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Grants to USA, Canada, and International Independent Filmmakers for Feature-Length Films

Documentary Fund


GrantWatch ID#

Funding Source
Array ( [0] => American Samoa (USA); [1] => Guam (USA); [2] => Puerto Rico (USA); [3] => Virgin Islands (USA); [4] => Northern Mariana Islands (USA); )

Geographic Focus
USA Territories: American Samoa (USA);   Guam (USA);   Puerto Rico (USA);   Virgin Islands (USA);   Northern Mariana Islands (USA);
USA Compact Free Associations:The Federated States of Micronesia (USA)   Marshall Islands (USA)   Republic of Palau (USA)
International, Israel and Canada.

Important Dates
Deadline: 04/17/23 Save

Grant Description
Grants of up to $25,000 and grants of up to $50,000 to USA, Canada, and International independent filmmakers for feature-length film projects. Funding is intended to support projects at any production phase from development through post-production. Priority will be given to applications from early career and emerging artists. Sundance supports independent nonfiction films that display artful film language, engaging storytelling, originality, feasibility, contemporary cultural relevance, journalistic rigor (where applicable), and potential to reach and connect with the intended audience.

The Sundance Institute Documentary Fund supports the work of nonfiction filmmakers from around the globe. In a changing media landscape, the fund has been a stable, progressive force in supporting work that has expressed the world in creative, complex, beautiful, and provocative ways, and has created real cultural and social impact around some of the most pressing issues of this time. Sundance is proud to sit at the center of this burgeoning creative field with the Documentary Fund, which offers (non-recoupable) support for nonfiction projects that continue to elevate and advance cultural dialogue and break new ground in creativity and innovation. In its ongoing search for artists and projects to support, the Documentary Fund is seeking filmmakers with a distinct voice and vision, and a meaningful connection to the work they create. Sundance is especially keen to raise the voices of underserved or underrepresented communities from around the world in the service of building a more fair, free, and open society.

The Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program (DFP) prioritizes support for independent nonfiction films with budgets under $1 million in U.S. dollars. Creative and editorial control must be held by members of the films’ key creative teams. Applicants may submit at any production phase from development through post-production. All proposals must convey some vision for a finished film.

Grant Categories:

  • Development: There is no reel required with an application, but access to location and characters must be confirmed. The proposal should clearly articulate a potential direction for the project and ask questions that would indicate a layered and nuanced approach. Mood reels, stills, or some visual references for or depiction of the project in development are recommended. Prior work samples are strongly recommended for development applications.
  • Production/Post-production: Production grants provide funds to projects that are able to deliver at least 10 minutes of edited material. At least 20 minutes are required for post-production grants. The reel should convey the narrative and aesthetic approach for the final film.


Additional Eligibility Criteria
For United States productions, the DFP prioritizes films led by artists from historically underrepresented communities. Projects that focus on historically underrepresented communities must have a key creative from the community or with deep ties to the community in a power-holding position represented on the team.

For international productions, the DFP prioritizes films led by artists from Africa, China, India, Latin America, and the Middle East. Indigenous artists globally and artists from the above regions who are living in the diaspora are also prioritized.

- Projects that have not yet secured characters or subjects, are unable to articulate a story or structure, or are unable to explain the project’s driving central question are discouraged from applying. The DFP is unable to consider proposals for story research. You do not need any prior funding or a fiscal sponsor in order to apply.
- Once your film premieres, the DFP is unable to provide post-production funding support.
- Picture-locked cuts are also ineligible for post-production funding.
- Projects that have previously received a grant through the Documentary Fund are not eligible to apply for additional funding through this open call. Contact DFP staff for more information.

Not funded:
Fiction films, short films (please see the Documentary Short Fund for information on grants for shorts), series, NGO films, advocacy films, educational films, or branded content. DFP also tends not to fund purely historical or biographical films unless they show clear contemporary relevance or innovation in form.

Pre-Application Information
The Sundance Institute Documentary Fund accepts submissions through periodic open calls. The next application will open on February 21, 2023 and close on April 17, 2023.

Sundance encourages applicants to apply at least six months before an anticipated premiere.

The Sundance Documentary Film Program is committed to providing application assistance to applicants who require support with the application process. Directors or the key creative on a project who self-identify as artists who are deaf, hard of hearing, have a disability, or are living with a mental illness may request assistance at any stage of the application process.

Number of Grants
30-40 projects per year

Term of Contract
- Development: up to $25,000
- Production/Post-production: up to $50,000

Contact Information
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Sundance Institute
5900 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 800
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Tel: 310-360-1981
Fax: 310-360-1969

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