23 projects from 21 countries are supported by the Sundance Institute Documentary Fund. Projects announced today will receive an unconditional $ 540,000 grant from funding made possible by the Open Society Foundations and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
"At a time of mutual crisis, it is important that Sundance continue its unwavering support for artists around the world," said Carrie Lozano, director of the documentary program, in a press release. "These films creatively assert our common tasks, conditions and resilience by questioning notions of individual and collective power."
"Creative support for non-fiction storytellers is particularly urgent right now," added Hajnal Molnar-Szakacs, director of the Documentary Film Fund. "These documentary filmmakers help us understand our collective history and reality, and through innovative approaches to various topics, help us envision a collective future."
The full list of grants can be found below.
Breaking the Brick (Chile), you. Carola Fuentes, Rafael Valdeavellano, Prod. Rafael Valdeavellano, Carola Fuentes. After half a century under the Chicago Boys' neoliberal economic model in Chile, a jaded crowd is rising across the country calling for economic and social change. The awakening of the Chilean citizens and the death of a model.
The illusion of an eternal summer (Argentina), you. Alessandra Sanguinetti, Prod. Julia Solomonoff, Lúcia Reis. This intimate portrait of two girls, whose everyday lives, fantasies and dreams span more than 20 years, explores their realities and inequalities when they grew up as women in rural Argentina.
King Coal (USA), you. Elaine McMillion Sheldon, Prod. Molly Born. A lyrical essay from Paradise Lost and a series of surreal documentary vignettes explore how coal is embedded in the Appalachian identity and human experience. King Coal documents the cultural expressions that reveal the intricate relationship with the region's once dominant industry and uses elements of magical realism to rediscover a lost dream for the region. By exploring identity, King Coal serves as a visual reminder of why change is slow and painful.
Mija (USA)to you. Isabel Castro, Prod. Tabs Breese. Doris is a 26-year-old music manager who works to launch the career of Chicanx pop stars while managing the emotional and financial instability of her family's weak legal status.
Mother Vera (UK), you. Cécile Embleton, Alys Tomlinson, Prod. Laura Shacham. Set in a hidden Orthodox community in Belarus, this film takes us on a poetic journey that follows the story of the enigmatic Sister Vera, whose life has shifted dramatically from addiction and rebellion to redemption and transcendence. Vera now faces a devastating incurable disease and is devoted to the community that saved her.
Untitled Michael Premo Film (USA), dir. Michael Premo, details TBA.
Witnesses from the shadows (France, Mali, South Africa), you. Ousmane Samassekou, Prod. Estelle Robin Sie, Andrey S. Diarra, Don Edkins, Tiny Mungwe. There is a house on the border with the Sahel zone, a safe haven for African migrants on their way to Europe or home. How do you prepare to meet your family when you go home with nothing and leave your dreams behind?
Cut through rocks (Iran), you. Sara Khaki, Mohammad Reza Eyni, Prod. Sara Khaki, Mohammad Reza Eyni, details TBA. Hakuchu Munyata (Peru), dir. Augusto Zegarra Pineda-Arce, Prod. Claudia Chavez, Paloma Iturriaga. A young indigenous man tries to save a language from extinction. Fernando is an independent voice over artist from Cusco, Peru who dreams of dubbing TheLion King into Quechua, the language of the Incas. If he pursues this dream with his son Dylan, he will reevaluate his own identity and role as a father.
Hummingbirds (USA), you. Silvia Castaños, Estefanía “Beba” Contreras, Miguel Drake-McLaughlin, Diane Ng, Ana Rodriguez-Falco and Jillian Schlesinger Leslie Benavides, Miguel Drake-McLaughlin, Ana Rodriguez-Falco and Jillian Schlesinger. In this uniquely collaborative coming-of-age film, inseparable best friends Silvia and Beba emerge at night to escape the gruesome summer heat of their Texas border town and wander the empty streets in search of inspiration, adventure and a sense of belonging. When forces beyond their control threaten their shared dreams and face an uncertain future, they take a stand and hold on to what they can – the moment and each other.
