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Ford Foundation Adds Sundance's Mertes as JustFilms Director, Funding Social Issue Docs

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood May 30, 2013 at 2:11PM

One of the key posts in the documentary world has been taken by Cara Mertes, who was director of the Sundance Institute's documentary film program. She'll now be director of the Ford Foundation's social justice filmmaking program JustFilms, which was founded by departing Orlando Bagwell and is under the Ford Media Arts and Culture unit.
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Cara Mertes
Cara Mertes

One of the key posts in the documentary world has been taken by Cara Mertes, who was director of the Sundance Institute's documentary film program. She'll now be director of the Ford Foundation's social justice filmmaking program JustFilms, which was founded by departing Orlando Bagwell and is under the Ford Media Arts and Culture unit. She'll be funding social issue docs. Bagwell supported more than 80 films via innovative creative collaborations; he believed in interactive storytelling to drive audience engagement.

Prior to the Sundance Institute, Mertes was executive producer of the “P.O.V.” documentary series at PBS and received multiple Emmys, George Foster Peabody and duPont-Columbia Awards.

 “Through Cara’s experience working on all elements of storytelling, and being a pioneer at finding and cultivating unique voices to have their stories told, she is well positioned to build on the legacy of JustFilms and to support filmmakers at every turn, from creation to distribution and impact,” said Darren Walker, vice president of Ford’s Education, Creativity and Free Expression program.

Sundance will be looking for someone to replace Mertes.

Other jobs open in the media world include gossip columnist at The Village Voice, after the unceremonious sacking of star Michael Musso, who actually inspired readers to check his column; he will be contributing columns to out.com, Gawker, Huffington Post and The Advocate.

The AP has lost their two experienced film critics, Christy Lemire and David Germain, who left under a crushing workload. And USA Today veteran staffer Susan Wlosczyna took a buyout, leaving a spot for a feature writer.

This article is related to: Sundance Institute , Independents, Documentary, New Media


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.