Sundance-Documentary Film Support Program

The Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program provides year-round support to nonfiction contemporary-issue filmmakers internationally. The program encourages the exploration of innovative nonfiction storytelling, and promotes the exhibition of documentary films to a broader audience. It supports independent artists both domestically and internationally through the Sundance Documentary Fund, the Documentary Composers Laboratory and Edit and Story Laboratory, panels at the Filmmakers Lodge at the Sundance Film Festival and the Sundance Independent Producers Conference , and a variety of collaborative international documentary initiatives.

Sundance Documentary Fund

The Sundance Documentary Fund is a key program of the Documentary Film Program, dedicated to supporting U.S. and international documentary films that focus on current human rights issues, freedom of expression, social justice, civil liberties, and exploring critical issues of our time. The Documentary Fund was established at Sundance Institute in 2002 with a gift from the Open Society Institute and is supported by a leadership grant from the Ford Foundation.

Documentary Fund grants are announced 2-3 times a year and between 2002-2006, the Fund has disbursed almost $5.2 million to over 175 projects in 52 countries. In supporting such work, the Sundance Documentary Fund encourages the diverse exchange of ideas crucial to developing an open society, raising public consciousness about human rights abuses and restrictions of civil liberties, and fostering an ongoing dialogue about these issues.

SDF Grant Categories
The Documentary Fund now considers projects in four categories-Development, Production and Post-Production, Engagement* and Impact.*

Development grants provide seed funds to filmmakers whose projects are in the early research or pre-production stage. Grant award is up to $20,000. A previous directing sample is required. (If no directing sample is available, a creative visual work indicating the director’s artistic point of view and storytelling ability is required).

Production and Post-Production grants provide funds to filmmakers in various stages of the production and post-production stages. Applications should include at least 20 continuously edited material. Longer cuts and fine cuts can be submitted if available. If you are early in production and have a trailer or selected scenes that are shorter in length than 20 minutes, please contact DFP staff to determine whether your material is sufficient to submit a formal application.

*Engagement grants are awarded to innovative distribution and audience engagement strategies. Available to previous grantees only.

*Impact grants support on-going work on the issues by the filmmakers. By invitation only.

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