Many philanthropic organizations are committed to preserving indigenous cultures, but there are also organizations that are actively creating communities that cultivate the various art forms within these cultures. Such is the case with the Sundance Institute's 2014 Native American and Indigenous Film Lab.
In an effort to offer greater accessibility for emerging screenwriters, directors, and multidisciplinary artists in the Philadelphia and Miami area, the Sundance Institute (See Sundance Institute: Grants for Film), along with a $200,000 commitment from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation (See Knight Foundation: Grants for Film), recently announced a series of workshops to be held in these select cities across the coming year.
Cara Mertes, former director of the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program and Fund, has been named as the successor of Orlando Bagwell for the Ford Foundation's JustFlms program. Bagwell was the inaugural director of Ford's documentary film program and in his short tenure he's risen the program to great heights of accomplishment, including a recent Oscar nomination. The highly experienced Mertes is well positioned to lead JustFilms to even greater heights.
Filmmakers famously dream about getting into the Sundance Film Festival and hobnobbing with the likes of Matt Damon in Park City. But there's another Sundance fantasy: Landing one of the $70,000 grants that the Sundance Documentary Film Fund gives out for promising projects. These grants of up to $70,000 to filmmakers help cover the costs in all stages of film production, including development and audience engagement.
What do you get when you mix the Sundance Institute, the veritable Holy Grail of independent filmmakers, the Ford Foundation's JustFilms Initiative — focused on advancing social justice through film — and George Soros and his Open Society Institute? Strange bedfellows? Indeed. A powerhouse in documentary filmmaking? For sure.