AMPAS Halts Grant Programs to "Re-evaluate" Support of Film Orgs

 AMPAS educational programs web page

Steve Pond, writing for TheWrap

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is considering cuts and changes in many of its educational, grant and internship programs, drawing protests from members and some of those who have been the beneficiary of those programs over the years.

. . . 

“We're taking this year to re-evaluate some of our grant-giving to ensure that each of these programs has the greatest benefit to the Academy and the communities it serves,” an Academy spokesperson told TheWrap. “No organization supports film education, programming and emerging talent more than the Academy – it's part of our core mission and always will be.”

There seems to be some confusion around exactly which grants are being suspended. Pond goes on to describe the various film-related programs and organizations that will apparently be without a year of the funding (at the very least) that they normally count on from the Academy. Among those orgs are, of course, a number of film festivals. 

According to the annual report, $450,000 was awarded to film festivals in 2013, along with $325,000 for educational initiatives and $175,000 for internships.

Grants went to 23 festivals, including multi-year grants to the Cleveland International Film Festival for its program Focus on LGBT Filmmakers, the San Francisco International Film Festival for its World Cinema Spotlight and the Seattle International Film Festival for its African Pictures program.

“To some of the festivals, the grant might only be $5,000,” said a board member of one of the festivals. “But even an amount like that can mean a lot.”

Academy grants are notoriously difficult to win in the first place – just ask the festival directors who have applied for them. That some of them may now be going away doesn't bode well, but it's actually kind of exciting that the Academy recognizes that some of their giving may need some rethinking. It's possible that they'll come to the decision it's time to do more giving, or to discontinue stale programs in favor of new efforts that deserve a chance to thrive. 

It's just too bad that in order to get there, the Academy apparently has to put the brakes on everything for a year. 

I – and the rest of the festival and academic film community – will watch this story with interest.