LOS ANGELES — As part of the nonprofit Sundance Institute’s continued commitment to supporting artists from historically excluded communities, the Institute announced today its latest grantees for both the Uprise Grant Fund and Arts Organization Grants. The Uprise Grant Fund supports BIPOC artists whose careers and creative development have been harmed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Thirty-eight U.S.-based artists of color have been selected for Uprise Grants that will enable them to sustain their creative practice, ensuring that these critical stories and voices are not erased. Unrestricted grants total $184,000, with individual amounts ranging up to $5,000 based on stated need. Eighty percent of Uprise artist grantees work in traditional film disciplines, and 20% work primarily in emerging media or theater disciplines. Recipients were selected via a robust review process by a culturally abundant group of external reviewers and panelists.
The Institute also announced $240,000 in Arts Organization Grants to 18 U.S.-based BIPOC-led arts organizations and collectives. Each of these organizations work in film, theater, or emerging media, and will receive a grant between $5,000 and $20,000, with levels determined based on the organization’s demonstrated track record of impact within their priority communities, and the stated need and the operating budget of the organization. Funding will be used to strengthen the organizations themselves in their ongoing work and/or be directly regranted to artists. The selected organizations all applied following a field-wide nomination process by trusted and long-standing partners, including peer arts organizations, foundations, and Sundance Institute alumni artists.
“The mission of the Uprise Grant Fund is a direct manifestation of the values of the Outreach & Inclusion Program and Sundance Institute as a whole. Since the pandemic began, among our top priorities has been to move unrestricted resources into those communities of artists that have been so disproportionately harmed, in order to combat the erasure of these powerful voices from our culture,” said Karim Ahmad, Sundance Institute Director of Outreach & Inclusion. “Our Arts Organizations Grant is similarly a commitment to economic justice in the arts by supporting these mighty BIPOC-led arts organizations whose continued existence and impact are deeply necessary to uplift and sustain those artists that are most marginalized in the field.”
The funding of other organizations is a continuation of the organizational granting that began last year as part of Sundance Institute’s Respond and Reimagine Plan, affirming the Institute’s commitment and belief in the urgency of a strong, vibrant ecosystem of organizations dedicated to serving BIPOC artist communities.
The Uprise Grant Fund will continue next year supporting artist sustainability for BIPOC storytellers with the upcoming cycle opening applications in the spring.
The Inaugural Uprise Grant Fund Recipients Are:
Yasmin Almanaseer is a queer, Black, and Arab-American writer born in Tallahassee, Florida, and raised in the North Bay of California. He is a former Outfest Fellow, a 2020 Topple Disruptors Fellow and most recently, a WarnerMedia Access Fellow.
A poet, a fiction writer, and a filmmaker, Fatimah Asghar is the author of If They Come For Us, the co-editor of Halal If You Hear Me, and the writer and co-creator of the Emmy-nominated web series Brown Girls.
Hadeel Assali is an anthropologist, filmmaker, and former engineer. She is currently working on her first feature-length documentary.
Lena Chen creates feminist performance and socially engaged art. She founded Heal Her, an expressive arts initiative supporting survivors of gender-based violence. She earned a B.A. in sociology from Harvard University and is a MFA candidate at Carnegie Mellon University.
Edyka Chilomé is a queer indigenous mestiza cultural worker born to migrant activists from the occupied territories of the Zacateco (Mexico) and Lenca (El Salvador) peoples. Currently she’s based east of the Arkikosa River (Texas). Learn more at Edykachilome.com.
Dominic was an inaugural Latinx TV List finalist. Currently Dominic has projects in development at Hulu, 20th TV, and Anthony Hemingway Productions. He is repped by CAA & Artists First.
Min Ding was born and raised in China. She received her MFA in Film Directing from Columbia University. She is an award-winning filmmaker currently residing in Brooklyn and developing her first feature film, A Self Combing Woman.
Mandolin Justice Eisenberg (M.J. Rain Song) is Indigenous to Taos Pueblo, descending from ancestors who fought with their lives to shape their own story in one of the oldest inhabited places in the United States. She is a Storyteller by blood and Director at heart. She is a 2018 Sundance Full Circle Fellow.
Ash Goh Hua
Ash Goh Hua is a filmmaker and cultural worker from Singapore, based in New York. They create documentaries informed by the politics of abolition and autonomy, utilizing a subversively collaborative filmmaking process to build collective power.
