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Foundation Giving

Programs Supported By Foundations


Sundance Institute honors the following legacy funders for their very generous commitment to our work. These donors have provided founding support for Institute Programs or seeded major new initiatives. We are deeply grateful to each of them.

  • Acton Family Giving provides crucial and generous unrestricted support to Sundance Institute and its programs. This funding comes to us as part of AFG's work in storytelling as a catalyst to empathy and compassion across an inclusive human experience. Through their partnership, we are able to allocate funds where they are needed most and to focus our attention on strengthening our programs and developing new initiatives as we provide leadership to the fields of film, theater and new and interactive media.

  • The Annenberg Foundation has supported Sundance Institute since 2002. From 2004 - 2011, the Annenberg Foundation Feature Film Fellowship Program enabled more than 100 Sundance filmmakers from 16 countries to develop their projects, which include Beasts of the Southern Wild (Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin), Eagle Vs. Shark (Taika Waititi), Kinyarwanda (Alrick Brown), Treeless Mountain (So Yong Kim), and Sleepwalk With Me (Michael Birbiglia). Since 2012, the Foundation has made a tremendous impact on the independent artists we serve through our various Programs and Labs by generously supporting the Institute’s general operations.

  • Cinereach began supporting Sundance Institute in 2007. From 2009 - 2013, the Cinereach Project at Sundance Institute enabled 83 narrative and documentary filmmakers to advance their projects, including Fruitvale Station (Ryan Coogler), Mother of George (Andrew Dosunmu), These Birds Walk (Omar Mullick and Bassam Tariq), Rich Hill (Tracy Droz Tragos, Andrew Droz Palermo), and The Witch (Robert Eggers). In the spring of 2015, with the support of Cinereach, Sundance launched the Art of Nonfiction initiative, which continues to provide creative and financial support for nonfiction filmmakers employing inventive artistic practice in story, craft and form. The 2017 Fellows were Khalik Allah, Kitty Green, Kirsten Johnson, RaMell Ross, and Brett Story. Cinereach has also been a supporter of the Sundance Institute’s Creative Distribution Initiative and is a current participant in the Creative Producing Initiative.

  • In 2013, the Ray and Dagmar Dolby Fund established the Dolby Institute Fellowship at Sundance Institute. The Fellowship supports promising feature film projects in which sound plays an integral role in bringing the story to life. In 2013, Mike Cahill’s iOrigins was the first film chosen for the Dolby Family Sound Fellowship. Since then, the Dolby Fellowship provided support to Last Days in the Desert (Rodrigo Garcia) in 2014, and Hunt for the Wilderpeople (Taika Waititi) along with Swiss Army Man (Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert) in 2015.

  • In 2000, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF) created the Leading National Theatres Program Endowment, which provides enduring support for the Sundance Institute Theatre Program. In addition, DDCF supported the Feature Film Program’s Islamic Film Initiative from 2005 - 2013 through the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art (DDFIA). Over eight years the Initiative empowered 92 filmmakers from 20 countries from throughout the Middle East and North Africa to develop 89 feature-length films, including Amreeka andMay in the Summer (Cherien Dabis), The Attack (Ziad Douieri), Circumstance (Maryam Keshavarz), and Wadjda (Haifaa Al Mansour). Currently, DDFIA funds the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Arts’ Doris Duke New Frontier Fellowship, which supports immersive, exploratory, multidisciplinary projects that address Muslim cultures; as well as the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art Theatre Fellowship, which enables our Theatre Program to provide up to four US-based fellowships for artists from the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region from 2016 through 2018.

  • The Charles Engelhard Foundation is a generous contributor to the Institute’s Endowment and has supported the Documentary Film Program (DFP) since 2008. The funds provided by the Foundation enables us to strengthen and grow our DFP, respond to new opportunities, and explore new and effective means to increase the impact of documentaries in contemporary society.

  • Ford Foundation has supported Sundance Institute since 2000 and is a generous contributor to the Institute’s endowment. In 2005, the Foundation began supporting the Documentary Film Program (DFP) through their JustFilms Initiative. Ford Foundation currently supports DFP, the Native American and Indigenous Program, and the New Frontier Story Lab. Supported films include: E-Team (Katy Chevigny and Ross Kaufman), Marmato (Marc Grieco), and Private Violence (Cynthia Hill).

