Where it all started?
During his countryside visit, Robert Redfort came across a majestic remote landscape “Provo Canyon”. Inspired by its wilderness and serenity Robert considered it an ideal location for practicing the art of storytelling and filmmaking.
He bought five thousand acres of this land and named it Sundance. Later he opened Sundance Mountain Resort here for public access.
Established in 1980, the Sundance institute provided a platform for the young, enthusiastic storytellers and independent artists to polish their skills. Robert gathered his colleagues and arranged the very first meeting to ensure if Sundance could nurture independent film making and help promote its growth in the future.
- Sterling Van Wagenen as Executive Director,
- Director of Film Development Programs Jenny Walz Selby
- Director of Development Jon Lear
- Frank Daniel as Artistic Director
In 1981 the first Sundance lab of its own kind was conducted.15 independent filmmakers experimented and presented their ideas to the jury. Sydney Pollack and Waldo Salt motivated young filmmakers to put forward their unique ideas using creative and unconventional storytelling methods.
El Norte was the first film launched from this platform in 1983. It portrayed the struggle of unregistered Guatemala immigrants to settle down in the United States. This engaging and soul-stirring film was nominated for best writing in Academy Awards.
After a series of successful films, this independent film institute gained both recognition and audience.
In 1985 to reach out for more young and bright minds Sundance took the next big step. This led to the arrangement of the first film festival now known as the Sundance film festival.
From independent artists, filmmakers, festival volunteers, employees to festival attendees, Sundance is a huge community of diverse participants and art connoisseurs.
There are two film institutes in Utah, one is the parent organization and the second is its affiliated Park City film institute located in Silver Creek, Park City. At present Sundance Institute staff is comprised of 128 hardworking and dedicated individuals working on the mission to support the innovative and original ideas of new independent artists.
To gain the professional insight of senior Sundance artists, Sundance institute initiated the Artist Trustees program in 2003. The following are the names of most esteemed Sundance alumni artists whose guidance helps the organization to outgrow the conventional filmmaking methods.
- Ritesh Batra
- Ryan Coogler
- Lisa Kron
- Lynette Wallworth
Opportunities at Sundance
Today the influence of this non-profit organization has attracted a huge base of domestic and international independent filmmakers. With diverse filmmaking programs taking place every year, Sundance exposes emerging artists to the creative dimension of filmmaking and original storytelling.
Sundance Institute internship program provides a chance for trainees to explore their respective interests in diverse genres of the independent film industry. This also introduces them to the organization’s healthy culture. Hence making sure every intern learns to work with the experienced artists on a professional platform by sharing their own ideas at their internship at Sundance.
Programs at Sundance Institute
Various programs conducted by Sundance Institute throughout the year include:
Feature Film Program
Initiated 35 years ago, Feature Film program promotes cultural and artistic influences on independent film making. The vibrant and distinctive voices of new filmmakers are conveyed through the creative feature film program arranged every June and July. Few of the 400 most impactful feature films released so far include:
- Lulu Wang’s The Farewell
- Joe Talbot’s The Last Black Man in San Francisco
- Paul Downs Colaizzo’s Brittany Runs a Marathon
- Pippa Bianco’s Share
- Boots Riley’s Sorry to Bother You
In 2002 documentary film program was launched in cooperation with Open Society Foundations to support the production of Non-fiction movies. This program invites new filmmakers to experiment and learn under the supervision of the filmmaking community of experienced non-fiction storytellers. Latest projects include the following Sundance movies:
- Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Look of Silence
- Laura Poitras’ CITIZENFOUR
- Feras Fayyad’s Last Men In Aleppo
- RaMell Ross’ Hale County This Morning
- This Evening
- Kirsten Johnson’s Cameraperson
- Yance Ford’s Strong Island
- Raoul Peck’s I Am Not Your Negro
Fiction, Nonfiction, and dynamic storytelling are offered under the New Frontier program. The new frontier Exhibition has been taking place since 2007. Every year it invites young artists belonging to the field of Arts, Music, Media, Live Performance and technology to engage in the most rigorous learning techniques and helps promote their skills. New Frontier Story Lab Program takes place during May every year.
Film Music program intends to diversify the field of arts and music by inviting young music composers and directors to take part in the film music lab. For 2019 intake, The film music program is currently accepting applications.
Indigenous Film Program
Merata Mita Scholarship and Full Circle scholarships are arranged under the Indigenous Film Program. Prodigies having unique ideas are invited to share their outlook and polish their skills here.
Sundance Institute ParkCity, Utah has an old history of supporting theater programs in the United States. Taking place every interim the purpose of theater program is to support, motivate and nurture theater-development at domestic and international levels.
Wondering if Sundance theater just the right place for you? Learn more about the Application submission criteria.
No skill parallels the passion-driven hard work, Sundance Institute believes in refining the young talent. In Creative Producing Labs latest technological equipment is employed under the supervision of world-class producers. Unfortunately, applications for 2019 are now closed.
Creative Distributive initiative helps the young storytellers learn new techniques to bridge the gap between the audience and themselves. Fundings are provided for the new storytellers to kick start their career.
The episodic program offers artists the most optimal tools and training grounds to develop engaging story plots. There are multiple workshops and labs dedicated to this program.
To keep a steady pace with the latest storytelling and filmmaking requirements Ignite program was launched in collaboration with Adobe in 2015. Ignite intends to provide the right culture to nourish young minds having potential.
Catalyst is an initiative to connect the funders with the innovative projects of the Sundance Institute. Catalyst has helped in raising $28 million during the last six years through documentaries and feature films.
Women at Sundance
All programs at Sundance offer a vast variety of Sundance institute jobs. Whereas Women at Sundance provides an exclusive opportunity to all working ladies to explore their potential in the film-making industry.
Current Openings at Sundance Institute
Among the recent deadlines following artist opportunities at Sundance Institute are open:
- 2020 Merata Mita Fellowship for Indigenous Artists – The last date to submit the application is October 28, 2019, at 11:59 p.m. MST.
- 2020 Theater Lab will be accepting applications on Oct 1, 2019, at 10:00 (MDT), and the deadline is Nov 1, 2019, at 15:00 (MDT).
- BBC world service\Sundance Nonfiction Audio Collaboration under the documentary category has announced the initial deadline of 13th November 2019 for the Application submission.
- 2020 Episodic Makers Lab portal is open for new applications from Oct 9, 2019, 11:00 (MDT)to Nov 13, 2019, 19:00 (MST).
- To check the eligibility criteria for the Documentary fund program, all instructions are available at the official site page.
- Preservation Fund provides $500-5000 grants for the short films and documentaries. Applications for preservation funds are now open.
Sundance Film Festival
Sundance Festival has spread its network at four major locations, Salt Lake City, ParkCity, Utah and Sundance Mountain Resort.
Sundance has always worked towards establishing grounds for young talent and independent artists to speak their minds through their art. Sundance international festival is of 10 days.
To promote innovative independent movie production and motivate young artists to excel in their careers, Sundance Awards ceremonies take place at the end of every festival.