Leandro Fabrizi Ríos was director, producer, and cinematographer on the public television series Zona Franca. He is a video journalist for the Center for Investigative Journalism, and he has been behind the most in-depth reports on Puerto Rico’s debt and fiscal crisis.
Kayla Farrish is a filmmaker, director, and choreographer interested in narrative immersive works pushing through film, live performance, sound score, and text. She produces films and hybrid works revealing hidden perspectives, uprooting history, with radical imagination and liberation.
Brittany Franklin is a Hard of Hearing writer/director and photographer from New York.
Dickie Hearts is a Deaf actor/director and 3x national film contest winner. His credits include Netflix’s Tales of the City (2019) and HBO’s High Maintenance (2020). Recently, Hearts remotely directed a short film, Disconnected: The Musical, now available online.
Armando is a queer immigrant filmmaker from Acapulco, Mexico. Armando is the director and writer of the YouTube series Undocumented Tales. Armando is committed to portraying authentic Latinx characters and addressing real issues impacting immigrant communities in the United States.
Carlos Ibarra is an actor, writer, and director. His writing centers on the Latinx experience, particularly through the lens of an Americanized immigrant, addressing social issues that impact the immigrant community.
Writer and director focused on queer disability-inclusive dramas accented by dark humor and surrealist imagery. A current fellow of BlackMagic’s All Access and RespectAbility’s Summer Lab, she preps Oreo, her short film about identity and the consequences of nonconformity, for festival.
Henry Alexander Kelly
Henry Alexander Kelly is a proud Nicaraguan-American venti-caramel comedic-writer and actor. His half-hour mockumentary comedy, NOW-WHAT?! (NAHUATL), about the Nicarao-Aztecs in 1491 dealing with “gentrifying” conquistadors, was just optioned by Campanario Entertainment. He’s literary managed by ATN Entertainment.
Patrick G. Lee
Patrick G. Lee is a queer diasporic Korean documentary filmmaker, writer, and community organizer. His most recent project, Unspoken, follows six queer and trans Asian Americans as they grapple with their queerness and family acceptance. He is a Firelight Media Doc Lab Fellow with his debut feature.
Sasha-Gay Lewis is an award-winning Jamaican documentary filmmaker, producer, and writer based in Los Angeles. Her short film The Incursion has won several awards, including at the Caribbean Tales Film Festival and DOC LA, and was an official selection at the 2018 Pan African Film Festival.
Alika Maikau is a Native Hawaiian filmmaker from Kāne’ohe, O’ahu, whose work focuses on expanding the depth and breadth of the Hawaiian and Japanese experience, and how the two contemporaneously interlock and inform one another in modern Hawai‘i.
Andre Muir creates spiritual stories that explore the importance of language as it pertains to culture and its use for communication throughout his work. He often utilizes a naturalistic absurdist approach to speak to deeper truths in his scenes.
Marcos Nieves is a queer and Mexican immigrant director, cinematographer, and editor. He began his work as an immigrant activist and social justice filmmaker. Prior works include Almost American and Preying on Puerto Rico, and his most recent work, Zoila. He is now working on his next project, My Queerceañera.
San-San is a Filipinx-Chinese filmmaker based in L.A. She was the first Filipinx to be accepted into the Directing Program at the AFI Conservatory. She is an advocate of amplifying underrepresented voices both in front and behind the camera.
Naima Ramos-Chapman is a writer, director, dancer, producer from Flatbush, Brooklyn. Her award-winning short film, And Nothing Happened, premiered at the 2016 Slamdance Film Festival. She is a 2017 Sundance Screenwriters Intensive fellow and creator of the virtual reality short Still Here, about the specific ways Black women are impacted by mass incarceration.
Faye Ruiz is a Tucson, Arizona–based filmmaker. Her filmmaking is guided primarily by her experiences as a Mexican trans woman. Her interests lie first and foremost in telling the stories of trans women of color. She’s also drawn to forgotten histories, alienation, mythology, and the extremely vulnerable, subjective experiences of people’s lives.
Jazmin Jones is a Brooklyn-based, Bay Area–raised visual storyteller and thot leader with BUFU: By Us For Us. Working across visual mediums, her projects often echo personal experiences as a queer, Black femme waging intimacy in the Post-Internet era.
Nyjia is a Washington, D.C., native who has worked as a segment and field producer on numerous docuseries and reality shows. She has been supported by Sundance, Firelight Media, ITVS, and BAVC. Her second documentary, Listen To My Heartbeat, looks at the gentrification of Washington, D.C., through the gaze of the city’s folkloric music.
