Los Angeles, CA – The nonprofit Sundance Institute and Sandbox Films today announced the 10 projects and filmmaking teams selected as the latest cohort for support by the Sundance Institute | Sandbox Fund. The fund offers grants from development to post-production, engagement events, and other opportunities for independent artists seeking to explore the intrinsic link between science and culture through innovative nonfiction storytelling.
The 10 selected project teams will receive non-recoupable grants totaling $300,000. The filmmakers will also receive bespoke film support and join Sundance Institute’s year-round artist community, with meaningful opportunities to connect with Sundance’s network of alumni and creative advisors, as well as Sandbox Films’ roster of renowned scientists.
From climate scientists confronting their own emotions about global warming, indigenous scientists embracing the wisdom of mushrooms, and LGBTQ scientists exploring gender and sexual diversity in the animal world, to the latest studies exploring the connection between brain and consciousness, the latest Sundance Institute | Sandbox Fund grantees highlight, amongst other themes, how a new and more diverse than ever generation of scientists is deconstructing historical biases and questioning received paradigms in their quest of unearthing deeper truths about our world.
“Since its inception five years ago, the Sundance Institute | Sandbox Fund has vitally enriched the Documentary Film Program by allowing our team to extend its support to artists pushing the boundaries of the documentary form by exploring unique connections between art and science,” said Paola Mottura, Director of the Sundance Institute’s Documentary Film Fund. “Our grantees have inspired new audiences to reimagine the definition of ‘science film’ by challenging common preconceptions about the scientific process, who does science and what it means to be a scientist. Our latest cohort of grantees is no exception in brilliance and ambition.”
“We continue to be so impressed by the quality and diversity of projects applying to this fund,” said Jessica Harrop, Head of Production and Development at Sandbox Film. “Partnering with the talented team at Sundance has helped us connect with and support artists who have unique ways of exploring the art and beauty that can come out of nontraditional science storytelling.”
Prior projects supported with funding from the Sandbox Fund include All Light, Everywhere (which won the 2021 Sundance Film Festival Special Jury Prize for Nonfiction Experimentation), Herbaria (which premiered at the 2022 Visions du Réel), Users (which premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival), and Wildcat (which was acquired last year by Amazon Studios and just premiered at Telluride).
The latest grantees, presented by production stage, are:
Climate in Therapy (Sweden, Norway)
Directors: Nathan Grossman, Olof Berglind
Producer: Cecilia Nessen
Climate in Therapy is a feature documentary that follows seven climate scientists as they confront a previously unknown field of study: their own emotions.
Director: Suki Chan
Producers: Aimara Reques, Teresa Grimes, Suki Chan
Conscious is a hopeful and cinematic experience, taking us closer to understanding the strength and frailty of the human mind. Using mesmerizing visuals, textured sounds, and compelling stories, the film takes the audience on an immersive and illuminating journey into other minds. What can a neuroscientist and three people living with dementia tell us about consciousness in a technological age?
My Mom, The Scientist (U.S.A., Tanzania)
Director: Thomas Allen Harris
Producers: Thomas Allen Harris, Don Perry
Facing unprecedented global threats from new viruses and geopolitical competitors, America is in crisis as it grapples with the issue of why, after 30 years of effort, there are still too few Black & BIPOC scientists in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields to help secure its future competitiveness.
Director: Marilyn Ness
Producer: Beth Levison
Postmortem is at once a personal memoir, true crime, and cultural interrogation. Filming the behind-the-scenes experience of staging the Postmortem stage play, we expose another layer: the true story beneath the art, and the ways rigorous artistic creation can reveal deeper, collective truths.
Second Nature (U.S.A., Netherlands, Congo, Uganda)
Director: Drew Denny
Producer: Jennifer Steinman-Sternin
Did you know clownfish change sex, penguins parent in same-sex pairs, and bonobos (our closest relatives) are matriarchal? Debunking myths that females are “inferior” and being queer is somehow “unnatural,” Second Nature follows LGBTQ scientists who prove that nature is far more diverse than we’ve been taught.
Untitled Animal Project (U.S.A.)
Director: Jessica Kingdon
Producers: Jamie Gonçalves, Nathan Truesdell
Untitled Animal Project explores contemporary global supply chains through the lens of the animal experience. Through multiple locations around the world, the film weaves the ways in which food industries affect various species – with a focus on exploring the elusive idea of animal sentience.
Untitled Thwaites Film (Antarctica, U.S.A.)
Director: Emelie Mahdavian
Producers: John D. Sutter, Emelie Mahdavian
How do you watch the climate crisis unfold without losing hope? Untitled Thwaites Film tells the story of a small, female-led research team’s last trip to a vulnerable Antarctic ice sheet.
The Queendom (Mexico)
Director: Otilia Portillo Padua
Producers: Paula Arroio, Otilia Portillo, Elena Fortes
Three Mexican women—all indigenous scientists and activists—partner with mushrooms to fight for their lands and cultures. The Queendom combines documentary with science fiction to explore the perspectives of both the humans and their most powerful allies: the fungi.
Brigidy Bram: The Kendal Hanna Story (Bahamas, U.S.A.)
Directors: Laura Gamse, Kareem Mortimer
Producers: Kareem Mortimer, Laura Gamse
In this intimate portrait circling fact and fiction, the true story of prolific painter Kendal Hanna reveals a case study of how we codify genius.
Fire of Love (U.S.A., Canada)
Director: Sara Dosa
Producers: Shane Boris, Ina Fichman, Sara Dosa
Fire of Love is an unexpected love story of two intrepid scientists – Katia and Maurice Krafft – who die in a volcanic explosion doing the very thing that brought them together: seeking to understand the mystery of volcanoes by capturing the most explosive imagery ever recorded. Poetic in style and playful in spirit, Fire of Love uses the Kraffts’ spectacular archives to chart a story of creation and destruction, of nature and humanity, and of Maurice and Katia’s love – both for each other and the planet. Premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival where it received the Jonathan Oppenheim Editing Award: U.S. Documentary
As a champion and curator of independent stories, the Sundance Institute provides and preserves the space for artists across storytelling 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 Collab, a digital community platform, brings a global cohort of working 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 and showcased such projects as Summer of Soul (…or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised), CODA, Flee, Passing, 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.
Sandbox Films is an Emmy award-winning, mission-driven film company that specializes in creative and boundary-breaking documentaries rooted in scientific ideas that inform society and culture. Launched in 2020, our titles include: Fire of Love (“Hands down, documentary of the year,” according to Rolling Stone); All Light, Everywhere (released by Neon and Hulu), Fireball (directed by Werner Herzog); Fathom (which won a News & Doc Emmy for Outstanding Sound); and Human Nature (which was nominated for three Emmys). Our films have premiered at top-tier festivals around the world – including Sundance (winning jury prizes in back-to-back years), SXSW, Telluride, Tribeca, Toronto, and CPH:DOX. Sandbox Films productions have gone on to be acquired and released globally by the world’s leading platforms and distributors — including Netflix, National Geographic Documentary Films, Apple Original Films, NEON, BBC, and PBS, among others. More info at: sandboxfilms.org.