PRESS RELEASE: Four Documentary Projects to Receive First-Ever AFI Docs/NBCUniversal Impact Grants

                  Funding Goes to Participants of the AFI DOCS 2015 Impact Lab Sponsored by NBCUniversal

LOS ANGELES, CA, December 2nd, 2015 — The American Film Institute announced today four documentary projects that screened at the AFI DOCS 2015 film festival in Washington, DC have been selected to receive funding from the first-ever AFI DOCS/NBCUniversal Impact Grants. The grants will support the outreach and social action campaigns for these four documentary projects that participated in the inaugural year of the AFI DOCS Impact Lab, a two-day filmmaker workshop sponsored by NBCUniversal and presented in partnership with Picture Motion.

In addition to providing these four projects with financial support, AFI DOCS and Picture Motion will team with the Center for Media & Social Impact (CMSI) at American University and CMSI Co-Director Caty Borum Chattoo to author and publish a final report that will document the social impact of the grantee films.

“The AFI DOCS film festival leverages the power of documentary storytelling to catalyze change through not only screenings and events but also through professional development for our filmmakers. The AFI DOCS/NBCUniversal Impact Grants will help turn their training into action,” said Michael Lumpkin, Director of AFI DOCS.
“NBCUniversal is excited to have joined with AFI on this initiative to help filmmakers find innovative ways to create a positive impact through their films. We believe these grants will drive awareness and education around important social issues by engaging consumers, communities and government, and help these filmmakers also be changemakers,” said Beth Colleton, Senior Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility at NBCUniversal.

The first-ever Impact Lab took place in Washington, DC from June 16–17, 2015 during AFI DOCS, the American Film Institute’s international documentary film festival held annually in the nation’s capital — with the goal to inspire change by bringing together the nation’s leaders and leading artists. The Lab, led by Heidi Nel, President of Picture Motion, Washington DC, introduced participants to policymakers addressing a range of issues from civil rights and racial justice, to education, surveillance and the refugee crisis, and imparted filmmakers with the skills to engage with those policymakers at a grassroots level to catalyze lasting social change.
Spanning some of the most critical and urgent problems facing the world today, the projects supported by these grants demonstrated their ability to leverage distribution in 2015. The documentary projects receiving a total of $75,000 in support from the 2015 AFI DOCS/NBCUniversal Impact Grants are:


Blair Foster Director/Producer
Geeta Gandbhir Director/Producer
Jessica Jones Impact Producer

THE CONVERSATION, a series of short films, uses powerful personal narratives to elevate shared experiences about race and equality that are often only discussed in the confines of like-minded communities. The series aims to foster a deep dialogue around racial tension and polarization in the United States as well as serve as an outlet for more personal and intimate discussions about race relations in America. Each film will be a conversation from a different personal perspective, experience and racial lens within our society.


Greg Whiteley Director/Writer/Producer
Ted Dintersmith Executive Producer
Daria Lombroso Director of Campaign Strategy

The American education system was developed during the Industrial Revolution to help prepare young people to take on standard jobs of the era, which no longer exist. So why has that system remained virtually unchanged for more than 100 years when our culture and economy have dramatically shifted to an age of information and technology? Filmmaker Greg Whiteley explores this paradox and examines the future of education through experimental schools such as San Diego’s High Tech High, where students, teachers and parents embark on a new path that aims to spark an education revolution.


Scott Christopherson Director/Producer/Cinematographer
Brad Barber Director/Producer/Cinematographer
Corinne Bourdeau Engagement Campaign Strategist

As a sheriff in the 1970s, William “Dub” Lawrence founded Utah’s SWAT team. Thirty years later, when a police standoff ends with that SWAT team killing his son-in-law, Dub launches a personal investigation into the case. As the scope of his investigation grows to include several chilling cases of excessive force and questionable techniques used by law enforcement, he finds himself confronting a startling nationwide trend of increasing militarization of police forces.


Chris Temple Director/Producer/Campaign Director
Zach Ingrasci Director/Producer/Campaign Director
Salam Darwaza Producer/Campaign Director

Across the Jordanian border from Syria lies the world’s second largest refugee camp. In an effort to understand the growing crisis, a film team spends one month living in Za’tari. The Syrian families they meet aren’t just displaced, they have no promise of a future with sufficient food, security, education or peace. SALAM NEIGHBOR offers personal insights into the complexities of refugee life and challenges audiences to express neighborly love for people in crisis.

About Picture Motion

Picture Motion is the leading marketing and advocacy firm for issue driven films. We work with filmmakers and change makers to amplify awareness and spur activism, using film as the driving vehicle to advance social change. With offices in Los Angeles, New York and Washington D.C., Picture Motion provides unmatched experience, services, and reach. The team designs, develops, and executes grassroots marketing and social impact campaigns, and is equipped to manage all facets of the campaign, ranging from strategic planning and partnership development, to impact distribution and grassroots screening tours, to digital engagement and political advocacy. Films can change the world. We make sure they do. Visit

About NBCUniversal

NBCUniversal is one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience. NBCUniversal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment television networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group, world-renowned theme parks, and a suite of leading Internet-based businesses.  As a company uniquely positioned to inform, empower, and inspire, NBCUniversal embraces the opportunity to create conversation, mobilize action and catalyze collaborations between community changemakers to address some of the nation’s most critical issues. NBCUniversal brings this belief to life via its Open Possibilities social impact platform which centers around the opportunity for media and technology to help people and communities thrive in a 21st century world.  NBCUniversal is a subsidiary of Comcast Corporation. To learn more visit:


AFI DOCS is the American Film Institute’s annual documentary festival in Washington, DC. Presenting the year’s best documentaries, AFI DOCS is the only festival in the U.S. dedicated to screenings and events that connect audiences, filmmakers and policy leaders in the heart of our nation’s government. The AFI DOCS advisory board includes Ken Burns, Davis Guggenheim, Chris Hegedus, Werner Herzog, Barbara Kopple, Spike Lee, Errol Morris, D A Pennebaker and Frederick Wiseman. Now in its 14th year, the festival will be held June 22–26, 2016 in landmark Washington, DC, venues and the historic AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring, MD.  Visit and connect on, and

About the American Film Institute

AFI is America’s promise to preserve the history of the motion picture, to honor the artists and their work and to educate the next generation of storytellers. AFI programs include the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and AFI Archive, which preserve film heritage for future generations; the AFI Life Achievement Award – the highest honor for a career in film; AFI Awards, honoring the most outstanding motion pictures and television programs of the year; AFI’s 100 Years…100 Moviestelevision events and movie reference lists, which have introduced and reintroduced classic American movies to millions of film lovers; year-round and special event exhibition through AFI FEST presented by Audi, AFI DOCS and the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center; and educating the next generation of storytellers at the world-renowned AFI Conservatory. For more information about AFI, visit or connect with AFI at, and

# # #


Liza Ameen, AFI, 323.856.7885 or
Jamie Shor, PR Collaborative, 202.339.9598