Sundance Institute Announces Documentary Fund Grants Across Nonfiction Formats
Works Span Feature Documentaries, Streaming Series and Virtual Reality;
Topics Include Rust Belt Revitalization Efforts, Threats to Democracy,
Los Angeles, CA — A diverse range of projects and artists on the frontlines of nonfiction storytelling received nearly $2 million in grants from Sundance Institute, furthering their work across a broad array of subjects and forms.
Works originate in 26 countries and six continents, and teams include Academy Award© nominees (Julia Reichert, Steven Bognar, Richard Rowley, Jon Else and David France), and first-time feature filmmakers (Cody Lucich, Sushmit Ghosh, Rintu Thomas, Nadia Shihab, Bing Liu, T Cooper, Sandi Tan, Hana Mire, Jon Kasbe, Jonathan Bogarín and Elan Bogarín). Funding for audience engagement goes to series including The Keepers and films such as The Force, Sembene! and The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson. Subject matters are as wide-ranging as the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis and the summer camp origins of the modern disability rights movement to a deadly fire in a 1980s Romanian nightclub and an innovative life skills program at Mojave Desert high school.
The Fund celebrates both tried-and-true and new areas of focus in this granting period, with projects selected as part of an ongoing rolling call over the past year. The inaugural Spotlight on Storytellers Award provides artist grants designed specifically for storytellers from under-represented communities (primarily filmmakers of color, women and gender-nonconforming artists) who stand at critical junctures of their careers. Now in its tenth year, the Stories of Change Content Fund, Sundance Institute’s creative partnership with the Skoll Foundation, continues to support social impact filmmakers with $337,000 awarded to six projects across genres and at varying states of development.
“The artists and projects selected in this round of funding are at the forefront of bold, innovative and impactful nonfiction storytelling,” said Tabitha Jackson, Director of the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program. “At this critical time for the role of the fearless independent voice, we hope that this granting and ongoing creative support will be catalytic in ensuring that the work of these dedicated artists will be made and seen.”
The projects have been funded at various stages, including 16 in development, 16 in production, 21 in post-production and five for Audience Engagement, designed to develop a project’s marketing, publicity, and distribution campaigns.
Sundance Institute has a long history and firm commitment to championing the most distinctive nonfiction films from around the world. Recent films supported include I Am Not Your Negro, Last Men in Aleppo, An Insignificant Man, Casting JonBenet, Strong Island, Hooligan Sparrow, Newtown, and Weiner. More information is available at sundance.org/documentary.
The Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program is made possible by founding support from Open Society Foundations. Generous additional support is provided by Skoll Foundation; the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; The Charles Engelhard Foundation; Robert Rauschenberg Foundation; Arcus Foundation; The Kendeda Fund; Genuine Article Pictures; CNN Films; Discovery Channel; National Geographic; Bertha Foundation; Cinereach; Time Warner Foundation; John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; Anonymous; Compton Foundation; SundanceNow; Nion McEvoy & Leslie Berriman; Joan and Lewis Platt Foundation; Code Blue Foundation; Candescent Films; EarthSense Foundation; PBS; and WNET New York Public Media.
After a Revolution (United Kingdom, Italy, Libya)
Director: Giovanni Buccomini
Producers: Al Morrow and Naziha Arebi
Filmed over five years, After a Revolution is the intimate story of a brother and sister who fought on opposite sides of the Libyan revolution, a close up on the country’s traumatic course from rebellion, to elections to the edge of civil war.
Akicita (United States)
Director: Cody Lucich
Producers: Heather Rae, Gingger Shankar and Ben Dupris
In the shadow of the largest Native American political occupation since Wounded Knee thousands of water protectors from around the world have descended on Standing Rock, North Dakota to resist the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).
Bisbee ‘17 (United States)
Director: Robert Greene
Producers: Bennett Elliott, Susan Bedusa and Douglas Tirola
Bisbee ’17 will follow characters in Bisbee, Arizona as they commemorate the 100th anniversary of the controversial Bisbee Deportation, where 1200 striking miners were violently exiled from town.
The Blue Wall: Killing Laquan McDonald (United States)
Director: Richard Rowley
Producers: Jacqueline Soohen and Jamie Kalven
The Blue Wall is the feature documentary account of the Chicago police killing of Laquan McDonald. The film is a forensic examination of a shooting, an anatomy of a coverup, and a portrait of a city torn apart in the aftermath.
