Calling all Seattle filmmakers: Want your own Crosscut series?

Crosscut Origins is a new docuseries premiering next week — and we're launching a $40k grant for a local director to produce Season Two.

Two faces stare off-camera

A still from the "Crosscut Origins: Refuge After War" docuseries premiering March 3.

When Kabul fell to the Taliban nearly a year and a half ago, the video team here at Crosscut thought through how we could respond to the humanitarian crisis that was sure to follow. 

Since then, we have been working with local filmmaker Thanh Tan on a short-form video series that draws parallels between the shared experiences of Vietnamese and Afghan refugees. We will release this inaugural season of Crosscut Origins on March 3, but it was the collaboration with Thanh that we want to replicate moving forward, year after year.

For future seasons of Crosscut Origins, we are looking for stories that reflect the makeup of our region told from an insider’s perspective: stories grounded in ancestry, connection, culture, influence and rootedness. Stories that reflect our place, values and people. Every year, through an online submission process, the Crosscut team will select a project and award $40,000 toward producing a five-part short-form docuseries. Just as Thanh is rooted in the Vietnamese community welcoming Afghan refugees to the area, filmmakers who apply must be part of the community they are documenting (i.e., Indigenous stories told by Indigenous filmmakers, Latinx stories told by Latinx filmmakers, etc.).

Submissions are now open for the next season of Crosscut Origins, and filmmakers have until April 17 to apply. At that point, a five-person panel will review the applications and select the winner. The committee will consist of representatives from Cascade Public Media, the Seattle International Film Festival, and leaders from the Pacific Northwest film communities. We will announce the winning project in early May, and production can begin.

Whether this is the filmmaker’s third documentary project or their 30th, all experience levels are encouraged to apply. Over seven months, the Crosscut video team will regularly meet with the filmmaker to ensure the project is on track. We will offer feedback and support, but ultimately we are backing the filmmaker’s vision. The filmmaker is responsible for how the grant money is spent, but they will update the Crosscut team on their budget. They will assemble the team needed to tell the story from production through post-production. The Crosscut team will be there every step of the way, ensuring the filmmaker remains on target to deliver a compelling, well-packaged, five-part docuseries by the end of 2023.

The title of the first season of Crosscut Origins is “Refuge After War.” It is a five-part short-form docuseries that examines the experiences of Vietnamese and Afghan refugees forced to flee and resettle in Washington after the falls of Saigon in 1975 and Kabul in 2021. Through the eyes of Thanh, a daughter of refugees herself, this series is a personal examination of the power, the trauma and the challenges of refugee resettlement in the 21st century — and a reflection of America’s ongoing failure to learn from the past. It will premiere on KCTS 9 on March 3 and play throughout March.

I’ll be moderating a special screening of the first three episodes of “Refuge After War” at SIFF Uptown on February 28. The screening will be followed by a discussion with Thanh and two participants from the series. Hope to see you there.

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About the Authors & Contributors

Sarah Menzies

Sarah Menzies

Sarah Menzies is the Director of Videography at Crosscut and KCTS 9 where she oversees a team of producers to create compelling and impactful video content.