Dart Center launches unique fellowship for documentary filmmakers

The inaugural Dart Center Documentary Film Fellowship is designed for senior and mid-career filmmakers who wish to deepen their knowledge of emotional trauma and psychological injury, delve into documentary ethics and craft challenges, and enrich their professional engagement around violence, conflict and tragedy. The Fellowship will be held in Grand Cayman. Application Deadline: October 4, 2023.

Applications are now open for an immersive, weeklong fellowship for senior and mid-career documentary filmmakers who wish to deepen their knowledge of emotional trauma and psychological injury, delve into documentary ethics and craft challenges, and enrich their engagement around violence, conflict and tragedy.

Open to professional filmmakers from all over the world, the Dart Center Documentary Film Fellowship – supported by The Dart Foundation of Mason, Michigan – will take place February 11-17, 2024 in Grand Cayman.

“Today’s documentary filmmakers immerse themselves in the most difficult human experiences, bringing audiences into intimate engagement with stories of violence, crisis and tragedy,” said Bruce Shapiro, executive director of the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma. “This new Dart Center fellowship will harness the energy and innovative spirit of documentarians committed to trauma-aware storytelling, equipping them with the knowledge and skills needed to work with vulnerable individuals and communities ethically and effectively, and to advance the well-being of documentary teams on these demanding and crucial projects.”

The week-long fellowship will bring 10-12 filmmakers together with leading experts on core issues of trauma science as well as innovators in documentary practice, providing a forum for the exchange of ideas, experiences and challenges in the profession. 

Seminars will focus on ethical documentary reporting and engagement of vulnerable people in all stages of production; narrative and craft challenges specific to documentary film; duty of care to subjects and sources; self-care and resilience; as well as organizational and peer support from pre-production through film distribution. 

The program will equip filmmakers with the knowledge and skills to approach victims and survivors with sensitivity and depth; understand the complexity of trauma survivors' experiences; tell more insightful, multi-dimensional and nuanced stories about those impacted by trauma; make more informed, ethical choices when covering traumatic events; and create self-care and peer support plans that span development through distribution, awards and streaming runs.

"For decades, the Dart family has been impressed by the success the Dart Center has had in advancing and recognizing excellence in reporting on victims of violence and providing training and support for the journalists that tell those stories,” said Dart Foundation President Jim Lammers. “Ken Dart and the Dart Foundation are pleased to support expansion of the Dart Center’s science-driven principles to filmmaking with a fellowship for documentarians whose work focuses on those whose lives have been profoundly impacted by traumatic events.”

The fellowship covers round trip travel, six nights of lodging, meals and expenses directly related to participation, such as ground transportation on Grand Cayman. The program does not cover health insurance, visa costs, additional nights of lodging beyond the program’s duration or ground transportation in fellows’ home cities.

Application deadline: October 4, 2023 at 5pm EST.

Click here for application information and to apply.

About the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma

The Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma is dedicated to improving media coverage of trauma, conflict and tragedy. The Center also addresses the consequences of such coverage for those working in journalism. A project of Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, the Dart Center also operates programs in Europe, at the University of Washington and in Australia and the Asia-Pacific Region. The Dart Center also maintains a research lab at the University of Tulsa’s Department of Psychology. The Dart Center develops educational resources for use in journalism schools and news organizations, provides training and conducts research about news coverage of violence and trauma. For more information, visit www.dartcenter.org

About the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism

For almost a century, the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism has been preparing journalists in a program that stresses academic rigor, ethics, journalistic inquiry and professional practice. Founded by Joseph Pulitzer in 1912, the school offers Master of Science, Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy degrees. For more information, visit www.journalism.columbia.edu

About the Dart Foundation

Founded in 1984 by William A. and Claire Dart in Mason, Michigan, the Dart Foundation steadfastly strengthens communities through services that enhance the quality of life. The Dart Foundation has a legacy of support for education with emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), as well as health, workforce development and disaster relief. For more information, visit www.dartfoundation.org