The Latest

Leya Hale on the Legacy of the Late Māori Filmmaker Merata Mita

In January during the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, director and producer Leya Hale (Dakota/Diné) was announced as the recipient of this year’s Merata Mita Fellowship. Named in honor of the late Māori filmmaker and longtime artistic director of the Institute’s Native Lab, the fellowship cultivates a stage for Indigenous women worldwide to tell their stories and offers a year-long continuum of support, mentorship, and a trip to the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Applications for the 2021 Merata Mita Fellowship are now open; submit your materials by October 26.

Now Streaming: Starring in ‘Charm City Kings’ Has Already Changed the Lives of Real-Life Baltimore Dirt-Bikers

Angel Manuel Soto’s Charm City Kings made its debut at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival and recently began streaming on HBO Max. Hear what the project’s director and cast had to say at the film’s world premiere.Based on the documentary 12 O’Clock Boys, about a young boy who dreams of joining the same notorious group of Baltimore dirt-bike riders his late brother used to ride with, Charm City Kings is a jolt of adrenaline to the coming-of-age genre, with a star-making performance by Jahi Di’Allo Winston as 13-year-old Mouse.

Sundance Institute Names 12 Fellows for Reimagined Episodic Lab: Pilot to Series

Los Angeles — Sundance Institute announced today the 12 fellows chosen to participate in its first-ever Episodic: Pilot to Series Lab, designed as an immersive two-part experience hosted on Sundance Collab, where selected emerging TV writers will workshop an original pilot and develop a series overview.
Beginning with the Lab, Fellows will benefit from a full year of customized, ongoing support from Feature Film Program staff, Creative Advisors and Industry Mentors, led by Founding Director of the Sundance Institute Feature Film Program, Michelle Satter and Director of the Episodic Program, Jennifer Goyne Blake. Working with accomplished showrunners, the Fellows will participate in one-on-one story meetings, craft workshops, and Writers’ Rooms, which together provide creative and strategic tools for success.

​’Storytelling Is Sacred Medicine’: Native Filmmakers on the Importance Indigenous Peoples’ Day

In a year marked by a devastating global pandemic that has disproportionately affected Black, Indigenous, and communities of color, as well as societal unrest spurred by systemic racism and violence, Indigenous artists across the country have found strength in the ways of their ancestors. From the shores of Hawai’i to the heart of the Seneca-Cayuga Nation, they have reconnected with their families and their land, lent their assistance to those in need in their communities, stood with #BlackLivesMatter in the fight against white supremacy, and helped topple monuments venerating genocide and colonialism.
As we prepare to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day on Monday, October 12, we asked three Native filmmakers — all alumni of Sundance Institute’s Indigenous Program — to reflect upon the holiday’s significance amidst this challenging but transformative year.

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12 Sundance-Supported Stories to Watch During Latinx Heritage Month

Shari Frilot, Ana Souza, and Dilcia Barrera are programmers at the Sundance Film Festival.
Latinx Heritage Month has arrived in the United States in time for us to shine a light on our Latinx community, which has always shown itself to be unapologetically diverse, creative, and resilient, with a richness of stories that traverse cultural, generational, and language barriers. Never has it felt more urgent or pressing for us to understand the Latinx experience and celebrate it than now, in a year of tumultuous change and unprecedented dangers to the community.

Sundance-Supported Releases to Watch in October, for the Horror Fan and Otherwise

If you can use some levity in your Halloween movie nights this year, check out three picks from the 2020 Sundance Film Festival that infuse a bit of comedy into the traditional horror genre. In Justin Simien’s satirical, ’80s-set Bad Hair, a weave takes on a mind of its own as an ambitious young woman tries everything to succeed in the image-obsessed world of music television.
For more laughs than scares, watch Josh Ruben’s cabin-fire storytelling romp Scare Me, or catch Alex Huston Fischer and Eleanor Wilson’s Save Yourselves!, an apocalyptic satire in which a decidedly nonsurvivalist millennial couple face an invasion from an otherworldly force.

