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Feature Film

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Feature

Film

Radha Blank appears in The 40-Year-Old Version by Radha Blank, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Eric Branco.

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The Forty-Year-Old Version

2020 Sundance Film Festival Directing Award, 2017 January Screenwriting Lab, 2017 June DIrectors and Screenwriters Lab

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Cuties

2020 Sundance Film Festival World Cinema Directing Award

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I'm No Longer Here

2014 June Screenwriters Lab, 2014 Creative Producing Lab

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2016 January Screenwriters Lab, 2016 June Directors and Screenwriters Labs, 2016 Creative Producing Lab

The Sundance Institute Feature Film Program has supported and championed many of the leading independent filmmakers of the past 40 years whose distinctive, singular films have engaged audiences worldwide. The unique vision of each filmmaker is embraced, encouraging a rigorous creative process with a focus on original and deeply resonant storytelling. The Institute’s guiding values of risk taking, community, inclusion, and freedom of expression have broadened the program to include American and international artists in a more meaningful and vibrant dialogue across cultural, political, and geographic boundaries. Over the years, the Feature Film Program has evolved to provide in-depth and year-round support to a next generation of filmmakers from development through distribution and has become a global model for supporting artists around the world.

More than 450 films supported by the FFP have been made, including:

Radha Blank’s The 40-Year-Old Version • Ekwa Msangi’s Farewell Amor • Channing Godfrey Peoples’ Miss Juneteenth • Edson Oda’s Nine Days • Lulu Wang’s The Farewell • Joe Talbot’s The Last Black Man in San Francisco • Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre’s The Mustang • Paul Downs Colaizzo’s Brittany Runs a Marathon • Pippa Bianco’s Share • Boots Riley’s Sorry to Bother You • Reinaldo Marcus Green’s Monsters and Men • Eliza Hittman’s Beach Rats • Geremy Jasper’s Patti Cake$ • Anna Rose Holmer’s The Fits • Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert’s Swiss Army Man • Chloe Zhao’s Songs My Brothers Taught Me • Marielle Heller’s The Diary of a Teenage Girl • Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash • Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale Station • Benh Zeitlin and Lucy Alibar’s Beasts of the Southern Wild • Sean Durkin’s Martha Marcy May Marlene • Cary Joji Fukunaga’s Sin Nombre • Dee Rees’s Pariah • Haifaa Al Mansour’s Wadjda • Ritesh Batra’s The Lunchbox • Chloe Zhao’s Songs My Brothers Taught Me • Taika Waititi’s Boy • Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden’s Half Nelson • Tamara Jenkins’s Slums of Beverly Hills • Debra Granik’s Down to the Bone • Paul Thomas Anderson’s Hard Eight • Kimberly Peirce’s Boys Don’t Cry • Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs

Development Track: Labs, Intensives, and Fellowships

The development track has one open application that allows your work-in-progress fiction feature screenplay to be considered for the following programs, fellowships, and grants:

Screenwriters Lab (held annually in January)

Screenwriters Intensive (held annually in March)

Sundance Institute Comedy Fellowship

Alfred P. Sloan Commissioning Grant and Fellowship (for projects with scientific or technological content)

2021 Program Dates:

 

Screenwriters Lab
January 11–15, 2021

Screenwriters Intensive
March 4-5, 2021

Directors Lab
June 1, 2021 – July 9, 2021

There is no open application to the Directors Lab. This lab is populated by projects that have already been supported through the development track.

 

 

Development Track

For fiction feature writers, directors, writer/directors, or writer/director teams, you can apply for support from the Feature Film Program through the development track (for projects in the screenplay development stage). There is one application for both U.S. and international applicants; regardless of where you are based, you can submit your work using this application. Please note that we will not be offering a post-production track application in 2021.

Post-Production Track

Due to the pause in the Film Music and Sound Design Lab and the Editing Residency, we will not be offering a Post-Production Track application in 2021. We plan to offer portable and virtual support for a curated selection of projects in post-production using our digital platform, Sundance Co//ab, and other sharing tools.

Screenwriters Lab

The Screenwriters Lab is a five-day writers’ workshop that gives independent screenwriters the opportunity to work intensively on their feature film scripts with the support of established writers in an environment that focuses on the art and craft of screenwriting and creative risk taking. Through one-on-one story sessions with creative advisors, fellows engage in an artistically rigorous process that offers indispensable lessons in craft to facilitate the deep exploration needed to fully realize their material.

Screenwriters Intensive

The Screenwriters Intensive provides emerging screenwriters with the opportunity to hone their craft in a two-day concentrated workshop. The program supports 10 to 12 writers or writer/directors from underrepresented communities who are developing a fiction feature screenplay and includes a hands-on writing workshop, group conversations about the art and craft of screenwriting, and two one-on-one script feedback sessions with creative advisors. Like the residency labs, the Screenwriters Intensive focuses deeply on the creative process and fosters community among the participants.

Sundance Institute Comedy Fellowship

The Sundance Institute Comedy Fellowship provides targeted support to the next generation of diverse, culturally relevant comedic voices. The fellowship supports one artist/project that will participate in either the January Screenwriters Lab or March Screenwriters Intensive and includes an unrestricted grant and customized mentorship from FFP staff.