John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
Brainiacs (United States)
Director: Laura Nix
Producers: Diane Becker, Melanie Miller and Laura Nix
Meet the brightest young minds on the planet as they participate in the world’s most prestigious high school science competition, the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF). These passionate innovators are creating cutting-edge solutions to confront the world’s most pressing environmental threats – found right in their own backyards – while navigating the doubts and insecurities that mark adolescence.
Discovery Fellow | Kendeda Fund
A Cops and Robbers Story (United Kingdom)
Director: Ilinca Calugareanu
Producer: Mara Adina
Growing up in Queens in the 70s, Corey Pegues played Cops and Robbers like all the other kids on the block but he never expected to become both.
The Gold Rush Project (United States)
Director: Jon Else
Producer: Camille Servan-Schreiber
The making of a new John Adams opera about nativism during the California Gold Rush.
The Great Experiment (United States)
Directors: Eric Daniel Metzgar and Stephen Maing
Producers: Eric Daniel Metzgar and Stephen Maing
A cinematic mosaic of the “great experiment” of American democracy as it teeters on a precipice during one of our most tumultuous and defining years. Through intimate observations in cities and rural pockets of America and beyond, The Great Experiment will present a cross-section of diverse discourse and urgent responses to the year’s unfolding developments, reaching past the perceived divisions to lay bare an undeniably collective American experience.
The Gut (United States)
Director: Jennifer Maytorena Taylor
Producer: Jennifer Maytorena Taylor
Set in the small, blue-collar city of Rutland, Vermont, this verité feature begins as the mayor announces Rutland will soon start resettling Syrian refugees. The community sharply divides into those who embrace resettlement as an engine for economic growth and new diversity, others who fear majority-Muslim newcomers will seed terrorism and drain social services, and many more who fight to be heard as the opioid epidemic overshadows their lives. Filmed over two years, The Gut explores what changes – and what doesn’t – when small town America meets the world and discovers it is us.
The Hottest August (Canada)
Director: Brett Story
Producer: Danielle Varga
A portrait of New York during the sweltering heat and persistent tension of August, The Hottest August offers an intimate and unnerving portrait of our time.
Rajada Dalka / Nation’s Hope (Sweden, France, United States, Somalia, Congo, United Kingdom)
Director: Hana Mire
Producers: Andreas Rocksén and Cynthia Kane
If playing ball meant risking your life, what would you do? Deep inside the Somali National Women’s basketball team’s first season since the civil war, coach Suad Galow shepherds her team of fearless young women to overcome violent threats and reclaim their place on the international stage.
Untitled Ramona Diaz Film (United States, Philippines)
Director: Ramona Diaz
Producer: Ramona Diaz
The Untitled Ramona Diaz Film explores the relationship between fear and the institutions empowered to protect us.
Writing With Fire (India)
Directors: Sushmit Ghosh and Rintu Thomas
Producers: Sushmit Ghosh and Rintu Thomas
In one of the most socially oppressive and patriarchal states of India emerges a newspaper, Khabar Lahariya, run entirely by rural women belonging to the ‘low caste’ community. Meera, Khabar Lahariya’s popular reporter, decides to magnify the paper’s impact with an audacious move – to transform from print to a digital news agency. Working in media dark villages, mocked and discouraged, this is the story of a visionary woman’s feisty spirit in building what will probably be the world’s first digital news agency run entirely by rural women.
Bertha Foundation Fellowship
Directors: Jonathan Bogarín and Elan Bogarín
Producers: Elan Bogarín, Jonathan Bogarín and Judit Stalter
306 Hollywood is a magical realist documentary of two siblings who undertake an archaeological excavation of their late grandmother’s house. They embark on a journey from her home in New Jersey to ancient Rome, from fashion to physics, in search of what life remains in the objects we leave behind.
Black Memorabilia (United States)
Director: Chico Colvard
Producer: Chico Colvard
Black Memorabilia moves beyond perverse attractions and absolute objections to collectibles and antiques that serve as reminders of America’s troubled racial history and combats a set of generalized stereotypes by presenting an intimate and poetic portrait of the people who consume, manufacture and reclaim these objects.
