The inaugural 2020 Completion Grants Program went to six projects including feature documentaries and a narrative short. They include A CRIME ON THE BAYOU (U.S.) (Feature documentary) directed by Nancy Buirski, IRMI (U.S.) (Feature documentary) directed by Veronica Selver and Susan Fanshel, THE BINDING OF ITZIK (U.S.) (Narrative short) directed by Anika Benkov, THE WILD ONE (U.S./France) (Feature documentary) directed by Tessa Louise-Salomé, THOSE WHO HEARD AND THOSE WHO SAW (U.S./Canada) (Feature documentary) directed by Nate Lavey, and ‘TIL KINGDOM COME (U.S./Israel) (Feature documentary) directed by Maya Zinshtein.
Special Congratulations to THE WILD ONE for being selected as the inaugural recipient of the Albert and Judith Goldberg Award.
A CRIME ON THE BAYOU (USA)
Director: Nancy Buirski / Feature Documentary
"A Crime on the Bayou" is the story of Gary Duncan, a Black teenager from Plaquemines Parish, a swampy strip of land south of New Orleans. In 1966, Duncan tries to break up an argument between white and Black teenagers outside a newly integrated school. He gently lays his hand on a white boy’s arm. The boy recoils like a snake. That night, police burst into Duncan’s trailer and arrest him for assault on a minor. A young Jewish attorney, Richard Sobol, leaves his prestigious D.C. firm to volunteer in New Orleans. With his help, Duncan bravely stands up to the District Attorney, challenging his unfair arrest. Their fight goes all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, and their lifelong friendship is forged.
Directors: Veronica Selver and Susan Fanshel / Feature Documentary
IRMI is a documentary about Irmi Selver, who lost her husband and two children while trying to escape from Hitler’s Europe. Using her memoir - beautifully read by the actress, Hanna Schygulla – and made by Irmi’s daughter, the film is a portrait of a woman whose strength, resilience and perhaps most stunningly, whose joie de vivre could not be vanquished, even in the face of unimaginable loss.
THE BINDING OF ITZIK (USA)
Director: Anika Benkov / Narrative Short
A middle aged, Hasidic bookbinder in search of binding materials, stumbles across a craigslist ad offering 'binding lessons for submissive women', which he responds to, becoming entangled in an emotionally intense BDSM relationship with a stranger on the internet.
THE WILD ONE (USA / FRANCE)
Director: Tessa Louise-Salomé / Feature Documentary
The Wild One illuminates an unsung artist, Jack Garfein—Holocaust survivor, Actors Studio West co-founder, and Hollywood filmmaker—examining how his experience in the camps propelled his vision of acting as a vehicle of resilience and his engagement with controversial themes in postwar American cinema.
THOSE WHO HEARD AND THOSE WHO SAW (USA / CANADA)
Director: Nate Lavey / Feature Documentary
In 1940, Jewish refugees who had fled to the United Kingdom were sent to work in prison camps in Canada. Through a large archive of never-released audio interviews, Those Who Heard and Those Who Saw considers how their experiences connect to those of contemporary Syrian refugees in Canada.
‘TIL KINGDOM COME (USA / ISRAEL)
Director: Maya Zinshtein / Feature Documentary
Millions of American Evangelicals are praying for the State of Israel. Among them are the Binghams, a dynasty of Kentucky pastors, and their Evangelical congregants in an impoverished coal mining town. They donate sacrificially to Israel’s foremost philanthropic organization, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, because they fervently believe the Jews are crucial to Jesus’s return. This film traces this relationship, from rural Kentucky to the halls of government in Washington, through the moving of the American Embassy in Jerusalem and to the annexation plan of the West Bank. The film exposes a backstory of the Trump and Netanyahu administrations, where political and religious motivations intersect with a worldview that is reshaping American foreign policy toward Israel and the Middle East.