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Sundance Announces Documentary Grants


14 Feature-length Documentaries Supported

Sundance - a mecca for independent filmmakersThe Sundance Institute Documentary Fund recently announced its first round of grants for 2006 with 14 feature-length documentary films receiving a total of $605,000. Dedicated to supporting U.S. and international documentary films that focus on current human rights issues, freedom of expression, social justice, civil liberties, and exploring critical issues of our time, the Fund was established at Sundance Institute in 2002 with a gift from the Open Society Institute and is supported by a grant from the Ford Foundation. The Sundance Institute Documentary Fund grants are announced twice a year and since its inception at the Institute, the Fund has disbursed almost $4 million to 113 projects.


A committee of human rights experts and film professionals selected the recipients from projects submitted by filmmakers from around the world. These projects present a wide range of topics including: the effect of the Israeli Military Court system on both Israeli and Palestinian societies; the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina; a public school system in inner city Baltimore that has begun to recruit teachers from the Philippines; and an extraordinary tale of Muslim orphans in China who dream of becoming tightrope walkers. In supporting such work, the Sundance Institute Documentary Fund encourages the diverse exchange of ideas crucial to developing an open society, raising public consciousness about human rights abuses and restrictions of civil liberties, and fostering an ongoing debate about these issues.


The 14 Sundance Institute Documentary Fund grant recipients are:

Skye Fitzgerald BOMBHUNTERS (US/Cambodia) This project is an engrossing examination of the micro-economy that has emerged in Cambodia from untrained civilians harvesting unexploded bombs as scrap metal.

Almudena Carracedo and Robert Bahar MADE IN L.A. (US) MADE IN L.A. intimately documents of the lives, struggles and personal transformations of three Latina immigrants working in garment factories.

Maria Yatskova, Irina Vodar and Raphaela Neihausen MISS GULAG (US) Through the prism of a beauty pageant staged by female prisoners of Siberian labor camp emerges a complex narrative of the lives of the first generation of women to come of age in Post-Soviet Russia.

Shari Roberston and Michael Camerini MY AMERICAN DREAM (US) Shooting since the summer of 2001, this project provides a backstairs pass to the halls of power in government, tracking the vast array of voices and forces that have converged around the issue of immigration.

Ido Haar 9 STAR HOTEL (Israel) This project follows a group of young Palestinian men as they form a precarious, makeshift community of migrant workers living illegally in the hills outside a small city in Israel.

Ramona S. Diaz THE LEARNING (US/Philippines) THE LEARNING follows a group of Filipina women who have left their families and native land to teach young American students in inner city Baltimore.

Melis Birder THE VISITORS (US/Turkey) THE VISITORS follows the lives of women who faithfully visit their sons and husbands in prison every week and the ways their own lives are constrained by their loved ones' incarceration.

Tia Lessin, Carl Deal and Amir Bar-Lev TROUBLE THE WATERS (US) TROUBLE THE WATERS follows the story of one couple who lived in New Orleans' 9th Ward and their experience before, during, and in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Petr Lom THE TIGHTROPE (US) THE TIGHTROPE follows the lives of several orphaned children at a school in a remote area of China, as they seek to escape poverty by following their dreams of becoming tightrope walkers.


Margarita Martinez Escallon and Miguel Salazar THE BATON RESISTANCE (Colombia) An intense portrait of a non-violent civil resistance movement started by the indigenous Nasa people of southern Colombia against armed para-military and guerilla fighters occupying their ancestral land.

Ra'anan Alexandrowicz JUSTICE MUST BE SEEN (Israel) JUSTICE MUST BE SEEN is a study of the Israeli Military Court system in the Palestinian territories in the last 40 years, and its effect on both Israeli and Palestinian societies.

Marion Lipschutz and Rose Rosenblatt CHEKPAPI (US) CHEKPAPI is a political coming of age story about three young people who have recently returned to the Pine Ridge Reservation and are swept up in a series of interlocking fights over women's rights, development and indigenous rights.


Adam Zucker GREENSBORO: CLOSER TO THE TRUTH (US) The survivors of the 1979 Greensboro massacre, in which members of the Ku Klux Klan murdered five Communist Labor organizers, and the attempt to re-examine the killings in a present-day Truth Commission are the focus of this project.

Daniel Junge REBIRTH OF A NATION (US/Liberia) REBIRTH OF A NATION follows the critical first days in the presidency of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first female president in Africa, and the democratization of Liberia in the wake of a corrupt and violent regime.

Jon Else WONDERS ARE MANY (US) This creative exploration of the hydrogen bomb follows the making of DOCTOR ATOMIC, Peter Sellars' and John Adam's new opera about J. Robert Oppenheimer and the birth of nuclear weapons.