Sundance Institute announces Indigenous Non-Fiction Intensive and 2022 Fellows

Press announcement from Sundance Institute

Los Angeles, CA – The nonprofit Sundance Institute has announced a newly created Indigenous Non-Fiction Intensive, taking place virtually from July 27-29. The Intensive provides a space for artists to experiment and receive feedback from the participating advisors and peers. The three-day program features interactive group sessions, advisor presentations, and round table conversations on topics including Indigenizing storytelling and creative and strategic tools to shape their films.

The participating filmmakers will also receive a small grant and year-round creative support from the Indigenous Program staff as they work to complete their films.

The advisors for the inaugural Sundance Institute Non-Fiction Intensive include Colleen Thurston (Choctaw), Maya Daisy Hawke, and Darol Olu Kae. The Indigenous Non-Fiction Intensive builds on Sundance’s commitment to documentary filmmaking through its DFP Fund and Labs.

“There’s a history of documentary film and Indigenous communities that’s been, to put it lightly, contentious. This tension lies in the non-fiction field’s roots in salvage ethnography, a now widely critiqued practice of early American anthropology’s compulsions of capturing cultures before their assumed extinction,” said Adam Piron, Director, Indigenous Program (Kiowa and Mohawk Tribes.)

“In spite of this trajectory, Indigenous filmmakers for over fifty years have actively pushed against this legacy, and the results have yielded some of the more exciting developments in recent non-fiction,” said Piron.

Sundance Institute has launched its inaugural Indigenous Non-Fiction Intensive with the goal of identifying Indigenous artists creating formally bold and personal work and to uplift them with a grant and mentorship on a current edit of their short-form documentary films.

Filmmakers such as Sky Hopinka (Ho-Chunk Nation/Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians), Leya Hale (Sisseton Wahpeton Dakota/Diné), Alexandra Lazarowich (Cree), Ciara Lacy (Kanaka Maoli), Fox Maxy (Payómkawichum/Mesa Grande Band of Mission Indians), Jeffrey Palmer (Kiowa), and Adam and Zack Khalil (Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians) are just a few of the artists who have created work emblematic of these latest developments in the doc space; all of whom have also been supported by Sundance Institute’s Indigenous Program.

The Sundance Institute Indigenous Program is supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Warner Bros. Discovery, Nia Tero Foundation, Indigenous Screen Office, SAGindie, Oneida Indian Nation, New Zealand Film Commission, Jenifer and Jeffrey Westphal, Susan Friedenberg, Susan Shilliday, Indigenous Media Initiatives, Chelsea Winstanley, Exposure Labs, Felix Culpa, Bird Runningwater, Sterlin Harjo, and Sarah Luther.

The artists selected for the 2022 Sundance Institute Indigenous Non-Fiction Intensive are:

Sarah Liese

A young woman with a green foilage background. She is wearing a white shirt, black jacket and red and blue necklace.
Sarah Liese in Athens, Ohio. (Courtesy Sundance.)

Sarah Liese with Coming In: Growing up in a colonized world, Sarah always felt unconfident about the intersectionality of her identity. It was not until her journey to meet other two-spirit people and learn more about the history of the concept that she was able to decolonize more of her mind and strive to decolonize other corrupt systems around her.

Sarah Liese (Diné, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians) is a master’s student at Ohio University, where she has chosen to study journalism and photography to further her career as a documentary filmmaker. She is a research assistant to Dr. Victoria LaPoe, which has allowed her to learn more about issues prevalent to Native American communities – a topic Liese is passionate about. Her articles, photos, and videos can be found on wlox.com, hottytoddy.com, thedmonline.com, medium.com, and najanewsroom.com. Her poems can be found on indigenousgoddessgang.com.

Sean Connelly

An Indigenous man with short hair waering a black jacket and shirt against a white background.
Sean Connelly (Pacific-Islander American) [1984, Honolulu, Hawai’i] (Courtesy Sundance)

Sean Connelly with A Justice Advancing Architecture Tour: Illuminating the overlooked history of Hawai‘i history in the United States, the justice-advancing architecture tour begins in Honolulu with an oral history of two prominent buildings: the Hawai‘i State Capitol Building (1960–1969) and the ‘Iolani Palace (1879–1883).

Sean Connelly (Pacific-Islander American) [1984, Honolulu, Hawai’i] is a queer white-passing person-of-color, Pacific-Islander American, local settler grandchild of immigrants raised in an Ilocano/Hawaiian family from Kalihi Valley on the Hawaiian island of O’ahu. Sean collaborates with those willing to sincerely confront the complexities facing Indigenous futures. Sean’s work utilizes spatial dynamics to liberate knowledge and explores issues of material (sky/ground), information (space/flow), space (climate/energy), and time (phantasmic/holographic).

Olivia Camfield and Woodrow Hunt

Olivia Camfield and Woodrow Hunt with If You Look Under There You’ll Find It: Explores the traditional and imagined tattooing art forms of the Muscogee Nation, Cherokee Nation and Klamath Tribes. Interviews from other tattooed Indigenous people, landscape footage from research trips, and fictional narrative scenes are used to explore abstract concepts on the experience of being tattooed and tattooing as Indigenous people.

Indigenous woman in a forest, the photo is black and white.
Olivia Camfield (Muscogee Creek Nation) – (Courtesy Sundance Institute

Olivia Camfield (Muscogee Creek Nation) is a multimedia movement artist of the Muscogee Creek Nation, born & raised in the Texas Hill Country. Their works centers Mvskoke Tattooing, Indigenous revenge, and since becoming a farmer, the intersections of these art forms and Missisipian/Southeastern seed keeping/food sovereignty.

Indigenous man in a forest wearing a black jacket and black rimmed glasses.
Woodrow Hunt (Klamath, Modoc, and Cherokee) – (Courtesy Sundance)

Woodrow Hunt (Klamath, Modoc, and Cherokee)’s work focuses on experimental films to explore Indigenous stories and their relationship to genre, themes of the alien, labor, tattooing and landscapes; while utilizing archival materials and documentary practices. His production company Tule Films works within the Indigenous community of Portland, Oregon, specifically in education.

Sundance Institute
As a champion and curator of independent stories, the Sundance Institute provides and preserves the space for artists across storytelling media to create and thrive. Founded in 1981 by Robert Redford, the Institute’s signature Labs, granting, and mentorship programs, dedicated to developing new work, take place throughout the year in the U.S. and internationally. Sundance Collab, a digital community platform, brings a global cohort of working artists together to learn from each other and Sundance Advisors and connect in a creative space, developing and sharing works in progress. The Sundance Film Festival and other public programs connect audiences and artists to ignite new ideas, discover original voices, and build a community dedicated to independent storytelling. Sundance Institute has supported and showcased such projects as Summer of Soul (…or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised), CODA, Flee, Passing, Clemency, Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Zola, On the Record, Boys State, The Farewell, Honeyland, One Child Nation, The Souvenir, The Infiltrators, Sorry to Bother You, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Hereditary, Call Me By Your Name, Get Out, The Big Sick, Mudbound, Fruitvale Station, City So Real, Top of the Lake, Between the World & Me, Wild Goose Dreams and Fun Home. Join Sundance Institute on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

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