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Documentaries have always been close to our heart – in fact, many of our original clients are documentary filmmakers. We wanted to make sure that the next generation of documentarians had a chance to tell their stories too, and that’s why we launched the 2013 AbelCine Documentary Grant. To enter, we asked people to come up with a great idea, shoot a short pitch video, and upload it to Vimeo. The prize? A $33,000 equipment grant good towards a Canon C300 rental package and lenses (plus unlimited access to Endcrawl’s cloud-based credits service).

Once all the entries were submitted, we displayed them in a dedicated AbelCine Documentary Grant Vimeo Channel and invited the community to Like their favorites; the ten submissions with the most Likes at the end of the voting period become finalists and move on to the judging round. In the judging round, a committee comprised of AbelCine & industry experts – as well as award-winning filmmakers Mark Benjamin, Ellen Kuras, ASC, and Peter Schnall – will select the three grant winners.

The ten finalists truly showcase the diverse topics and styles within the genre of ‘documentary.’ You can watch them all below, but stay tuned because the three grant winners will be announced in October!

A 21st Century Dude Ranch Adventure with the Johnstones
Jennifer Tennican  

“The Johnstones (the entire family: parents and three kids) are pouring their soul into bringing Turpin Meadow Ranch back to life. The matriarch likes to joke “Honey, I bought a dude ranch.” Will these former Olympic athletes be up to this Herculean task or will they go belly up and lose their business? Will time on the ranch bring this family closer together? In this hyperconnected, digital age, will people want to unplug long enough to play cowboy in the Wild West?” 


A Better Life
Steven Liang

“As a child of working-class immigrant parents, I felt it was important to humanize immigrant workers given the paucity of such representations in political discourse … Undocumented immigrants have hopes and dreams. They work in low-wage industries that keep the American economy afloat. They strive for the American Dream like we all do.”


Black Booth 
Danilo Lima 

“After interviewing a film projectionist I understood that these people most of the time have incredibly interesting stories. At the same time, with the changes movie industry has been suffering, this may be an extinct craft very soon. This inspired me to tell the stories of these people and explore a little further this activity before it is completely extinct.”


Caulan Me Ing Kawayan (Embrace the Kids of Kawayan)
Nathan Driskill 

“The scene that gave me emotional shivers was the classroom/school at Kawayan. Starkly bare inside and out, the mean raw earth offered no protection to the children’s barren feet. They are just kids, about 4-5 yrs old, who need to walk 5 hours just to be educated.”


Cauliflower and Potatoes
Gautam Chopra 

“When my mother talks about immigrating to America, she prefaces her stories with, “This is back when your father used to like me.”…As I struggle with issues in my own life, I’m finding it crucial to understand how my parents’ love started and how it deteriorated to where it is now. My hope is that this film will help my family heal its wounds, and ultimately celebrate its love.”


Jeff Golub: Train Keeps A Rollin
Kyle Kelley

“Not only is Jeff a world-class musician, he’s a fantastic guy as well. As a cinematographer, the thought of losing my sight is terrifying. Seeing how Jeff has dealt with the trauma is a truly fascinating and heart-wrenching experience.”


Rising Above & Moving Beyond: The Eddie Nash Foundation
Melissa Kosar

“I met Bryan “Eddie” Nash 7 years ago, and after reading his book, “A Phoenix Rising: Defining the Moments,” I was introduced to a whole other side of Bryan I knew nothing about…With all the mental and physical abuse he endured, he wrote his book from a point of forgiveness. After writing his book, he was compelled to start a foundation in which the proceeds could be given back to those in need.”


The True and Unknown Story of Captain Luis Arias Guerra
Andrés Arias 

“It is really personal to me, to try to understand what a family legend is. I have heard so much about my grandfather, but I never knew him as a person. This is a personal family story that everyone can relate to, about family secrets, mystery, discovery, and love.”


Three Lenses
Ecar Oden

“A couple of years ago I decided to do a documentary on Ansel Adams… One of the things I discovered that impressed me was his willingness to buck the anti-Japanese hysteria during World War II and not only photograph at the Manzanar Internment Camp, but even write a book using his photographs… I then discovered Dorothea Lange also photographed at Manzanar and realized there was a an important story these photographers saw there. “


Wanderlust: The Human Journey
Trevor Wallace

“In all of my projects I saw two groups of people interacting and overlapping: travelers and the displaced… it seemed like the only people with real insight into the world’s problems were those who left their own countries, cultures, and comfort zones. Most importantly, I was struck by the very current nature of forced displacement—from climate change, war, and economic downturn—and how it relates to the fundamental human drives of migration and travel.”

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