Alfred P. Sloan Commissioning Grant and Fellowship

To support the development of screenplays with scientific or technological themes, Sundance Institute and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation provide opportunities for both emerging and established filmmakers through granting and fellowships. Established in 2005, the Alfred P. Sloan Commissioning Grant and Fellowship is an annual cash award for a science- or technology-related project that is at an early stage, such as a full treatment or early screenplay draft. Additionally, one fellowship is awarded annually to an emerging screenwriter to support the ongoing development of a feature-length fiction screenplay with science or technology themes through participation at a Screenwriters Lab.

Directors and Screenwriters Lab (by invitation only)

During the month-long Directors and Screenwriters Lab, eight fellows work with an accomplished group of creative advisors and professional production crews, rehearsing, shooting, and editing key scenes from their scripts. Through this intense, hands-on process, fellows workshop scenes, collaborate with actors, and find a visual language for their film in an atmosphere where experimentation and risk-taking is encouraged. The Screenwriters Lab immediately follows the Directors Lab, providing fellows with a rigorous schedule of one-on-one story sessions with advisors to further advance their scripts.

Development Track FAQ

FFP Fund: Ongoing Alumni Support

Every year, Sundance Institute provides more than $300,000 in financial support to Feature Film Program alumni through a robust program of fellowships and direct artist granting designed to give lab-supported projects momentum at critical junctures in their development, pre-production, post-production, and distribution/marketing stages. These fellowships and grants are funded through a group of partnerships with very generous foundations, film industry companies, and individuals committed to the work of sustaining artists and advancing their work along their entire journey to connect with audiences. The Feature Film Program staff work together with our partners to award funds, considering impact, timing, urgency, and quality of work as key criteria.

Producing SummitMore >

Dolby Family Sound FellowshipMore >

Sundance Institute/NHK AwardMore >

Maryland Film FellowshipMore >

Adrienne Shelly Foundation Women Filmmakers GrantMore >

Sundance Institute | Stars Collective Granting FundMore >

Lynn Auerbach Screenwriting FellowshipMore >

Walter Bernstein Screenwriting Fellowship More >

Sundance Institute | Maja Kristin Directing FellowshipMore >

Sally Menke Memorial Editing FellowshipMore >

International Work

In 1990, the Feature Film Program made a commitment to support a vibrant exchange and dialogue across cultures by including the work of international filmmakers as part of its core program. Our Labs have been enriched by developing artists and projects that are deeply rooted in the personal and cultural history of filmmaking voices from all over the world. During these years, the FFP has supported numerous award-winning artists from over eighty countries through U.S.-based Labs for Screenwriters and Directors, customized, year-round creative and strategic support, and fellowship programs,

To expand upon our legacy of Screenwriters Labs in Brazil, Cuba, Greece, India, Jordan, Mexico and Turkey, the Feature Film Program has created ongoing partnerships with international organizations, supporting a next generation of filmmakers and producers from the Global South. We are currently building a multi-year program in Latin America, Africa and MENA to support artists working across fiction and non-fiction filmmaking, as well as episodic and emerging media formats. Through Sundance Co//ab, our community digital platform, we are organizing live webinars with leading Latin American filmmakers in Spanish language, and will soon provide learning opportunities in Arabic.

Between all the programs, FFP has supported international artists from over 60 countries making their first and second feature films, including:

 

Guillermo del Toro Mexico
Alfonso Cuarón Mexico
Ritesh Batra India
Jonas Carpignano Italy
Chaitanya Tamhane India
Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre France
Dominga Sotomayor Chile
Lynne Ramsay UK
Tatiana Huezo Mexico
Remi Weekes UK
Maimouna Doucoure France
Andrey Zvyagintsev Russia

Project Support Continuum

Customized Advice, Connections, and Advocacy

After participation in one of the Labs, Feature Film Program Fellows continue to receive a robust suite of customized creative and tactical assistance as they move projects forward from development through distribution. In many cases, the Institute has helped the Fellows attach producers, identify potential financiers, and assemble other significant resources to move their projects toward production and distribution. Specific ways in which the Feature Film Program maintains its commitment and support of filmmakers and their projects include: ongoing creative and strategic support, designated mentors, key crew and producer recommendations and the Works-In-Progress Screening Initiative.

Works-In-Progress Screening Initiative More >

Film Music Resources More >

CatalystMore >

Talent ForumMore >

Advice for Applicants

The labs of the Feature Film Program are designed to give aspiring independent artists the skills and knowledge they need to develop their craft and advance their projects. While the specific criteria for participation differs across our various programs, for all of our initiatives we are seeking passionate, bold, risk-taking artists compelled to see their vision realized from script to audience engagement. We value filmmakers’ personal connection to the material, clarity of vision, and commitment to a rigorous creative process.

Support for the Feature Film Program

As of December 2020, Sundance Institute is deeply grateful to the following donors for their generous support of the Feature Film Program over the past year:

explore.org, a direct charitable activity of the Annenberg Foundation
Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
Will & Jada Smith Family Foundation
Maja Kristin
NBCUniversal
Hollywood Foreign Press Association
Karen Lauder
Ray and Dagmar Dolby Family Fund
Sandra and Malcolm Berman Charitable Foundation
Comedy Central
National Endowment for the Arts
NHK/NHK Enterprises, Inc.
Amazon Studios
Kimberly Steward—K Period Media
SAGindie
Philip Fung—A3 Foundation
Rosalie Swedlin and Robert Cort
Directors Guild of America
Deborah Reinisch and Michael Theodore Fund
Writers Guild of America West

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