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Congress Passes Janey Ensminger Act, Fueled by Sundance-Supported Doc ‘Semper Fi: Always Faithful’

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President Obama signs the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act on August 6, 2012.

Nate von Zumwalt

Last week was all at once the culmination and zenith of a journey for the audacious filmmaking team behind the Sundance Institute-supported documentary Semper Fi: Always Faithful.

Sundance Institute received thrilling news from directors Rachel Libert and Tony Hardmon that Congress had passed the ‘Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act’—which encompasses the Janey Ensminger Act—to provide health care benefits to veterans and family members exposed to contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune, a Marine base in North Carolina.

The impetus for the legislation was Libert and Hardmon’s searing documentary exposé, which tracks former Marine Master Sgt. Jerry Ensminger’s battle for justice after losing his 9-year-old daughter to leukemia nearly 30 years ago. The bill’s approval culminated Monday with an intimate signing ceremony at the Oval Office with President Barack Obama, Ensminger, Libert, and Hardmon, among others.

Below is a brief timeline tracking the early production stages of Semper Fi to the recently approved new legislation.


Fall 2009Semper Fi is awarded a Sundance Institute Documentary Film Grant

July 2010Semper Fi is one of four projects selected for the Documentary Composers Lab

March 2011—Sundance Institute and the Hammer Museum present a Work-in-Progress screening of Semper Fi: Always Faithful

June 2011—U.S. Representatives host Capitol Hill screening of Semper Fi: Always Faithful. The Caring for Camp Lejeune Veterans Act of 2011 is passed one week later.

August 2012—Congress passes the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act


Congratulations to Rachel Libert, Tony Hardmon, and Jerry Ensminger!

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Sundance Institute Piloting Direct Individual Support for Mediamakers Through the Sundance Institute | Humanities Sustainability Fellowship

Long before the COVID-19 pandemic upended life in general, and halted production and distribution for many creatives, the nonfiction field was plagued by issues of sustainability. For several years, sustainability has been an urgent and vigorous topic of study, debate, and organizing, as more and more filmmakers find it difficult, if not impossible, to make a living solely on the basis of their creative work. 

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