Time Warner Foundation
Chasing Coral (United States)
Director: Jeff Orlowski
Producers: Larissa Rhodes, Jeff Orlowski
Coral reefs around the world are vanishing at an unprecedented rate. A team of divers, photographers, and scientists set out on a heart-pounding adventure to discover why, and to reveal the beautiful underwater mystery to the world.
Robert Rauschenberg Foundation
Crip Camp (United States)
Directors: Jim LeBrecht and Nicole Newnham
Producers: Jim LeBrecht, Nicole Newnham, and Sara Bolder
Just down the road from Woodstock, in the early 1970s, a parallel revolution blossomed in a ramshackle summer camp for disabled teenagers. Crip Campexplores summer camp awakenings that would transform lives and shape the future of the disability rights movement. Steeped in the spirit, music and humor of the era, and told from the point of view of former camper Jim LeBrecht, the film traces the journeys of campers up to the present day, in this compelling and untold story of a powerful journey towards inclusion.
Dark Money (United States)
Director: Kimberly Reed
Producers: Katy Chevigny and Kimberly Reed
Dark money contributions — made possible by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling — flood American elections, but Montana is showing Washington D.C. how to solve the problem of unlimited anonymous money in politics. Dark Money will inspire citizens to “follow the money” and demand reform.
The Distant Barking of Dogs (Denmark)
Director: Simon Lereng Wilmont
Producer: Monica Hellström
The Distant Barking of Dogs is set in Eastern Ukraine on the frontline of the war. The film follows the life of 10-year-old Ukrainian boy Oleg throughout a year, witnessing the gradual erosion of his innocence beneath the pressures of war.
The Fourth Kingdom (Spain, United States)
Directors: Adán Aliaga and Àlex Lora
Producers: Isa Feliu and Miguel Molina
In The Fourth Kingdom, cans and bottles are exchanged for coins. Through the people who pass by, we take a look at a place where everything becomes possible; where the waste of society can become the dreams of their inhabitants.
Last Men in Aleppo (Denmark, Syria)
Directors: Feras Fayyad and Steen Johannessen
Producers: Søren Steen Jespersen and Kareem Abeed
After five years of war in Syria, the remaining citizens of Aleppo are readying themselves for siege. Through the volunteers from The White Helmets we experience first hand the daily life, death and struggle in the streets of the city. They fight for sanity where war has become the norm.
My Name is Andrea (United Kingdom, United States)
Director: Pratibha Parmar
Producer: Shaheen Haq
My Name Is Andrea, a creative documentary on Andrea Dworkin (1946-2005), one of the most radical feminist writers of the 20th Century and the original ‘nasty woman’, whose experience of male violence was the unflinching compass for her writings. For throwing her piercing gaze on toxic patriarchy she was vehemently pilloried and vilified. The film explores the visceral effects of male violence on women’s psyche and bodies through Dworkin’s verbatim writings.
Untitled Ohio Factory Film (United States)
Directors: Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert
Producers: Steven Bognar, Julia Reichert, Jeff Reichert, and Julie Parker Benello
Rust-belt Ohio. In the husk of a huge, abandoned GM plant, a Chinese billionaire entrepreneur opens a new factory, hiring two thousand blue-collar Americans. Early days of hope and optimism are truly tested by the enormity of the project, and by the cultural differences between high-tech China and post-industrial Midwest America.
John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
Project C (Romania)
Director: Alexander Nanau
Producers: Alexander Nanau and Bianca Oana
A fire in a music club becomes the biggest turning point in the Romanian society since the revolution of ‘89. Can a young generation lift the veil of the corrupt and deadly system in which they were educated and force it to change?
When Lambs Become Lions (Australia, United States)
Director: Jon Kasbe
Producers: Jon Kasbe, Innbo Shim, and Tom Yellin
In a small town bordering conservation land, two men – an ivory poacher and a wildlife ranger – depend on the same elephants to provide for their families. As their stories converge, When Lambs Become Lions upends the conventional narrative around wildlife conservation.
93Queen (United States)
Director: Paula Eiselt
Producers: Paula Eiselt, Heidi Reinberg, and Adam Bolt
93Queen follows a group of tenacious Hasidic women who are shattering the glass ceiling in Hasidic Brooklyn to create the first all-female volunteer ambulance corps in NYC.
