Celebrating the Native American and Indigenous Program

Following President and Founder Robert Redford’s original vision, Sundance Institute continues its commitment to Indigenous filmmaking. That commitment is woven into the history of the Institute, beginning with the involvement of Native filmmakers, including Larry LittleBird (Taos Pueblo) and Chris SpottedEagle (Houmas Nation), in the founding of Sundance Institute. This support has created tremendous growth in the Native American media field and put Indigenous film on the cultural map. From Sundance Institute’s support of Greg Sarris’s (Coast Miwok) Grand Avenue at the 1992 June Screenwriters Lab to Andrew Okpeaha MacLean (Iñupiaq) winning the 2011 Crystal Bear and the award for the best first feature for his film On the Ice at the Berlinale, the Institute has established a rich legacy of work.

The Native American and Indigenous Program has built and sustained an Indigenous film circle, which begins by scouting for and identifying Native American and Indigenous artists, then bringing them through the mechanisms of Institute support to get their projects made and shown, and finally taking their work back to Native lands.

In 2012, the Native American and Indigenous Program deepened its commitment to Native artists by launching a new Native Producers Initiative that identifies emerging Native producers and supports their professional development and their projects. This initiative aims to support the sustainability and longevity of Native artists throughout their careers. The program operates the NativeLab Fellowship, the Native Producers Fellowship, and the Native Forum and has established filmmaker labs in New Zealand and Australia.

The Native Program has supported more than 300 filmmakers through labs, grants, mentorships, and the platform of Sundance Film Festival. Past films supported by the Native Program include the following: Smoke Signals, The Doe Boy, Bearwalker, Bran Nue Dae, Here I A.m., Four Sheets to the Wind, Barking Water, Eagle vs. Shark, Boy, Miss Navajo, Grab, Sikumi, The Strength of Water, Samson and Delilah, On the Ice, Mosquita y Mari, and Drunktown’s Finest.

This year marks 20 years of existence for the Native American and Indigenous Program and the Native Forum at Sundance Film Festival. Throughout 2014, the program will celebrate this milestone with partnerships and screenings across the country in Park City, New York, Los Angeles, and Santa Fe.

Sundance Institute’s 2013 NativeLab projects and fellows are these: A Good Day by Ty Coughenour (Lummi); End of the Road by Jeff Barehand (Gila River/Navajo); Da Frog by ?ina Paikai (Native Hawaiian); Ave and the Uglies by Kavelina Torres (Yup’ik/Inupiaq/Athabascan). And the 2014 Native producing fellows and projects are Christina D. King (Seminole and Creek Nations) for Mekko, and Cody E. Harjo (Seminole Nation of Oklahoma) for In the Time of Occupy.

The Sundance Institute Native American and Indigenous Program is generously supported by Surdna Foundation and Time Warner Foundation, with additional support from Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, NBC Universal, CBS Corporation, and SAGIndie.

As you use our Online Archives, please understand that the information presented from Festivals, Labs, and other activities is taken directly from official publications from each year. While this information is limited and doesn't necessarily represent the full list of participants (e.g. actors and crew), it is the list given to us by the main film/play/project contact at the time, based on the space restrictions of our publications. Each entry in the Online Archives is meant as a historical record of a particular film, play, or project at the time of its involvement with Sundance Institute. For this reason, we can only amend an entry if a name is misspelled, or if the entry does not correctly reflect the original publication. If you have questions or comments, please email [email protected]