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NativeLabs and #ArtistServices Unite

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N. Bird Runningwater

Since the founding of Sundance Institute there has been a commitment to supporting Native American filmmakers in developing their work through the Labs and screening films at our Film Festival.

Since the early years of the early ’80s as a fledgling community of filmmakers paved the way for newer generations, there have been constant shifts in the way films are funded, made and seen. Tenacity has been at the core of existence for those few Native filmmakers who have actually made a feature film and taken it out into the marketplace. Today, there are more Native filmmakers than ever making films and yet reaching audiences continues to be among the biggest challenges.

With technology the way films are made has broadened and become more and more democratized. With social networks and crowd-funding, films are getting funded in new ways, and now more than ever audiences are viewing films in digital platforms. Traditional theatrical distribution has most often eluded Native filmmakers, while stellar Native films have won top awards at some of the world’s most influential film festivals, still the Native American audience has gone under-served as they constantly ask about when and where they can see the latest Native films in the comfort of their own communities and homes.

With the launch of Sundance Institute’s Artist Services the birth of these films is going to be more frequent as social networks and community are called upon to fund films. And, with our new deals with digital platforms, the lives of these films are going to be extended longer than ever before.

In our partnership with Kickstarter already two Native films have taken advantage of this relationship and held successful campaigns to raise a important dollars to launch production and finish post-production. Aurora Guerrero’s Mosquita y Mari and Julianna Brannum’s LaDonna Harris: Indian 101 collectively raised nearly $100,000. And just today, Andrew Okpeaha MacLean’s On the Ice launched a campaign to support their impending theatrical release and is planning to take advantage of our new relationships with digital distributors.

Our newly launched Artists Services is offering support to our Native alumni which includes filmmakers whose work has screened at our Festival or and those who have participated in our lab programs. Keep an ear out for forthcoming information and keep a special ear out for the many wonderful films which have been difficult to find in today’s marketplace. Sundance as it matures in its 30th year is doing as it has always done, to respond to the times and stay core to our mission of supporting independent filmmakers and films.

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Sundance Institute Piloting Direct Individual Support for Mediamakers Through the Sundance Institute | Humanities Sustainability Fellowship

Long before the COVID-19 pandemic upended life in general, and halted production and distribution for many creatives, the nonfiction field was plagued by issues of sustainability. For several years, sustainability has been an urgent and vigorous topic of study, debate, and organizing, as more and more filmmakers find it difficult, if not impossible, to make a living solely on the basis of their creative work. 

In Memoriam: Diane Weyermann (1955–2021)

A singular force within the documentary film world with a global reach, Diane Weyermann passed away at age 66 after battling cancer. Over the course of her 30-year career as a funder and an executive, her work elevated the documentary form and expanded its cultural impact.

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