After months of negotiations between the Open Society Institute and the Sundance Institute, the New York-based Soros Documentary Fund has officially changed hands and become the Sundance Documentary Fund, now based in Beverly Hills, California. Speculation about the move began in May 2001, when Soros Doc Fund director Diane Weyermann announced her decision to head up the Sundance Institute’s International Program. Under the new agreement, she remains the fund’s chief administrator.
Weyermann explains the Open Society Institute will continue to finance the Fund in the short term, but will gradually diminish support over the next four years. The goal is to encourage Sundance to find alternative financing sources, so the doc fund’s annual disbursement of US$1.5 million will be maintained. This is in keeping with the Open Society’s strategy, which is to launch new non-profit endeavors, rather than maintain them.
Like its predecessor, the Sundance Doc Fund aims to support non-fiction films and videos focused on issues of contemporary human rights, freedom of expression, social justice and civil liberties. Historical projects, biographies and series are not eligible for grants. There are no deadlines and doc-makers from around the globe are welcome to apply. Two grant categories are available to producers through the Sundance Doc Fund: development funds and work-in-progress funds. To be eligible for development funds, projects must be in the research or pre-production phase. Grants per project can be up to $15,000 in this category. To be eligible for the work-in-progress funds, projects must be in production or post-production. The maximum grant available is $50,000, but the average award is $25,000 per project. Producers who receive development grants are permitted to reapply for work-in-progress funds. For more information, visit www.sundance.org.