Native American and Indigenous Film Program

About Native Program

Sundance Institute's commitment to supporting Native American artists is woven throughout our history. Native American filmmakers have long been involved in the Institute, going back to Larry LittleBird (Taos Pueblo) and Chris SpottedEagle (Houmas Nation) who participated in the first meetings founding Sundance Institute. Following President and Founder Robert Redford's original vision, the Institute has remained committed to supporting the voices of Native American artists.

The Program is currently seeking US-based Native American, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian filmmakers with short film screenplays that are no longer than 15 pages to consider for this Fellowship. Projects will be reviewed and selected based on their originality of voice and vision and their likelihood of being produced within 2017. The writer/director is encouraged to have a producer prior to selection. The writer/director will be the recipient of travel and accommodations to participate in the Residential Lab, a three-stage grant contract providing funds supporting pre-production, production and post- production, and attendance at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.

Shorts Lab: Hawaii

The Sundance Institute’s Native American and Indigenous Program, in collaboration with the Honolulu Museum of Art, will host a story-focused lab on May 14-16, 2016 in Honolulu, Hawaii. The goal of this lab is to provide Indigenous artists based in Hawaii with support and mentorship by Creative Advisors as they develop their short film screenplays.

In order to eligibly apply to this lab, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Be a Native Hawaiian or Indigenous Pacific Islander based in Hawaii
  • Submit a short film screenplay no longer than 15 pages
  • Be located in the Greater Honolulu area and/or can provide your own lodging and travel to the lab

Applications for this event were due March 4, 2016.


The Native Program has built and sustained an Indigenous film circle. The cycle of our work begins by scouting for and identifying Native American and Indigenous artists, bringing them through the mechanisms of support at Sundance Institute to get their work made and shown, then bringing the filmmakers and their work back to native lands. The Native Lab Fellowship has been a vital part of supporting Native filmmakers full-circle since 2004. Four projects were selected annually for the Fellowship from a national competition and supported in two phases over the course of a year. Starting in 2015 the Fellowship will be restructured to pilot a Shorts Production Fellowship for emerging Native American filmmakers.

Native Filmmaker Lab Fellowship
Application The application for the 2017 Native Filmmaker Lab is currently closed.
Dates May 14-19, 2017
Grant Pool 2 projects
Location Santa Fe, New Mexico
Eligibility Native American, Native Hawaiian, and Alaskan Native film artists working in the U.S.
Description Fellowship to provide direct support to emerging Native American, Native Hawaiian, and Alaskan Native film artists working in the U.S. The Fellowship will support first time filmmakers through the process of shooting a short film under the guidance of a Supervising Producer and mentoring Director.


W.K. Kellogg Foundation - Full Circle Fellowship
Application Applications for this lab will be available October 30 - November 17, 2017.
Dates 2018 Sundance Film Festival
Grant Pool 4 to attend the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and other TBD Native Program events
Location Park City, Utah
Eligibility Native American youths (18-24) to be selected from communities in Michigan and New Mexico
Description The Full Circle Fellowship aims to support the next generation of Native American storytellers. This fellowship will provide opportunities to explore a career as a filmmaker and storyteller, attendance at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, a set internship at the Native Filmmakers Lab to gain hands-on film production experience, and a trip to Los Angeles with a schedule of production facilities tours, meetings with industry mentors, and film screenings.
Time Warner Native Producing Fellowship
Application Applications for this lab will be available October 23 - November 6, 2017.
Dates 2018 Sundance Film Festival; Sundance Producers Summit August 2018
Grant Pool 2 Projects
Location Sundance Resort, Utah and Park City, Utah
Eligibility Native American producers
Description Identifies emerging US-based Native producers and supports their professional development and the advancement of their projects. Supports attendance at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, attendance at the 2018 Creative Producing Summit, travel to an international film market, and includes a grant to help advance their project.

Upcoming Events

August 17 - "Dolores" Screening with Q&A. Santa Fe Indian Market Week

Dolores + Discussion with filmmakers
USA, 2017, 98 min.

Thursday, August 17, 7 p.m.

New Mexico History Museum, 113 Lincoln Avenue, Santa Fe (map link)

Come see a screening of Dolores (Official Selection in the U.S. Documentary Category, 2017 Sundance Film Festival) during the Santa Fe Indian Market week. Q&A to follow that includes Dolores Huerta, Director Peter Bratt and Producer Alpita Patel. Presented by Sundance Institute in Partnership with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian and PBS Distribution. Supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Admission is free — seating is first come, first served

Support for Native Program

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, The White Feather Foundation, Fenton Bailey and Billy Luther, and Pacific Islanders in Communications.

Join Donor Community