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Cal Humanities Awards $350,000 To 13 Documentary Projects

SAN FRANCISCO, March 26, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Cal Humanities has announced the recipients of the 2014 California Documentary Project (CDP) grant awards. This year Cal Humanities has awarded $350,000 to thirteen film, radio, and new media projects. The projects range from a public radio series documenting California's regional food and culture; to a film about anti-tax activist Howard Jarvis and Proposition 13; to a film about the changes in California's Three Strikes Law. Together, they help us better understand who we are and where we live.

Cal Humanities Debuts New Name and Graphic Identity

Cal Humanities President and CEO Ralph Lewin said, "Cal Humanities is proud to support the important work of these documentarians in shedding light on the forces that have shaped, and continue to change, California. These projects are likely to spark substantive dialog about what it means to be a Californian and where our state should be headed."

Since 2003, Cal Humanities has awarded over $4 million to film, radio, and new media documentaries that reach and engage statewide and national audiences through broadcast and distribution, at film festivals and community screenings, in classrooms and online. Cal Humanities has supported dozens of Sundance, Peabody, Emmy®, and Academy Award®-winning and nominated documentaries through the California Documentary Project (CDP) and other programs.

More information about the California Documentary Project can be found on the Programs section of our website,

Production Awards

The Return (film)
Project Directors: Katie Galloway and Kelly Duane de la Vega
Sponsor: Loteria Films
The Return is film and multimedia project that examines the impact of the recent passage of Proposition 36 and the amendment of California's Three Strikes Law to exclude nonviolent offenders. The film will follow individuals and families affected by Prop 36 over two years and document a pivotal moment in American criminal justice.

The California Tribal Justice Project (film)
Project Director: Anne Makepeace
Sponsor: The Morris & Ruth B. Cowan Foundation
The California Tribal Justice Project (working title) is a feature-length documentary about the female chief justices of California's two largest tribes, Yurok and Quechan, who are working to reintroduce traditional cultural values back into the courtroom. Through focusing primarily on the tribes' community-based legal processes and restorative justice models, the film provides an illustrative contrast to California's current state justice system.

Edible Atlas: California Food Stories, County by County (radio)
Project Director: Lisa Morehouse
Sponsor: The Kitchen Sisters Productions
Edible Atlas is a radio and web series documenting the stories of food and the lives and culture of the people who produce it throughout the state of California. These evocative, sound-rich stories will be broadcast statewide on KQED's The California Report and nationally through other NPR strands.

Real Boy (film)
Project Director: Shaleece Haas
Sponsor: San Francisco Film Society
Real Boy follows 19-year-old Bennett through the first two years of gender transition. With California at the center of the struggle for transgender rights and visibility, this film provides a window into a complex and emotionally-charged topic and sheds light on the growing community of trans youth.

Frank Wong's Chinatown (film)
Project Director:  James Q. Chan
Sponsor: Reflective Images, Inc.
Frank Wong's Chinatown (working title) tells the story of an 80-year-old long-time resident of San Francisco's Chinatown who documents his memories of the community by building detailed miniature models of the neighborhood's streets and establishments as they looked in the 1940s.The film is both a portrait of a skilled artist as well as a meditation on history, memory, and preserving one's own legacy.

Geographies of Kinship - The Korean Adoption Story (film)
Project Director: Deann Borshay Liem
Sponsor: Mu Films
Geographies of Kinship is a feature-length documentary about Korean adoption and the legacy of the Korean War. As the film follows adoptees in California and internationally searching for their roots, reconnecting with birth families, or seeking community among other adoptees, it raises broader questions about race, family, and transnational adoption.

Mad as Hell!: Howard Jarvis, Prop. 13 and the Birth of the Tax Revolt (film)
Project Director: Jason Cohn
Sponsor: Catticus Corporation
Mad as Hell! is a 60-minute documentary about anti-tax activist Howard Jarvis, California's Proposition 13, and the campaign that launched the American tax revolt. While focusing primarily on the details of Jarvis and the grassroots anti-tax campaign, the film also encourages a deeper understanding of the initiative process and the roots of contemporary tax revolts.

The Ovarian Psycos (film)
Project Directors: Joanna Sokolowski and Kate Trumbull-LaValle
Sponsor: Women Make Movies, Inc.
The Ovarian Psycos is a feature-length documentary about an irreverently named all-female bicycle collective that formed to protest violence against women in their East Los Angeles communities. Inspired and informed by the Chicano/a Movement of the 1960s and '70s, the group represents a new generation of grassroots activism by young women of color.

Breathin': the Eddy Zheng Story (film)
Project Director: Ben Wang
Sponsor: Chinese for Affirmative Action
This one-hour documentary follows Chinese immigrant Eddy Zheng after he's released from two decades in prison and awaiting possible deportation due to his immigration status. In addition to Zhen's story, the film addresses complex questions of imprisonment and restorative justice, immigration and immigrant rights, and the Asian American "model minority" myth.

Research & Development Awards

The Brown Buffalo Project (film)
Project Director: Phillip Rodriguez
Sponsor: About Productions
The Brown Buffalo Project will tell the story of Oscar Zeta Acosta, a writer, lawyer, and activist, who—despite being a well-known figure in the Chicano Movement—is better known today for his fictionalized role in Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. The film will explore Acosta's colorful biography, his historical and literary contributions to American Latinos, and his legacy.

California Green Fire (film)
Project Director: Mark Kitchell
Sponsor: San Francisco Film Society
California Green Fire will document California's environmental movement and tell stories of conservation such as the generations-long effort to save redwood forests, alternative ecology movements and organic agriculture, and attempts at the grassroots and legislative levels to control pollution. This film is a companion to the Cal Humanities-supported documentary A Fierce Green Fire.

Lai Lai (film)
Project Director: Laura Nix
Sponsor: International Documentary Association
Lai Lai is a feature documentary about a ballroom dance studio in suburban Los Angeles where people of Chinese, Taiwanese, European, and Russian ethnicities and cultures mix, creating a portrait of a dance studio and its clientele that illustrates the richness of cultural diversity of Southern California.

The Mojave Project (new media)
Project Director: Kim Stringfellow 
Sponsor: Mojave Desert Heritage and Culture Association 
The Mojave Project is a web-based interactive multimedia project exploring the historical, cultural, and physical landscape of the Mojave Desert. The project will illuminate the true character of the Mojave by collecting and sharing a wide range of voices and stories, including those of historians, geologists, biologists, cultural geographers, native speakers, land management officials, military personnel, miners, environmental activists, and long-time residents.

Cal Humanities' mission is to connect Californians to ideas and one another in order to understand our shared heritage and diverse cultures, inspire civic participation, and shape our future.

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