Indigenous Program

About Indigenous Program

Sundance Institute's commitment to supporting Indigenous artists is woven throughout our history. Indigenous filmmakers have long been involved in the Institute, going back to Larry LittleBird (Laguna/ Santo Domingo Pueblo) and Chris SpottedEagle (Houmas Nation) who participated in the first meetings founding Sundance Institute. Following President and Founder Robert Redford's original vision, the Institute has remained committed to supporting the voices of Indigenous artists.
  • The Sundance Institute’s Native American and Indigenous Program, in collaboration with the Honolulu Museum of Art, will host a story-focused lab on May 14-16, 2016 in Honolulu, Hawaii. The goal of this lab is to provide Indigenous artists based in Hawaii with support and mentorship by Creative Advisors as they develop their short film screenplays.

    In order to eligibly apply to this lab, you must meet the following requirements:

    • Be a Native Hawaiian or Indigenous Pacific Islander based in Hawaii
    • Submit a short film screenplay no longer than 15 pages
    • Be located in the Greater Honolulu area and/or can provide your own lodging and travel to the lab

    Applications for this event were due March 4, 2016.


  • Application Application opens on October 8, 2018 and closes on November 1, 2018
    Dates 2019 Sundance Film Festival
    Fellowship Description One artist will be selected as a Merata Mita Indigenous Women Artist Fellow. This fellow will be endeavoring to make their first feature film. Recipient will receive a cash grant and a yearlong continuum of support from the Native American and Indigenous Program and Sundance Institute. Recipient is required to attend the 2020 Sundance Film Festival.
    Location Park City, Utah
    Eligibility Indigenous artists who identify as women. First time feature filmmaker.
    Description The Sundance Institute Merata Mita fellowship pays tribute to the immense artistic contributions and memory of Merata Mita (Ngati Pikiao/Ngai te Rangi). Merata served as an adviser and artistic director to the Sundance Institute's Native Filmmakers Lab from 2000 to 2009 where she mentored and developed some of the top Indigenous talent in today's film industry. In her time as a screenwriter and director herself, she is the first-and only-Maori woman to write and direct a dramatic feature film. This fellowship serves to continue Merata Mita's legacy, and to cultivate a stage for other Indigenous women around the world to tell their stories.

    Apply now

    If you have additional questions, please contact

  • Application Applications for this lab will be available Spring 2019
    Dates 2020 Sundance Film Festival
    Fellows 4 to attend the 2020 Sundance Film Festival and other TBD Native Program events
    Location Park City, Utah
    Eligibility Native American youths (18-24) to be selected from communities in Michigan and New Mexico
    Description The Full Circle Fellowship aims to support the next generation of Native American storytellers. This fellowship will provide opportunities to explore a career as a filmmaker and storyteller, attendance at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, a set internship at the Native Filmmakers Lab to gain hands-on film production experience, and a trip to Los Angeles with a schedule of production facilities tours, meetings with industry mentors, and film screenings.


The Indigenous Program has built and sustained an Indigenous film circle. The cycle of our work begins by scouting for and identifying Native American and Indigenous artists, bringing them through the mechanisms of support at Sundance Institute to get their work made and shown, then bringing the filmmakers and their work back to native lands. The Native Lab Fellowship has been a vital part of supporting Indigenous filmmakers full-circle since 2004.

  • Application The application for the 2019 Native Filmmakers Lab will open in March 2019
    Dates May 12-17, 2019
    Grant Pool 2 projects
    Location Santa Fe, New Mexico
    Eligibility Native American, Native Hawaiian, and Alaskan Native film artists working in the U.S.
    Description Fellowship to provide direct support to emerging Native American, Native Hawaiian, and Alaskan Native film artists working in the U.S. The Fellowship will support first time filmmakers through the process of shooting a short film under the guidance of a Supervising Producer and mentoring Director.

Upcoming Events

Support for Indigenous Program

The Sundance Institute Indigenous Program is supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Time Warner Foundation, Oneida Indian Nation, Surdna Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, SAGindie, New Zealand Film Commission, Indigenous Media Initiatives, Sarah Luther, Pacific Islanders in Communications, and Susan Shilliday.

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