with progressive social movements. Each fellow will receive $20,000 for their participation in the yearlong program, which includes a seminar at Doclisboa in Portugal, a retreat at EMPAC at Rensselaer in Troy, New York, and a symposium in Fall 2020. Funding comes with a few basic requirements, but is otherwise unrestricted for the artists. Funding for the writer is a commission tied to the authorship of an original work for publication. This fellowship is for North American artists and writers and will be conducted in English. Applications are accepted through a nomination process.
A Shared Proposal
We invite a critical writer and a documentary filmmaker to apply together, proposing a central question to motivate their regular intellectual and creative exchange over the fellowship year. This collaboration should root in the artist’s film practice and offer resources for the further development of their projects, aesthetics, and methodologies. Workshopped through a series of in-person gatherings and remote seminar discussions, the proposed focus of research will ultimately be addressed in a final publication to be conceived and authored by the writer.
Seeking Documentary Artists
with a celebrated body of work demonstrating significant formal experimentation.
with one or more current works-in-progress that continue or expand their practice.
with enthusiasm to engage a critical dialogue on their work alongside the work of others, especially concerning how it operates in the world and how it impacts social movements.
with established research skills and exemplary published work.
with a significant interest in artful and experimental documentary film, though writers from disciplines beyond film studies or film criticism are strongly encouraged to apply.
All fellows must join three convenings in person; travel and lodging will be provided.
Public Seminar at DocLisboa in Lisbon, Portugal | October 22-25 2019.
Private Retreat at EMPAC at Rensselaer in Troy, New York | May 14 - 16 May, 2020.
Public Symposium October 2020, specific date and location TBD.
All fellows must be able to:
Publish informal entries at least once each month in an open notebook, an online space for documenting the ongoing dialogue and sharing progress around the proposed question. For the artists, this is meant to express steps in their process (test footage, research material, production notes or sketches, a list of questions or concerns to inspire research). For writers, this is meant to build towards the final publication (a draft outline, historical examples and references, notes on readings, or critical responses to other works).
Join monthly video conferences with the group of fellows to respond to open notebook entries, share progress and challenges, and offer feedback and critique. Each writer will be asked to lead two of these sessions; they will select relevant material for the group to screen in advance and structure the conversation.
Involvement in the design of a public curriculum to be hosted by UnionDocs that will open the questions, topics and ideas in the fellowship to a base of online student subscribers. This activity will culminate in person at the Fall 2020 symposium.
For the critical writer, the final goal for the fellowship is the completion of a significant published work that addresses the question proposed. Writers are invited to immerse themselves in the creative practice of the artists with whom they are partnered. They will seek to understand the ways the artist’s work has operated in the world, study the theoretical underpinnings and historical precedents, learning how their methods and aesthetic devices pick up on and depart from those that have come before. These works will be published by UnionDocs in a special volume, but also may be distributed by other publications. Our target is in the range of 10,000 words (or comparable project) with a publishing deadline at the start of 2021. The form of this final publication is not confined to a single article; we encourage ideas around different possibilities for distribution.