Frequently Asked Questions

How are the films selected for each symposium, screening or film event?

Each event will have an organizing theme or primary topic.  Films selected will be oriented towards these themes and topics and will be chosen in a collaborative manner between the Foundation and the organizing entity. 

Is the Foundation affiliated with either of the two major political parties, or any other political group or organization?

No.  The Board of Directors have backgrounds of public service in both Republican and Democratic Administrations and on Capitol Hill.

 

Members of the Board of Advisors are selected based on career achievements in media, journalism, business, labor, government, politics and law.

Does the Foundation tilt either Left or Right, conservative or liberal?

No.  As stated in the Foundation's Mission Statement, the leadership of the Foundation is dedicated to informed and civil political discourse and avoids any affiliation or association that would give the appearance of favoritism to any political party or political orientation.

Are there any guiding principles that are the most important to its activities?

There are two.  The first is the Foundation's embrace of the freedoms articulated in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  Creative expression through the medium of film is based upon the constitutional protections within its ambit.  In the early days of film, however, these protections were not so obvious (see the references, below, to U.S. Supreme Court decisions in Mutual Film Corp. and Burstyn).  

The second is the Foundation's dedication to informed, thoughtful and civil discourse.  This is particularly important in the context of academic settings but also in the larger body politic and in civil society.

Why does the Foundation stress the importance of the First Amendment?  Haven't films always been protected as a form of free speech?

Movie-making and the films that were created in the early days of cinema had no First Amendment protection.  In fact, the US Supreme Court ruled in 1915 that movies were "business, pure and simple" and therefore not fundamentally different from any other regulated business (Mutual Film Corp. v. Industrial Commission of Ohio, 236 U.S. 230 (1915).

As censorship pressures began to proliferate, leaders of the film industry reacted by introducing a series of self-censorship measures, culminating in the Motion Picture Production Code (adopted in 1930), which came to be known as the Hays Code.  The decision in Mutual Film was reversed by the Supreme Court in 1952 in the case of Joseph Burstyn, Inc. v. Wilson, 343 U.S. 495 (1952).

Why was the Foundation created?

The Foundation was originally created as a way to showcase new feature films and documentaries that were focused on political issues and ideas.  In the early years its main activity was to organize and conduct an annual film festival in Washington titled "Politics on Film™".

How is the Foundation funded?

The Foundation is funded by contributions from its leadership and continually seeks to increase its funding through solicitation and financial support from individuals, corporations, trade associations, and other charitable and philanthropic foundations.

In its first few years the Foundation received funding from its original founders as well as contributions from private sponsors, including financial institutions, think tanks, corporations, and trade associations.  As examples, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), Goldman Sachs and the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) were early supporters.

What type of entity is the Foundation?

The Washington Political Film Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public charity with an educational mission.  This status was conferred by the IRS in 2009.  It is registered and licensed in the District of Columbia as a not-for-profit corporation.

What is involved in organizing a film symposium or other film event at my college/university?

The Foundation will bring resources to the table, but it also relies upon the support of a local organizing entity to successfully organize a film event.

 

This local support would include such things as theater rentals (on-campus theaters are ideal if available), promotion and marketing to the student, academic and local communities (i.e., the broader metropolitan area of which a college/university is a part), and recruitment of faculty and local subject matter experts to sit as panelists before and after film screenings (if structured as a symposium or other event featuring multiple films).

FACULTY AND ADMINISTRATORS

I am interested in working with the Foundation to organize a film event at my college/university.

 

How should I proceed?

STUDENTS

Please use the Contact form on this website to get in touch.  This will generate an email message to the Foundation and we will reply to you as soon as possible.

I think this might be a good fit for my college/university.

 

How should I proceed?

We anticipate that individual students or student organizations will have an interest in working with us and we would be delighted to consider any and all good ideas.  If you are a student, consider discussing with a member of your college/university faculty or administration leadership because of the local resources and commitments needed to make a successful event.

Whether you are an individual student or you are part of a student organization, and have resources that could potentially contribute to the organization of an event, please use the Contact form on this website to get in touch.

 

This contact will generate an email message to the Foundation and we will reply to you as soon as possible.

VOLUNTEERS

 

What if I want to volunteer to help the Foundation?

We are looking for volunteers!  If you have an interest in film and politics, no matter where you live, and you would be interested in working with us on any of our initiatives, we would be delighted to discuss with you.

This could involve helping with research regarding films and political events, assisting the organizers of film screenings on your campus or in your community, helping to promote film events through social media, etc.

Send us a message through our Contact form and we will reply to you as soon as possible.

 CIVIC     PHILANTHROPIC     CHARITABLE     EDUCATIONAL    SERVICE     LABOR    CORPORATE

My organization has an interest in sponsoring a film event based around a theme of particular interest to our leadership, our members, or a broader audience.

How should I proceed?

We can work with a sponsoring entity to organize an event that promotes a thoughtful approach to a particular issue or set of issues of interest to both the Foundation and the entity with which we are working.

Some ideas to consider are presentations at conventions and conferences (e.g., "A Short History of [insert topic] in Film").  Topics could include any of those identified in our six major categories; for example, "Civil Rights", "The Rule of Law", "War", "Espionage", "Journalism", "Campaigns and Elections", "High Crimes and Misdemeanors", etc.

Send us a message through our Contact form and we will reply to you as soon as possible.

Is there any type of individual or entity that you would NOT be willing to work with to organize an event?

The Foundation will not work with any individual, entity or organization with a history of or orientation towards any form of hate speech or illegal discrimination as may be defined in federal law or by any state or local government in which jurisdiction the Foundation has been asked to organize a film event.