Sundance Institute Selects Two Artists for Native Filmmakers Lab


Shane McSauby
Credit: Sundance Institute
2015 Native Filmmakers Lab
Credit: Babak Dowlatshahi
Willi White
Credit: Sundance Institute

Los Angeles, CA — Sundance Institute announced today the two emerging Native American storytellers who will participate in the 2016 Native Filmmakers Lab. Shane McSauby (Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians)and Willi White (Oglala Lakota) will attend the Lab and receive guidance from esteemed Creative Advisors. After the Lab they will receive grants to fund the production of their short films, targeted support from a supervising producer and participation in the annual Native Forum at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. The Lab, taking place in Santa Fe, New Mexico, June 12-17, is a highlight of the Institute’s year-round work in the discovery and development of Native American and Indigenous filmmakers.

The Institute has established a rich legacy of commitment to Native film, supporting more than 300 Native and Indigenous filmmakers, including Taika Waititi (Te Whānau-ā-Apanui), Chris Eyre (Cheyenne/Arapaho), Sterlin Harjo (Seminole/Muskogee), Billy Luther (Diné/Hopi/Laguna Pueblo), Andrew Okpeaha MacLean (Iñupiaq), Aurora Guerrero (Xicana), Sydney Freeland (Diné), Blake Pickens (Chickasaw) and Ciara Lacy (Kanaka Maoli). The Native Filmmakers Lab, now in its second year of providing dedicated support for short film projects, allows Fellows to identify and break down challenging scenes from their scripts, rehearse with actors, shoot test scenes, edit footage and present for constructive critiques. Throughout the Lab, Fellows engage in one-on-one meetings with advisors as well as view advisors’ films to spark discussions about the journeys of their stories from script to audience screenings. This is one of 24 residential Labs the Institute hosts each year to discover and foster independent artists in film, theatre, new media and episodic content.

The filmmakers serving as Creative Advisors for this year’s Native Lab include: Jen Gerber (The Revival); Reinaldo Marcus Green (Stop, Stone Cars); Andrew Okpeaha MacLean (Sikumi, On the Ice); Cara Marcous (On the Ice) and Blake Pickens (The Land).

N. Bird Runningwater (Cheyenne/Mescalero Apache), director of the Sundance Institute Native American and Indigenous Program, said, “Our Native Filmmakers Lab is a unique space for the next generation of Indigenous filmmakers to develop their own stories, especially amid calls for greater diversity in Hollywood. We are thrilled to support Shane and Willi on their creative journeys and look forward to ensuring that their stories reach audiences and their careers continue to develop and grow.”

Since the founding of the Institute three generations of Native artists have been supported, with a strong focus on further uplifting the Indigenous voice within film and culture. The Native Program has built and sustained a unique support cycle for Indigenous artists through grants, labs, mentorships, fellowships, the platform of Sundance Film Festival, and screenings in Native communities to inspire new generations of storytellers.

Artists and projects selected for the 2016 Native Filmmakers Lab:

Mino Bimaadiziwin
Shane McSauby (Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians)
A young Ojibwe man must choose between the comfort of city living or Mino Bimaadizwin, the path to the good life, after reconnecting with his culture through a young Ojibwe woman.

Shane McSauby is a member of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He received a bachelor’s degree in filmmaking at Grand Valley State University, Allendale, Michigan in December 2015 and currently resides in New York City. McSauby is the first Sundance Institute | Native Arts and Cultures Foundation Fellow.

Miye, Unkiye
Willi White (Oglala Lakota)
On the Pine Ridge reservation, a young Oglala Lakota man has accidently created a menacing spirit which only he can see and which he must destroy.

Willi White is a member of the Oglala Lakota Nation in South Dakota. He is a photographer, filmmaker, actor and entrepreneur. Willi’s body of work includes the performing arts, film and photography. He recently worked as a production assistant on Oscar-winning director Andrea Arnold's film, American Honey, starring Shia LeBeouf.

The Sundance Institute Native American and Indigenous Program is supported by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, Surdna Foundation, Time Warner Foundation, Ford Foundation, Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, SAGindie, Comcast-NBCUniversal, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Embassy of Australia, Indigenous Media Initiatives, Taika Waititi, and Pacific Islanders in Communications.

Sundance Institute
Founded in 1981 by Robert Redford, Sundance Institute is a nonprofit organization that provides and preserves the space for artists in film, theatre, and new media to create and thrive. The Institute's signature Labs, granting, and mentorship programs, dedicated to developing new work, take place throughout the year in the U.S. and internationally. The Sundance Film Festival and other public programs connect audiences to artists in igniting new ideas, discovering original voices, and building a community dedicated to independent storytelling. Sundance Institute has supported such projects as Beasts of the Southern Wild, Fruitvale Station, Sin Nombre, The Invisible War, The Square, Dirty Wars, Spring Awakening, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder and Fun Home. Join Sundance Institute on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

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