Nova Scott-James is a filmmaker, innovation doula, and community organizer from Harlem, New York.
Inspired by Jazz consciousness, her work explores improvisation, altered states of consciousness, and ritual. Nova uses her intuitive gifts to guide people in honoring their creative genius.
Queer Iranian-American playwright & screenwriter in LA. Credits include Audible, La MaMa, NYSAF, Rattlestick, The Lark, Project Y and Dixon Place. Upcoming: HBO, Discovery+. Lambda Literary Playwriting Fellow. Magic Castle performer. BA: Harvard College. MFA: Playwriting, Brooklyn College.
Wendi Sierra is an Assistant Professor of Game Studies at Texas Christian University. A researcher and designer, Sierra is interested in games as novel learning environments. Her first game, an NEH-funded Oneida language game, is playable at astrongfire.com.
Bryan Sih is a multimedia artist and organizer whose films include the award-winning Winter/Spring and AfterImages, which he made as a 2020 Armed With a Camera Fellow, and played at the LA Asian Pacific Film Festival and Seattle Asian American Film Festival.
Weng-San Sit is a Singaporean artist based in Los Angeles who works primarily with photography and video. She graduated with an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts and is interested in disrupting the polarized representation of marginalized communities.
Josalynn Smith is a queer black American filmmaker and graduate of Columbia University’s Film MFA program. They’re a two-time Alfred. P. Sloan grantee and spent time in residence at SFFILM. Josalynn’s passionate about black stories, queer stories, and revisionist history.
Nay is a Lebanese filmmaker based in NYC, currently finishing her MFA in Filmmaking at NYU. Inspired by her Beiruti upbringing, Nay’s stories explore themes of identity and belonging. Her short film Frayed Roots premiered at Raindance Film Festival 2020.
Tchaas is a multiracial/Latinx/Black director based in NYC. His future films will explore the existential predicament of blackness; the ecstatic quality of being a person of color in the world; the meanings people ascribe to their outsider status.
Jingjing is a Chinese American filmmaker based in NYC. She is a Sundance Co//ab Imagined Futures winner, TIFF Filmmaker Lab shortlist. Her work has been profiled in Paper, The South China Morning Post, and more.
So Yun Um
So Yun Um is a Korean American filmmaker born and based in Los Angeles. She is working on her first documentary feature, Liquor Store Dreams, about second-generation Korean American children of liquor store owners, which received the Sundance Documentary Fund.
Derrick Woods-Morrow (b. 1990) is a multimedia installation artist residing in Chicago, Illinois. His process-oriented and collaborative-based projects across a variety of venues digitally occupy space and utilize film as a tool to capture experiences within his community.
Yuan Yuan is a Chinese writer/director based in NYC. She is currently a MFA student at NYU, where she is an Ang Lee Scholar and Spike Lee Production Fellow. Her films won awards at DGA, Aspen, Palm Springs and HKIFF.
The 2021 Arts Organization Grantees Are:
AdocPR’s mission is to promote the development, production, and dissemination of Puerto Rican documentary films. We advocate the use of documentaries as an instrument for preserving Puerto Rico’s culture and historical memory, and to educate through stories that promote critical thinking, diversity, and social awareness.
AFF operates with the mission to advance an enhanced understanding of African culture through the moving image, using storytelling to creatively challenge inequality and promote change. AFF seeks to increase visibility and recognition for African media artists by introducing African film and culture to audiences and engaged publics in the United States and abroad, crossing economic, class, and racial barriers.
AXS Lab is a social enterprise that is building a coalition of individuals and organizations to boost the movement for inclusion and accessibility. The AXS Film Fund strives to support independent documentary filmmakers and nonfiction new media creators of color with disabilities in their endeavors to tell stories, make films, and create content.
BLAC’s mission is to serve as a space for creatives to reify ideas, stories, and expressions of the Black imagination.
Cinema Sala is a platform showcasing Filipino and Filipino-American work in film and the performing arts through programming, distribution and education. We are a movement of Filipinx filmmakers striving for representation and who are brimming with talent and original content.
Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2021, Cinema Tropical is a New York City-based media arts non-profit organization dedicated to the programming, distribution, and promotion of U.S. Latinx and Latin American cinema. Through a diversity of programs and initiatives, Cinema Tropical is thriving as a dynamic and groundbreaking organization experimenting in the creation of better and more effective strategies for the distribution and exhibition of cinema in this country.
