Sundance Institute & Special Women’s Endowment

by Elisabeth Sereda June 27, 2018
Sundance Institute

HFPA Grantee

The mission of the Sundance Institute International Initiative – especially at the beginning – sounded simpler than its execution ever was. The goal: to enhance the global filmmaking landscape by supporting international independent film artists through a continuum of production. But today their statistics are impressive: over 1,000 filmmakers got their start in the business since the Institute was founded. International artists represent over 25 percent of the Fellows in the lab programs, 30 percent are artists of color and approximately 40 percent are women. And all of the produced films find theatrical or digital distribution.

The HFPA grant supports the Institute’s Feature Film Labs (FFP), which serve about 30 Fellows in a series of training and advancement opportunities. Among them: a January Screenwriters five-day Lab, which provides 12 Fellows with mentoring and intensive script development support from 30 noted screenwriters; a spring 26-day Directors Lab, which helps 8-10 Fellows  develop their scripts for production and refine their directing skills through hands-on opportunities to rehearse, shoot and edit scenes with professional actors under the guidance of 40 directors, screenwriters, cinematographers, and editors; a June Screenwriters Lab that provides 12 new Fellows with mentoring and intensive script development support; a Music and Sound Design Lab at Skywalker Sound – Feature Film, 15 days in July-August at Skywalker Ranch, CA, which enables eight director Fellows and six composer Fellows to work with professional composers on the music and sound design for their films; a Creative Producing Lab in July-August that provides six-seven emerging producers with production training; and the Creative Producing Summit for three days in August attended by a total of 40 Feature Film Program and Documentary Fellows.

It should be noted that the FFP is the only major American film development program that provides a full range of support for independent filmmakers from across the U.S. and around the world.

At the Women Breaking Barriers panel last January, the HFPA bestowed a special $50.000 grant that goes towards the Sundance Institute Women’s programs. “This means so much to everyone at Sundance, you have supported us for so many years with international filmmakers,” said executive director Keri Putnam: “But supporting women has always been very meaningful for us and to have your help in this, is extraordinary.”


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