August 22, 2009

Sundance Doc Program Announces Grantees

The Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program announced the latest round of projects to receive grants and creative support from the Sundance Documentary Fund.  Out of a record 900 applicants from 61 countries, 15 feature documentary films in either development or in production/post-production will receive awards.

The funded films reflect a range of themes: post-Soviet societies in transition, American criminal justice, the intersections between poverty and the environment, and celebrations of creativity and freedom of expression. "The films funded today reflect the Sundance Documentary Film Program's belief that documentary storytellers are 'first responders' exploring the current global realities we all face,"
said Cara Mertes, director of the Program, in a statement. "Documentary film is gaining momentum as an international language of cross-cultural awareness and understanding. These artists are at the forefront of the movement."

Grants are announced twice a year and submissions are judged on their excellence in storytelling, artistic
treatment and innovation, global relevance and potential for social engagement. The film selection is juried by a panel of creative film professionals and human rights experts.


Regarding Susan Sontag  (Dir.: Nancy Kates; US)
Regarding Susan Sontag follows the life and work of the late author, critic, director, and activist.

Strong Island (Dir.: Yance Ford; US)
Strong Island is a personal investigation into the violent death of the directors'
brother and its devastating effect on her middle-class black family. 


All That Glitters  (Dir.: Tomáš Kudrna; Czech Republic / Kyrgyzstan)
For villagers of a small town in Kyrgyzstan, the unexpected effects of a massive Canadian gold-mining operation complicate understandings of the fall of communism.

An American Promise (Dirs.: Michèle Stephenson, Joe Brewster; US)
In a 12-year study, two African-American boys come of age as they attend an elite prep school in New York City, from kindergarten to high school graduation.

Âs Nutayuneân--We Still Live Here (Working Title)  (Dir.: Anne Makepeace; US)
The Wampanoag nation of southeastern Massachusetts revives their native tongue, a language that was silenced for more than 100 years.

Budrus Has a Hammer (Dir.: Julia Bacha; US/Israel/Palestinian Territories)
A Palestinian leader unites Fatah, Hamas and Israelis in an unarmed movement to save his village from destruction. Success eludes them until his 15-year-old daughter jumps into the fray.

Cesar's Last Fast (Dir.: Richard Ray Perez; US)
The private sacrifice and spiritual conviction behind Cesar Estrada Chavez's fight for justice and dignity for America's farm workers is linked to a new generation of organizers leading the charge for farm worker's rights today.

Cinema Jenin  (Dirs.: Marcus Vetter, Alex Bakri; Palestinian Territories/Israel/Germany)
A Fellini-esque documentary comedy unfolds as locals launch an initiative to reopen the only cinema in the city of Jenin in the West Bank.

Cooked (Dir.: Judith Helfand; US)
Out of the most traumatic heat wave in US history--when over 730 poor, elderly and African-American Chicago residents died in a single July week in 1995--comes a story about the politics of crisis, the specter of global warming, the long-term disaster called poverty and an inspired plan to address all three at once.

Crime after Crime  (Dir.: Yoav Potash; US)
A behind-bars look at women in prison and the troubled intersection of law enforcement and domestic violence.

Enemies of the People  (Dirs.: Rob Lemkin, S. Thet; UK/Cambodia)
A young journalist whose family was killed by the Khmer Rouge spends a decade making friends with the men and women who directed and perpetrated the Killing Fields. He finally understands the reasons behind his country's tragedy, but the truth comes at a price.

High Tech, Low Life (Working Title) (Dir.: Stephen Maing (US/China)
A young former vegetable seller inspired by a search for truth and the potential for fame travels the countryside reporting his observations and discoveries and unexpectedly becomes one of China's
first citizen reporters.

In a Town Called Oil City (Dirs.: Joe Wilson, Dean Hamer; US)
The announcement of the filmmaker's wedding to another man leads to a plea for help from a gay teen and a quest for change in the small Pennsylvania hometown he left long ago.

Russia's Pepsi Generation (Working Title) (Dir.: Robin Hessman; US/Russia)
Communism's crossover children adjust to their post-Soviet reality in Moscow today.

The Georgian Year  (Dir.: Nino Kirtadze; France/Georgia)
The Georgian Year takes an intimate look at a defining year for this young democracy, from the presidential elections in January 2008 to a state of chaos and war and the resulting aftermath. 

Reps from the Sundance Doc Institute travel to the UK next month for The Good Pitch UK, held September 7 and 8 at Amnesty International's East London Auditorium. The Good Pitch, launched in 2008 at BRITDOC to bring together social issue docs-in-progress with representatives from NGOs, foundations and the media to forege  alliances  around the films. The Good Pitch is a partnership between the Channel 4 BRITDOC Foundation, the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program and Working Films UK.

The following projects will be on the table at The Good Pitch UK:

After the Apocalypse (Dir.: Antony Butts)
A Very Dangerous Man (Dir.: Lesley Katon)
How to Re-Establish a Vodka Empire (Dir.: Dan Edelstyn)
Mass e Bhat (Dirs.: Hannan Majid, Richard York)
Casablanca Calling (Dir.: Rosa Rogers)
Moving to Mars (Dir.: Mat Whitecross)
Seventeen (Dir.: Morgan Matthews)
Town of Runners (Dir.: Jerry Rothwell)