Film Program


Film Program

The Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program (DFP) supports nonfiction filmmakers worldwide in the production of cinematic documentaries on contemporary themes. Established in 2002 with founding support from Open Society Foundations, the program is a vibrant global resource for independent nonfiction storytelling.

Year-round support of filmmakers — including granting, labs, and strategic advice from development to distribution — amounts to a commitment to documentary filmmaking as an increasingly important global art form and a critical cultural practice in the 21st century.

Documentaries from around the globe that bear witness to issues of human rights, social justice, civil liberties, and freedom of expression bring forth truth in ways which can have a profound effect on societies and lives. Bringing these truths forward is critical, now more than ever.”

Robert Redford

marking the 20th anniversary of Documentary Fund in 2022

Documentary Film Program Calendar

Documentary Fund: The Sundance Institute Documentary Fund supports the work of nonfiction filmmakers from around the globe. In a changing media landscape, the fund has been a stable, progressive force in supporting work that has expressed the world in creative, complex, beautiful, and provocative ways, and has created real cultural and social impact around some of the most pressing issues of our time. We are proud to sit at the center of this burgeoning creative field with the Documentary Fund, which offers (non-recoupable) support for nonfiction projects that continue to elevate and advance cultural dialogue and break new ground in creativity and innovation. In its ongoing search for artists and projects to support, the Documentary Fund is seeking filmmakers with a distinct voice and vision, and a meaningful connection to the work they create. We are especially keen to raise the voices of underserved or underrepresented communities from around the world in the service of building a more fair, free, and open society.

Labs: The Documentary Film Program (DFP) believes nonfiction filmmaking is a collaborative art form. We provide artist-centered, process-driven support in the form of creative labs that support directors, producers, and editors. DFP currently hosts the Documentary Producers Lab annually in the summer. Labs are unique residential workshops that provide catalytic support for feature nonfiction projects and producers in production and post-production. Following the lab, projects receive ongoing customized creative and strategic support throughout the life of a project.

Upcoming Opportunities

Location Details


Online Application

May 13 – June 24, 2024

Online Application

June 10 – July 15, 2024

Lab: UCross Foundation in Clearmont, WY

Lab: June 10-15, 2024

Special Opportunity Funds

In collaboration with our partners, the Documentary Fund offers additional support for projects that address pressing socio-cultural issues. Projects selected for these opportunities will be fielded through our general Documentary Fund application.

Read more about past partnerships with and supported projects from Gucci, Luminate, and Kendeda.

Those interested in applying for a special opportunity fund should submit an application through the Programs portal.

Documentary Short Fund More >

Sandbox Fund More >

Alumni Support

When a project receives a grant from the DFP, the team is offered a host of 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 eligible for Sundance Institute cross-programmatic initiatives such as the Women@Sundance and Catalyst Forum (both are invitation only). Grantees can also access services provided by Sundance Institute Alumni Programs.

Sundance Collective More >

Catalyst More >

Women at Sundance More >

Resources More >   

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

Featured Projects


2022 Sundance Documentary Fund

2024 Sundance Film Festival – Directing Award: U.S. Documentary


2022 Sundance Documentary Fund

2024 Sundance Film Festival – U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for the Art of Change 


2020 Sandbox Fund

2024 Sundance Film Festival – World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Craft 

The Battle for Laikipia

2017 Sundance Documentary Fund

2024 Sundance Film Festival – Sundance Institute | Amazon MGM Studios Producers Award for Nonfiction

Support for the Documentary Film Program

The Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program is made possible by founding support from the Open Society Foundations. Generous additional support is provided by John Templeton Foundation; John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; Sandbox Films; The Kendeda Fund; The Asian American Foundation (TAAF); The Charles Engelhard Foundation; Facet; Sony Music Group; Violet Spitzer-Lucas and the Spitzer Family Foundation; National Endowment for the Arts; Nion McEvoy & Leslie Berriman; EarthSense Foundation; Adobe; and an anonymous donor.  

Photo Gallery

A look inside our Documentary Film Program Labs and Intensives