Sundance Institute Selects Four NextGen Native American Filmmakers for 2016 Full Circle Fellowships

Four 18-to-24-year-old Native Artists will Attend 2016 Sundance Film Festival, Develop Storytelling Skills and New Film Projects Throughout the Year

Los Angeles, CA — Sundance Institute announced today the four 18-to-24-year-old Native American filmmakers — three from the Southwest and one from Michigan — selected for the 2016 Full Circle Fellowships. Following Sundance Institute President and Founder Robert Redford’s original vision and commitment to supporting Native American artists, the Full Circle Fellowship program develops and supports young Native filmmakers and is part of the Institute’s year-round support offerings for Native artists at all stages of their careers.

The Full Circle Fellowship Program, launched last year with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, is a year-long program for 18-to-24-year-old Native American filmmakers. The Fellowship will begin with attendance at the annual Native Forum at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, January 21-31, in Park City, Utah. Throughout the year, Fellows will be mentored by esteemed independent filmmakers and Creative Advisors.

The 2016 Full Circle Fellows are: Megan Babbitt (Diné), Taylor Bennett-Begaye (Diné), Devin Weekley-Dean (Saginaw Chippewa) and Shaandiin Tome (Diné).

N. Bird Runningwater (Cheyenne/Mescalero Apache), Director of Sundance Institute’s Native American and Indigenous Program said, “Through the Full Circle Fellowship we build on our longstanding mentorship and support for three generations of Native filmmakers by focusing on the emerging fourth generation and ensuring these young artists have the tools and resources to share their stories. We look forward to a year full of creativity, collaboration and inspiring experiences with these very talented artists.”

The 2016 Native American and Indigenous Program Full Circle Fellows are:

Megan Babbitt (Diné) is from Flagstaff, Arizona and currently a student at Northern Arizona University (NAU) as a Creative Film and Media Major with an emphasis in Media Production. Her interest in film began when she was eight years old. In high school, she founded the Ninjacorn Films Workshop. Initially centered on teaching filmmaking to her siblings and friends, it has grown into an annual, week-long summer workshop focusing on film production. She has participated in her high school’s Emerging Filmmakers Program, NAU’s Native American Broadcast workshop, NAU’s campus-based broadcast channel UTV62 and Paper Rocket Productions.

Taylor Bennett-Begaye (Diné) is a graphic designer from the Navajo Nation in New Mexico. She completed her Associate of Arts in Digital Arts and General Studies at Mesa Community College in Mesa, Arizona and also played on the women’s soccer team. Currently, she is finishing her final year at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado where she will receive a BA in Graphic Design and a minor in Sociocultural Anthropology. She has also spent five months studying abroad in Viterbo, Italy and exploring eight other European countries. In her free time she is a designer for the Survival of the First Voices Festival and works with Native youth.

Devin Weekley-Dean (Saginaw Chippewa) is from Mount Pleasant, Michigan. Growing up, he attended an all-Native American grade school and has been acting since the first grade in shows at his local theater. In high school, he developed a passion for film through a TV and radio course. With the encouragement of his teachers, he formed a video production team with a group of friends that has since gone on to win a state competition for video production by Business Professionals of America.

Shaandiin Tome (Diné) resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She recently graduated cum laude from the University of New Mexico with a BFA in Film and Digital Media Production. Her work in filmmaking has included small roles in major motion pictures and to key positions with documentaries in Montana, Washington, Arizona and South Dakota.

The Full Circle Fellowship Program is supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The Sundance Institute Native American and Indigenous Film Program is supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Time Warner Foundation, Surdna Foundation, Ford Foundation, Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, SAGIndie, Comcast-NBCUniversal and Cindy and Alan Horn.

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. and internationally. The Sundance Film Festival and other public programs connect audiences to artists in igniting new ideas, discovering original voices, and building a community dedicated to independent storytelling. Sundance Institute has supported such projects as Beasts of the Southern Wild, Fruitvale Station, Sin Nombre, The Invisible War, The Square, Dirty Wars, Spring Awakening, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder and Fun Home. Join Sundance Institute on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

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