All That Passes By Through a Window that Doesn’t Open (United States, Qatar)
Director: Martin DiCicco
Producer: Martin DiCicco
A journey by rail where workers reflect upon opportunity and regret, floating through the Eurasian expanse striving to fill their days and dreams, as much as their pockets.
Always in Season (United States)
Director: Jacqueline Olive
Producer: Jacqueline Olive
As the trauma of more than a century of lynching African Americans bleeds into the present, Always in Season follows relatives of the perpetrators and victims seeking to acknowledge the victims, repair the damage, and reconcile– all in the midst of police shootings and heated national debate about the value of black lives.
Blowin’ Up (United States)
Director: Stephanie Wang-Breal
Producer: Carrie Weprin
Blowin’ Up looks at sex work, prostitution and human trafficking through the lens of New York State’s criminal justice system. The film takes you inside our nation’s first human trafficking intervention court in Queens, New York, and considers how we define trafficking and prostitution from many different perspectives: the criminal justice system, the social welfare system, and, most importantly, the women and girls who are at the center of it all.
A Comedian in a Syrian Tragedy (Denmark, Syria)
Director: Rami Farah
Producer: Signe Byrge Sørensen
An intimate portrait of Syrian actor Fares Helou, who calls for freedom of speech, is forced out of his home country and experiences the absurdities of exiled existence, told by Syrian director Rami Farah, who films – and shares – his struggle.
Crime + Punishment
Director: Stephen Maing
Producer: Stephen Maing
Amidst a landmark lawsuit over illegal policing quotas in the country’s largest police force, Crime + Punishment intimately observes the real lives and struggles of a group of black and Latino whistleblower cops and the young minorities they are pressured to arrest and summons.
John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
Fathers & Sons (Germany, Syria)
Director: Talal Derki
Producers: Ansgar Frerich, Eva Kemme and Tobias Siebert
In Fathers & Sons, director Talal Derki follows the life of an extended family in the Syrian Civil War over a period of two years. The head of the family is a high-ranking general of the Islamist Al-Nusra brigades who dreams of a caliphate and wants his sons to follow his footsteps.
The Force (United States)
Director: Pete Nicks
Producers: Pete Nicks and Linda Davis
The Force goes inside an embattled urban police department struggling to rebuild trust in one of America’s most violent yet promising cities.
Forgiveness (United Kingdom)
Director: Elizabeth Stopford
Producer: Elizabeth Stopford
A modern American ghost story and a house that vanished. In the wake of two seemingly inexplicable shooting sprees, can a community forgive the teenage boy at the heart of its tragic past?
Freedom Fields (Libya, United Kingdom)
Director: Naziha Arebi
Producer: Flore Cosquer
In post-revolution Libya a group of women are brought together by one dream: to play football for their nation. But as the country descends into civil war, their personal stories of aspirations, struggle and love collide with history.
Director: Petra Costa
Producers: Shane Boris and Tiago Pavan
An epic tragedy of corruption and betrayal, Impeachment is a behind-the-scenes look at the ousting of Brazil’s first female president and the political crisis that followed.
Jaddoland (United States)
Director: Nadia Shihab
Producers: Nadia Shihab and Talal Al-Muhanna
A visit to her mother’s home art studio in Texas leads the filmmaker to explore the poetics of belonging and dislocation across three generations of her Iraqi family.
La Flor de la Vida (Uruguay)
Directors: Claudia Abend and Adriana Loeff
Producers: Claudia Abend and Adriana Loeff
After five decades of marriage, Aldo and Gabriella are facing a crisis. What happened to the couple that fell in love in their twenties? What is keeping them together now that they are blowing out their eightieth candles? Is it time to say good-bye? La Flor de la Vida is a fairy tale facing reality – a universal story about love, relationships, and the challenges of aging.
Man Made (United States)
Director: T Cooper
Producer: Téa Leoni
A feature length documentary about what makes a man. Five men (who—like the director of this film—were born and raised female), take a variety of paths toward becoming the men they’ve always wanted to be, culminating in the only transgender bodybuilding competition in the world. Man Made is one part intimate, yet riveting competition film, and the other a unique, character-driven social justice narrative that speaks to the ways in which we all choose to define and reshape ourselves, both figuratively and literally.