Kamay (Afghanistan), you. Shahrokh Bikaran, Ilyas Yourish, prod. Ilyas Yourish, Shahrokh Bikaran. After a young girl from the mountains of central Afghanistan mysteriously committed suicide at the University of Kabul, the quiet country life of her family turns into a painful and stressful process. Parents are now seeking justice in one of the world's most corrupt justice systems, while Freshta – their younger daughter – seeks admission to the same university to complete what her sister had started.
Mother of the Ring (China), you. Yue Wu, Prod. Vincent Du. A Chinese professional boxer confronts the social expectations of being a mother, wife, and daughter-in-law, and tries to keep her career on track as she raises her son and trains for championships.
There was, there wasn't (Republic of Artsakh) you. Emily Mkrtichian, Prod. Mara Adina. In the de facto republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, a painter is working on a series of transformative portraits of four women: a politician, an Olympic athlete, an activist for domestic violence and a woman who disarms landmines from war. In the middle of her project, a war breaks out that changes the life course of every woman. From the picking up of weapons at the front to the escape from their homes as refugees, this film traces in detail the effects of the war on these four women – and the effects of art after the war.
WarPlay (Sweden), you. Hemen Kurda, Prod. Hanna Sköld. A young refugee boy and an exiled filmmaker work together to create truthful images of war and marginalization based on childhood memories of terror and the current situation among thousands of tents in an Iraqi refugee camp. Refugee children use the camera as a means of communication to re-enact terror, heal trauma, make peace and create new dreams.
76 days (USA, China), you. Hao Wu, Weixi Chen, anonymous. prod. Hao Wu, Jean Tsien. Set in the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak, this raw and intimate documentary captures the struggles and human resilience in the struggle to survive the pandemic in Wuhan, China.
An act of worship (USA), you. Nausheen Dadabhoy, Prod. Heba Elorbany, Kristi Jacobson, Sofian Khan. An act of worship is an exploration of the past 20 years of Muslim life in America. Interweaving today's Vérité material from activists who came of age after September 11th with material sourced from Muslim communities across the country, the film captures and opens up key moments in US history from the Muslim perspective Window into your world Collective memory. That is what it means to be a Muslim in America.
After Sherman (USA), you. Jon-Sesrie Goff, Prod. Jon-Sesrie Goff, Madeleine Hunt-Ehrlich, Blair Dorosh-Walther. After Sherman is a story about the legacy and tension that defines our collective American history. The film explores the South Carolina coast as a site of pride and racial trauma through Gullah culture retention and land protection.
Feyatey (Ethiopia, USA), dir. Jessica Beshir, Prod. Jessica Beshir. Feyatey is the hymn book sung by Oromo farmers during the harvest of khat, a mild narcotic leaf that has been chewed for centuries by Sufi Muslims for religious meditation, and is the most lucrative cash harvest in Ethiopia today. Feyatey is a spiritual journey through the rituals of the khat world, weaving a carpet of intimate stories to provide a glimpse into the hopes and aspirations of the youth living under a repressive regime.
If we're on fire (Hong Kong), you. Lynn Lee, James Leong, Prod. Lynn Lee, James Leong. An urgent, haunting trip to Hong Kong's leaderless protests against democracy and a meditation on what it means to resist.
Love in the time of fentanyl (USA, Canada), you. Colin Askey, Prod. Monika Navarro, Robinder Uppal, Marc Serpa Francoeur and Colin Askey. A group of outsiders, artists and drug users operate a rogue safe injection site in Vancouver's downtown Eastside. Love in the Fentanyl Time is an intimate portrait of a community struggling to save lives and keep hope alive in a neighborhood hit by the overdose crisis.
The miracle of Almeria (Belgium), you. Moon Blaisse, Prod. Emmy Oost, Katja Draaijer, Louis Mataré and David Fonjallaz. The legal and illegal residents of Almeria, the largest vegetable patch in Europe, are working together to expose the system of violence behind our tomatoes.
Museum of the Revolution (Serbia, Croatia, Czech Republic), dir. Srđan Keča, Prod. Vanja Jambrović, Srđan Keča. A little girl and an old lady live in the remnants of an abandoned utopian project and develop an improbable and wondrous friendship. If the city erases the spaces in which they live, childhood dreams are threatened with an end.
A night of ignorance (India, France), you. Payal Kapadia, Prod. Thomas Hakim, Ranabir Das. Details TBA.