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2018 Documentary Short Film Fund

With support from John D. And Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Sundance Institute’s Documentary Film and Native American and Indigenous Programs have partnered on a short film fund aimed at finding, nurturing and elevating documentary stories from Native and Indigenous storytellers from around the world. Non-recoupable grants of up to $25,000USD will be awarded to support up to 5 projects that will have the opportunity to launch on The Guardian’s video platform. Situated at the intersection of journalism and documentary film, this partnership aims to encourage a wider range of independent storytellers to make short films of deep emotional engagement for broad impact on mainstream news media as well as the culture at large.
* ‘Indigenous’ includes First Peoples, Native, First Nations and Aboriginal peoples who belong to; or who have had an uninterrupted relationship with their land.* This is distinct from those people who have arrived from another place to live in a country.
Application       The application for the 2018 Documentary Short Film Fund is currently accepting submissions.
Deadline              May 14, 2018
  • Projects with at least one Native and Indigenous Key Creative (Director or Creative Producer) globally (ie. Native American/Native Alaskan/Pacific Islander/First Nations/Maori/Australian Aboriginal/Sami/other Indigenous communities)
  • Directors at any career stage with at least 1 completed short film that premiered at an international film festival or online platform
  • Filmmakers known and unknown to The Guardian and Sundance Institute
What are we looking for?
  • Journalistic approaches to accessible and urgent stories of topical, contemporary issues that have not been told
  • New perspectives to The Guardian’s audience
  • Underrepresented stories and filmmakers
  • Stories that can be effectively told in a short format (15-30 minutes)
  • Stories that are relevant and resonate with global audiences
  • Character driven stories with a clear narrative arc and character journeys that go beyond portraiture.
  • Stories and characters that surprise you, ignite your curiosity and teach you something about the world
  • Stories that offer hope, redemption and have a clear sense of purpose
  • Projects at all stages of production – secured access to subjects and location required
  • Verite led filmmaking, with diverse representation in front of the camera
  • High production value and sound quality
What will I need in order to apply?
  • 1-2 page treatment detailing:
    • What is the story and structure? Provide an overview of your story, introducing the main characters and plot points. Describe narrative trajectory or potential story arcs for your subjects.
    • What is your artistic approach?
  • Confirmed access to characters and story
  • Key Creative Team Biographies  – Director and a Producer must be attached ( Director and producer must have a Producer’s agreement or MOU in place)
  • Timeline – project must have a clear schedule to complete within 1 year of granting
  • Film Budget – line item budget detailing project costs from development through distribution
  • Trailer / Visual Sample
  • Prior Work Sample
  • References

What happens after I apply?
Notifications will not be made on a rolling basis. Please do not contact the office to request status updates. Due to the high volume of applications, we do not provide any feedback.
What if I have questions?
Find answers to more FAQ.
If you have additional questions about the 2018 Documentary Short Film Fund, please email Hajnal Molnar-Szakacs, Film Fund Director, Sundance Institute at
Application Process
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