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2018 Documentary Short Film Fund - FAQs


Who is eligible?
  • 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 you 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 is required to pitch?
  • 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
How long should the finished documentaries be?
  • Approximately 15-30 minutes      
Can I pitch a trimmed down version of a longer piece?
  • Yes – as long as it is an independent standalone short film with all global rights available and the short can be released before the longer film
Must the film be in English?
  • No – but subtitles are required.
What kind of exclusivity do you ask for?
  • Online premiere, minimum of 30 day exclusive premiere window
  • Film teams are solely responsible for understanding premiere status requirements for future distribution, broadcast, or award eligibility for alternative versions of their project using the same footage
What must I provide as final deliverables?
  • Texted and textless version of the film
  • Insurance for the film
  • Music and archive clearance for online international – The Guardian music and archive libraries available for a limited number of clips free of charge
  • English language subtitles delivered as closed captions document
Do you offer any additional funding beyond the grant?
  • No – You are required to find outside funding sources
Do you offer any promotion for the finished film?
  • Yes – We’ll collaborate with the filmmaker to create a custom promotional strategy around the publication of the short film in order to reach the widest audience possible.
  • The filmmaker can provide additional material built around the film to bolster its marketing and social media campaigns, such as production stills and promotional/outreach contacts
  • The Guardian will offer promotion across all their social media channels
  • The Guardian will also submit the project to festivals and awards where relevant and we welcome collaboration on festival strategy
What are some examples of stories that you have supported?

To see all Guardian documentaries visit
Sundance Institute and the Guardian have previously collaborated on these documentaries:
The Sprinter Factory, The Fight and Erica: Man Made
How do I apply?
  • All applications must be received Online through
  • Indicate if you have submitted same pitch to another platform.
How many projects will be supported?
  • Up to 5 projects will be selected for financial and creative support
How much funding will be provided per project?
  • Non-recoupable grants up $25,000/per project
  • Grant amount will be determined by project scale and scope
Application Deadline:
  • May 14th, 2018
Still have questions?
  • Email Hajnal Molnar-Szakacs, Film Fund Director, Sundance Institute at
  • For technical issues related to the application please contact