Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program Announces Projects Selected for Fall 2014 Support

T-REX (U.S.) Directors: Drea Cooper, Zackary Canepari Producer: Sue Johnson

Twenty three independent documentary films have been selected for Sundance Institute support in Fall 2014. Filmmakers were chosen from 881 applications received worldwide from filmmakers working in 111 unique countries of origin. Selected grantees include original voices from in-country artists from People’s Republic of China, Romania, Syria, Russia, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Czech Republic, Pakistan, Israel, the U.K and the U.S. Past films supported have included CitizenFour, The Invisible War, The Square, Art and Craft, and The Queen of Versailles.

Going forward, in response to gaps in documentary funding and in keeping with its own natural evolution, the Sundance Documentary Film Program will continue to broaden the range of content it supports. Advancing the philosophy that; Art changes how we reach people and a resulting mandate to support ART/REACH/CHANGE, the Program will demonstrate deeper appreciation and support for artful and cinematic nonfiction filmmaking, while staying true to a founding commitment to contemporary stories of meaning and moral purpose.

And, in a new initiative to be more flexible and responsive to filmmakers working globally, the Sundance Documentary Fund will experiment with a move from two static deadlines annually, to a limited Rolling Open Call in 2015. The shift aims to free filmmakers to submit applications only when they feel their film is ready to share, and allows the Fund to make grant decisions more rapidly throughout the entire rolling Open Call. Further details and application information will be available on the Sundance Institute website later in January.

The Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program is made possible by founding support from Open Society Foundations. Generous additional support is provided by Skoll Foundation; the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Ford Foundation; the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; The Charles Engelhard Foundation; The Rockefeller Foundation; Arcus Foundation; TED; Time Warner Foundation; CNN Films; ESPN Films; the Joan and Lewis Platt Foundation; Compton Foundation; SundanceNow Doc Club; Threshold Foundation; the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; Candescent Films; Chicago Media Project; Kenneth Cole Productions; PBS; and WNET New York Public Media.


Aquarela (Russia)
Director: Victor Kossakovsky
Producers: Heino Deckert, Aimara Reques, Joslyn Barnes, Sigrid Dyekjaer

Filming from an iceberg as it breaks from an ice sheet, melting as it traverses the sea, Aquarela takes us into the perspective of water – an odyssey across the globe and range of human emotions.

Fathers & Sons – The Legacy of War (Syria)
Director: Talal Derki
Producers: Ansgar Frerich, Eva Kemme, Tobias Siebert, Talal Derki

Talal Derki’s new film Fathers & Sons tells the story of the young generation in Syria and asks about the future of children who grew up in the war.

Director: James Redford
Producer: Redford Center

HAPPENING. tells the story of the transition underway in America to a clean-energy economy; it’s making communities stronger, making people money, creating jobs, and proving that when American ingenuity is on our side, no country is better positioned to build the engine of the future.

In Jackson Heights (U.S.)
Director: Frederick Wiseman
Frederick Wiseman documents one of the most diverse communities in America: Jackson Heights, New York.

Samuel’s Truth (Kenya)
Director: Peter Murimi
Producer: Toni Kamau

Would you risk everything to be truthful about who you are? Who you love? In a society where homosexuality is compared to terrorism and met with horrific abuse, Samuel and his sports team are about to do something unprecedented: come end of the season, they will publicly announce they are gay.

Survivors (Sierra Leone/U.S.)
Directors: Arthur Pratt, Banker White, Anna Fitch
Producer: Anna Fitch

Through the courageous stories of local Sierra Leonean medical staff, volunteers, patients, survivors and their families, Survivors tells of enduring humanity amidst the outbreak of the Ebola epidemic.


Beitar (Israel)
Director: Maya Zinshtein
Producer: Geoff Arbourne

In January 2013, a secretive transfer deal transported two Muslim players into the heart of Israel; Beitar Jerusalem Football Club. One season and one football team in crisis, and behind the story lurks the money and power that will send the club spiraling out of control.

The Evidence of Things Not Seen (U.S.)
Director: Ja’Tovia Gary

A troubled young artist goes through the looking glass and discovers trans-generational trauma and mental illness throughout her family tree. But the return journey with her new, adjusted perspective offers opportunity for enriched relationships and possibly, a more serene future.

Foreigners For Sale (Denmark)
Director: David Borenstein
Producer: Jesper Jack

Suky and Yana’s foreigner rental agency helps Chinese real estate developers turn ghost towns into temporary “globalized booming cities” to lure in potential buyers. But when the real estate market begins to collapse, they are pushed into desperation and descend into riskier areas of their already shady business.

Little Berlin Wall (Czech Republic)
Director: Toma Chagelishvili
Producer: Veronika Janatkova

Years after the war has ended, Russian troops install barbed-wire on the border to Georgia. The new walls run right through villages, separating families, dividing communities. Malchaz and Gotcha are childhood friends who now live on opposite sides, trying to stay connected. Will their friendship last despite the fence?

Memories of a Penitent Heart (U.S.)
Director: Cecilia Aldarondo

Twenty-five years after Miguel died of AIDS, his niece tracks down his gay lover and cracks open a Pandora’s box of unresolved family drama.

Through You Princess (Israel)
Director: Ido Haar
Producer: Liran Atzmor

Samantha sings her original a capella songs on the internet. No one seems to hear. On the other side of the world, Kutiman, impassioned by her work, secretly writes elaborate musical arrangements for her songs, combining notes plucked from other solo musicians posted to YouTube from all around the world.

