Sundance Institute and Adobe Announce 2020 Sundance Ignite x Adobe Fellows

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Ten Emerging Artists Selected from Short Film Submissions on Sundance Co//ab

Winning Short Films to Be Screened As Part of Celebration of Sundance Film Festival: London

Los Angeles — Sundance Institute and Adobe announced the class of 2020 Sundance Ignite x Adobe Fellows today, chosen from a global pool of more than 1,600 applicants. Hailing from a broad geography, from Nashville to Hong Kong, and rooted in a diverse array of creative disciplines from documentary filmmaking to narrative shorts, these 10 emerging artists selected will engage with a year of mentorship and support from Sundance Institute and Sundance Ignite founding partner Adobe.

Fellows were selected from a one- to 15-minute short film submitted to the Sundance Ignite x Adobe Short Film Challenge, hosted for the first time on Sundance Co//ab, the Institute’s digital community platform. The 10 fellows were selected for their originality of voice, creativity in storytelling, and rigor of their craft.

The Fellowship is artist centric, with a goal of advancing each fellow to their next step in their filmmaking journey, both artistically and professionally. The Fellows will kick off their fellowship year with the Sundance Ignite Digital Filmmakers Lab, which began on Monday, July 13, on Sundance Co//ab and continues through the end of the week. The weeklong lab will include sessions to prepare fellows for the year ahead, from presenting your artistic self, pitching your project to case studies and goal setting.

Later this summer, nine of the Fellows’ winning short films will be screened as part of Celebration of Sundance Film Festival: London, made available to all Festival passholders digitally on demand throughout the UK. Adobe is the Presenting Partner of Celebration of Sundance Film Festival: London, which runs August 7–9; more details are available at

In addition to receiving a complimentary year-long membership to Co//ab and a two-year Adobe Creative Cloud membership, each fellow will be paired with a Sundance Institute alumni mentor. This year’s mentors are Andrew Ahn (Spa Night), Patricia Cordoso (Real Women Have Curves, Queen Sugar), Jeff Orlowski (Chasing Ice, Chasing Coral), Lacey Schwartz (Little White Lie), Hannah Pearl Utt (Before You Know It), Malik Vitthal (Imperial Dreams, Body Cam) and Roger Ross Williams (Life, Animated, The Innocence Files).

“We’re proud to support these ten emerging artists, who are creating bold new work that brings their stories, voice, and passion to life,” said Meredith Lavitt, director, Sundance Ignite. “Sundance Ignite x Adobe Fellows aren’t tomorrow’s filmmakers, they’re today’s filmmakers — and we’re thrilled to welcome them into the Sundance family.”

“At Adobe, our mission is to enable creativity for all. We believe that everyone has a story to tell and that those stories deserve to be heard. When we elevate a broader and more diverse set of voices we can create change within ourselves, our communities and the world,” said John Travis, VP Brand Marketing, Adobe. “We are so proud to partner with Sundance in the Sundance Ignite program and look forward to working with this year’s fellows to help bring their stories, creativity, and perspectives to the world.”

Sundance Ignite is supported by Adobe; Arison Arts Foundation; The Birth of a Nation Fellowship, founded by the creative and producing teams of the film; Southwest Airlines; East West Bank; and Jason Michael Berman.

The 2020 Sundance Ignite x Adobe Fellows are:

Jacob Anderson is a Kentucky-based writer, director, and cinematographer. He attended Western Kentucky University and graduated with a degree in Filmmaking. Post-graduation, Jacob has become a working cinematographer based in the Nashville, Tennessee area. He has begun writing and directing his own projects that will explore the boundaries of genre within the American South. Recently, Jacob has begun writing his first feature film and next short that will explore intimate stories about people against a backdrop of the American South. Once established, his goal is to bring film opportunities to other budding southern filmmakers in the future.

Sasha Argirov is a Canadian writer/director based in Vancouver. His short film, Personals, is soon to begin its festival tour. He is developing his debut feature about an anxious college student who lures his girlfriend as a vessel for his mother’s ghost. He likes making films about lonely people in unusual situations.

Giselle Bonilla is a mediocre bartender desperately pursuing a back-up career as a filmmaker. She graduated with Honors from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts with a BFA in Film & Television Production. Her thesis film received the Horizon Award at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and went on to compete in various festivals across the country. She is currently developing her first feature, and aims to shoot her proof of concept under the guidance of the Ignite Fellowship. Giselle is currently based in Los Angeles.

Aurora Brachman is a documentary filmmaker and MFA student in Documentary Film at Stanford University. She is also the recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship in Filmmaking to the pacific island nation of Kiribati where she directed the docuseries Between the Tides. She is currently working on a documentary about Club Quarantine, a virtual queer dance party where hundreds of people from around the world gather each night during the Covid-19 lockdowns. She primarily makes work about the experiences of various marginalized communities and is committed to collaborative and ethical storytelling.

