Patron Circle Newsletter


I am excited to report on the recent travels of FILM FORWARD, an international cultural exchange program designed to enhance cross-cultural understanding, collaboration and dialogue around the globe by engaging audiences through the exhibition of film and conversation with filmmakers. Now in its second year, FILM FORWARD is an initiative of Sundance Institute and The President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Last month, we traveled to Morocco with directors Linda Goldstein Knowlton (Somewhere Between) and Mike Cahill (Another Earth). Both films played tremendously well throughout the 6 day tour of Morocco. The most compelling parts of the program centered around screenings and workshops directed toward youth. At the Oum Lkora Language Center in the city of Berkane, Linda Goldstein Knowlton was both surprised and inspired by the students, ages 6 to 16, who had seen her film earlier in the week and had prepared personal statements about the film and many insightful questions for Linda. They were extremely articulate and asked many questions about the film's subject matter, including "Does a mother's happiness come at another one's loss?"

In Casablanca, the directors led a two-day workshop at the local technical school of cinema, where eager students spent time with Linda exploring the creative aspects of documentary storytelling, which is very different from the journalistic reportage they know so well. Mike worked with students to recreate the last scene of Another Earth. Each student had an opportunity to shoot and edit their version of how the film ends – where on celluloid the realities of the two earths seemingly come together and in practice through filmmaking two cultures bonded.

It was extremely inspiring to see the mission of FILM FORWARD at work, as audience members in each discussion identified shared challenges among cultures and gained greater respect for the differences. That is the power of film. I want to thank you for your support – you make this kind of cross-cultural exchange possible.

Jill Miller
Managing Director
Sundance Institute


The first-ever Sundance London film and music festival took place last month, offering four days of film screenings and music performances hosted by Robert Redford, Sundance Enterprises, Sundance Institute, and AEG Europe, with the support of Presenting Partner Sony Entertainment Network.

Sundance London provided an array of film premieres, live music performances, discussions, and panels with guest speakers. Opening the proceedings on April 26, Robert Redford and 12-time Grammy Award winner T Bone Burnett led a fascinating discussion on the magical relationship between film and music. The two shared their recollections of achieving great musical moments with the many filmmakers, actors, and musicians they’ve collaborated with throughout their storied careers.

Making their UK premieres at Sundance London were 14 fiction and documentary features as well as eight short films from the 2012 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, including Lauren Greenfield’s The Queen of Versailles, Josh Radnor's Liberal Arts, and Joe Berlinger's Under African Skies. Sundance London also featured a special screening of the documentary HARMONY, which chronicles three decades of environmental activism by HRH The Prince of Wales, which he and Robert Redford introduced (pictured above).

Music was featured prominently at the festival. In addition to showing several music-themed films, Friday night saw Tricky and Martina Topley-Bird reunite to perform the album Maxinquaye, and Placebo gave an electrifying performance to a sold-out crowd on Saturday night.

Click here to see a video covering Day Three of Sundance London!

Photo courtesy of Gareth Cattermole


Benh Zeitlin’s Beast of the Southern Wild

There’s nothing more gratifying for the staff at Sundance Institute than to see the filmmakers we support realize their visions and get to share their work with audiences. We had the pleasure and privilege of seeing this happen for many artists at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, perhaps most visibly for the team behind Beasts of the Southern Wild, which won the Grand Jury Prize in the U.S. Dramatic Competition. We often talk about the “continuum of support” that we provide to our projects, which we know is not necessarily the most exciting or clear description of the ways in which we foster and advance films. Of the many reasons we’re thrilled Beasts has been received so positively, one is that it offers a perfect example of that continuum, and the many different moments in a project’s life that Sundance Institute can help offer resources, momentum, and advocacy. Here is a timeline of Beasts’ Sundance journey:

