Carole Dorothy Joyce Grant for Student Filmmakers Winners

From the Heart Productions is excited to announce the winner of the inaugural Carole Dorothy Joyce Grant for Student Filmmakers!

The grant seeks films from student filmmakers enrolled in university, college, community college, extension courses, or high school that need help starting or finishing their film. Films must be unique and make a contribution to society.

2023 Carole Dorothy Joyce Grant for Student Filmmakers Winner

From Earth to Earth: The Lost Art of Dying in America
Producers: Chess Cabrera, Alyssa Beebe, Mikayla Hall, Max Schweik, Reed Freeman
Directors: Max Schweik, Alyssa Beebe, Mikayla Hall, Chess Cabrera, Reed Freeman
“From Earth to Earth” takes a critical look at the rituals dictated by America’s death-denying culture and asks, “How can people trying to cope with the death of a loved one be better served?” Our documentary takes the viewer deep into the woods of Vermont and the meadows of central New York where deathwork pioneers are inspiring a new way of thinking about life, death, and our enduring connection to nature. Along the way, we explore the systematic problems of the death industry and provide insight into alternative paths for returning our bodies to the embrace of the Earth – and a whole new approach to burial, funerals, and life itself. 

Carole Joyce Award for Excellence in Documentary Storytelling

This is a special $2,000 award that goes to a film submitted to the Roy W. Dean Film Grant and selected as a finalist.

Pianoman (Documentary) Produced & Directed by Sunny Liu
“Pianoman” weaves a captivating and deeply personal tale of an undocumented family navigating a path filled with hardships that resonate on both an individual and universal level. The film illuminates social issues through its sensitive cinema verite style, exploring themes of justice and resilience beyond mere trauma. Viewers are taken on an emotional journey, experiencing raw pain intertwined with poignant tenderness. The dedicated team behind the film passionately believes that the story of David Avendaño will deeply resonate with audiences, encouraging them to find reflections of their own lives within the narrative. The film appeals to those interested in civil rights, social justice, immigration issues, the power of music, or the artistry of piano making.
Hang Town (Documentary) Produced & Directed by Stuart Harmon
In the foothills of northern California’s historic Gold Rush country a reckoning is underway within a town defined by a violent symbol – the noose. History and current events collide as three women must confront their communities and their identities. HANGTOWN, a documentary film in production, investigates California’s little known legacy of lynching and land theft, revealing how false narratives of the past continue to haunt communities of color today. Directed by Stuart Harmon and produced by Lyntoria Newton, HANGTOWN features the stories of those excluded from California’s history to help shine a more expansive light on the past and validate the voices of those who have long been overlooked.
A Family of Stories (Documentary) Produced & Directed by Alexa Hidalgo
In 1983, Miguel Hidalgo, a Venezuelan writer and inventor, disappeared in the Amazon, leaving behind his six-year-old daughter, Alexandra. Now a filmmaker, her life is transformed as she untangles the mystery of his absence and figures out why her MIT-educated father with a genius IQ ended up buying gold in the Amazon. As she uncovers secrets about him, her family, and herself she must come to terms with the fact that she had based her identity on a mirage created by her ancestors. Having completed her quest, she starts over, aware of how her past shaped her but ready to move beyond the wounds she has carried since childhood.
Hart of the Wild Bunch (Short) Directed by Sophia Arguelles and Grace Fulton
“In “Hart of the Wild Bunch”, a wild west gang of runaway women find themselves destitute after a chain of unsuccessful heists. Benevolent leader Cassidy Hart must leverage her authority when one of her rebel followers rallies the group around a very dangerous scheme.
Wrestling with Iran Film by Jahangir Golestan-Parast
In this deeply personal film, Persian-American filmmaker Golestan-Parast explores how wrestling can bring people together. Through the director’s own experience returning to his home country after many years in the USA and by telling the personal stories of athletes wrestling abroad, women barred from the sport, and a wrestling hero fighting for the people – the film tells a complex, nuanced and vital story for this moment in time. This documentary is a defiant message of hope, an emotional homecoming, and a love letter to a people.
Untitled Ukraine War Documentary Film by Xachary Irving
Irving’s feature documentary profiles a company of volunteer soldiers, and the citizens they protect as they endure a horrific war with no foreseeable end in sight. After months embedded with a frontline Ukrainian army unit fighting on three different battlefronts, he explores enduring spirit of these brave men and women who represent every segment of their society and nation they are dedicated to defending. While enduring the anxieties of constant artillery shelling, waves of charging infantry attacks and the loss of their fallen comrades, these modern-day warriors dig deep to find strength enough to put their pain and fear aside. They know that their sacrifices not only help preserve their nation’s existence, but their fight protects the very survival of their friends and families back home.