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by Peter Knegt
July 15, 2009 4:34 AM
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Open Society Awards Sundance Institute $5 Million

The Open Society Institute has announced that will award the Sundance Institute with a $5 million grant for its Documentary Film Program to "help raise awareness on human rights."

"Films can play a powerful role in inspiring action on human rights, justice, accountability, and other open society issues," said Aryeh Neier, president of the Open Society Institute, in a statement. "The Sundance Institute's work helps filmmakers shed light on the most pressing challenges of our time."

As a dollar-for-dollar matching grant, Sundance Institute aims to raise $10 million over the next five years to support documentaries on "significant, contemporary issues."

"This critical funding at a very fragile time is a significant commitment to supporting the belief that documentary storytelling has a meaningful role in the international work toward justice and equity across a range of issues," said Cara Mertes, director of the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program.

This renews the Open Society Institute's support for the Sundance Documentary Film Program, which began in 1996. It was made part of the Sundance Institute in 2002, with an initial $4.6 million dollar gift.

"Sundance Institute has supported documentary storytellers since its beginning," said Robert Redford, founder and president of Sundance Institute, in a statement. "The recognition of that history by George Soros and the Open Society Institute, and the continuation of our relationship over time, speaks to our shared belief that culture--in this case documentary film--is having a profound impact in shaping progressive change."

Founded by George Soros, the Open Society Institute works in over 60 countries to "promote vibrant and tolerant democracies."

The Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program offers funding as well as "creative, production, and distribution support" to documentary filmmakers through various opportunities and services. Specifically, these include the Sundance Institute Documentary Fund, the Documentary Edit and Story Laboratory, Documentary Composers Laboratory, Creative Documentary Producers Lab, as well as the Sundance Film Festival and Creative Producers Summit.

Yesterday, indieWIRE reported on the expansion of its Creative Producing Initiative, including a new Documentary Creative Producing Lab, and the feature and documentary participants for its upcoming 2009-2010 edition.

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