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Sundance Announces Diversity-Focused Partnership With the Will & Jada Smith Family Foundation

As part of a two-year commitment, the Foundation will support the Institute’s Screenwriters Intensive and year-round work with diverse independent filmmakers and artists.

Sundance Film Festival

The Egyptian Theater at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.


On Sunday morning at their annual Festival Foundations Brunch, the Sundance Institute announced a new partnership with The Will & Jada Smith Family Foundation, designed to support diverse independent artists.

As part of a two-year commitment, the Foundation will now support the Institute’s Screenwriters Intensive and their year-round work with diverse independent filmmakers and artists.

The Screenwriters Intensive, which part of the Institute’s Feature Film Program, provides the opportunity for 10 emerging screenwriters from underrepresented communities to hone their craft in a two-day workshop focused on the creative process.

READ MORE: The 2017 IndieWire Sundance Bible: Every Review, Interview and News Item Posted During the Festival

The Intensive works in partnership with the Institute’s Diversity Initiative, which emphasizes diversity as a longstanding and core value of all Institute programs. The Initiative encompasses efforts to reach new communities of storytellers and artists across regions, genres, ethnicities, genders and orientations.

In her opening remarks, Keri Putnam, executive director of Sundance Institute, made it clear that such initiatives lie at the heart of the Institute’s wide-ranging work.

“We are lifting up together wonderful voices, we are amplifying them here at the festival. Together, we are trying to help them reach people in all corners of our world. That’s what we are about, together,” Putnam said.

In an official statement, Putnam added, “Sundance is proud to work with storytellers from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences, both at the Festival and in our artist development programs. We are so grateful for the generous support of The Will & Jada Smith Family Foundation. Together, we will build momentum and awareness about the need to create a film and media landscape that reflects the full richness and diversity of our culture.”

Jada Pinkett Smith commented, “We are honored and energized to collaborate with Sundance Institute to cultivate stories and storytellers reflective of the world at large, and we view today as the beginning of a productive, purposeful, and powerful alignment with an enduring institution.”

READ MORE: ‘Mudbound’ Is a Major Step For Dee Rees, But Underrepresented Storytellers Remain — Sundance 2017

The Will & Jada Smith Family Foundation has spent the past two decades supporting individuals and organizations dedicated to advancement in the areas of education, health, sustainability and arts. The Foundation has also rolled out another new initiative, Careers in Entertainment, which is designed to introduce youth to careers in the media and entertainment industry through mentorship and internship opportunities.

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