Creative Distribution Fellowship: Case Studies

Following the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, we launched our Creative Distribution Fellowship, which offered two films—the narrative Columbus, and documentary Unrest—a grant and a suite of resources to support an independent creative release, in exchange for sharing their data and learnings with the field. These indefatigable filmmakers worked for over a year to creatively distribute their films, and we documented the entire process from start to finish.

Our hope is that the reporting from the Creative Distribution Fellowship, along with other efforts in the field to drive entrepreneurial solutions, will yield better knowledge about sustainable independent distribution pathways. Our goal is to support independent filmmakers in reaching audiences, maximizing revenue to fuel their ongoing careers and the vitality of the field, and achieving their particular goals for creative, social, or cultural impact.

We welcome your insights and comments. Please feel free to email us at

With deep thanks to the creative teams behind Columbus and Unrest for sharing their journeys, we’re proud to present case studies on these two remarkable films.

The Sundance Institute Creative Distribution Initiative is supported by Cinereach, National Endowment for the Arts, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Amazon Video Direct, Kickstarter and Arcus Foundation.

Written by Jess Fuselier