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Sundance Institute Hands Out $500,000 in Contemporary Issue Doc Grants

Photo of Bryce J. Renninger By Bryce J. Renninger | feelingsoblahg.blogspot.com June 30, 2010 at 6:42AM

Today, the Sundance Institute unveiled eighteen feature-length documentaries that will receive funding through its Documentary Film Program. A total of $500,000 will be doled out to the projects, chosen from a field of submissions from 750 applicants in 111 countries. In addition to the financial grants, the Institute provides all funded fillmmakers with access to Creative Labs, Work-in-Progress screenings, and the documentary events at the Sundance Creative Producing Summit and Sundance Film Festival. Cara Mertes, the Director of the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program, said of the applicants, "Sundance Institute salutes the filmmakers from 111 countries who submitted proposals in this round; we had an incredibly high quality applicant pool. The result is a new resurgence of nonfiction filmmaking on the world stage, and we look forward to welcoming the new grantees into the fold.”
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Today, the Sundance Institute unveiled eighteen feature-length documentaries that will receive funding through its Documentary Film Program. A total of $500,000 will be doled out to the projects, chosen from a field of submissions from 750 applicants in 111 countries. In addition to the financial grants, the Institute provides all funded fillmmakers with access to Creative Labs, Work-in-Progress screenings, and the documentary events at the Sundance Creative Producing Summit and Sundance Film Festival. Cara Mertes, the Director of the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program, said of the applicants, "Sundance Institute salutes the filmmakers from 111 countries who submitted proposals in this round; we had an incredibly high quality applicant pool. The result is a new resurgence of nonfiction filmmaking on the world stage, and we look forward to welcoming the new grantees into the fold.”

The grantees from the Spring 2010 round (all descriptions provided by Sundance Institute):

Funds for Development:

"Detroit Hustles Harder," Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (U.S.) (see iW's profile of the "12th and Delaware filmmakers' new project here)
Can Motor City rise from its ashes? There is a growing feeling that as Detroit goes, so goes the nation. This film tells the dramatic story of a city and its most innovative people who refuse to leave the building, even as the flames are rising.

"Politics Not as Usual," Margarita Martinez (Colombia)
Antanas Mockus goes on the campaign trail in a bid for the Colombian presidency. Mockus' candidacy is a grassroots, socially networked movement of a new kind, and his campaign may hold keys to the future of South American politics.

"The Path (working title)," Senain Kheshgi (U.S.)
In a coming-of-age story, a Pakistani teenage girl grows up during one of the most violent times in her country's history.

Funds for production and post-production:

"The Anderson Monarchs," Eugene Martin (U.S.)
Girls at an inner-city soccer club transcend race, poverty, crime and stereotypes to successfully play the game they love.

"Better This World," Katie Galloway and Kelly Duane de la Vega (U.S.)
Two childhood friends from Midland, Texas set out to prove the strength of their political convictions to themselves and their mentor: a revolutionary activist turned FBI informant.

"Dear Mandela," Dara Kell and Christopher Nizza (U.S. / South Africa)
In the year leading up to the 2010 Soccer World Cup, three young leaders in South Africa’s Shack Dwellers Movement resist mass eviction while putting Nelson Mandela's promise of a 'better life for all' to the test.

"Donor 150," Jerry Rothwell (U.K.)
The filmmaker weaves together a twenty-first century tale of identity and genetic inheritance to reveal what may perhaps be the family of the future.

"Girl Model (working title)," Ashley Sabin and David Redmon (U.S.)
First-hand accounts of the modeling industry by scouts, agencies and a 13-year-old model reveal a complex supply chain between Siberia and Japan.

"Granito," Pamela Yates (U.S.)
A classic documentary film deeply intertwined with Guatemala's turbulent history is revisited decades later, and proves to be a crucial player in a present-day case against genocide.

"Pit No. 8," Marianna Kaat (Estonia / Ukraine)
Set in the heart of a once-thriving Ukrainian coal mining region now overcome with poverty, the film is a timely portrait of parents and teenagers trying to earn a living in abandoned coal pits.

"Shenandoah, PA," David Turnley (U.S.)
In Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, four of the town’s star, white football players are charged with beating to death Luis Ramirez, an undocumented Mexican immigrant. A Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer turns his eye towards creating a deeply felt portrait of a community on trial.

"The Interrupters," Steve James (U.S.)
Using an innovative approach to breaking cycles of violence in inner cities, former gang leaders and ex-cons in Chicago's toughest neighborhoods take a stand to “interrupt” shootings and protect their communities from the violence they themselves once employed.

"The Law In These Parts," Ra'anan Alexandrowicz (Israel)
Using interviews, archival footage and deep historical research, this film explores the formal legal mechanisms of Israel's forty year military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

"The Mosuo Sisters," Marlo Poras and Yu Ying Wu Chou (U.S. / China)
When they lose the only jobs they’ve ever known, two spirited daughters from China’s last remaining matrilineal ethnic minority are thrust into the worldwide economic downturn.

"The Undocumented," Marco Williams (U.S.)
The skyrocketing number of deaths of illegal immigrants along the Arizona border is viewed through multiple prisms in light of the state’s proposed new immigration law.

"Turkey Creek," Leah Mahan (U.S.)
Settled by emancipated slaves in the 1860s, Turkey Creek is surrounded today by an airport, a Wal-Mart, two highways and an industrial canal that threaten the historic Mississippi community and its fragile wetlands. When the twin disasters of Hurricane Katrina and the BP spill devastate the Gulf Coast, residents join with other endangered coastal communities in the fight of their lives—and for a sustainable future for us all.

"Within the Eye of the Storm," Shelley Hermon (Israel)
After Bassam, a Palestinian, and Rami, an Israeli, each experience personal tragedy, the two men turn from enemies to brothers.

Discretionary funds:

"Losing Sacred Ground," Christopher McLeod (U.S.)
Losing Sacred Ground tells from the perspective of indigenous elders and activists eight compelling stories of indigenous people resisting the destruction of their culture and lands, and explores climate change, biodiversity loss and sacred site destruction.

This article is related to: Documentary