Ends on

The Southern Documentary Fund is proud to announce The SDF Emergency Research and Development Grant for documentary films made by current and aspiring filmmakers living and working in the American South. The grant is made possible with generous funding from The MacArthur Foundation.

Applications will open in the online portal on April 24, 2020. Applications are due by Midnight EST on June 7, 2020. Award recipients will be notified late-June with grant payout in July. 

  • Each grant awarded will be $5,000.

The SDF Emergency Research and Development Grant application has two parts: the online form and an attached budget.

Note: Please review the guidelines below carefully and answer all application questions thoroughly and thoughtfully. There will be a robust review process and submissions that are not complete will not advance to the final review stage.


  • Documentary filmmakers from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, and new and emerging makers are especially invited to apply.
  • Applicants residing in one of the following states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia and at least 18 years old are eligible. They must remain a resident of one of these states and be physically present during the grant period. Makers who received an SDF grant in 2017-2018 or 2018-2019 or are enrolled in an academic or degree-granting program at the time of application or during the grant period are not eligible; however, school faculty are eligible to apply. 
  • Applicants must have a US social security number or US federal tax ID number.
  • Applicants do not need a fiscal sponsor in order to apply for a grant.
  • Applicants must be one of the key collaborators.
  • Applicants may submit only one project per grant cycle.


  • Funds may not be used to cover previously incurred expenses.
  • Previously funded projects cannot re-apply for this grant, even if in a different stage of production.
  • SDF staff and Board members are ineligible.


  • Projects in the research and development stage.
  • Projects must be non-fiction documentaries.
  • Well-written proposals.
  • Strong work samples.
  • Potential to generate public conversation.


  • Grantees must submit narrative and financial reports during the course of the grant period, along with photos, other publicity materials, and credits when available.
  • SDF support must be acknowledged with a tag line and logo-of similar size and stature to other logos in the credits--at the end credits of the film as well as on all publicity and promotional materials relating to the production.

Information Sessions will take place May 12th & May 16th. You can find more information and registration on our website: http://southerndocumentaryfund.org/register-now-for-sdf-grant-info-session-may-12-16-2020/

For questions regarding eligibility or the application process, please email SDFgrants@southerndocumentaryfund.org.

We use Submittable to accept and review our submissions.