Fiche Structure
Documentary Educational Resources (DER)
Statut : Société de droit privé
Adresse : 101 Morse Street MA 02472 WATERTOWN
Pays concerné : États-Unis
Téléphone(s) : +1 617-926-0491 | +1 (800)-569-6621
Fax : +1 617-926-9519
Site web :


We produce, distribute and promote quality ethnographic and documentary films from around the world. We were founded in 1968 by independent filmmakers whose collaborations reflect a lifetime of engagement and respect for their subjects. Documentary Educational Resources’ films foster cross-cultural understanding through educational video and film.


Documentary Educational Resources is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 1968 and incorporated in 1971 for the purpose of producing and distributing cross-cultural documentary film for educational use. We were early innovators in developing 16mm film and media based curriculum for classroom use. Our company focus then and now is to support filmmakers who have long-term commitments to the people that they film. We find that filmmakers who work collaboratively with their subjects produce film with integrity.

It is also our focus to distribute media that has the power to overcome barriers to cross-cultural understanding. Media can be the first step in growing sensitivity and awareness of other cultures. This in turn may lead to tolerance and acceptance and eventually give way to appreciation and admiration of other cultures.

Our archive is one of the most historically important resources of ethnographic film in the world today. In 1975 DER co-founders John Marshall and Timothy Asch were key figures in establishing the Human Studies Film Archives at the Smithsonian Institution and their bodies of work are among the most significant ethnographic collections within the HSFA. We continue to collaborate with the Smithsonian on the use of our films for research. Our films have been screened everywhere, from villages and refugee camps in Africa, Native American reservations, to classrooms, museums and theatres worldwide.

DER’s mission is to cultivate community engagement with the peoples and cultures of the world in which we live through media that is both entertaining and educational. We address the need for tolerance and understanding of people who are different than ourselves. This need is universal and more evident in today’s global political, social and cultural climate than ever before. Underlying the diversity of the films we produce and distribute is the conviction that documentary and ethnographic films can broaden and alter preconceptions of marginalized and underrepresented peoples and cultures within the United States’ population and abroad. We also maintain an archive of historical significance and public interest. Our programs reach millions of individuals throughout the world, each year, through broadcast, film festivals and classrooms.

Over the past ten years we have been developing programs that connect DER with local educational institutions. It is our goal to continue our work with educators to develop ways to utilize our collection and expertise to enhance media programs in the schools. As an example the head teacher at the Moccasin Community Day School requested video donations to be used by their disadvantaged student body. We donated programs from our collection that feature young people dealing with socio-economic and cultural problems in a wide range of environments throughout the world. In exchange we asked that the students write essays in response to the films. Submissions were judged and the winning students were allowed to pick a title of their choice from the DER film collection. This is one example of media programming that inspires critical thinking and language skills. We would like to use the Moccasin Community Day School Project as a model for the development of a multicultural media workshop for schools and communities struggling with poverty and issues relating to ethnic diversity.

We make extensive use of the Web to inform all targeted communities about our services and to provide curriculum support material to enrich the understanding and use of our films. These resources are free. We train an average of 10 interns a year. Our internships help students from a variety of backgrounds realize their potential and define career goals. Through the vehicle of fiscal sponsorship we assist independent filmmakers whose work is focused on cross-cultural understanding.

We offer low-cost workshops in documentary film and funding strategies for independent filmmakers. We also offer access to our archive free of charge to filmmakers doing research on communities experiencing cultural change and to teachers in k-12 schools.

Media is one of the most powerful tools for informing and influencing opinion. All our filmmakers have collaborated with the communities they portrayed to ensure that their work is ethical and authentic. Many communities have learned the lessons of the power of the media and have used it not only to document such things as the last remaining speaker of a Native language, but also to inform governments of indigenous land rights. We have been working on projects such as these since 1968. This constructive use of media shows no signs of decline.

We serve general audiences world wide through progressive educational television broadcasts, Free Speech TV, and film festival audiences, students and educators from 5th grade to adult worldwide, Native communities and classrooms worldwide and Independent documentary filmmakers. This includes all socioeconomic levels, races, ethnic groups, sexual orientations, gender, age and physical abilities.

