Sundance Institute Deepens Artist Development Programs in Eight U.S. Cities With Renewed Knight Foundation Support

Los Angeles — Sundance Institute will continue producing artist development programs in eight U.S. cities, with funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Building on the success of the initial four-year project, expanded programming will target a wider range of artists, including filmmakers, screenwriters, producers and composers, with public sessions and selective intensives modeled on Sundance Institute’s renowned residency Labs. 

Additionally, over the course of the program’s next three years, 12 filmmakers from these cities will be named Sundance Institute |Knight Fellows, and will attend the annual Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah for a custom itinerary of special screenings, panels and professional development opportunities.

Keri Putnam, Sundance Institute Executive Director, said, “Over the past four years, we’re proud to have supported a talented group of artists through our partnership with the Knight Foundation. We are excited for the opportunity to deepen and sustain our work with the Foundation and the creative community in these vibrant cities across the country.”

The initial four-year run of the Knight Fellows Project reached nearly 3,000 artists across eight cities. Among those participating filmmakers was 2016 Knight Fellow Tayarisha Poe, who has continued to develop her feature film, Selah and the Spades, at Sundance Institute’s signature Directors and Screenwriters Lab; 2016 Knight Fellow Invincible/ill Weaver, a Detroit-based performance artist and member of the collective Complex Movements, whose involvement with Detroit Narrative Agency is providing grants to local artists; and 2014 Knight Fellow Monica Peña, a Miami filmmaker, whose films Ectotherms and Hearts of Palm have screened at festivals across the country.

Workshops, panels and labs will continue to take place in: Akron, OH; Charlotte, NC; Detroit, MI; Miami, FL; Macon, GA.; Philadelphia, PA; San Jose, CA.; and St. Paul, MN. Sundance Institute will bring together its national pool of alumni artists as mentors and panelists, and work with local host arts organizations for programming partnerships in each community. Previous mentors include Michael Almereyda, Frances Bodomo and Adrienne Maree Brown. Previous host organizations include IFP Minnesota, Miami Filmmakers Collective, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History and Southern Documentary Fund.

Victoria Rogers, VP/Arts at Knight Foundation, said, “Film is a powerful vehicle for illuminating our communities and moving the stories of people from the margins into our consciousness. Over the past few years, Sundance Institute workshops have helped elevate new voices – from Minnesota to Miami and Macon, Georgia –  so that they too can be heard and resonate with broader audiences. We’re excited to see what stories come forth in the next three years.”

In addition to the expanded funding, the program will feature new elements and workshops. These include the Knight Grant Fund, providing grants to support the advancement of participating artists’ projects; the Short Film Workshop, which will open up the program to short filmmakers seeking feedback on their work; and Sundance Institute’s Creative Producing Program, which will support the development of producers with new programming in three host communities.   

The workshops will kick off with the Screenwriters Intensive in Philadelphia on Saturday, November 4. From there the program will continue in December with the New Frontier Day Lab, in Charlotte, which will be open to the public. Additional workshops will take place in other communities beginning in 2018. For more information go to


Sundance Institute
Founded in 1981 by Robert Redford, Sundance Institute is a nonprofit organization that provides and preserves the space for artists in film, theatre, and new media to create and thrive. The Institute’s signature Labs, granting, and mentorship programs, dedicated to developing new work, take place throughout the year in the U.S., primarily at the Sundance Mountain Resort in Utah, and internationally. Sundance Institute serves as a dynamic incubator of film, theatre and music artists, connecting audiences to artists through its public programs including the Sundance Film Festival and igniting new ideas, discovering original voices and building a community dedicated to independent storytelling. Sundance Institute has supported such projects as Boyhood, Swiss Army Man, Manchester By the Sea, Brooklyn, Little Miss Sunshine, Life, Animated, Sonita, 20 Feet From Stardom, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Fruitvale Station, Sin Nombre, Spring Awakening, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder and Fun Home. Join Sundance Institute on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy.

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