Jewish Story Partners, a new film foundation with initial funding from Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw’s Righteous Persons Foundation, launches today aiming to “tell stories about a diverse spectrum of Jewish experiences, histories, and cultures.”
Backers also include the Maimonides Fund, which matched the Spielberg foundation grant, the Jim Joseph Foundation and others. The LA-based organization with well over $2 million in funding will, starting this year, provide $500,000 in grants to U.S.-based feature length documentaries to be selected by jury panels.
The new foundation said it’s responding “to the glaring gap in funding as well as the pressing need to expand the range of stories reflecting Jewish lives.”
“There is nothing like storytelling to foster connections and help us understand life’s deepest truths. We are especially proud to help establish this initiative — which will make visible a fuller range of Jewish voices, identities, experiences, and perspectives — at a time when social divisions run painfully deep and mainstream depictions too often fail to reflect the Jewish community in all its complexity. We hope that JSP projects will long be a source of meaning within the Jewish community and beyond,” said Capshaw and Spielberg in a joint statement.
Jewish Story Partners will announce its inaugural round of grantees shortly. Submissions are open for a second funding round with applications due July 1. It plans to ramp up significantly in coming years in funding and eligibility to encompass international filmmakers and fiction projects.
Along with financial support in development, production, post production and release of film projects, JSP will provide “a continuum of support to help unlock each film’s creative vision, accelerate completion, and maximize audience impact.”
“We’re thrilled to create something that is both additive to the independent film community as well as critical to the Jewish arts and culture landscape. With the support of our incredible partners, Righteous Persons Foundation, Maimonides Fund, and Jim Joseph Foundation, we can accelerate the production and impact of excellent independent films,” said co-directors Grossman and Libresco.
Jewish Story Partners’ founding board of directors includes writer, producer and showrunner Marta Kauffman; film producer Dan Cogan; entertainment attorney Victoria Cook; film impact executive Wendy Cohen; political and equity strategist Ginna Green; nonprofit executive director and television executive Simon Kilmurry; historian and professor of modern Jewish culture Sarah Abrevaya Stein; and executive producer Nancy Spielberg, sister of Steven Spielberg.
“I’m looking forward to helping create a stable and lasting funding organization that can fill the funding gap for independent filmmakers who want to tell a Jewish story,” Kaufmann said.
Spielberg and Capshaw founded the Righteous Persons Foundation in 1995 from his profits from the 1993 film Schindler’s List. It has made more than $100 million in grants and been supported by additional profits from the films Munich and Lincoln.