The Sundance Institute Indigenous Program champions and provides deep support of Indigenous-created stories on a global scale. From labs and fellowships to screenings and gatherings around the world, the program’s offerings are designed in response to the specific needs of Native and Indigenous storytellers. Through our work, we emulate our core values of decolonizing the screen and uplifting the voices of Indigenous artists, recognizing that telling their stories comes with great responsibility and obligation towards Indigenous peoples, communities and their sovereignty.
Indigenous Program Calendar
The Indigenous Program focuses on the specific development of storytellers from Native and Indigenous backgrounds, encompassing feature film and episodic work. Fellows will receive hands-on support from the Institute and advisors, including one-on-one feedback sessions and roundtable discussions.
Online & Santa Fe, NM
Indigenous Shorts Tour
The 2022 Sundance Institute Indigenous Short Film Tour is a 91-minute theatrical program of 6 short films directed by Indigenous filmmakers, featuring titles from the 2022 Sundance Film Festival shorts program and from alumni of Sundance Institute’s Indigenous Program . Started last year as a virtual presentation in conjunction with our friends at museums, Native cultural centers, and arthouse cinemas, the tour will return in 2022 as an in-person exhibition lasting from June 3 to 17. Featuring narrative and documentary shorts, the curated selection is a celebration of Native perseverance and an exciting look at a variety of inventive storytelling from Indigenous artists with Sundance ties. The Festival’s Short Film Program has a long history of supporting and launching talented Indigenous directors including Taika Waititi, Blackhorse Lowe, Sterlin Harjo, Sky Hopinka, Caroline Monnet, and Shaandiin Tome. Support for screenings in Michigan, Mississippi and New Mexico are provided by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
The Institute’s commitment to supporting Indigenous artists is woven throughout its history; amplifying President and Founder Robert Redford’s original vision, the Institute has remained steadfast in supporting the voices of Indigenous artists. The Indigenous Program has built and sustained an Indigenous film circle, which now spans over four generations. The cycle of work begins by scouting for and identifying Indigenous artists, providing a year-round support system at Sundance Institute to get their work made and shown, and then bringing the filmmakers and their work back to Native lands. The Native Lab has been a vital part of supporting Indigenous filmmakers since 2004; and the Merata Mita and Full Circle Fellowships offer further support to emerging Indigenous voices.
The Headhunter’s Daughter / Philippines (Director and Screenwriter: Don Josephus Raphael Eblahan – Ífugão, Visayan, Producer: Hannah Schierbeek) — Leaving her family behind, Lynn traverses the harrowing roads of the Cordilleran highlands to try her luck in the city as a country singer. Cast: Ammin Acha-ur. Narrative.
Kicking the Clouds / United States (Director: Sky Hopinka – Ho-Chunk Nation/Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians) — An experimental documentary centered on a 50 year old cassette tape of a Pechanga language lesson between the director’s grandmother and great-grandmother, and contextualized by an interview with his mother in his Pacific Northwest hometown. Documentary.
Long Line of Ladies / United States (Directors: Rayka Zehtabchi, Shaandiin Tome – Diné, Producers: Garrett Schiff, Pimm Tripp-Allen, Rayka Zehtabchi, Sam Davis, Dana Kurth) — A girl and her community prepare for her Ihuk, the once-dormant coming of age ceremony of the Karuk and Yurok tribes of Northern California. Documentary.
Maidenhood / Mexico (Director: Xochitl Enriquez Mendoza – Zapoteca, Screenwriters: Xochitl Enriquez Mendoza, Samuel Sánchez Tual, Producer: Eréndira Hernández) — Catalina submits to the tradition of her people to demonstrate her purity and worth as a woman to her beloved, but her body betrays her and she fails to demonstrate her chastity. Cast: Emma Aquilar Malacara, Héctor Ortíz Valdovinos, Mayra Sérbulo, Maira Jiménez Desales. Narrative.
The Original Shareholder Experience / United States (Director and Screenwriter: Petyr Xyst – Roadrunner clan in the Pueblo of Laguna, Producers: Autumn Billie, Lauren Begay) — An Indigenous telepresenter nearing the top of her class must contend with her career prospects and her moral credibility as she’s asked to sell a genocidal product on live television.
ᎤᏕᏲᏅ (Udeyonv) (What They’ve Been Taught) / United States (Director: Brit Hensel – Cherokee Nation, Producers: Taylor Hensel, Adam Mazo, Kavi Pillay, Tracy Rector) — This film explores expressions of reciprocity in the Cherokee world, brought to life through a story told by an elder and first language speaker. Documentary.
Support for the Indigenous Program
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
W.K. Kellogg Foundation
John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
Nia Tero Foundation
Indigenous Screen Office
New Zealand Film Commission
Jenifer and Jeffrey Westphal
Indigenous Media Initiatives
A look inside our Indigenous Program Labs and Intensives