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Sundance Institute Picks Up Two Academy Grants to Help Develop Underrepresented Filmmakers

The new grants will support both professional training and development for emerging feature filmmakers who hail from nontraditional backgrounds.


The Sundance Institute has announced that the nonprofit organization has been awarded two grants from The Academy Foundation of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) with the express intent “to support professional training and development for emerging feature film artists from nontraditional backgrounds.”

READ MORE: Sundance Institute Announces Projects For Its 2016 Screenwriters Lab, Doc Edit and Story Labs & Theatre-Makers Residency

The first grant, a $17,500 FilmCraft grant, will support the Institute’s Native Program for its 2016 Native Filmmakers Lab. Per the Institute, “the Native program has built and sustained a unique support cycle for Indigenous artists through grants, labs, mentorships, fellowships, the platform of the Sundance Film Festival and screenings for Native communities to inspire new generations of storytellers.”

The program is currently in operation in the United States and Canada, and was formerly in New Zealand and Australia. Program filmmakers include Taika Waititi, Chris Eyre, Sterlin Harjo, Billy Luther, Andrew Okpeaha MacLean, Aurora Guerrero, Sydney Freeland, Blake Pickens and Ciara Lacy.

The other grant, a $20,000 grant from the Academy’s Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting program, will fund two Sundance Institute and Academy Nicholl Honorees from underrepresented groups who are in the Institute’s June Screenwriters Lab, a five-day writer’s workshop that gives budding filmmakers the space and tools to develop a new feature film script, all with the help of other established writers. A number of former Lab features debuted at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, including “The Birth of a Nation” and “Swiss Army Man.”

READ MORE: The Academy’s Diversity Problem Is Complicated

The grant-giving is a major step forward for the Academy, which has recently been taken to cast for its lack of diversity and inclusion. By extending these grants to not only filmmakers, but emerging filmmakers, AMPAS seems to be making it clear that they do care about fostering and helping the next generation of underrepresented filmmakers.

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