Cara Mertes has been appointed director of The Ford Foundation’s JustFilms programme.

The five-year $50m documentary initiative has supported more than 80 titles in its first three years and would appear to be a good fit for Mertes, the active and widely admired director of the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program and Fund.

Mertes will succeed JustFilms founding director Orlando Bagwell, who is returning to filmmaking after eight years at the foundation.

“This programme’s remarkable impact can be measured by how complex issues such as land rights, LGBT rights and criminal justice, when presented in film, can spur understanding and action,” said Ford Foundation president Luis Ubinas.

“Orlando has rapidly made JustFilms a leading voice in social justice filmmaking and Cara will certainly continue to find innovative ways to draw attention to our grantees’ efforts around the world.”

“It is a great privilege to join the Ford Foundation as director of JustFilms,” said Mertes. “Orlando has inspired the field to excellence for many years, and JustFilms will continue to advance the social justice work of the institution through creative storytelling.”

Prior to Sundance Institute, Mertes was executive producer of the P.O.V. documentary series at PBS, where she received multiple Emmy awards, George Foster Peabody awards, duPont-Columbia awards and a Webby Award and served as executive producer on several Academy Award-nominated films.