Many of our films are closed-captioned, some deal with disability as experienced in different cultures. Because we work collaboratively with the communities filmed, this ensures that their needs are addressed. We respond to current events and our archive is historically important. For example, following 9/11 we focused attention on our films from Afghanistan from 1970 to 1980’s to offer in depth information on the geography, people and culture beyond the sound bites of network TV.

Organizational Structure And Leadership
Our board represents the fields of education, technology, anthropology, sociology, and media. They meet several times a year to review the organizations finances and activities. They are available to assist staff as needed. They act in an advisory capacity and are not involved in day-to-day decision making. Our president and founder, John Marshall, brings integrity and experience to the organization. His 52 years of filming and development work in Africa and the U.S. stand as a model for succeeding generations whose work is driven by a desire to cross cultural boundaries. The Executive Director, Cynthia Close, is involved in administration and planning. She reports directly to the President and the board of directors. Staff meets regularly with the Executive Director. Duties are clearly defined and there are daily opportunities for creative input from all staff members.

We develop programs in conjunction with urban and rural public schools with diverse student bodies. We administrate a touring film program with the American Museum of Natural History in NYC. We provide programming for many local community cable access stations across America, as well as libraries, colleges and other educational institutions worldwide. We collaborate on public programs with organizations like Cultural Survival and Earthwatch. We work with Filmmakers Collaborative on an annual Open Studios Event. We are members of AIVF (Association of Independent Video and Film), IFP (Independent Feature Project), NAMAC (National Alliance of Media Arts and Culture) AAA (American Anthropological Association), WIFVNE (Women in Film and Video New England), EDN (European Documentary Network) and we are funded in part by the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

Additional History
During the early 1970s, Documentary Educational Resources (DER) concentrated on two major projects which precipitated our conviction to produce quality anthropological films for educational purposes. These were a longitudinal series of films by John Marshall on the !Kung San (Bushmen) peoples of the Kalahari Desert in Namibia, and a series of films by anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon and filmmaker Timothy Asch on the Yanomamo Indians of the Orinoco Region in southern Venezuela. These two series gave DER initial recognition as a quality producer and distributor of 16mm films with wide appeal to university audiences, and provided the foundation for acceptance of our organization as an international center for anthropological and sociological film.

In the later 1970s, DER instituted a program of acquisitions to widen the content base of our film library. We acquired a number of series of films: on the Alaskan Eskimo, on daily life in Andalusia, Spain, on political and cultural diversity in Kenya and the Sahel region of Africa, and co-produced or administered productions exploring the significance of Balinese trance and healing, examining the diversity of music and dance in New England, and presenting a wide variety of films on American life and heritage. We represent producers from every populated continent. At present, DER’s library contains over 400 film and video titles used internationally in classrooms and other educational institutions.

We support independent filmmakers with workshops in digital editing, AVID and Final Cut Pro, as well as offering fiscal sponsorships. We will advise filmmakers on the marketability of their programs and assist in fundraising. Our stock footage archive has enhanced many international productions and is available for licensing. Our internship program is very popular with students looking to combine their interest in world cultures and media.

Underlying the diversity of DER’s collection is the conviction that film is a valuable teaching medium, which offers us an immediacy of experience of other cultures and places. We distribute worldwide to hundreds of universities, libraries, museums and schools annually. DER’s films have been broadcast internationally on PBS, HBO, The Discovery Channel, and in Switzerland, England, France, Germany, Japan, Finland, The Netherlands, South Africa and Australia.

We have received grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Massachusetts Foundation for Humanities and Public Policy, the Ford Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the Smithsonian Institution, the Rock Foundation, National Video Resources, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and from the National Film Preservation Foundation to restore two classics from our archive, Tim Asch’s The Ax Fight and John Marshall’s The Hunters.

Our Staff
Cynthia Close Executive Director

Brittany Gravely Distribution and Office Manager

Michael Hutcherson Media Services Director

Frank Aveni Designer

Erin Carney Broadcast Distribution Associate

Nellie Kluz Acquisitions Assistant

Karma Foley Marshall Collection Archivist

Richard Gardner Consultant

Further Information
If you have further questions please contact us by email, fax, phone or mail.