Special Opportunity Funds
The Documentary Fund offers additional support for projects that address specific pressing socio-cultural issues, through our partners. Projects selected for these opportunities will be fielded through our general Documentary Fund application. If interested in applying for a special opportunity fund, please submit an application through the Documentary Fund portal.
Labs & Fellowships
DFP creative labs are unique residential workshops that bring together a world-class community of directors, editors, and producers dedicated to bold, courageous nonfiction storytelling. The DFP hosts three labs annually including theEdit and Story Lab, the Documentary Creative Producing Lab and Fellowship, and the inaugural Nonfiction Director’s Lab. In addition we collaborate with the Sundance Institute Film Music Program to welcome four nonfiction projects to the Film Music and Sound Design Lab at Skywalker Sound. At each lab, filmmakers work intensively with advisors and staff in a spirit of experimentation to advance their projects and nurture their creative instincts in a rigorous and supportive environment. Following the lab, DFP staff provides ongoing customized creative and strategic support throughout the life of the project.
All labs are programmed through an open submission process. You do not have to have a grant from the Sundance Institute Documentary Fund to be eligible for support. There is no fee to apply.
In addition to creative labs, DFP has developed artist-centered fellowships, including the Art of Nonfiction Fellowship and Nonfiction Critics Fellowship. These fellowships provide financial support as well as a curated year-long program of events and tailored support designed to refine and deepen fellows’ creative practice. Ideal candidates are inventive, creative, early- to mid-career nonfiction storytellers, as well as critics and writers interested in nonfiction. U.S.-based candidates only.
When a project receives a grant from the Sundance Documentary Film Program, the team is offered a host of informal and formal
support opportunities to nurture the project’s development as well as the artist's career. They are also part of the growing,
global Sundance Alumni community. Grantees are also eligible for Sundance Institute cross-programmatic initiatives such
as the Women’s Initiative and Catalyst Forum (both are by invitation only). Grantees can also access services provided
by Sundance Institute Creative Partnerships and Alumni Programs.
With more than nine thousand playwrights, composers, digital media artists, and filmmakers served through Institute programs over
the last 35 years, the Sundance community of independent creators is more far-reaching and vibrant than ever before.
If you have been selected for any Institute lab, program or festival, you are a member of this community. Sundance alumni
receive support throughout their careers, including access to tools, resources and advice as well as artist gatherings
and more. Alumni are also encouraged to actively contribute to the Institute’s creative community and to our mission to
discover and develop work from new artists.
CatalystSundance Institute’s Catalyst program builds a culture of partnership between independent investors and filmmakers. Each year, we endeavor to unlock funding for ambitious new independent film projects and to grow the community of indie-film supporters. Catalyst trains selected filmmakers to effectively present their films for independent financing, connects them to our network of potential funders, and provides them with continued support throughout the lives of their projects. We also offer Catalyst artists guidance in building successful investor relationships; access to mentorship; and critical project, pitch, and budgetary feedback. Sundance Institute and Sundance Film Festival alumni are uniquely eligible for this opportunity, and applications are solicited by invitation.
Women at Sundance
Women at Sundance is a multifaceted initiative dedicated to creating gender equality in American media. We support women filmmakers to grow and sustain their careers through a yearlong fellowship program, through an annual Financing and Strategy Workshop, and through Catalyst Women, which provides direct access to prospective investors. We convene networks and communities of artists, industry, and supporters committed to advancing women behind the camera at our annual Sundance Film Festival Women’s Brunch and through special events throughout the year.
The Documentary Film Program has established a portfolio of innovative field-building creative partnerships and international collaborations that benefit the global documentary community. These strategic initiatives provide funding and networking opportunities for established filmmakers, and support and mentor emerging international artists. Activities include convenings, workshops, solicited requests for proposals, and one-on-one meetings. Partnerships include:
Art of Nonfiction Initiative
Sundance Institute’s Art of Nonfiction Initiative provides creative and financial support for nonfiction filmmakers employing inventive artistic practice in story, craft, and form.
With a focus on recognizing nonfiction filmmakers as creative artists, Sundance Institute has developed two unique support opportunities for filmmakers: the Art of Nonfiction Fellowship and Fund.
Recipients of the Art of Nonfiction Fellowship and Fund are selected on a yearly basis through a curated invitation-only application process. Considered artists must be living or working in the United States. Unsolicited applications are not currently being accepted.
Sundance Institute’s Art of Nonfiction Initiative is made possible by founding support from Cinereach. Generous additional support is provided by Genuine Article Pictures and Nion McEvoy & Leslie Berriman.
Advice for Filmmakers
The Sundance Documentary Film Program believes that artful storytelling can transform conversations and cultures. Through our non-recoupable grants and artist support opportunities, we seek to engage with fresh voices and veterans in the field who are pursuing financially viable nonfiction projects with clear and forward-going storytelling, strong artistic vision, and the potential to reach an audience. Our staff can be found attending forums and festivals around the globe in the hopes of connecting with filmmakers and artists, and we are always available via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Support for the Documentary Film Program
The Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program is made possible by founding support from Open Society Foundations. Generous additional support is provided by Ford Foundation; John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; Skoll Foundation; Luminate; The Kendeda Fund; Science Sandbox/Simons Foundation; The Charles Engelhard Foundation; Genuine Article Pictures; CNN Films; Cinereach; National Endowment for the Arts; John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; Bertha Foundation; Compton Foundation; Nion McEvoy & Leslie Berriman; Joan and Lewis Platt Foundation; Elkes Foundation; Code Blue Foundation; Vulcan Productions; WNET New York Public Media; Adobe; EarthSense Foundation; J.A. & H.G. Woodruff, Jr. Charitable Trust; and two anonymous donors.
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