The Sundance Institute, The Kendeda Fund, and TIME Studios Launch $250k Short Film Fund Addressing U.S. Gun Violence

Paola Mottura is the Sundance Institute’s Film Fund manager. Today she’s sharing details on a new partnership between the Institute, The Kendeda Fund, and TIME Studios.


The past year has been a difficult one for most of us, between the sickness, isolation, anxiety, and crushing financial realities brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disproportionately affected BIPOC communities across the country. Independent artists have been struggling to make ends meet—in fact, an Americans for the Arts survey from earlier this year found that 95% of artists have lost income due to COVID-19.

However, we are heartened by this unprecedented moment of reckoning in America. A sweeping wave of people of all colors and from all walks of life have poured into the streets to support the Black Lives Matter movement, denouncing the systemic racial inequalities and institutionalised racism that has plagued this country since its birth. From education to healthcare, policing to criminal justice, and climate change to tax reforms, people are demanding changes in a socio-economic system that for too long has served the interests of a privileged minority at the expense of the majority.

Gun violence is another critical issue here in the United States, and we’re thankful to The Kendeda Fund as well as TIME Studios, the Emmy award-winning television and film division of TIME, for partnering with us to launch a new initiative. Together, we are creating a short film fund designed to explore stories that help underline gun violence in popular discourse, moving beyond tragedy reporting and other traditional frames to focus instead on points of agreement, creative solutions, and models of progress.

This new initiative, which is an extension of the work The Kendeda Fund has been supporting at Sundance for several years, will award up to seven non-recoupable grants of up to $50,000 each to new nonfiction work at various stages of production. In addition to financial support, each project will receive creative, strategic, and editorial advice from the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program and TIME Studios teams. Once completed, the shorts will have the opportunity to launch on TIME, which reaches an audience of 100 million people globally.

With this initiative, we hope to elevate and amplify stories that unpack the systemic, social, and structural forces that underlie gun violence. We encourage the submission of projects that explore the intersectionality of gun violence with broader issues of racial justice, housing segregation, lack of investment in public infrastructure, education, public health, policing, criminal justice, domestic violence, mental health, suicide, and corporate influence on guns. In particular, we are looking to uplift the voices of artists from communities most affected by gun violence, who have been too long marginalized, and those who have been personally affected by this issue.

Over the next few months we will also be releasing a report commissioned by the Sundance Institute and conducted by an independent team of researchers on gun violence and documentary film. This in-depth piece of research led by Eliza Licht, Will Jenkins, Michon Boston, and Alice Quinlan will highlight some key learnings for filmmakers, funders, and advocacy groups working at the intersection of gun violence and storytelling.

Our hope is that this work will contribute to generate more equitable collaborations among stakeholders, grounded in partnerships with the communities most affected by gun violence. The report learnings will also inform our review and selection process for the open call.


The open call for submissions will close on February 8. Please click HERE to submit your application and learn more about the eligibility criteria.

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