Sundance Documentary Fund and other Sundance Institute Programs
The Sundance Institute is a multi-disciplinary arts organization dedicated to the development of artists of independent vision and to the exhibition of their new work. The Institute seeks to offer the artistic and professional resources to filmmakers, writers, playwrights, actors, composers that will best realize new talent in an atmosphere of support, collaboration, freedom of expression and freedom to experiment. Each of the Sundance Institute's programs is guided by the primary aim of supporting artists whose work reflects an original, compelling vision.
The Institute's Feature Film Program has at its core the Screenwriters and Filmmakers Laboratories, held each year at Sundance, Utah. Designed to offer emerging screenwriters and directors the opportunity to develop new work, the Labs offer participating Fellows a creative environment away from the pressures of the marketplace and with the guidance of respected, veteran filmmakers. The Feature Film Program also includes a Screenplay Reading Series (in Los Angeles and New York) and the Native American Program, which supports new work by both emerging and established Native writers, directors, and producers.
The annual Independent Producers Conference offers a three-day, intensive focus on the professional and business aspects of independent film production such as marketing, financing, and distribution. Top industry professionals conduct sessions that utilize case-study analyses of independent films to guide Conference participants through issues in film production and financing.
The Film Music Program pairs Filmmakers Lab Fellows with accomplished composers who have yet to score a major motion picture. Aimed at enriching the relationship between composers and directors, Composers Lab Fellows work in close partnership with their counterparts in the Film Lab on their projects, while benefiting from the support of leading film composers who serve as Creative Advisors.
To encourage the exhibition of outstanding new independent films, the Institute sponsors the annual Sundance Film Festival. The Festival is now widely regarded as the preeminent showcase for new independent cinema. Some of the most compelling films of recent years have been developed and premiered at Sundance: Hoop Dreams, Smoke Signals, Central Station, Three Seasons, Boys Don't Cry, Love & Basketball, among many others.
Sundance Institute has a long history of supporting documentary filmmakers; building on that tradition, the Documentary Film Program was created in 2000 and expanded in 2001 to include the Sundance Documentary Fund, formerly the Soros Documentary Fund of the Open Society.
The Sundance Documentary Film Program provides year-round support to and nurtures the growth of nonfiction filmmakers, encourages the exploration of innovative nonfiction storytelling, and promotes the exhibition of documentary films to a broader audience. It supports independent artists both domestically and internationally through the Sundance Documentary Program, the House of Docs at the Sundance Film Festival, the Documentary Composers Laboratory, and a variety of collaborative international documentary initiatives.
The Sundance/NHK International Filmmakers Award is presented annually to one filmmaker each from Europe, Latin America, Japan, and the U.S. The prize carries support for film production and has an enviable record for "discovering" projects that have gone on to achieve international acclaim.
The Institute has had a long-term commitment to contemporary playwrights, stage directors and other artists for the stage. The newly redesigned Theatre Laboratory has expanded its commitment to the collaborative nature of theatre and garnered national recognition. Lab projects now range in style from choreographic-based pieces to adaptations of poetry, and from solo works to large-scale plays with music. Nearly 80 percent of the work developed at the Theatre Lab from the last four years has gone on to full production at regional theatres coast to coast and in New York. Other play development programs include the Sundance Playwrights Laboratory at the UCROSS Foundation in Wyoming, and a Spring 2003 “pilot project” with the White Oak Plantation near Jacksonville, Florida. The Sundance Theatre Program’s history includes the production of an extraordinary array of American musical theatre and family and children’s fare. (See Past Productions). The producing arm of the Theatre Program is on a hiatus and production at the Sundance Village will continue under the Sundance Village’s auspices in 2003.
Out of concern that many independent films have not been preserved despite their cinematic and historical value, Sundance has established the Sundance Collection at UCLA. This groundbreaking collection---a partnership with the UCLA Film and Television Archive--- is specifically devoted to collecting, and preserving independent films. This initiative reflects a long-standing commitment on the part of the Institute to honor and learn from the work of independent filmmakers present and past, local and international. It serves as a valuable and singular resource of its kind to scholars, artists, and the public.
When choosing Fellows for its Labs or films for the Festival, the Institute is committed to encouraging the recognition of diverse voices-Native American, African American, Asian, Latino, and women filmmakers, among others. The films and plays developed or premiered by Sundance over the past two decades reflect the diversity of American culture and have been seen by millions of people. In all of its work, Sundance embraces the values of independence and community.