Since 2004, the Sundance Institute has made good on a commitment to scout for and identify Native American and Indigenous artists in order to get their work made and shown to appreciative film-goers. The Native program at Sundance honors the vision of President and founder Robert Redford by staying committed to showcasing the voices of Native artists through Sundance Native Filmmaker Fellowships.
In 2017, the unveiled listed an impressive selection of 11 Sundance Native Filmmaker Fellowships in conjunction with the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. The recipients, who come from a wide range of Native communities, will be working with the Sundance Institute to conceptualize, produce and showcase Native influenced film projects.
The list of Native fellows are listed here:
Native Filmmakers Lab Fellows
Shane McSauby and Willi White are the recipient of two Native Sundance Native Filmmaker Fellowships who previously participated in the Native Filmmakers Lab with their projects in June 2016. They will continue a year-long Fellowship at the Festival with ongoing support, screenings, guided film discussions, and networking events.
At the Lab, McSauby and White worked with a cast and crew to practice shooting scenes from their short films under a mentorship of program alumni, creative advisers and staff to hone their storytelling and technical skills. Following the lab, fellows receive a year-round continuum of support.
Shane McSauby (Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians)
Project: Mino Bimaadiziwin
A young Ojibwe man must choose between the comfort of city living or Mino Bimaadizwin, the path to the good life, after reconnecting with his culture through a young Ojibwe woman.
Willi White (Oglala Lakota)
Project: Miye, Unkiye
On the Pine Ridge reservation, a young Oglala Lakota man has accidentally created a menacing spirit which only he can see and which he must destroy.
Time Warner Fellows
Through the Time Warner Foundation, the Institute offers a Native Producers Fellowship to two producers annually to foster the development of more Native producers in the filmmaking community. The fellows participate at the annual Sundance Creative Producing Summit; a festival that includes film screenings, panels, industry meetings, and other events; as well as a project support grant.
Jhane Myers (Comanche/Blackfeet),
Project: N. Scott Momaday: Words From A Bear
An examination of the life and mind of Pulitzer Prize-winning author, N. Scott Momaday which delves into the psyche behind one of Native America’s most celebrated authors of poetry and prose.
Sharyn Steele (Ho-Chunk Nation)
Project: The Ghost Files
Based on the Young Adult book series, this story follows Mattie Hathaway, a sixteen-year-old girl in foster care who gains the ability to see ghosts at an early age after a tragic event.
Full Circle Fellows
The year-long fellowship focuses on developing Native youth filmmakers through workshops and training opportunities. Full Circle fellows will attend independent film screenings, participate in guided film discussions, and connect with leaders of the Indigenous film community. Descriptions courtesy of the Sundance Institute.
Kayla Bell (Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians)
Bell is a writer whose love of storytelling and visual art has led to a unique and eclectic approach to filmmaking. Her interests include poetry, photography, creative nonfiction writing, and comics, all of which make their way into her vision. She is currently studying English at Northern Michigan University and works at the Center for Native American Studies.
Ashley Browning (Pojoaque/Santa Clara Pueblo)
Browning graduated from the University of New Mexico with a degree in Film and Digital Media where she concentrated on film, photography and graphic design. She comes from a long line of potters from Santa Clara Pueblo. She has worked as a cinematographer/animator on two documentaries for the U.S. Forestry Service and currently works for her Pueblo as a Graphic Designer.
Charine Gonzales (San Ildefonso Pueblo)
Gonzales is currently enrolled at Fort Lewis College and is pursuing her BA in English Communications. She is also the current Fort Lewis College Shorts Film Festival title holder for a music video titled “Feels Good, Don’t Worry” with music by Alex Blocker & DJ Béeso. She also held the powwow royalty title of Miss Hozhoni First Attendant, which made a positive impact in promoting arts and higher education.
Jesse Littlebird (Laguna Pueblo)
Littlebird is from Santa Fe, New Mexico and is a graduate of the University of New Mexico. At an early age he was influenced by cinema and art growing up in the Southwest and traveling around the country with his parents. He is a photographer and has directed a number of short films. He keeps a home between Albuquerque and Santa Fe at his parents farm.
Additional Sundance Native Filmmaker Fellowships
These fellows are being supported through grants and fellowships through other Programs within Sundance Institute.
Lyle Mitchell Corbine, Jr. (Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians)
Time Warner Story Fellowship
Leya Hale (Sisseton Wahpeton Dakota/Diné) – 2017 Knight Foundation Fellowship
Merata Mita Fellowship
Amie Batalibasi (Australian Solomon Islander, Feralimae/Kosi) from Melbourne, Australia, is the 2017 recipient of the Sundance Institute Merata Mita Fellowship—an annual fellowship named in honor of the late Māori filmmaker Merata Mita (1942-2010).
Each year Sundance Institute identifies a Native or Indigenous filmmaker from a global pool of nominees to award a cash grant and provide a year-long continuum of support with activities including a trip to the Sundance Film Festival, access to strategic and creative services offered by Sundance Institute artist programs, and mentorship opportunities.
Mita was New Zealand’s first Indigenous female filmmaker and a trusted Creative Advisor and Artistic Director at the Native Lab, and a dear friend to the Institute. The Merata Mita Fellowship is supported by the Embassy of Australia, Indigenous Media Initiatives, Taika Waititi, White Feather Foundation, Fenton Bailey and Billy Luther, and Pacific Islanders in Communications.
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