  • January 2009: Benh Zeitlin (co-writer/director) and Lucy Alibar (co-writer) participate in the January Screenwriters Lab with advisors including Scott Frank and Michael Goldenberg.
  • April 2009: Benh receives a $2,500 Annenberg Film Fellowship development grant.
  • June 2009: Benh returns to workshop scenes from the script at the Directors Lab. Lucy joins him for the June Screenwriters Lab.
  • July 2009: Benh receives a $5,000 Annenberg Film Fellowship momentum grant.
  • August 2009: Beasts producers Dan Janvey and Josh Penn participate in the Creative Producing Lab as the Mark Silverman Honorees, the first component of a year-long fellowship which also includes industry mentorship and a momentum grant. At the same time, Benh participates in the Film Music Lab, collaborating with one of the composer fellows. At the end of both Labs, all three take part in the Creative Producing Summit, which offers an up-to-the-moment snapshot of the indie marketplace and access to industry leaders.
  • January 2010: Dan and Josh attend the Sundance Film Festival as part of their Creative Producing Fellowship. At the Festival, Benh is announced as the American winner of that year’s Sundance/NHK International Filmmaker Award, which comes with a $10,000 cash prize. All three participate in targeted creative and industry meetings, curated screenings, and panels as part of their Festival experience.
  • March 2010: Beasts enters production. Through in-kind relationships, the Feature Film Program is able to arrange discounted or donated equipment and services.
  • Fall 2010 – Fall 2011: Our program staff and several creative advisors view multiple cuts at crucial moments in the film’s evolution, offering feedback in individual conversations with Benh and the filmmaking team.
  • January 2012: Beasts of the Southern Wild premieres in U.S. Dramatic Competition at the Sundance Film Festival. In addition to the film winning the Grand Jury Prize, Dan and Josh are announced as the inaugural recipients of the Sundance Institute Indian Paintbrush Producer’s Award, which comes with a $10,000 cash grant. Fox Searchlight picks the film up for distribution, with a planned release in Summer 2012.
  • June 2012: Benh will receive the 2012 Vanguard Award, presented by Tiffany & Co., at the annual Celebrate Sundance Institute Los Angeles Benefit.
  • June 27, 2012: Beasts of the Southern Wild opens in theatres.
We couldn’t be prouder of the innovative, courageous, and inspiring film they’ve made, and can’t wait to watch as they share their remarkable vision with the world. Thank you for helping us foster visionary films like Beasts of the Southern Wild.


We are kicking off the Sundance Institute Summer Lab season this week with the 2012 NativeLab (May 23-27) on the homelands of the Mescalero Apache Tribe. The five-day workshop is part one of a two-stage Fellowship program that provides continuous and direct support to Native American, Native Hawaiian, and Alaskan Native film artists. The second stage will bring Fellows to the Native Forum during the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and provides opportunities networking with film professionals who advise them on the business of cinema. Read about the four Fellows and projects selected for the 2012 NativeLab Fellowship here.

Later this month, 13 Fellows will head to the Sundance Resort in Utah to participate in the annual June Directors and Screenwriters Labs, taking place May 28 through June 28. Under the leadership of Michelle Satter, Founding Director of the Institute’s Feature Film Program, and the artistic direction of Gyula Gazdag, this year’s program includes emerging filmmakers and projects from the United States, Italy, Romania, Australia, Algeria, France, Chile and the UK. Read about the 2012 Fellows and their projects here.

In July, Sundance Institute's Theatre Program will host eight projects selected from nearly 900 submissions at the 2012 Theatre Lab, (July 9-29) held at the Sundance Resort. Under the supervision of Producing Artistic Director Philip Himberg and Associate Director Christopher Hibma, the Lab is the centerpiece of the Theatre Program’s year-round work and is designed to support emerging and established artists and to create a place where their original work can be effectively mentored and challenged. Learn more about the Theatre Lab Fellows here.


Please feel free to contact us should you have any questions about the Patron Circle or ideas that may help us improve the program! Call Jamie Powell, Manager of the Patron Circle, at 310-492-2327 or email her at

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