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Documentary Fund

Sundance Documentary Fund and Awards are a core component of the Documentary Film Program (DFP). The Fund provides creative and financial support to cinematic, feature documentaries from independent filmmakers globally. We provide $1M-$2M in non-recoupable financing annually across all stages of development, production, post-production, and strategic audience engagement. Films supported have included Why We Fight; Trouble the Water; Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry; The Queen of Versailles; Powerless; Concerning Violence; Invisible War; and The Square.

Our submission deadlines are February and July each year. Complemented by invitation-only opportunities, the Fund reviews 1,500-2,000 proposals annually, awarding 50-60 grants to filmmakers around the world. When appropriate, select submissions are supported by subject-area experts from the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, Center for Constitutional Rights, Human Rights Watch, International Center for Transitional Justice, Open Society Foundations and others to illuminate critical context vital to a thorough understanding of complex global issues. A final committee of leading film creators, curators and cross-sector thought leaders make recommendations that inform final selections.

In funding a broad spectrum of innovative and creative non-fiction storytelling, Sundance Institute embraces documentary film as a vital contributor to the language of the 21st century.

The Sundance Documentary Fund provides grants to filmmakers worldwide for projects that display:

  • Artful and innovative storytelling
  • Contemporary relevance
  • Originality and feasibility
  • Potential for public engagement (not required)

The Sundance Documentary Fund accepts submissions in three categories.

  • Development (up to $20,000): There is no reel required with an application, but clips, teasers, trailers, or images are highly encouraged. A previous work sample is required.
  • Production/Post-Production (up to $50,000): Production/post-production grants provide funds to projects offering 10+ minutes of edited material for the project being proposed. The reel should convey the narrative and aesthetic approach for the final film. A previous sample work must also be included with the application.
  • Audience Engagement (up to $20,000): Audience Engagement grants provide previously granted projects funding for strategic audience and community engagement campaigns.

Read about the DFP Fall 2013 projects here.

Discover the impact of current and past Sundance Documentary Fund projects with the following impact case studies courtesy of BRITDOC:

  • BULLY (Sundance Documentary Fund Grant 2010)
  • GIVE UP TOMORROW (Sundance Documentary Fund Grant 2008, SDF Grant, Creative Producing Lab 2009, 2010 Documentary Edit and Story Lab)
  • INVISIBLE WAR (Sundance Documentary Fund 2012, Sundance Film Festival 2013)
  • THE INTERRUPTERS (Sundance Documentary Fund 2010 SDF Grant, Sundance Film Festival 2011)

Application deadlines for development and production/post-production grants are twice a year, in February and July, with decisions taking 5-6 months from the deadline. Audience Engagement applications are accepted on a rolling basis, contact DFP staff for guidelines. To learn more about the application, you may review the materials in the links below.

Decisions for the spring 2014 round of funding will be announced in late June. Please do not contact DFP staff with project updates as unsolicited updates to projects will not be accepted. Please note, we are unable to provide status updates or feedback on specific projects. The Fall 2014 application is closed. Check back in January 2015 to apply for the Spring 2015 round.

If you have any outstanding questions after reviewing the materials below, you may contact [email protected].