  • Piloted in 2013 with a generous grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Knight Fellows Project provides emerging filmmakers and related artists in eight of the Knight Foundation’s resident communities with new local programs modeled on Sundance Institute’s renowned residential Labs and successful one-day workshops. Each year, four artists from these communities are selected to attend the Sundance Film Festival as Knight Fellows. The 2016 Knight Fellows are Faren Humes (Miami, FL), Weaver/Invincible (Detroit, MI), Tiana LaPointe (St. Paul, MN), Tayarisha Poe (Philadelphia, PA).

  • Grants from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation have supported both international initiatives and the Documentary Film Program over the last 20 years. Since 2009, MacArthur Foundation has directly supported 26 projects that exemplify story, quality, diversity, and the transformative power of art through the journalistic lens. Supported films include Gideon’s Army (Dawn Porter), Reportero (Bernardo Ruiz), The Square (Jehane Noujaim), (T)error (Lyric Cabral), and Newtown (Kim A. Snyder).

  • The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has provided leadership support for the Sundance Institute Theatre Program for almost 20 years. The Mellon Foundation has enabled the development of dozens of new plays and musicals at the Theatre Program’s signature Labs and has helped to create a continuum of support for Theatre Fellows through Pre- and Post-Lab activities, including in-progress readings open to the public.

  • Led by Sundance Institute's Documentary Film Program, the Sundance Institute | Sandbox Fund is a partnership that offers grants, engagement events and other opportunities for independent artists seeking to explore the intrinsic link between science and culture through innovative storytelling. This partnership offers grant resources, engagement events, and other opportunities for independent artists seeking to uncover and explore through innovative storytelling the intrinsic link between science and culture. The partnership identifies and supports nonfiction projects that communicate science to general audiences in meaningful ways. Emphasis is placed on those that incorporate creative narrative techniques and highlight diversity in science, specifically those that feature characters, topics, or disciplines that broaden and redefine what it means to be a scientist or to do science.

  • As the founding supporter of the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program (DFP), The Open Society Foundations established the Sundance Documentary Fund in 2002. In addition, OSF’s China Program has supported the DFP’s annual workshop for Chinese documentary filmmakers in Beijing since 2011. Supported projects emphasize human rights, democracy, and social issues around the world, including: An African Spring (Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi), Out of State (Ciara Lacy), The Overnighters (Jesse Moss), and Rich Hill (Tracy Droz Tragos and Andrew Droz Palermo), the 2014 Sundance Film Festival Award Winner for Best Documentary (U.S.).

  • In 2007, Skoll Foundation and Sundance Institute established the Stories of Change Initiative which connects and creates community among social entrepreneurs and Sundance artists through the power of storytelling. Projects supported by the Stories of Change Initiative include Easy Like Water, Open Heart, Rafea: Solar Mama, The Revolutionary Optimists, and To Catch A Dollar. Learn More

  • The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has supported the Feature FIlm Program’s Science-in-Film Initiative since 2001. This Initiative includes the Alfred P. Sloan Commissioning Grant, the Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Feature Film Prize and the Science-in-FIlm Forum at the Sundance Film Festival. Sloan Prize winners include The Stanford Prison Experiment, I Origins, Computer Chess, Robot & Frank, Valley of Saints, Another Earth, Obselidia, Adam, Sleep Dealer, Dark Matter, House of Sand, Grizzly Man, Primer and Dopamine. At the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, Embrace of the Serpent,directed by Ciro Guerra was the recipient of the Sloan Science-in Film-Prize, Mark Levinson (The Gold Bug Variations) was awarded the Sundance Institute / Sloan Fellowship, and Darcy Brislin and Dyana Winkler (Bell) received the Sundance Institute / Sloan Commissioning Grants. Learn More

Sundance Institute gratefully acknowledges support received throughout the past year from the following foundations, which have helped sustain our ability to serve independent film and theatre artists in numerous ways.

  • Special support is provided by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences through two grants, which are made through the Academy’s Grants and Nicholl Fellowships programs. These support the Institute’s Native Filmmakers Lab and the Feature Film Program’s June Screenwriters Lab at the Sundance Resort.

  • In 2011, Bertha Foundation seeded the launch of the Creative Distribution Initiative. Bertha Foundation currently supports three fellows selected from our Documentary Film Program’s grantees whose projects shine a light on important issues and expose injustice.

  • Code Blue Foundation supports our Documentary Film Program’s efforts towards cultivating independent storytelling around environmental themes. Through these efforts, the Institute has been able to launch a new initiative for films and emerging media projects exploring stories related to the urgent need for action with regard to the environment, conservation and climate change.

