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The inaugural Dart Center Documentary Film Fellowship is an immersive, week-long fellowship designed for senior and mid-career filmmakers who wish to deepen their knowledge of emotional trauma and psychological injury, delve into documentary ethics and craft challenges, and enrich their professional engagement with violence, conflict and tragedy. 

The Dart Center Documentary Film Fellowship – supported by The Dart Foundation of Mason, Michigan – will take place February 11-17, 2024 in Grand Cayman.

The fellowship will bring 10-12 filmmakers together with leading experts on core issues of trauma science as well as innovators in documentary practice, providing a forum for the exchange of ideas, experiences and challenges in the profession. Seminars will focus on ethical documentary reporting and engagement of vulnerable people in all stages of production; narrative and craft challenges specific to documentary film; duty of care to subjects and sources; self-care and resilience; as well as organizational and peer support from pre-production through film distribution. 

The program will equip filmmakers with the knowledge and skills to approach victims and survivors with sensitivity and depth; understand the complexity of trauma survivors' experiences; tell more insightful, multi-dimensional and nuanced stories about those impacted by trauma; make more informed, ethical choices when covering traumatic events; and create self-care and peer support plans that span development through distribution, awards and streaming runs.

The fellowship covers round trip travel, six nights of lodging, meals and expenses directly related to participation, such as ground transportation on Grand Cayman. The program does not cover health insurance, visa costs, additional nights of lodging beyond the program’s duration or ground transportation in fellows’ home cities.


To apply for the fellowship, you must create a free account on Submittable.

To submit a completed application, you will need:

  • Resume / CV
  • Professional Bio
  • Letter of interest: Your letter should discuss your work as a filmmaker, your experiences covering violence and trauma, challenges you've encountered or particular events or experiences that have informed your outlook and/or professional trajectory, and what you hope to take away from the fellowship. (No more than 2 pages)
  • One recent and relevant documentary work sample: 
    • Your work sample should have been published or broadcast within the last five years, and be no longer than 15 minutes: it can be a standalone piece, or a section from a longer film. Password-protected Vimeo links are preferred. 
    • You must have worked as a Director, Producer or Editor on the project.
    • If your work sample is in a language other than English, please submit it with English subtitles. If subtitles are not possible, you may submit an English-language transcript alongside the video file.  
  • Two letters of recommendation from professional references: You will be asked to provide an email address for each of your recommenders, and they will be contacted directly by Submittable to upload their recommendation for your application. The deadline for recommendations is October 11, 2023.

Applications will not be accepted by employees of Columbia Journalism School, the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, or student filmmakers.

Application deadline: October 4, 2023 at 5:00pm EST. Recommendation letters will be accepted through October 11, 2023.


Applications are reviewed by a judging committee composed of Dart Center staff, Fellowship faculty, Columbia Journalism School faculty, and experienced filmmakers. Judges consider a variety of factors when evaluating applications, with an emphasis on whether applicants demonstrate consistent and thoughtful engagement with issues of violence, conflict, tragedy and their aftermath; have demonstrated excellence and leadership in their careers; and will likely contribute meaningfully to the fellowship and fellows cohort.

The judging committee will review applications and select 10-12 fellows, who will be notified via email. All applicants will be notified by November 10, 2023. 

Please direct any queries to documentary@dartcenter.org

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