Indigenous Program

About the Indigenous Program

The 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 Spotted Eagle (Houmas Nation), who participated in the first meetings founding the Sundance Institute. Following president and founder Robert Redford’s original vision, the Institute has remained committed to supporting the voices of Indigenous artists.

2021 Indigenous Shorts Tour

The 2021 Sundance Institute Indigenous Short Film Tour is a FREE 85-minute virtual program of seven short films directed by Indigenous filmmakers selected from recent editions of the Sundance Film Festival. Presented in partnership with our friends at museums, Native cultural centers, and arthouse cinemas, this exciting new offering curated by the Institute’s Indigenous Program will feature fiction, documentary, animation, and experimental works from around the world, giving new audiences a taste of what Indigenous filmmakers have to offer.

The Festival's Short Film Program has long been established as a place to discover talented Indigenous directors, such as past alumni Taika Waititi, Blackhorse Lowe, Sterlin Harjo, Sky Hopinka, Caroline Monnet, and Shaandiin Tome.

PROGRAM:

  • This Is the Way We Rise (Ciara Lacy, 2021)
  • The Fourfold (Alisi Telengut, 2021)
  • Little Chief (Erica Tremblay, 2020)
  • Fainting Spells (Sky Hopinka, 2018)
  • Now Is the Time (Christopher Auchter, 2020)
  • Lichen (Lisa Jackson, 2020)
  • Fast Horse (Alexandra Lazarowich, 2018)

Thank you to our partners for bringing the tour to Indigenous audiences across the country:

Support for screenings in Michigan and New Mexico is provided by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

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Fellowships

  • Description:
    The Sundance Institute’s Indigenous Program aims to support the next generation of Indigenous American storytellers through the Full Circle Fellowship, which provides opportunities for three fellows to explore a career as a filmmaker, such as:

    • Attendance at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival*
    • A set internship at the Native Lab to gain hands-on film production experience*
    • A trip to Los Angeles with a schedule of production facilities tours, meetings with industry mentors, and film screenings.*
    • Mentorship from the Indigenous Program staff.

    Eligibility:
    This fellowship is open to Native youth ages 18-24 based in the United States, from communities in Michigan, New Mexico, and Mississippi.

    Location:
    TBD

    Dates:
    May 2021 - July 2022 (TBD)

    Apply:
    The application period is now closed. Please check back next February for more information.

    Application Requirements:
    *In-person gatherings pending. There is no application fee. If you have additional questions, please contact indigenous_program@sundance.org.

  • Description:
    The Sundance Institute Merata Mita Fellowship for Indigenous Artists pays tribute to the immense artistic contributions and memory of Merata Mita (Ngāti Pikiao/Ngāi Te Rangi). Merata served as an advisor and artistic director to 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—Māori 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. Fellows will be awarded cash grants and a yearlong continuum of support with activities, including a trip to the Sundance Film Festival, access to strategic and creative services offered by Sundance Institute artist programs, and mentorship opportunities.

    Eligibility:
    Indigenous artists who identify as women and are endeavoring to direct a feature film.

    Location:
    2022 Sundance Film Festival - Park City, UT*

    Dates:
    January 2022 (TBD)

    Apply:
    The application period is now closed. Please check back this Fall for more information.

    Application Requirements:
    *In-person gatherings pending. There is no application fee. If you have additional questions, please contact indigenous_program@sundance.org.

Labs

The Indigenous Program has built and sustained an indigenous film circle, which now spans over three generations. The cycle of work begins by scouting for and identifying 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 Filmmakers Lab has been a vital part of supporting indigenous filmmakers since 2004.

  • Application The Native Filmmakers Lab is currently being reimagined; we will not be accepting applications for 2021. Please check back next year, and feel free to email indigenous_program@sundance.org with any questions.

Support for the Indigenous Program

The Sundance Institute Indigenous Program is supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, WarnerMedia, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Nia Tero Foundation, Indigenous Screen Office, SAGindie, New Zealand Film Commission, Jenifer and Jeffrey Westphal, Indigenous Media Initiatives, Felix Culpa, Sarah Luther, and Susan Shilliday.

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