  • Compton Foundation supports transformative leadership and courageous storytelling through its engagement with the Documentary Film Program, which it has supported since 2013.

  • Thanks to the support of The Max and Victoria Dreyfus Foundation, Sundance Institute’s Film Music Program has continued to offer innovative programming to showcase the art of music in film at the Sundance Film Festival, and to provide year-round support to Music and Sound Design Lab participants and alumni as they develop their careers in the field of film music.

  • The George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation has supported Sundance Institute programs and the Sundance Film Festival since 1987. The Foundation is currently the presenting sponsor for An Artist at the Table, the Institute’s annual opening night event at the Sundance Film Festival. The Foundation also supports community outreach programs, including the Sundance Institute | George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation Student Screenings Program, Filmmakers in the Classroom, Townie Tuesday, and Sundance Film Festival Community Outreach Programs.

  • Founded in 2001 by composer Elmer Bernstein, the Film Music Foundation has supported the Film Music Program since 2013, which aims to foster greater appreciation for film composition and greater diversity among artists who are pursuing film composition as a viable, sustainable career path and an opportunity to reach wide audiences.

  • Support from The Fledgling Fund enables us to plan expansively and strategically across the Institute, focusing our efforts where they will have tremendous impact on the independent artists we serve through our Programs and Labs.

  • Established in San Francisco in 1987, Gruber Family Foundation currently supports the Women Initiative.

  • The Carrie Louise Hamilton Foundation supports the Theatre Program’s signature Theatre Lab held at the Sundance Resort each July, which enables playwrights and other generative theatre artists to work on their plays with dramaturgs and actors over a period of three weeks, a length of time unmatched in the developmental theatre world.

  • The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) has generously supported the Feature Film Program’s Labs and mentorship opportunities for emerging international filmmakers since 1999. HFPA’s valued involvement has nurtured dozens of independent film projects from around the world, including The Lunchbox (Ritesh Batra, India), Wadjda (Haifaa Al Mansour, Saudi Arabia), Who Is Dayani Cristal? (Marc Silver, United Kingdom/Mexico), Partisan (Ariel Kleiman, Australia), and Mustang (Laure De Clermont-Tonnerre, France).

  • JL Foundation joined the Institute’s community of foundation supporters in 2014 and provides valuable general operating support for our work year-round.

  • W.K. Kellogg Foundation generously supports the Native American and Indigenous Program’s Full Circle Initiative, which focuses on developing Native and Indigenous youth filmmakers ages 18-24. Through workshops, Fellowships, and training opportunities for Tribal youth in New Mexico, Michigan, and the Sundance Film Festival, Full Circle links talented young storytellers to education and career pipelines across fields of independent filmmaking, using structural strategies where Native communities heal by telling their own stories.

  • The Kendeda Fund supports the nurturing of new independent films and storytellers, with a focus on the crucial issues of gun violence prevention and the environment.

  • LUMA Foundation is the founding supporter of the Sundance Institute | LUMA Foundation Theatre Program’s Directors Retreat, which takes place every August in Arles, France. 2015 will mark the Retreat’s third year hosting mid-career theatre directors in an environment that promotes creativity and interdisciplinary exchange.

  • Funding from the Joan and Lewis Platt Foundation provides Sundance Institute’s Documentary Film Program (DFP) with support to women and international documentary filmmakers through the Sundance Documentary Fund and Creative Documentary Labs.

  • The Promontory Foundation has supported Sundance Institute Utah Community Programs since 2011, including the annual outdoor Summer Film Series, which recently screened Twenty Feet from Stardom, The Battered Bastards of Baseball, Ping Pong Summer, and SLC Punk (viewer’s choice) .

  • The Ruderman Family Foundation, a leading international disability rights organization, has an unprecedented partnership with the 2020 Sundance Film Festival that represents the Festival’s public prioritization of the issue of disability inclusion. Sundance Institute is teaming with the Foundation to expand disability inclusion and diversity at this year’s Festival as well as during the entire year. The themes of inclusion and accessibility will be highlighted throughout the Festival’s programming. The generous support of the Ruderman Family Foundation allows the Festival to expand accessibility resources in theatres and official venues, providing audiences with disabilities the much needed capabilities to enjoy and experience the Festival programming, and activating all of the Artist Programs to deepen their creative and professional development engagement with artists with disabilities.

  • The Shubert Foundation, Inc. has been a valued supporter of Sundance Institute’s Theatre Program since 1997.