Dosh for docs 2

Sundance Institute announces documentary grants.

by Amber Wilkinson

The Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program has announced the 30 film projects to receive a record number of financial grants from the Sundance Institute Documentary Fund.

Out of 300 applications from more than 25 countries, the feature-length documentary films selected will receive a total of nearly $750,000 in support.

Among the British projects making the cut are first-time directors Rachel Turner and Alison Quirk for their Kenyan documentary, Where Women Rule. Established British director Isaac Julien (Baadasssss Cinema, Peter Gabriel Play) receives cash for his portrait of film-maker Derek Jarman and Black Gold helmers Marc and Nick Francis turn their attention to Zambia in Chinese Safari.

The Sundance Documentary Film Program "supports US and international documentary filmmakers who explore the critical issues of our times with highly crafted storytelling and stylistic innovation".

Director of the Documentary Film Programme Cara Mertes said: "The Sundance Documentary Film Program is honored to support talented artists from around the world with funding at critical moments in their filmmaking to ensure the creation and completion of these important films.

"This is an exceptional docket of documentary films with major work from established and emerging filmmakers. The films funded today reflect the Documentary Film Program’s interest in helping filmmakers tell the stories of our changing world, including films with the potential to transform it."

The projects to receive funds - along with what the Institute says about them - are below.


Jessie Little Doe, of the Wampanoag nation, revives a silenced indigenous language that was out of use for more than 150 years.

Marc Francis and Nick Francis - Chinese Safari (UK)
Lusaka, Zambia is home to one of Africa's largest Chinatowns and is at the crossroads of China's strategic expansion into Africa.

Pamela Yates - GRANITO (US)
Nobel Peace Laureate Rigoberta Menchu accuses Guatemala's ex-dictator, General Rios Montt, of genocide and uses the 1982 classic documentary film, When the Mountains Tremble, as forensic evidence to bring a case against him.

Albert Maysles returns to his Boston roots and reconnects with old friends, resulting in an autobiographical film reflecting on a 50-year love affair with documentary.

Thierry Michel - KATANGA, MINING BUSINESS (Belgium)
Key players in a new, industrial revolution in Katanga (Democratic Republic of the Congo) struggle against a war being waged by ruthless multinational corporations.

Julianna Brannum - LADONNA HARRIS: INDIAN 101 (US)
Comanche activist LaDonna Harris conveys a unique vision of leadership to a new generation of indigenous professionals.

Özgür Dogan and Orhan Eskiköy - ON THE WAY TO SCHOOL (Turkey)
A year in the life of a Turkish school teacher in a remote town in Turkey. With a Kurdish class that can't speak Turkish, and the teacher who can't speak Kurdish, both are alien in the same land.

Two retired Marines lead the fight for justice for U.S. soldiers exposed to dangerous toxic chemicals while stationed at Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base in North Carolina.

Andrew Okpeaha MacLean - SWALLOWED BY THE SEA (US)
In a small Inuit village on the remote barrier island of Shishmaref, Alaska, residents struggle with the devastating effects of erosion due to global climate change.

Carvin Eison and Christine Christopher - UMBRA: EMERGING FROM THE SHADOWS (US)
In Jena, Louisiana, nooses swing from the schoolyard oak tree and six black high school students are persecuted in ways that eerily evoke the past. The story illuminates the entrenched culture of racially motivated violence in America.

The youngest survivors of the 2002 Gujarati riots in India move into adulthood, facing choices that will affect their future and the future of pluralism in India.

Rachael Turner and Alison Quirk - WHERE WOMEN RULE (UK)
In the first women-only village in Kenya, women learn to thrive after entrenched violence and male domination.


Tin Dirdamal - AGUA (Mexico)
In Cochabamba, Bolivia, four people connected to the first "water war" of the 21st century shed light on – and perhaps foreshadow – wars to come.

Fredrik Gertten - BANANAS (Sweden)
Nicaraguan banana farmers take multi-national banana industrialists to court over the use of banned pesticides in an historic case.

Miao Wang - BEIJING TAXI (China/US)
Three Beijing taxi drivers connect a morphing cityscape with citizen tales in the midst of dizzying change accelerated by the 2008 Olympic Games.

Frederick Wiseman - BOXING GYM (US)
In a community boxing gym in Austin, TX, the controlled use of violence is taught to men, women, and children of all social classes, races, ages, and ethnicities.

Marion Lipschutz and Rose Rosenblatt - BRANDON AND THE CLIFFORD TWINS (US)
Three young Lakotas on the Pine Ridge reservation are swept into a high-stakes tribal election that hangs on sovereignty, representation, and abortion politics.

Terry Jones, Laure Sullivan and Paul Wilson - CASINO NATION (US)
After a long and bloody struggle, the Seneca Nation of Indians is now in the casino business, and the tribe is changing forever. Casino Nation follows the conflicts the tribe faces as big money flows into this small sovereign nation.

Isaac Julien - DEREK JARMAN (UK)
A creative portrait of influential English filmmaker and fine artist, Derek Jarman.

Andres Habegger - FINAL IMAGE (Argentina)
Leonardo Henrichsen, an Argentinean cameraman, films his own murder during an attempted military coup in Chile in June 1973. The history of a continent unfolds through the images made by one man.

NC Heikin - KIMJONGILIA (France/US)
Survivors of North Korean concentration camps share wrenching, first-hand testimonies.

Margarita Martinez Escallon and Miguel Salazar - PEACEFUL WARRIORS (Colombia)
Amidst long-standing guerilla warfare throughout southern Colombia, the indigenous Nasa community strives to maintain their ideals of non-violent resistance.

Swapped with another girl by her South Korean orphanage prior to adoption by an American couple, the filmmaker searches for her namesake and roots.

Annie Goldson - An Island Calling (New Zealand)
The double murder of a gay couple in Fiji in 2001 reveals the social and political fractures in the postcolonial landscape of the Pacific.

Meg McLagan and Daria Sommers - TEAM LIONESS (US)
A group of female soldiers who went to Iraq as mechanics, supply clerks, and engineers, return home a year later as part of America's first generation of female combat veterans.

Jerret Engle - THE KITCHEN WARRIORS (US/South Africa)
Students in a township-run South African cooking school struggle to reshape their lives and pursue culinary careers.

The Sundance Institute Documentary Fund is a central element of Sundance Institute’s Documentary Film Program, which provides year-round creative support to non-fiction filmmakers through workshops, screenings, and activities related to the distinct stages of the filmmaking process.

Grants are announced twice a year and submissions are accepted on a rolling basis and judged on their approach to storytelling, artistic treatment and innovation, subject relevance and potential for social engagement. For more information see the official site.

Read our news story about previous grants.

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