Minding the Gap (United States)
Director: Bing Liu
Producers: Diane Quon
Journey into the post-industrial heartland of the American midwest with a filmmaker and two of his skateboarding friends. Together they navigate intergenerational abuse and battle a downward economic spiral as they transition from childhood to manhood.
Mr. Gay Syria (Turkey)
Director: Ayse Toprak
Producers: Ekin Calisir, Antoine Simkine, and Christine Kiauk
Two gay Syrian refugees try to rebuild their lives after having been forced to leave their country. Husein is a gay barber in Istanbul. Mahmoud champions LGBTI rights in Berlin. What brings them together is a crazy dream: to join the international beauty contest, Mr. Gay World, as an escape from their trapped lives and an answer to their invisibility.
Shirkers (United States, Singapore)
Director: Sandi Tan
Producers: Sandi Tan and Maya Rudolph
In 1992, teenager Sandi Tan and her friends Sophie and Jasmine shot Singapore’s first indie—a road movie called “Shirkers”—with their enigmatic American mentor, Georges Cardona. After shooting wrapped, Georges vanished with all the footage! 20 years later, the 16mm cans are recovered in New Orleans, sending Sandi—now a novelist in Los Angeles—on a new personal odyssey across two continents.
To End a War (United Kingdom, Colombia)
Director: Marc Silver
Producers: Pedro Davila, Natalie Osma, and Marc Silver
Set in Colombia, To End a War explores what it takes for a nation of 50 million to move from hatred to forgiveness, from war to peace.
Trophy (United States)
Directors: Shaul Schwarz and Christina Clusiau
Producers: Lauren Haber and Julia Nottingham
An exploration of the evolving relationship between big-game hunting and wildlife conservation that sparks debate around what is right, what is wrong, and what is necessary in order to save the great species of the world from extinction.
Untitled Jennifer Laude Documentary (United States)
Director: PJ Raval
Producers: Mary Syjuco, Lisa Valencia-Svensson, and Kara Magsanoc-Alikpala
When 26‐year‐old Filipina transgender woman Jennifer Laude is found dead with her head plunged into a motel room toilet, police quickly identify the suspect as 19‐ year‐old U.S. marine Joseph Scott Pemberton. Amidst a media storm and police inquiry, a grassroots movement arises to demand that Pemberton, held in U.S. custody, be tried in the Philippine court system. Untitled Jennifer Laude Documentary follows the ensuing trial and its aftermath, fusing together personal tragedy, human rights activism and the little known history of U.S. imperial rule in the Philippines, forging a profoundly humanistic geopolitical investigative thriller.
Young Men and Fire (United States)
Director: Alex Jablonski and Kahlil Hudson
Producers: Alex Jablonski and Kahlil Hudson
Young Men and Fire tells the story of a single wildland firefighting crew as they struggle with fear, loyalty, love and defeat all over the course of a single fire season. What emerges is a story of a small group of working-class men, their exterior world, their interior lives, and the fire that lies between.
Growing Up Coy (United States)
Director: Eric Juhola
Producers: Eric Juhola and Jeremy Stulhberg
Growing Up Coy is a feature-length documentary about a young Colorado family who engages in a highly publicized legal battle and landmark civil rights case, as they fight for their 6-year-old transgender daughter’s right to use the girls’ bathroom at her elementary school.
The Bad Kids (United States)
Directors: Keith Fulton and Lou Pepe
Producer: Keith Fulton
At a remote Mojave Desert high school, extraordinary educators believe that empathy and life skills, more than academics, give at-risk students command of their own futures. This coming-of-age story watches education combat the crippling effects of poverty in the lives of these so-called “bad kids.”
The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson (United States)
Director: David France
Producers: Laura Teodosio, Kimberly Reed, and Alison Byrne Fields
Filmmakers re-examine the 1992 death of transgender legend Marsha P. Johnson, who was found floating in the Hudson River. Originally ruled a suicide, many in the community believe she was murdered.
The Keepers (United States)
Director: Ryan White
Producer: Jessica Hargrave
The Keepers investigates the unsolved murder of a young nun in Baltimore and the horrific secrets and pain that linger nearly five decades after her death.
