Film: OPEN CALL FOR SHORT DOCUMENTARY FILMS (IF/Then x The Redford Center Nature Access Pitch)

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by Lamont Williams on July 22, 2021

in Film

The Redford Center and IF/Then Shorts have announced an open call for short documentary films that explore environmental solutions to restoring humanity’s connection with the outdoors. Selected during a pitch event at DOC NYC in November 2021, winning filmmakers will receive a combined $35,000 in production grants, along with mentorship and distribution, to share their stories of nature access with the world.

The Nature Access Pitch, as it’s known, celebrates stories that spotlight the social, emotional, physical, mental, and community health benefits of time spent outdoors. The collaboration calls attention to the complex social, racial, economic, and health inequities related to issues of nature access and aims to increase representation of communities impacted most by environmental injustice, who are not often recognized in mainstream environmental movements. Storytellers with short documentary projects featuring nearby nature or wild nature across all geographic and social contexts are encouraged to participate.

The application portal is currently open
and will close on August 23, 2021, at 11:59 PM PST.
For more information or to submit a project,
please visit

The pitch is open to original, stand-alone documentary shorts in production and up to six finalists will be selected to participate in the live, in-person pitch event during DOC NYC this November. Each filmmaker will pitch their submission to an esteemed jury of industry leaders, filmmakers, and environmental experts. The winning filmmaker will receive a $25,000 production grant and year of mentorship from IF/Then and The Redford Center that includes production support, creative feedback, distribution consultations, and festival strategy. The jury will also award two honorable mention prizes of $5,000 production grants and distribution consultation.

The pitch is also open to individuals living and working in the United States, with an emphasis on stories and storytellers representing communities most impacted by environmental injustice and barriers to nature access. Submissions should be in the form of character-driven, place-based, community-inspired, short form storytelling that showcases immediate solutions to cope with humanity’s disconnection with the outdoors.

To meet eligibility requirements, projects must be an original documentary with a duration of 10-30 minutes, eligible for completion within six to nine months of receiving the winning prize, follow best practices in documentary ethics, authentically represent the story featured in the film, designed for a U.S. audience, presented in English or have English subtitles, and able to participate in the IF/Then Shorts distribution initiative by having no prior distribution commitments.


Founded in 2016 with support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, IF/Then Shorts is a fund and mentorship program at Field of Vision that supports storytellers in breaking barriers to access, exposure, and sustainability in the media landscape. IF/Then works with creators who experience inequity based on factors such as race, gender, class, sexuality, ability, ethnicity, age, citizenship, and/or geography. IF/Then Shorts taps into the need for broader geographical representation in the stories that get told through its regional pitch events. It holistically supports short documentary storytellers in their creation of compelling, character-led, community-inspired stories that embody the breadth and diversity of the people and places they represent.

Co-founded in 2005 by Robert Redford and his son James Redford, The Redford Center uses the power of storytelling to galvanize environmental justice and regeneration. Its cross-cutting programs support environmental storytellers and invest in impact-driven narrative strategies. By amplifying and changing the conversations around environmentalism, The Redford Center aims to engage a much broader and more diverse population in the movement. It has produced three award-winning feature documentaries and 30+ short films, supported 75+ film and media projects with grants and other services, inspired 400+ student films, and dispersed more than $8 million to fiscally sponsored projects. Redford Center film impact campaigns have halted the construction of dirty coal plants, reconnected the Colorado River to the Sea of Cortez, and helped accelerate the clean energy revolution in America. For more information, visit

DOC NYC, America’s largest documentary festival, takes place annually in November; the 12th edition will be held in person and online November 10-18, 2021. The 2020 festival was held exclusively online, showcasing over 250 films and events with hundreds of filmmakers participating in pre-recorded Q&As and live virtual events. In addition to premiering feature-length and short documentaries, the festival’s highlights also include DOC NYC PRO—a series of in-depth panels, pitch sessions and case studies—and the Visionaries Tribute awards ceremony that honors major figures in the field of nonfiction film. DOC NYC is produced and presented by IFC Center, a division of AMC Networks.

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