Sundance Institute Announces 2018 Creative Distribution Fellowship Films

recommended image width: 1088px

(L-R, top to bottom) Elan and Jonathan Bogarín, Kristin Lazure, Stephanie Soechtig, Natalie Metzger, Matt Miller, Zack Parker, Benjamin Wiessner, and Jim Cummings


Sundance Institute announced today that three films have been picked for the second edition of the Creative Distribution Fellowship, following the 2017 release of inaugural fellowship films Columbus and Unrest. The new slate consists of the 2018 Sundance Film Festival documentaries The Devil We Know and 306 Hollywood (the latter of which also won the Emerging International Filmmaker Award at HotDocs) as well as Thunder Road, which premiered at the 2018 SXSW Film Festival, winning the Feature Film Grand Jury Award. These three films and filmmaking teams feature unique voices, bold release strategies, and a willingness to share their experiences with the field through expansive case studies, following the example of the case studies of Columbus and Unrest released earlier this year.

Through the fellowship, film teams receive a $33,333 distribution and marketing grant and a suite of resources in exchange for transparently sharing their data and experience with the field. Throughout the coming months these filmmaking teams will be immersed in a hands-on, intensive process, working with collaborators to create and implement their own marketing and distribution plans.

Chris Horton, director of the Creative Distribution Initiative, said, "We're thrilled to be supporting the filmmakers of 306 Hollywood, The Devil We Know, and Thunder Road in their quest to build and reach audiences. We were captivated not only by the storytelling on screen, but by the entrepreneurial ideas the teams have in terms of accomplishing their distribution goals.".

The 2018 Creative Distribution Fellowship is supported by Kickstarter, with additional support for the Creative Distribution Initiative provided by Cinereach, National Endowment for the Arts, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Amazon Video Direct, and Arcus Foundation.

Be sure to stay up to date with the Creative Distribution Initiative as they closely document their fellows’ journeys along the way. Follow along at sundance.org/cdi or email us at CreativeDistribution@sundance.org

2018 Creative Distribution Fellows


306 Hollywood

Filmmaking Team: Elan and Jonathan Bogarín

When siblings Elan and Jonathan Bogarín lose their grandma, they face a profound question: When a loved one dies, what do we do with everything they left behind? Turning the documentary form on its head, the Bogaríns embark on a magical-realist journey that transforms Grandma’s cluttered New Jersey home into a visually exquisite ruin, where tchotchkes become artifacts and the siblings become archaeologists. With help from physicists, curators, and archivists, they transform the dusty fragments of an unassuming life into an epic metaphor for the nature of memory, time, and history.

"The Sundance fellowship offers us a unique opportunity to develop a custom distribution strategy that matches the creativity we brought to our film 306 Hollywood. Distribution tends to be one-size-fits-all, and we want to break out of this mold, experiment, and think of reaching our audience as part of the creative process."

-Elan and Jonathan Bogarín

The Devil We Know

Filmmaking Team: Director Stephanie Soechtig and Producer Kristin Lazure

Unraveling one of the biggest environmental scandals of our time, a group of citizens in West Virginia take on a powerful corporation after they discover it has knowingly been dumping a toxic chemical—now found in the blood of 99.7% of Americans—into the drinking water supply.

"There are some films that deserve a unique distribution approach in order to maximize impact. The Devil We Know was always intended to be a tool for change, and I am delighted and honored to work with Sundance to realize that goal."

-Stephanie Soechtig

Thunder Road

Filmmaking Team: Writer/Director Jim Cummings and Producers Benjamin Wiessner, Matt Miller, Natalie Metzger, and Zack Parker

Writer/director Jim Cummings stars as Officer Arnaud, a Texas police officer who struggles to raise his daughter as a love letter to his late mom.

"We were lucky enough to be selected by Sundance for the Creative Distribution Fellowship, which will allow us to release and own Thunder Road ourselves. We want to encourage young filmmakers to self-distribute and to utilize mentors and peer relationships to navigate the market of film distribution while building a highway for the release of their future films. In 2018, it’s possible to have a very successful film and not get offers for distribution."

-Jim Cummings and the Thunder Road team

Lead photo:

(L-R, top to bottom) Elan and Jonathan Bogarín, Kristin Lazure, Stephanie Soechtig, Natalie Metzger, Matt Miller, Zack Parker, Benjamin Wiessner, and Jim Cummings