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CFAs: Documentary Fund Grant Program

The Sundance Institute is currently accepting applications for Documentary Fund Grant Program to support nonfiction filmmakers worldwide in the production of cinematic documentaries on contemporary themes.

Established in 2002 with founding support from Open Society Foundations, the program is a vibrant global resource for independent nonfiction storytelling.

The Sundance Institute Documentary Fund supports the work of nonfiction filmmakers from around the globe. In a changing media landscape, the 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 the time. They are proud to sit at the center of this burgeoning creative field with the Documentary Fund, which offers (non-recoupable) support for nonfiction projects that continue to elevate and advance cultural dialogue and break new ground in creativity and innovation. In its ongoing search for artists and projects to support, the Documentary Fund is seeking filmmakers with a distinct voice and vision, and a meaningful connection to the work they create. They are especially keen to raise the voices of underserved or underrepresented communities from around the world in the service of building a more fair, free, and open society.

The Documentary Film Program (DFP) believes nonfiction filmmaking is a collaborative art form. They provide artist-centered, process-driven support in the form of creative labs that support directors, producers, and editors. DFP currently hosts the Documentary Producers Lab annually in the summer. Labs are unique residential workshops that provide catalytic support for feature nonfiction projects and producers in production and post-production. Following the lab, projects receive ongoing customized creative and strategic support throughout the life of a project.

Funding Information
  • The Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program (DFP) prioritizes support for independent nonfiction films with budgets under $1 million in U.S. dollars. 
Project Eligibility 
  • The Sundance Institute Documentary Fund supports projects that are feature-length documentaries (52 minutes and longer). Hybrid/animated and experimental documentaries are eligible to apply. They do not fund:
    • Fiction films
    • Short films
    • Series
    • NGO films
    • Advocacy films
    • Educational films
    • Branded content
Eligibility Criteria
  • Creative and editorial control must be held by members of the films’ key creative teams.
  • In the funding they continue to uplift productions led by artists from communities that have been traditionally marginalized (e.g., artists who identify as BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and people with disabilities), unearthing historically underrepresented narratives. They remain committed to elevating voices beyond the borders, celebrating the rich diversity of filmmaking traditions around the world. The current international priorities are artists living and working in regions that lack a robust infrastructure of support for independent film, regions of conflict, and countries where freedom of expression is under threat. Awards are made regardless of citizenship status.
  • Applicants may submit at any production phase from development through post-production. All proposals must convey some vision for a finished film. Projects should have secured characters or subjects, be able to articulate a story or structure, and be able to explain the project’s driving central question. They welcome applications with aesthetic and storytelling traditions from all over the world and are not bound to specific themes or issues. Hybrid and experimental documentaries are eligible to apply. They are unable to consider proposals for story research. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed. You do not need any prior funding or a fiscal sponsor in order to apply.
  • Once your film premieres, they are unable to provide post-production funding support. They therefore encourage applicants to apply at least eight months before an anticipated premiere. Picture-locked cuts are also ineligible for post-production funding.
  • They accept resubmissions only when your project has advanced considerably in storytelling vision and intent, preferably at a later stage of production. They discourage more than three applications to the Documentary Fund over the life of a project. Projects that have previously received a grant through the Documentary Fund are not eligible to apply for additional funding through this open call. 

For more information, visit Sundance Institute

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