Natalie A. Chao is a filmmaker and visual artist who completed her B.A degree in Film Production at USC in Los Angeles, with a focus in cinematography. Born, raised and currently based in Hong Kong, she is interested in bridging the gap between realism and poetry in order to tell stories through a more engaged and intentional gaze, one that can map out our memories, not draw lines between camera and subject, identity and politics.

In the context of Hong Kong’s ongoing political crisis, she questions whether a collective gaze is possible, and is engaging with what it means to create a living documentary, one that seeks to do more than reducing ourselves to numbers on a statistic, politicised events on a historical timeline. Why do we want to remember? Who is the archive for? These are the questions that shape the experience of filming her first feature-length documentary.

Mariales Diaz is a queer, gender expansive Dominican immigrant raised in Brooklyn. They create documentaries and narratives focused on exploring human relationships, the conceptualization of the “American Dream,” and intersectionalities within identity. Their storytellings center Black and brown trans and gender expansive folxs. Mariales is a graduate of the SUNY Purchase Film Conservatory, a Fall 2019 Creative Culture Valentine and Clark Emerging Artist Fellow at the Jacob Burns Film Center, and a 2019 NeXtDoc Fellow. They are currently working on a second short film with Creative Culture, exploring the story of two enamored teenage girls seeking revenge on one of their assaulters.

Kourtney Jackson is a Toronto-based writer and filmmaker. She won the 2018 Emerging Director’s Spotlight Award at the Regent Park Film Festival for her experimental documentary pitch for Wash Day, which later premiered at TIFF Next Wave and recently screened at Breakthroughs Film Festival. Ever contemplative of the cosmos, Kourtney aims to tell unexpected stories grounded in Afrofuturism, absurdism, and joy. These days, you can find her in her room shamelessly eating out of a carton of Chapman’s vanilla ice-cream, as well as writing a short film about loving friendship, sinister betrayal, and the poisonous but delicious fruit that is ackee.

JoeBill Muñoz is a Mexican-American filmmaker. His directorial debut, Follow the Sun, chronicles the lives of migrants making their way across Mexico. It screened in festivals across the country and was nominated for a student award by the IDA. He is currently an associate producer on a feature about global food, water, and land issues at The Center for Investigative Reporting, and the producer-writer on an independent feature about the California prison hunger strikes against indefinite solitary confinement. He has worked for Frontline, the Investigative Reporting Program, and The Associated Press.

Zenzele Ojore is a filmmaker and interdisciplinary artist from Houston, Texas based in New York City. Her award-winning short films have played at festivals including Sundance (Horizon Award) and SXSW. She received her undergraduate degree from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2018, and is presently a dean fellow in the graduate film program at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.

Zenzele is currently writing the feature length version of her short The South is My Sister’s Skin, as well as developing an upcoming short film that she intends to shoot next summer in Louisiana.

Sean Wang is a filmmaker from Fremont, CA, a graduate of USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, and a Google Creative Lab 5 alum. His work has been viewed millions of times online and has aired on primetime television. Most recently, Sean contributed sequences for the feature film, Summertime, which premiered in the NEXT category at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, and his short film, Still Here (還在), was featured by the American Film Institute, Short of the Week, and Vimeo Staff Picks.

He is currently working on two short films: one about a young couple’s last night together in New York City and another about growing up told through the pages of a middle school yearbook. He is also developing his first feature film: a coming-of-age story set in the summer of 2008.

Sundance Institute

As a champion and curator of independent stories for the stage and screen, Sundance Institute provides and preserves the space for artists in film, theatre, film composing, and digital media to create and thrive.

Founded in 1981 by Robert Redford, the Institute’s signature Labs, granting, and mentorship programs, dedicated to developing new work, take place throughout the year in the U.S. and internationally. Sundance Co//ab, a digital community platform, brings artists together to learn from each other and Sundance Advisors and connect in a creative space, developing and sharing works in progress. The Sundance Film Festival and other public programs connect audiences and artists to ignite new ideas, discover original voices, and build a community dedicated to independent storytelling. Sundance Institute has supported such projects as Clemency, Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Zola, On The Record, Boys State, The Farewell, Honeyland, One Child Nation, The Souvenir, The Infiltrators, Sorry to Bother You, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Hereditary, Call Me By Your Name, Get Out, The Big Sick, Mudbound, Fruitvale Station, City So Real, Top of the Lake, Between the World & Me, Wild Goose Dreams and Fun Home. Join Sundance Institute on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

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