Indigenous Program

About the Indigenous Program

Sundance Institute’s commitment to support 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 Sundance Institute. Following president and founder Robert Redford’s original vision, the Institute has remained committed to supporting the voices of Indigenous artists.


  • Application The 2020 Merata Mita Fellowship application is now closed. Please check back this Fall for updates.
    Deadline October 28, 2019
    Dates 2021 Sundance Film Festival
    Fellowship Description One artist will be selected as a Merata Mita fellow. This fellow will be an emerging filmmaker, seeking to direct a feature film. Recipient will receive a cash grant and a yearlong continuum of support from the Indigenous Program and Sundance Institute. Recipient is required to attend the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.
    Location Park City, Utah
    Eligibility Indigenous artists who identify as women and are endeavoring to direct a feature film.
    Description The Sundance Institute Merata Mita Fellowship pays tribute to the immense artistic contributions and memory of Merata Mita (Ngāi Te Rangi/Ngāti Pikiao). Merata served as an advisor 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—Māori woman to write and direct a dramatic feature film. This fellowship serves to continue Merata Mita’s legacy and cultivate a stage for other Indigenous women around the world to tell their stories.

    If you have additional questions, please contact


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 2020 Native Filmmakers Lab application is closed. Please check back next Spring for more information.
    Dates Summer 2020
    Grant Pool Two U.S. based Native American, Native Hawaiian, Alaskan Native project; One Canadian-based Indigenous Canadian (First Nations, Métis, and Inuit)
    Location TBD
    Eligibility Native American, Native Hawaiian, and Alaskan Native film artists working in the U.S.; Indigenous Canadian (First Nations, Métis, and Inuit) film artists
    Description The Native Filmmakers Lab provides direct support to emerging U.S.-based Native Americans, Native Hawaiians, Alaskan Natives, and a Canadian-based Indigenous Canadian (First Nations, Métis, and Inuit). The lab will support emerging filmmakers through the process of shooting a short film under the guidance of a supervising producer and mentoring director. Fellowship for Indigenous Canadian film artist made possible with support from the Indigenous Screen Office.

Support for the Indigenous Program

The Sundance Institute Indigenous Program is supported by John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Oneida Indian Nation, Surdna Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Nia Tero Foundation, SAGindie, New Zealand Film Commission, Indigenous Media Initiatives, Felix Culpa, Sarah Luther, Pacific Islanders in Communications, Susan Shilliday, and an anonymous donor.

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