2021 Documentary Fund Summer Cycle
Welcome to the application for the Sundance Institute Documentary Fund.
This application is also used for consideration for the following funds:
Sundance Institute | Kendeda Fund
Sundance Institute | Sandbox Fund
We appreciate your time and effort toward the application process, and we salute you on your independent filmmaking journey.
The deadline for the 2021 Documentary Fund Summer grant cycle is Monday, February 8, at 4:30 p.m. MT. Filmmakers who submit applications by then will hear back from us on our decisions by the end of July.
In a changing media landscape, the Sundance Institute Documentary Fund has been a stable, progressive force in supporting work that has expressed the world in creative, complex, beautiful, and provocative ways, and has created real cultural and social impact around some of the most pressing issues of our time. Recently supported films have included Always in Season; American Factory; Crip Camp; The Edge of Democracy; Of Fathers and Sons; Hale County This Morning, This Evening; Minding the Gap; The Mole Agent; and Softie.
The Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program supports independent nonfiction films with budgets under $1,000,000 USD.
Creative and editorial control must be held by members of the films’ key creative teams.
For United States productions, we prioritize films led by artists from historically underrepresented communities. Projects that focus on historically underrepresented communities must have a key creative from the community or with deep ties to the community in a power-holding position represented on the team.
For international productions, we prioritize films led by artists from Africa, China, India, Latin America, and the Middle East. Indigenous artists globally and artists from the above regions who are living in the diaspora are also prioritized.
Applicants may submit at any production phase from development through post-production. All proposals must convey some vision for a finished film. Projects that have not yet secured characters or subjects, are unable to articulate a story or structure, or are unable to explain the project's driving central question are discouraged. We are unable to consider proposals for story research. You do not need any prior funding or a fiscal sponsor in order to apply.
Once your film premieres, we are unable to provide post-production funding support. We therefore encourage applicants to apply at least six months before an anticipated premiere. Picture-locked cuts are also ineligible for post-production funding.
WHAT WILL I NEED IN ORDER TO APPLY?
Line-item budget (sample budget: Excel)
Completed previous directing sample (any length or genre)—optional
Current sample or rough cut (required for production and post-production applications)
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER I APPLY?
Applications go through a multi-stage review, with selected submissions sent for Sundance Institute Documentary Fund committee consideration. The committee meets to make recommendations regarding which projects are funded. Proposals to the Sundance Institute Documentary Fund are evaluated on several criteria, including artful film language, engaging storytelling, originality, feasibility, contemporary cultural relevance, journalistic rigor (where applicable), and potential to reach and connect with its intended audience. The Documentary Fund prioritizes funding films from early career and emerging artists. To that end, film teams’ experience level and access to resources, both financial and creative, is taken into consideration. Incomplete applications cannot be reviewed.
Award decisions typically take four to seven months. Please do not contact us to inquire about your status, as we can not provide status updates. You will be notified directly via email once a decision has been made. We periodically announce new grantees throughout the year, and those press releases are not notifications.
You may send any significant updates to email@example.com. However, due to the volume of projects that we receive, the Documentary Film Program does not guarantee that updates will be incorporated into the project’s review.
WHAT IF I HAVE QUESTIONS OR PROBLEMS?
If you have additional questions about the Documentary Fund application procedures, please see the Sundance Institute Documentary Fund FAQ. For technical issues related to SurveyMonkey Apply, please contact FRsupport@sundance.org.
HOW DO I START MY APPLICATION?
Go to the online application portal and sign up for an account, or log in with an existing one.
Log in and select "2021 Documentary Fund: Summer Grant Cycle."