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Category: Program Spotlight

Off the Mountain: 2020 NativeLab Fellows on Decolonizing the Filmmaking Process

We recently introduced you to Off the Mountain, our new series offering a look inside the Sundance Institute’s summer labs. This year, due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, we brought our labs online for the first time ever, hosting our fellows and creative advisors on Sundance Co//ab rather than in person in Santa Fe, New Mexico, or at the Sundance Mountain Resort. Each week, we’ll be bringing you a roundtable-style discussion between a few fellows and staff members from each lab.

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Vision & Voice: Navajo Filmmaker Blackhorse Lowe on Making His ‘Own Weird Kind of Cinematic Mutant’

November is Native American Heritage Month, and to celebrate, the Sundance Institute is running a weekly series, Vision & Voice: Indigenous Cinema Now, profiling artists who have been supported by the Indigenous Program throughout its history. To begin the series, the Indigenous Program’s associate director, Adam Piron, spoke with Blackhorse Lowe, a filmmaker from the Navajo Nation, whose debut feature, 5th World, premiered at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival and went on to screen at festivals around the globe.
“I want to show people something they haven’t seen before and give them an experience of something they haven’t tried—it’s like a trip or like going to a ceremony or hanging out with some weirdos,” he says of his filmography, which has grown to include award-winning projects like Shimásáni (2009), Chasing the Light (2016), and Fukry (2019).

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Leya Hale on the Legacy of the Late Māori Filmmaker Merata Mita

In January during the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, director and producer Leya Hale (Dakota/Diné) was announced as the recipient of this year’s Merata Mita Fellowship. Named in honor of the late Māori filmmaker and longtime artistic director of the Institute’s Native Lab, the fellowship cultivates a stage for Indigenous women worldwide to tell their stories and offers a year-long continuum of support, mentorship, and a trip to the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Applications for the 2021 Merata Mita Fellowship are now open; submit your materials by October 26.

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​’Storytelling Is Sacred Medicine’: Native Filmmakers on the Importance Indigenous Peoples’ Day

In a year marked by a devastating global pandemic that has disproportionately affected Black, Indigenous, and communities of color, as well as societal unrest spurred by systemic racism and violence, Indigenous artists across the country have found strength in the ways of their ancestors. From the shores of Hawai’i to the heart of the Seneca-Cayuga Nation, they have reconnected with their families and their land, lent their assistance to those in need in their communities, stood with #BlackLivesMatter in the fight against white supremacy, and helped topple monuments venerating genocide and colonialism.
As we prepare to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day on Monday, October 12, we asked three Native filmmakers — all alumni of Sundance Institute’s Indigenous Program — to reflect upon the holiday’s significance amidst this challenging but transformative year.

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Call for Applications: Score a Spot at the Film Music and Sound Design Lab

April 3 is National Film Score Day—and what better way to celebrate than by applying to the Film Music and Sound Design Lab? The lab will take place at Skywalker Sound in Marin County, California. Composers who are selected for the program are assigned either a fiction or documentary film project, and each fellow collaborates one-on-one with their project’s director to score a selection of scenes, with guidance from experienced advisors in both the film music and directing fields. Apply now!

Inside the 2018 Film Music and Sound Design Lab
As for advice for those applying, it’s important to submit music that demonstrates your unique style.

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Mary Lampson on the Art of Editing: “We Have Extraordinary Power and a Great Responsibility”

At the Sundance Film Festival last month, editor Mary Lampson presented a keynote highlighting the role of an editor and her journey through the ranks of the industry during Sundance Institute and the Karen Schmeer Film Editing Fellowship’s Art of Editing Reception. Below we’ve published Lampson’s speech in full.

First I’d like to thank Sundance Institute and the Karen Schmeer Film Editing Fellowship for asking me to speak today, and also Adobe for supporting this event.

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Meet the 2019 Knight Fellows

(R-L) Jonathan Cuartas, Paige Wood, Ryah Aqel, and Tara GadomskiAs part of our commitment to developing and nurturing the next generation of creative voices, Sundance Institute, with the support of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation annually selects four Knight Fellows to attend the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.

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Eight Indigenous-Made Films to See at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival

Want to see which films by Indigenous filmmakers made their world premieres at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival in Park City? See the list here.This year, eight Indigenous-made films from Australia, New Zealand, and the United States will be premiering at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. The Native American and Indigenous Film Program has a global focus and through its work strengthens Indigenous cinema.

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Native American Heritage Month: 5 Native and Indigenous Artists Invited to Join the Academy

In November, organizations across the United States observe National Native American and Alaska Native Heritage Month. During this month and throughout the year, Sundance Institute acknowledges the ancestral keepers of the land in the communities where we work and supports the important artistic contributions that Native and Indigenous storytellers have made in film, theatre, film music, episodic storytelling, and emerging platforms.
As part of this month’s celebration of the ongoing and enormous creativity and vitality of Native and Indigenous artists, Sundance Institute and the Native Program pay tribute to five outstanding Native and Indigenous artists who have been invited to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

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Native Filmmaker Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers: “Sovereignty Is Home”

The Sundance Institute Merata Mita Fellowship for Indigenous Women Artists pays tribute to the immense artistic contributions and memory of Merata Mita (Ngati Pikiao/Ngai te Rangi). Merata served as an advisor and artistic director to the Sundance Institute’s Native Filmmakers Lab from 2000 to 2009, where she mentored and championed many of the top Indigenous talent in today’s film industry.In commemoration of Indigenous Peoples’ Day Sundance Institute’s Indigenous Program is pleased to issue a call for projects for the Merata Mita Fellowship for Indigenous Women Artists.

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Poetic Portraits of the 2018 New Frontier Story Lab

In May 2018 I was invited to join Sundance Institute’s New Frontier Story Lab in Utah as a Creative Observer. As an inclusion producer from the Pervasive Media Studio at Watershed in Bristol, UK, it was a treat to be invited to observe a naturally intersectional and representative lab process in the U.S.

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