Indigenous Program

About the 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.


  • Application The 2020 Merata Mita Fellowship application is available here.
    Deadline October 28, 2019
    Dates 2020 Sundance Film Festival
    Fellowship Description One artist will be selected as a Merata Mita 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 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 and are first-time feature filmmakers.
    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 to cultivate a stage for other Indigenous women around the world to tell their stories.

    If you have additional questions, please contact

  • Application Application now closed
    Dates Native Filmmakers Lab (May 2020); 2021 Sundance Film Festival
    Fellows Three to attend Native Filmmakers Lab, Sundance Film Festival, and other TBD Indigenous Program events
    Location Santa Fe, New Mexico; Park City, Utah; and TBD locations
    Eligibility Native American youth (18–24), must reside in the United States
    Description Each year, Sundance Institute’s Indigenous Program aims to support the next generation of Native American storytellers through the Full Circle Fellowship.


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 Lab Fellowship has been a vital part of supporting Indigenous filmmakers full-circle since 2004.

  • Application Application now closed
    Dates May 2020
    Grant Pool Two 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.

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, SAGindie, New Zealand Film Commission, Indigenous Media Initiatives, Felix Culpa, Sarah Luther, Pacific Islanders in Communications, and Susan Shilliday.

Join Donor Community