We’re in the Movies (1940)

Town portrait of Traverse City, Michigan, created to help raise money for disadvantaged children, preserved by the History Center of Traverse City with NFPF support.

Matching Grants
Grant availability subject to federal funding

Overview  |  Eligibility  |  How to Apply  |  Notification  |  Preservation Checklist  |  Sample Applications


The National Film Preservation Foundation invites applications for its federally funded Matching Grants. Matching grants fund complex, large-scale preservation, reconstruction, or restoration projects involving a single film or film collection of special cultural, historic, or artistic significance. The grants may be requested by nonprofit or public institutions with film preservation experience and the current capacity to carry out large preservation efforts. Applicants may request cash stipends of between $20,001 and $75,000 to fund laboratory work and must "match" the NFPF grant with outside cash support equal to one-fifth of the total project costs. Applicants may not apply for a Basic Preservation Grant during the same grant cycle.

  • Registration Deadline: March 24, 2023
  • Application Deadline: April 28, 2023
  • Grant Period: August 2023 to October 2024

Grants are available to public and 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations that have completed at least one NFPF grant and have the capacity to plan, manage, and complete a complex, large-scale film preservation effort. Large projects must involve the preservation, reconstruction, or preservation of a single film or film collection of special cultural, historic, or artistic significance that (1) was made in the United States or by American citizens abroad and (2) is not protected by commercial interests. Materials originally created for television or video are not eligible, including works produced with funds from broadcast or cable television entities.

The grant funds may be used to pay for the creation of:

  • New film preservation elements, including protection of the sound track for sound films
  • Two new public access copies, one of which must be a film print. 
  • For silent-era films, the reconstruction or translation of English-language intertitles.
  • Closed captioning for sound films destined for online or television exhibition.

Applicants must be prepared to contribute at least one-fifth of the total out-of-pocket laboratory expenses from other sources.

The funds can be applied only to work commissioned after the grant start date. Funds must be used exclusively for preservation expenses and may not be applied to staffing, operational, or shipping costs (with the special exception of nitrate materials).

  1. Identify a film or collection to be preserved

    This involves selecting projects that meet the eligibility criteria listed above and thinking through what laboratory work needs to be done. For guidance on planning a preservation project, please consult The Film Preservation Guide: The Basics for Archives, Libraries, and Museums.

  2. Register with the NFPF

    E-mail the NFPF at regarding your archive's interest in applying. Provide your name, institution, address, phone number, fax number, e-mail address, and a brief description of your project. The NFPF will then contact you to discuss your project.

    If your project meets the eligibility requirements, you will be invited to submit a letter of application. The registration deadline is March 24, 2023.

  3. Complete a proposal with laboratory cost estimate

    Write a proposal in the form of a letter (4 to 6 pages), with one laboratory estimate (NFPF grants do not cover administrative costs). Applicants may provide up to five digital still images or a video copy of the proposed project. Your letter should cover the following points and may include illustrations or tables as appropriate:

    1. Research significance

      Provide a title and describe the subject matter of the film material in your proposal. Discuss why the film title or collection is of particular importance for cultural, artistic, or historical study. If the film or collection documents a single region, locale, community, or culture, explain how the material illuminates broader trends or national issues and contributes to our understanding of cultural history. Please include copies of articles or book excerpts that use or reference the material.

      For footage collections or groups of films, discuss why the materials are important to preserve as a group. Does your institution hold complementary documents (personal papers, still photographs, sound recordings, ledger books, artifacts, etc.) that enhance the research value of the multimedia collection as a whole? If you are proposing to preserve selected reels or titles from a collection, describe your rationale for making the selection.

      It is strongly recommended that the applicant provide a video copy of the proposed films or a minimum of two digital still images per film.

      Briefly summarize your institution's overall collections and public programs and indicate how the proposed project furthers your institution's mission.

    2. Uniqueness of your archive's film copy
      • Thoroughly document and discuss the organizations, databases, and other resources consulted to confirm that your archive's copy represents the best surviving material. Demonstrate that the proposed work does not duplicate efforts by others in the public/nonprofit sector.
      • For independent documentaries and avant-garde works, indicate if you have contacted the filmmaker, the production company, or the filmmaker's heirs.
      • Are rental or video copies of this film available through commercial distribution or video channels?
    3. Physical film description
      • What is the length, gauge, and condition of the proposed film or collection?
      • From what type of source material will your archive be working?
      • How did your organization acquire the material?

      For more information on handling film, please consult The Film Preservation Guide: The Basics for Archives, Libraries, and Museums. These PDF files also include a Print Condition Report worksheet.

    4. Description of preservation work and cost estimate
      • What laboratory work is requested? For sound films, indicate how you propose to preserve the sound.
      • Provide a written estimate for the preservation work. Estimates should be obtained from laboratories specializing in film and sound preservation.
      • As applicable, outline the preservation work already completed on the film or that would still need to be done after work funded by the grant. Please be specific; include the date of the original preservation work and condition of the original. If you have already received a grant or support for some aspect of the proposed project, describe and explain why additional resources are needed.
      • If you are collaborating with or borrowing source material from another organization, include a letter from that institution briefly affirming its involvement with the project.
    5. Shipping costs
    6. Shipping of nitrate film will be covered by the grant. Please include an estimate for this service. Organizations submitting proposals to preserve acetate film are responsible for all shipping costs.

    7. Storage

      Describe your archival storage facilities and provide their temperature and humidity levels. Confirm that any new preservation masters created through the project will be stored under archivally acceptable conditions. If your organization does not have an archivally acceptable storage area for film, please include your plans for off-site storage. For more information on recommended storage practices, please see Chapter 6 of The Film Preservation Guide and the Image Permanence Institute’s website

    8. Access plans
      • In addition to providing a viewing copy of the film for on-site research, how does your institution plan to make the film available to the public?
      • Does your institution have permission to show this material for Internet viewing, and/or on-site public screenings at which no admission is charged? Be sure to indicate if there are any other relevant donor restrictions regarding public access to the proposed material. (These are important considerations, given the public access mission of the NFPF.)
      • Describe plans for sharing the completed access copies outside of your institution. Do you plan exhibition loans or dissemination on video, television, or the Internet?
      • If closed captioning support is requested, describe the broadcast and Internet venues through which the film will be shown.
    9. Public service mission

      Briefly summarize your institution's mission, collections, and public programs; include your website address and any brochures.

    10. Tax-exempt status

      Nonprofits, list your institution's tax identification number; government/public sector archives, provide some record or a letter demonstrating that your institution is part of state, regional, or local government.

    11. Matching funds

      Your institution is required to pay for at least one-fifth of the total out-of-pocket costs (laboratory expenses, shipping, foreign-language translation fees, etc.) necessary to complete the project. Describe how your institution intends to satisfy this requirement. If your plan involves fundraising, list possible sources that your institution might approach to secure the match.

    12. Contact information

      Provide the name, title, address, phone number, fax number, e-mail address, and professional biography of the project coordinator (one paragraph).

  4. Submit application

    All applications are due by April 28, 2023. They may be submitted as PDF or Word files to or mailed in hard copy to the following address.

National Film Preservation Foundation
145 Ninth Street, Suite 260
San Francisco, CA 94103

The proposals will be read by NFPF staff and outside reviewers. Awards will be made by a grant panel serving on behalf of the NFPF Board of Directors.


Applicants will be notified regarding grant decisions in July 2023.


Successful applicants must sign an agreement affirming the responsibilities of the grant. Nonprofit grant winners may be asked to provide a copy of the IRS determination letter verifying their status as a publicly supported 501(c)(3) organization.