Applications for the Democracy Story Lab London are now closed

Democracy Story Fund

The Democracy Story Lab is designed to explore a core question: what are the stories which can help us understand how we might govern ourselves? Join us in a new intervention bringing brilliant storytellers together with top thought leaders to pave the way for fresh futures

Why a Democracy Story Lab now?

The last few years have seen long held democratic norms being challenged. Citizenry are polarising into mutually exclusive information and opinion spheres; The democracies once seen as the most stable have seen unprecedented events such as the proroguing of the British parliament and the attack on the US Capitol; The number of DINOs (Democracy In Name Only) proliferates with Hungary and now India joining Russia.

There has been a recent focus by progressives on disinformation. Many in the climate movement pivoted to this issue, fearing we can’t mitigate the climate crisis without first mitigating the info crisis. We agree with those who see both as downstream from our democratic crisis. To solve our common crises, we must first reimagine how we are governed.

And here’s the good news. There is a wave of energy and ideas around governance reform - People’s Assemblies, digital political participation, sortition in empowered assemblies, power-sharing liberalism, learnings from indigenous governance systems, and so much more. These conversations are moving beyond just ‘protecting democracy’ and looking towards renewal, reimagination, and de/reconstruction.

For our first Democracy Story Lab, we will be inviting 10-12 media projects to join us, to brainstorm and weave critical conversations around strategy and effectiveness of political narratives in this moment.

Reflecting on storytelling of the last two decades, we’ve noticed that the ‘democracy’ narratives tend to fit into four categories:

  • Anti-corruption narratives: show citizens how their systems are being abused and pushed back against; reassure citizens that accountability is possible (maintain faith in democracy)
    Examples: The Edge of Democracy, Citizenfour, Dark Money
  • Representation narratives: showing how representative candidates run for - and sometimes win - office
    Examples: Knock Down the House, And She Could Be Next, Softie, An Insignificant Man
  • Citizen Power outside the system: Films that show the power of participation by those that join movements for change.
    Examples: The Square, Rebellion, Whose Streets?
  • New Democratic Models: films that seek new ways to do democracy, beyond the current model.
    Examples: People vs. Climate Change, Democrats

Some of these stories aim to protect, strengthen, and improve the existing system, while others showcase and encourage an evolution of the system. For the lab, we’re hoping to engage projects that fit into any of these categories but are particularly interested in those that look forwards to new models of democratic renewal.

The first lab will take place in London (November 27 - December 1, 2023), and stipends will be offered to those travelling from outside of the UK so please do not let that be a barrier to apply.

What are we looking for?

We seek documentary feature films, documentary short films, and non-fiction podcast projects.

This is a global initiative, we look to learn from and with one another in solidarity. If you are a storyteller working under a repressive regime or working with new ways of governing we want to hear from you.

We are accepting projects from production through post-production. If you have a completed project and are looking for support on an Impact Campaign, you are welcome to apply.

Please have another look at the films we listed above. Those are the types of contemporary stories we’ll be looking for.

What are we NOT looking for?

Projects that are biography centered or pure historical.

We are not supporting fiction or VR projects at this time.

Projects that are completed and uninterested in impact work.

FAQ Download a copy of the application

You must submit your application online via the Doc Society applications portal. We do not accept emailed applications. At this time, we can only accept applications in English.


27 June 2023

Call for Applications opens

24 July 2023

Application portal closes at 11:59 PM PST

Selected grantees and unsuccessful candidates will be notified in September.