SEMBENE! (United States)
Directors: Samba Gadjigo and Jason Silverman
Producers: Samba Gadjigo and Jason Silverman
On June 9-11, 2017, Galle Ceddo Projects, in conjunction with dozens of African institutions, artists, filmmakers, municipalities and schools, presented The Sembene Across Africa project, the largest grassroots cinema event in African history. The three-day series included more than 130 public screenings, as well as seminars, house parties and workshops, featuring the award-winning documentary film SEMBENE! and screenings of films by Ousmane Sembene, “the father of African cinema.” SEMBENE! also was broadcast in 30+ countries on the continent, with free streaming across the globe, in an effort to re-introduce Africa to one of its most inspiring unsung heroes.
Awavena (United States, Australia)
Director: Lynette Wallworth
Producer: Nicole Newnham
Tata, a 100-year-old Amazonian Shaman, transitions from this life, bequeathing a vision for the world that he shares with his disciple, Hushahu, the Yawanawa tribe’s first female Shaman, in this breakthrough mixed-reality experience.
Skoll Foundation (Stories of Change) | Robert Rauschenberg Foundation
Tree (United States)
Lead Artists: Milica Zec and Winslow Porter
Key Collaborators: Aleksandar Protic and Jacob Kudsk Steensen
This critically acclaimed and haptically enhanced virtual reality experience transforms you into a majestic rainforest tree. With your arms as branches and body as a trunk, you’ll experience the tree’s life from a seedling to its fullest form and witness its fate firsthand.
Robert Rauschenberg Foundation
SPOTLIGHT ON STORYTELLERS
Lyric Cabral directs investigative, nonfiction cinema that examines the intersections of race and surveillance. Cabral’s debut film (T)ERROR, the first film to portray an active FBI counterterrorism sting operation, is a 2017 Emmy nominee for Outstanding Investigative Documentary. (T)ERROR was winner of a 2015 Sundance Film Festival Special Jury Prize for Breakout First Feature and the 2015 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival Grand Jury Prize. Cabral has been featured in Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film, and their recent work has appeared on BBC, PBS, and VICE.com. Lyric is a former photojournalist whose images are included within Gordon Parks: The Making of an Argument monograph and exhibition.
Director Jason DaSilva has been a prolific filmmaker for the past 10 years. He has directed four short films (Olivia’s Puzzle, A Song for Daniel, Twins of Mankala, andFirst Steps) and two feature-length documentary films (Lest We Forget and When I Walk). Many of his films have won awards; Olivia’s Puzzle premiered at the 2003 Sundance Festival and qualified for an Academy Award. Three of his films have had national broadcasts on PBS, HBO, and CBC. He also produced Shocking and Awful,a film installation on the anti-Iraq war movement, exhibited at the 2006 Whitney Biennial. Each one of these works advanced Jason’s objective to give voice to those on the periphery of society. In 2006 Jason took a short break from filmmaking to earn his MFA in Applied Media Arts from Emily Carr University. He recently produced and directed an Op-Doc (opinion documentary) for the New York Times called The Long Wait, published in January 2013, and is working on a new one titled Mapping The Trap. DaSilva’s film When I Walk was an Official Selection of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and won Best Canadian Feature at HotDocs 2013, and won an Emmy in 2015. Following the film’s theatrical release, it aired as the opening on PBS / POV in 2014. He currently lives and works in Long Island City, New York.
Rodrigo Reyes is an award-winning, Mexican-American filmmaker whose films include Purgatorio and Lupe Under the Sun. He has screened in nearly 50 film festivals around the world, including the LA Film Festival, Guadalajara International Film Festival and Documentary Fortnight at The Museum of Modern Art in New York, garnering rave reviews in the New York Times, Variety and other media outlets, as well as multiple awards. Named one of the 25 New Faces of Independent Film by Filmmaker Magazine, in 2016 he was chosen as a National Endowment for the Arts Fellow at MacDowell Colony and in 2017 he was selected for the National Mediamaker Fellowship by the Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC). His work has received the support of Tribeca Film Institute, Sundance Institute, California Humanities Council Film Independent, IFP Narrative and Documentary Labs, and the Mexican Film Institute. In 2017, Rodrigo was named a Guggenheim Fellow.