Untitled Black Rock High School Documentary (U.S.)
Directors: Keith Fulton, Lou Pepe

At a remote public high school in the Mojave Desert, a staff of extraordinary educators believes that, more than academics, it is empathy and practical life skills that give at-risk students command of their own futures. This coming-of-age story watches education combat the crippling effects of poverty in the lives of American schoolchildren.


Among the Believers (Pakistan)
Director: Hemal Trivedi, Mohammed Ali Naqvi
Producers: Jonathan Goodman Levitt and Hemal Trivedi

Maulana Aziz, cleric of Pakistan’s most radical Islamic seminary – The Red Mosque, who just pledged its allegiance to ISIS, declares a holy war on the Pakistani government in hopes of establishing an Islamic caliphate. The film follows charismatic and sympathetic Aziz on his quest, while charting the coming-of-age stories of his two madrassa students who are trapped in this ideological war.

Chuck Norris vs. Communism (Romania)
Director: Ilinca Calugareanu
Producer: Mara Adina

In 1980s Romania, thousands of Western films smashed through the Iron Curtain, opening a window into the free world for those who dared to look. A black-market VHS racketeer and a courageous female translator brought the magic of film to the people and sparked a revolution.

The Road From Hainan (People’s Republic of China)
Director: Nanfu Wang

Chinese human rights activist Ye Haiyan, AKA Sparrow, knew she faced risks when she went to Hainan Province to seek justice for six 12-year-old school girls who were taken by their principal to a hotel room for the night. But the scale and intensity of the government’s reaction surprised even the most seasoned activists across China, as Sparrow found herself jailed, chased from town to town, and assaulted by her own neighbors.

The Hard Stop (U.K.)
Director: George Amponsah
Producer: Dionne Walker

In August 2011, 29-year-old Mark Duggan was shot and killed whilst being arrested by armed police in Tottenham. This incident ignited a riot that escalated into a week of the worst civil unrest in recent British history.

In Transit (U.S.)
Directors: Albert Maysles, Lynn True, David Usui, Nelson Walker, Ben Wu

Journey aboard the Empire Builder, America’s busiest long distance train route, into the hearts and minds of every day passengers.

The Last Go Round (U.S.)
Director: Justin Schein
Producer: Eden Wurmfeld

The Last Go Round is a documentary film about the friendship between an aging anti-war activist who has decided that his last political act will be to take his own life, and a documentary filmmaker who is struggling to tell the story.

Like Ants For Sugar (India)
Director: Shirley Abraham, Amit Madheshiya

Fairgrounds, stately projectors, imperious film reels and projectionists – the seven decade-old traveling cinemas of India stand at the cusp of change. Goaded by new technology, an ingenious film exhibitor, a benevolent showman, and a maverick projector mechanic set out to reinvent this tenuous world.

Swing Low (U.S.)
Director: Javid Soriano

Once a world-class opera singer, Tim, now homeless, embarks on a musical journey into the brightest and darkest regions of his life.

T-REX (U.S.)
Directors: Drea Cooper, Zackary Canepari
Producer: Sue Johnson

17-year-old Claressa ‘T-Rex’ Shields from Flint, Michigan dreams of being the first woman in history to win the middleweight gold medal in Olympic boxing. But in order for her to succeed, she’ll need to stand her ground both inside and outside the ring.

The Yes Men Are Revolting
Director: Laura Nix and the Yes Men
Producer: Laura Nix
Notorious activists the Yes Men are on a gonzo mission to save the planet, one stunning hoax after another… but this time, it’s personal.


CitizenFour (U.S.)
Director: Laura Poitras
Producers: Mathilde Bonnefoy, Dirk Wilutzky, Laura Poitras

After Laura Poitras received encrypted emails from someone with information on the government’s massive covert-surveillance programs, she and reporter Glenn Greenwald flew to Hong Kong to meet the sender, who turned out to be Edward Snowden. Audience engagement will include international public art, social impact strategies, partner engagement, and more.

Enter the Faun (U.S.)
Directors: Tamar Rogoff, Daisy Wright

Art and science collide as a young actor with cerebral palsy and a dancer embark on a journey that leads to unprecedented physical transformation and challenges the limitations associated with disability.

The Look Of Silence
Director: Joshua Oppenheimer (U.S.)
Producer: Signe Byrge Sorensen

A family discovers who murdered their son during the 1965-66 Indonesian genocide. The youngest brother confronts the perpetrators, breaking decades of silence. Audience engagement activity includes robust screenings, discussions, and engagement within multiple regions of Indonesia.

Private Violence (U.S.)
Director: Cynthia Hill
Producer: Cynthia Hill

Have you ever wondered, “Why doesn’t she just leave?” Deanna Walters seeks justice for the crimes committed against her at the hands of her estranged husband, and Kit Gruelle, an advocate, seeks justice for all women surviving intimate partner violence. Audience engagement amplifies new questions with the potential to change our society: “Why does he abuse?” “Why do we turn away?” “How do we begin to build a future without domestic violence?”

Watchers of the Sky (U.S.)
Director: Edet Belzberg
Producers: Edet Belzberg, Kerry Propper, Amelia Green-Dove

Interweaves stories of remarkable courage and compassion, while setting out to uncover the forgotten life of Raphael Lemkin, the man who coined the term ‘genocide’. The audience engagement activity will include programs to amplify the work of Human Rights defenders globally, and targeted educational engagement in at-risk nations.

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