Femme Frontera is a film organization made up of women filmmakers from the U.S.- Mexico border region. We amplify films made by women and nonbinary filmmakers from borders across the globe. We celebrate these unique voices through showcasing work, funding women-directed projects, and providing film education.
Harlem Film House, a 501(c) (3) corporation, provides filmmakers services and resources to ensure access and opportunity in film, theatre and related entrepreneurial pursuits in underserved communities around the world. The Harlem Film House produces film & music festivals, operates year-round workshops, theatre productions and live events, and has a thriving streaming network, 247films.tv. The mission is to create an economic ecosystem with marketing and strategic partnerships between filmmakers, activists, businesses, entrepreneurs and the global community at large.
Hero Theatre is a community-based company that uses art to model and bring about social and environmental justice. They invite audiences to envision and experience America as they do. Hero examines classical and contemporary works, ensuring that equity, diversity, and inclusion remain in the forefront.
The New Negress Film Society is a collective of Black women and non-binary filmmakers who create community, spaces, and films that reimagine cultural productions that have traditionally exploited our communities. We coordinate public programming and produce films committed to centering radical Black women’s voices. We protect the integrity of our artistic process from the commercialization and commodification that have historically caused harm to our communities. We believe the best protection is collectivizing.
NeXt Doc is a national and international year-long fellowship geared towards creating space, building equity, community, and providing resources and support to young emerging non-fiction filmmakers from diverse backgrounds. NeXt Doc is also a program of Youth FX, Youth FX is a non-profit youth-media organization based in Upstate New York.
Noor Theatre is an OBIE-award winning company with a mission to support, develop and produce the work of theatre artists of MENA/SWANA (Middle Eastern and North African/South West Asian and North African) descent. Founded in 2010, Noor was created to serve our community of artists in developing their voices and to share their often-unheard stories with a diverse audience.
Plan B Theatre develops and produces unique and socially conscious theatre created by Utah playwrights.
QWOCMAP uses film to shatter stereotypes and bias, and reveal the lived truth of inequality. We develop leadership and creativity, build community, and strengthen movements for social justice by creating, exhibiting, and distributing films that authentically reflect the lives of African Descent/Black, Two Spirit Native American/American Indian; First Nations & Indigenous, queer women of color (both cisgender & transgender), and nonbinary, gender nonconforming, and transgender people of color (of any orientation).
Sisters in Cinema has an inclusive mission to center and celebrate Black girls, women, and gender-nonconforming media makers, providing programs designed to educate, raise visibility, and support and serve our communities. We envision a world where all Black girls, women and gender-nonconforming media makers and storytellers have equal opportunities to create and thrive.
TeAda is a nomadic theater of color rooted in the stories of immigrants, refugees and people of color. TeAda’s artistic process starts and ends with conscious listening, community building, and creative courage. TeAda offers community-based workshops and tours innovative performances, locally and nationally, in traditional and nontraditional venues.
UFC tackles the systemic inequities that undocumented immigrants face in the field not only as sources of stories but more importantly as creators, artists, and primary audiences.
The mission of the Vietnamese American Arts & Letters Association (VAALA) is to connect and enrich communities through Vietnamese arts and culture.
The Sundance Institute Outreach & Inclusion program is made possible by support from Emerson Collective, Will & Jada Smith Family Foundation, Starlight Media, Inc., The Harnisch Foundation, NBCUniversal, Critical Minded, Bertha Foundation, Jason Delane Lee and Yvonne Huff Lee, Netflix, SAGindie, Easterseals Disability Services, Philip Fung—A3 Foundation, Open Society Foundations, and Rev.com
The Uprise Grants are supported by the Sundance Institute | Stars Collective Granting Fund and the Sundance Institute | Maja Kristin Granting Fund, which offers unrestricted grants to women and BIPOC filmmakers, producers and editors working in film, theater and emerging media. The nonrecoupable grants will focus on critical support for project advancement, career sustainability and living stipends. These grants are part of a continuum of support provided by our Feature Film, Documentary, Outreach & Inclusion and Interdisciplinary artist programs.
About the Sundance Institute
As a champion and curator of independent stories for the stage and screen, the nonprofit 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 which are dedicated to developing new work and take place throughout the year in the U.S. and internationally, are supported largely through contributed revenue. 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.