Help Support DER

Through nearly 50 years of film curation, stewardship and distribution services, Documentary Educational Resources (DER) has developed into a one-of-a-kind resource documenting intangible culture, historical processes, and the lives and perspectives of underrepresented people. The collection offers a compendium of models for cultural documentation, from indigenous media production to diverse collaborations between community members, filmmakers and researchers. Established in 1968 by John Marshall and Timothy Asch, whose films were among the founding collection of the Smithsonian's Human Studies Film Archive, DER now distributes nearly 1000 titles, reaching audiences in all 50 states and internationally.

DER also provides invaluable support to both up-and-coming and veteran filmmakers and film productions through our Filmmaker Services Program. Our services include Fiscal Sponsorship, which enables media makers to access grant and foundation funding, as well as consulting, rough cut screenings, and workshops to help bring projects to completion.


Please consider supporting the efforts of independent media creation and distribution by donating to Documentary Educational Resources directly. Your tax-deductible donation will be used to support DER's ongoing and new initiatives. Read more about them below!

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Your contribution will support:

Remastering & Preservation of Historical Films

We regularly work to remaster, restore, and release landmark ethnographic and documentary films, which is no small feat! Your support helps offset the cost of lab fees, research, and consulting required by this important work.

In 2017-2018, our primary projects will be:

  • Preserving and remastering Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson's films, which we acquired Fall 2016. These important films, such as Bathing Babies in Three Cultures and Trance and Dance in Bali, require significant restoration before we can make them available to the public.

  • Remastering selected Yanomamo Films by Timothy Asch and Napoleon Chagnon, such as A Man Called "Bee" and Children's Magical Death.

The DER Oral History Project

In 2016 we began filming interviews for DER's Oral History Project. This project features stories about DER's history and influence in the emergence of ethnographic and documentary filmmaking — so much creation happened right here in the Boston area! We have interviewed several key figures already, such as Mary Catherine Bateson. Your support will allow us to film and edit 20 the more interviews we have planned 2017.

Development of Cinepedia Ethnographica

In 2016 we began, with Dr. Jennifer Cool, developing Cinepedia Ethnographica an online user- and expert-generated union catalogue of ethnographic films. This comprehensive catalogue will be a valuable resource to the field and academia, but will also make film information more accessible to the source communities and descendents of those portrayed. Your support will help us build on our recently completed planning outline, partnership outreach, and preliminary research.

Community Screening Program

Our films are regularly screened around the globe by community groups, students, and mission based organizations. Your support helps us reduce or waive screening fees so individuals and groups in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods, regions, and countries can hold free public screenings that spark meaningful dialogue and increase empathy and cross-cultural understanding.

What are people saying about DER?

“They take extraordinary films that are really about what it means to be a human being, and I think people will look back and when they look at America's greatest organizations DER will stand firm over the last hundred years as being an organization that really had a future vision to seeing how one can really make documentation and preserve all of the strange and lovely ways we are human beings.”
Sarah Elder, filmmaker, The Drums of Winter
“DER is synonymous with ethnographic film in the United States… They're a one-of-a-kind institution.”
John Bishop, filmmaker
“If I want to show something or discover something about any place in the world,
I think of DER as the place to go”
Laura R. Graham, filmmaker Owners of the Water


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Supported By Massachusetts Cultural Council National Endowment for the Humanities National Endowment for the Arts