Gina Duncan Joins Sundance Institute as Producing Director, Sundance Film Festival

LOS ANGELES — The Sundance Institute today announced that Gina Duncan will join the Sundance Film Festival team in the newly created role of Producing Director, reporting to Festival Director Tabitha Jackson and working closely with Programming Director Kim Yutani.
As Producing Director, Duncan will integrate the artistic vision of the Festival with its practical, audience-facing elements. She’ll work with the programming team as they curate works for exhibition, and serve as a leader for creating strategic vision and decision-making on both the Sundance Film Festival and year-round public programs.

RIP, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933–2020)

On Friday, news broke of the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 87, who over the course of her lengthy career was a key figure in advancing women’s rights and gender equality. At the time of her death from complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer, Ginsburg—who was was the second woman ever to serve on the nation’s highest court—had held her post for 27 years.
The fiery yet soft-spoken jurist’s life and legacy were chronicled in Julie Cohen and Betsy West’s Oscar-nominated documentary, RBG, which premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival in Park City.

In the Center: Indigenous Filmmakers Share Messages of Hope During Covid-19

You’re living in the center where life matters—that’s where you experience happiness and fullness.

—Shaandiin Tome

In June, Bird Runningwater (Cheyenne/Mescalero Apache)—director of Sundance Institute’s Indigenous Program—wrote about the sweeping effects of Covid-19 on Native communities around the U.S.

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2020 Sundance Sandbox Fund Grantees

Park City, UT — The nonprofit Sundance Institute and Sandbox Films, a new mission-driven documentary studio, selected and announced their latest cohort of filmmakers and projects supported by the Sundance Institute | Sandbox Fund, an initiative that elevates the voices of independent artists working at the intersection of science and nonfiction storytelling as they produce and promote work and discourse that highlights the overlap of science and art.
The ten selected project teams will receive non-recoupable grants and access to Sundance Institute’s year-round continuum of support, which can help address creative, financial and production issues. In addition to this tailored project support, the grantees will receive opportunities for engagement events where they can connect with Sundance’s network of alumni and creative advisors and Sandbox Films ’s roster of renowned scientists, as well as enthusiastic audiences.

Meet the Artist: Anabel Rodríguez Ríos on ‘Once Upon a Time in Venezuela’

Latinx Heritage Month begins today,
September 15, and to celebrate, we’ll be spotlighting projects made by Latinx artists with ties
to Sundance Institute and the Sundance Film Festival. First up, watch
our interview with Venezuelan filmmaker Anabel Rodríguez Ríos, director of the 2020 Festival documentary Once Upon a Time in Venezuela.

Anabel Rodríguez Ríos’s trip to Park City this January for the world premiere of Once Upon a Time in Venezuela was a long time coming.

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Carrie Lozano Joins Sundance Institute as Director, Documentary Film Program

Award-Winning Documentary Filmmaker & Journalist to Lead Support of Nonfiction FieldLos Angeles, CA — Sundance Institute today announced that Carrie Lozano will helm its Documentary Film Program, succeeding interim Director Kristin Feeley and prior Director Tabitha Jackson.

As Documentary Film Program Director, Lozano will elevate and support nonfiction filmmakers worldwide at all stages of creating and distributing new cinematic work. She will also work to advance and elevate the health of the independent nonfiction field, ensuring that diverse forms, viewpoints, and participants continue to be central to all Institute programs, which include Labs, global and national partnerships and film funds.

Sundance-Supported Releases to Watch in September, from ‘The Mole Agent’ to ‘Kajillionaire’

September’s slate of Sundance Institute–supported releases features a strong lineup of documentaries that run the gamut from the heartwarming to the harrowing. On the human connection side of the spectrum, Maite Alberdi’s The Mole Agent follows 83-year-old Sergio, who goes undercover to investigate a nursing home but bungles the spy-gear technology and can’t seem to stay on course with the mission. An all-in-one uplifting, cutely funny but meaningful tearjerker, it’s the film we all need in 2020.

10 Inspiring Activism Documentaries to Re-energize Your Fight for Change

The Sundance Film Festival has long been a destination for inspiring documentaries that capture the indomitable spirit of those on the frontlines of world-changing movements—from Mark Kitchell’s 1991 student activism doc Berkeley in the Sixties, to 2012’s wealth inequality exposé We’re Not Broke, to 2017’s Whose Streets?, in which a Ferguson protester implores, “We have to raise a generation of activists. If there’s going to be any change, it starts with our children.” These words are proving true today as young people now lead the swelling antiracism movement across the country and the world.