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Sundance Doc Fund Chooses 20 Projects

By Tamara Krinsky

The Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program has announced its latest round of grantees. 20 film projects out of the almost 800 submitted were awarded financial and creative support from the Sundance Documentary Fund. The group includes six first-time feature documentary filmmakers as well as familiar names such as Thomas Allen Harris, Pamela Yates, Edet Belzberg and Macky Alston.

Cara Mertes, Director of the Sundance Documentary Film Program, said in a statement, “The films funded in this round tell stories of perseverance and dignity in the face of our  world's greatest contemporary challenges. From journalists and lawyers who take on international war criminals, to a small American town confronting its own homophobia, nonfiction storytellers are leading us down new paths as we search for common ground.”

The next deadline for submission to the Sundance Institute Documentary Fund is February 9, 2009.  

Here’s the full list of projects:

Elinyisia Mosha
This film explores the impact of foreign direct investment in the filmmakers native Tanzania.

Priya Giri Desai and  Ann S. Kim
At the Y.R. Gaitonde Centre for AIDS Research and Education (YRG CARE) clinic in Chennai, India, Dr. Solomon and her staff launch a matrimonial matchmaking service for their positive patients.

Tina DiFeliciantonio and Jane C. Wagner
SEEKING REFUGE (U.S.)                                                                        
At the Bellevue Hospital Center N.Y.U. Program for Survivors of Torture, three patients from around the world come together in a journey of healing.

Marianna Kaat
THE PIT (Estonia/Ukraine)                                                                                    
Once prosperous during the Soviet era, the small town of Snezhnoje in East Ukraine now lives in poverty. The town’s desperate residents decide to start mining on their own.

Macky Alston
THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE (U.S.)                                                      
An openly gay bishop from New Hampshire travels to London, where the Anglican Communion will decide to either retain or split gay leadership from their ranks.

Patricio Guzman
NOSTALGIA DE LA LUZ (Chile/France)                                   
In the desert of North Chile, astronomers study the ancient universe above, while women search below for signs of their family members disappeared under Pinochet’s dictatorship of 1973.

Mahmoud Al Massad
THIS IS MY PICTURE WHEN I WAS DEAD (Jordan)                                               
This is a film that artfully imagines the future of a four-year old boy who almost died in the assassination of his PLO lieutenant father 25 years ago.

Lynn True and Nelson Walker, with Tsering Perlo
A NOMAD'S LIFE  (U.S./Tibet)                                                                            
In the mountains of Tibet, Locho and Yama struggle to maintain their family and way of life, and to reconcile their nomadic traditions amidst rapid modernization.

Andrew Berends
DELTA BOYS (U.S./Nigeria)                                                                                             
In the oil rich Niger Delta, Chima is a 21-year-old who is swept into the world of armed militants after a prison break. His story is part of a complex tale of oil, power, poverty and corruption.

Petr Lom
LETTERS TO THE PRESIDENT (U.S./Iran)                                                    
Across Iran, villagers share their hopes and fears through letters to President Ahmadinejad and his Presidential Letter Writing Center.

Mona Nicoara
OUR SCHOOL (Romania)                                                                         
Roma children struggle to break the barriers of segregation in a small Transylvanian school. Rejected by teachers, they find strength in the friendship of Romanian classmates.

Joe Wilson and Dean Hamer
OUT  IN THE SILENCE (U.S.)                                                                 
The filmmaker's same-sex wedding announcement in the local newspaper ignites a firestorm of controversy in his rural Pennsylvania hometown.

Eric Daniel Metzgar
REPORTER (U.S./Congo)                         
New York Times journalist Nicholas Kristof  journeys into the crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo, inviting a consideration of the future of journalism.

Danae Elon
THE EVIL TONGUE (U.S.)                                                                                  
In the Orthodox Jewish family, those affected by sexual molestation may be unable to disclose the information to secular authorities.

Pamela Yates
THE RECKONING (U.S.)                                                                          
The film chronicles the history and launch of the International Criminal Court in the Hague, the world’s first institution created to prosecute individuals for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.

Edet Belzberg
WATCHERS OF THE SKY (U.S.)                                                                       
Drawing from Samantha Power’s book "A Problem from Hell" four exceptional visionaries traverse time and continents to explore the world's response to genocide.

Oren Jacoby
This film uncovers the backroom maneuvering during the waning days of the Bush Administration which led to the unprecedented and illegal firing of U.S. Attorneys David Iglesias, John McKay and three of their colleagues.

Samba Gadjigo and Jason Silverman
The story of independent filmmaker Senegal's Ousmane Sembene, providing an alternate history of contemporary Africa and a window into world cinema.

Thomas Wallner
THE GUANTANAMO TRAP (Canada/Germany)                                             
Murat Kurnaz, born in Germany of Turkish heritage, was detained, tortured at the U.S. military base in Kandar, Afghanistan and in the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and held for five years. This is his story.

Thomas Allen Harris
Using an experimental approach, Harris shows how black communities use photography and imagery to construct political, aesthetic, and cultural representations of themselves in the world.