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Documentary Fund Off-Cycle Funding Considerations

Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program can now consider off-cycle funding decisions for eligible projects. Thanks to the Cinereach Project at Sundance Institute, these grants are designed in part to support film projects of a time critical nature, with themes that evoke global cultural exchange and social impact at a critical moments in their development or production.  

“Our collaboration with Cinereach allows both of our organizations the opportunity to respond  to a critical need in independent filmmaking and to have a meaningful impact when it is most needed, ” said Keri Putnam, Executive Director, Sundance Institute.

"Cinereach continues to take pride in its Sundance Institute partnership - an opportunity to reinforce key values through rapid, well -targeted and focused support," said Philipp Engelhorn, Founder and Executive Director of Cinereach.

All proposals are evaluated on effective storytelling, originality, artistic approach, global relevance and timeliness and potential for social engagement. Grants made on a discretionary timeline are rare, and relate to stories about time critical and urgent activity on the world stage, without regard to filmmaker cash flow, festival deadlines or production schedule convenience. Please consider the following criteria before requesting off-cycle consideration.

  • Time critical production activity   
  • High stakes issue
  • Rapidly changing circumstances on the ground
  • Affects the global stage
  • Confirmed access to story or subject

Projects may be at any stage of production and be initiated any where in the world. There is no requirement for prior funds raised although applicants should have some idea where they will go to raise additional funds. Please review the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on our website for more information.

A full and complete proposal package is required. Please review the proposal checklist. Describe the time critical aspect of the project in a brief paragraph at the beginning of your written proposal.

To submit the proposal, contact for a link to a secure web upload. Finally, in the website submission of your project select “yes” for the question “Is this project high stakes on the global stage, time critical with pressing and specific turn of events and outcomes affecting many”.  

You will be notified if you receive an off-cycle award. If you are not contacted by the DFP regarding off-cycle support your application will be considered within the general submission pool and timeline. If you need funds more promptly you might try crowd sourcing, individual donors or private fundraisers.