Nanfu Wang is an award-winning filmmaker based in New York City. Her latest feature documentary I Am Another You premiered at SXSW 2017 and won two special jury awards. Her feature debut Hooligan Sparrow was shortlisted for the 2017 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. Since its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival 2016, Hooligan Sparrow has screened at more than 100 festivals, opened theatrically across North America, and was later released on POV, Netflix, Amazon, and iTunes. It has won over twenty awards internationally including a Peabody Award, a Cinema Eye Honor for the Best Debut Film, the George Polk Award for the journalistic achievement, an IDA Award, and the Truer than Fiction Award at the Independent Spirit Awards.Originally from a remote village in China, Wang overcame poverty and lack of access to formal secondary education and went on to earn three master’s degrees from Shanghai University, Ohio University, and New York University in English Literature, Media Studies, and Documentary respectively.
STORIES OF CHANGE CONTENT FUND
Cumari: Rainforest to Table (United States)
Producers: Patricia Finneran and Greg Moyer
Latin America’s top chefs are crafting a culinary movement, partnering with indigenous peoples to bring Amazonian food to urban haute cuisine. This documentary series follows the intertwined lives of chefs and the Amazonian communities focusing on how commerce in food can provide both a sustainable living for locals and thrill the palettes of urban foodies, while forging a new path preserving the Amazon biome and the future of its people.
Investing in Children (United States)
Director: Richard Bowen
Producer: Morgan Lance
A moving examination of the world’s most vulnerable children, and the pioneering effort to transform young lives.
The Legend of the Vagabond King of Lagos (Nigeria, South Africa)
Directors: James Tayler and Atinkpo Elijah Segun
Producers: James Tayler, Joel Bolnick and Mohammed Zanna
A community activist unearths a hoard of corruption money and sets out to use the dirty cash to upgrade his community – however he inadvertently creates many more problems than he solves, meanwhile the corrupt official is hot on his trail.
Dead Sea Guardians (Israel)
Directors: Ido Glass and Yoav Kleinman
For one moment, an unlikely group of people join forces to stop a catastrophe. Three heroes – a Jordanian, a Palestinian, and an Israeli – together with 20 other swimmers from across the world, undertake the first ever swim across the Dead Sea to call on their governments to prevent the demise of this unique shared sea.
Namati Film Project (United Kingdom)
Directors: Jerry Rothwell and Tyson Conteh
Law is said to be a sacred thread that ties us together, but for billions of people around the world the law is broken. Set in Sierra Leone, this film tells the story of a grassroots movement to use the law to defend community rights in the face of corporate land grabs.
The Pushouts (United States)
Directors: Dawn Valadez and Katie Galloway
Producers: Dawn Valadez, Katie Galloway, and Daniella Sueuga
“I was in prison before I was even born.” So begins the story of Dr. Victor Rios who, by 15, was a “dropout” and gang member with a death wish. But when a teacher’s quiet persistence, a mentor’s moral conviction, and his best friend’s murder converge, Rios’s path takes an unexpected turn. Rios’s story, interwoven with the stories of his mentors, proteges and, most importantly, 40 “pushout” youth in Watts, California, reveals that young people we know as “dropouts” are often pushed out of school by systemic forces beyond their control.
Silas (Canada, South Africa, Kenya)
Directors: Anjali Nayar and Hawa Essuman
Producers: Steven Markovitz and Anjali Nayar
Liberian activist Silas Siakor is a tireless crusader, fighting to crush corruption and environmental destruction in the country he loves.
Founded in 1981 by Robert Redford, Sundance Institute is a nonprofit organization that provides and preserves the space for artists in film, theatre, and new media to create and thrive. The Institute’s signature Labs, granting, and mentorship programs, dedicated to developing new work, take place throughout the year in the U.S. and internationally. The Sundance Film Festival and other public programs connect audiences to artists in igniting new ideas, discovering original voices, and building a community dedicated to independent storytelling. Sundance Institute has supported such projects as Boyhood, Swiss Army Man, Manchester By the Sea, Brooklyn, Little Miss Sunshine, Life, Animated, Sonita, 20 Feet From Stardom, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Fruitvale Station, Sin Nombre, Spring Awakening, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder and Fun Home. Join Sundance Institute on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.