The Sundance Institute’s Documentary Film Program has just announced it’s recipients for some of its 2009 documentary fund grants. The fund, which began in 1996 and announces recipients twice per year, provides grants for development or production/post-production of works in progress. The grants are decided upon by a group of judges within the documentary and human rights communities. Submissions are judged on their excellence in storytelling, artistic treatment and innovation, global relevance and potential for social engagement. This year saw nearly 900 submissions for the grants. On the importance of the program, Cara Mertes, the director of the Documentary Film Program, said, “Documentary film is gaining momentum as an international language of cross-cultural awareness and understanding. These artists are at the forefront of the movement.”
The following is a list of the films receiving grants for this session:
“Regarding Susan Sontag”
Nancy Kates (U.S.)
“Regarding Susan Sontag” follows the life and work of the late author, critic, director, and activist.
Yance Ford (U.S.)
“Strong Island” is a personal investigation into the violent death of the directors’ brother and its devastating effect on her middle class black family.
“All That Glitters”
Tomáš Kudrna (Czech Republic / Kyrgyzstan)
For villagers of a small town in Kyrgyzstan, the unexpected effects of a massive Canadian gold mining operation complicate understandings of the fall of communism.
“An American Promise”
Michèle Stephenson and Joe Brewster (U.S.)
In a twelve-year study, two African American boys come of age as they attend an elite prep-school in New York City from kindergarten to high school graduation.
“Âs Nutayuneân – We Still Live Here” (Working Title)
Anne Makepeace (U.S.)
The Wampanoag nation of southeastern Massachusetts revives their native tongue, a language that was silenced for more than 100 years.
“Budrus Has a Hammer”
Julia Bacha (U.S. / Israel / Palestinian Territories)
A Palestinian leader unites Fatah, Hamas and Israelis in an unarmed movement to save his village from destruction. Success eludes them until his 15-year-old daughter jumps into the fray.
“Cesar’s Last Fast”
Richard Ray Perez (U.S.)
The private sacrifice and spiritual conviction behind Cesar Estrada Chavez’s fight for justice and dignity for America’s farm workers is linked to a new generation of organizers leading the charge for farm worker’s rights today.
Marcus Vetter and Alex Bakri (Palestinian Territories / Israel/ Germany)
A Fellini-esque documentary comedy unfolds as locals launch an initiative to reopen the only cinema in the city of Jenin in the West Bank.
Judith Helfand (U.S.)
Out of the most traumatic heat wave in U.S. history – when over 730 poor, elderly and African American Chicago residents died in a single July week in 1995 – comes a story about the politics of crisis, the specter of global warming, the long-term disaster called poverty and an inspired plan to address all three at once.
“Crime After Crime”
Yoav Potash (U.S.)
A behind bars look at women in prison and the troubled intersection of law enforcement and domestic violence.
“Enemies of the People”
Rob Lemkin and S. Thet (U.K. / Cambodia)
A young journalist whose family was killed by the Khmer Rouge spends a decade making friends with the men and women who directed and perpetrated the Killing Fields. He finally understands the reasons behind his country’s tragedy, but the truth comes at a price.
“High Tech, Low Life” (Working Title)
Stephen Maing (U.S. / CHINA)
A young former vegetable seller inspired by a search for truth and the potential for fame travels the countryside reporting his observations and discoveries and unexpectedly becomes one of China’s first citizen reporters.
“In a Town Called Oil City”
Joe Wilson and Dean Hamer (U.S.)
The announcement of the filmmaker’s wedding to another man leads to a plea for help from a gay teen and a quest for change in the small Pennsylvania hometown he left long ago.
“Russia’s Pepsi Generation” (Working Title)
Robin Hessman (U.S. / Russia)
Communism’s crossover children adjust to their post-Soviet reality in Moscow today.
“The Georgian Year”
Nino Kirtadze (France / Georgia)
“The Georgian Year” takes an intimate look at a defining year for this young democracy, from the presidential elections in January 2008 to a state of chaos and war and the resulting aftermath.