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Sundance Institute unveils Documentary Fund grantees

The Sundance Institute has revealed the latest group of grantees for its Sundance Institute Documentary Fund, with an emphasis on stories from BIPOC and women directors. In total, US$590,000 in unrestricted ...
June 8, 2021

The Sundance Institute has revealed the latest group of grantees for its Sundance Institute Documentary Fund, with an emphasis on stories from BIPOC and women directors.

In total, US$590,000 in unrestricted support has been given to 18 projects in various stages of the filmmaking process, including five in development, eight in production, and five in post-production. The grants are made possible by The Open Society Foundations, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and Luminate.

The projects supported come from 20 countries across five continents, and more than half have international roots. The focus of the grants this cycle was on artists from communities that have been historically marginalized and underrepresented, with the idea of ensuring that stories are being told by people within those communities. Of this year’s crop of American films, each one receiving support has at least one BIPOC director. Of the projects receiving grant support, 72% are helmed by women directors, and 72% of supported projects are from filmmakers working on their first or second feature.

“Supporting equity in storytelling by elevating diverse cohorts is central to our mission,” said Hajnal Molnar-Szakacs, director of the documentary film fund in a release. “Sundance funding can play a vital role in creating a space for freedom of speech, stimulating local documentary production and ensuring that nonfiction narratives from around the world are elevated.”

The latest grantees, presented by production stage, are:

Development

The Gardeners (U.S.A.)
Director: Crystal Kayiza (pictured)
Producer: Crystal Kayiza

Gross National Happiness (Bhutan, Hungary)
Director: Arun Bhattarai, Dorottya Zurbó
Producer: Noémi Veronika Szakonyi, Arun Bhattarai

The Ship and the Sea (Mozambique, Brazil, Portugal)
Director: Lara Sousa, Everlane Moraes
Producer: Matheus Mello, Emerson d’Almeida, Joelma Oliveira Gonzaga, Elsa Sertorio

The Tongue of Water (France, Cambodia)
Director: Polen Ly
Producers: Rithy Panh, Lucas Sénécaut, Thibaut Amri

Under the Dance Floor (Hungary)
Director: Sára Timár
Producer: Krisztina Meggyes

Production 

Against the Tide (India)
Directors: Sarvnik Kaur
Producers: Sarvnik Kaur, Koval Bhatia

Do You Love Me (working title) (Lebanon, Germany)
Director: Lana Daher
Producer: Lana Daher, Jasper Mielke

Igualada (Colombia)
Director: Juan Mejia
Producer: Juan Yepes

Inverse Surveillance Project (U.S.A.)
Director: Assia Boundaoui
Producer: Nouha Boundaoui

Rising Up at Night (Democratic Republic of the Congo, Belgium)
Director: Nelson Makengo
Producer: Rosa Spaliviero, Dada Kahindo Siku

Smoke Sauna Sisterhood (Estonia, France, Iceland)
Director: Anna Hints
Producer: Marianne Ostrat, Juliette Cazanave, Pierre Jestaz, Hlín Jóhannesdóttir

The Therapy (Israel)
Director: Zvi Landsman
Producer: Ori Szternfeld, Zvi Landsman

Untitled (U.S.A., Canada)
Director: Sura Mallouh
Producer: Sura Mallouh, Laura Poitras, Yoni Golijov

Post-production

Black Mothers (U.S.A.)
Director: Débora Souza Silva
Producers: Débora Souza Silva, David Felix Sutcliffe

Hazing (U.S.A.)
Director: Byron Hurt
Producer: Natalie Bullock Brown

Liquor Store Dreams (U.S.A.)
Director: So Yun Um
Producer: So Yun Um, Eddie Kim

Silent Beauty (U.S.A., Mexico)
Director: Jasmin Mara López
Producer: Jasmin Mara López

Untitled Muscogee Nation Documentary (Muscogee Nation, U.S.A.)
Director: Rebecca Landsberry-Baker, Joe Peeler
Producer: Conrad Beilharz, Garrett Baker, Tyler Graim

About The Author
Jillian Morgan is the Associate Editor at Realscreen with a background in journalism and digital marketing. She joined the publication in 2019 after serving as the assistant editor to trade publications HPAC and On-Site. With a bachelor of journalism from the University of King's College in Halifax, she also works as a freelance writer and fact-checker.

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