The Sundance Institute Documentary Fund supports the work of nonfiction filmmakers from around the globe. In a changing media landscape, the fund has been a stable, progressive force in supporting work that has expressed the world in creative, complex, beautiful, and provocative ways, and has created real cultural and social impact around some of the most pressing issues of our time.
We are proud to sit at the center of this burgeoning creative field with the Documentary Fund, which offers (non-recoupable) support for nonfiction projects that continue to elevate and advance cultural dialogue and break new ground in creativity and innovation.
In its ongoing search for artists and projects to support, the Documentary Fund is seeking filmmakers with a distinct voice and vision, and a meaningful connection to the work they create. We are especially keen to raise the voices of underserved or underrepresented communities from around the world in the service of building a more fair, free, and open society.
Submissions to the Documentary Fund are accepted year-round, with granting decisions occurring three times per year. The next round of grant-making decisions is slated for October. To be considered for the October decision, applications must be received by 11:59 p.m. PDT on June 15, 2020. Submissions received after the deadline will be considered for the following round.
The Sundance Institute Documentary Fund provides grants to filmmakers worldwide for feature-length projects that display artful and innovative film language and techniques, rigorous research, originality, project feasibility, contemporary cultural relevance, and the potential to reach and connect with its intended audience. When looking at multiple projects tackling the same subject, preference is given to projects that have a clearly defined structure or driving question; have notable access, angle, or directorial voice; position the issues with higher stakes; or tie to more contemporarily relevant themes. In our evaluations, we heavily weigh a filmmaker’s demonstrated access to subjects, command of the craft of filmmaking, their desire to push boundaries, and the potential for the granting amount to play a catalytic role for the film.
Development (up to $15,000):
There is no reel required with an application, but access to location and characters must be confirmed. The proposal should clearly articulate a potential direction for the project and ask questions that would indicate a layered and nuanced approach. Also, we invite applications for a specific need—i.e., to shoot a test re-enactment or sample animation. If a creative technique is integral, and needs funding in order to understand how the film will work, please indicate this. Mood reels, stills, or some visual references for or depiction of the project in development are recommended. Prior work samples are strongly recommended for development applications.
Production/Post-production (up to $40,000):
Production grants provide funds to projects that are able to deliver to us at least 10 minutes of edited material. At least 20 minutes are required for post-production grants. The reel should convey the narrative and aesthetic approach for the final film.