Eight indie projects aim to spark change at Sundance

The Sundance Institute, in collaboration with global philanthropic organization Luminate, today announced six new projects supported by the Sundance Institute | Luminate Fund.

The Sundance Institute | Luminate Fund provides non-recoupable grants to independent artists working across documentary, narrative, episodic and emerging media whose work display a strong potential for social and cultural impact.

Joining two projects that have been previously announced, the fund’s latest recipients focus on critical social issues connected to one of Luminate’s four impact areas; civic empowerment; data and digital rights; independent media; and financial transparency.

Selected Projects

And She Could Be Next
Directors: Grace Lee, Marjan Safinia | Producers: Grace Lee, Marjan Safinia, Jyoti Sarda
In a polarized America, where the dual forces of white supremacy and patriarchy threaten to erode our democracy, a game-changing transformation is happening at the grassroots. As American demographics rapidly shift toward a non-white majority, a defiant group of women of color—as candidates and organizers— are harnessing the political power of the New American Majority. And She Could Be Next, made by a team of women filmmakers of color, asks whether democracy itself can be preserved—and made stronger—by those most marginalized.

A Cop Movie
Director: Alonso Ruizpalacios | Producers: Elena Fortes, Daniela Alatorre
Two professional actors undergo an immersive process to interpret police officers Teresa and Montoya and experience what it takes to be a cop in Mexico. A radical experiment combining documentary and fictional elements, the film gives voice to one of Mexico’s most controversial institutions: the police force, and unravels the causes of the impunity crisis that plagues the justice system.

The Fourth Man
Director: Alberto Arnaut | Producers: Diego Enrique Osorno, Juan Alfonso Farre
A group of lawyers and activists investigate the possible motives of a multiple homicide in a landmark neighborhood in Mexico City, revealing the deepest frameworks of the politics of corruption and impunity in Mexico.

The Forgotten Margins
Director: Mark Grieco | Producers: Adriana Agudelo Moreno, Stuart Reid
One of Latin America’s most important photojournalists heads out to Colombia’s isolated and volatile countryside, where he risks it all to reveal the fallout from the country’s historic peace accord.

The Infiltrators
Directors: Alex Rivera, Cristina Ibarra | Producers: Cristina Ibarra, Alex Rivera, Darren Dean, Daniel J. Chalfen
The Infiltrators tells the true story of a radical group of undocumented youth – Dreamers – who get themselves detained in order to infiltrate a shadowy detention center and to help other immigrants get free.

Directors: Diana Neille, Richard Poplak | Producers: Bob Moore, Neil Brandt
Influence charts the recent advancements in weaponized communication by investigating the rise and fall of the world’s most notorious public relations and reputation management firm: the British multinational Bell Pottinger.

Director: Sam Soko | Producers: Toni Kamau, Sam Soko
Boniface Mwangi is daring and audacious, and recognised as Kenya’s most provocative photojournalist. But as a father of three young children, these qualities create tremendous turmoil between him and his wife Njeri. When he wants to run for political office, he is forced to choose: country or family?

La Vocera
Director: Luciana Kaplan | Producers: Carolina Coppel, Monica Lozano, Eamon O´Farrill
Maria de Jesús Patricio, the first indigenous woman aspiring for the presidency, questions the Mexican electoral system.

Rewarding the storytellers
Established in 2019, the partnership between Sundance Institute and Luminate supports storytelling projects with a first-of-its-kind multidisciplinary global impact fund.

“These captivating and inspiring films give life to important social issues and tell their stories in ways we hope will engage and activate audiences,” said Nishant Lalwani, Managing Director at Luminate. “We want to encourage and support the best storytellers to take on these compelling and challenging social issues, and to use their art as a powerful force for change.”

Grantees receive financial support, with an emphasis on aid for post-production and impact campaigns, as well as year-round support from Sundance and Luminate to foster thought leadership and network building, allowing the artists to develop impact strategies to aid their projects in reaching their intended audiences and building public discourse.

“We’re grateful to Luminate for recognizing the power of art and artists to contribute to today’s most urgent issues,” said Keri Putnam, Executive Director of Sundance Institute. “This unique program will give these inspiring filmmakers the tools and support they need to ensure that their work can realize its full potential. The flexibility and vision of this global and multi-disciplinary impact fund are transformative.”

The announcement
The selected projects were revealed at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival during Luminate’s panel “Us v. Them”: Narratives That Divide Society and How We Can Overcome Them. The public panel, which was moderated by Luminate CEO Stephen King and featured journalist, CEO of Rappler and Time Person of the Year Maria Ressa (A Thousand Cuts), Karim Amer (The Great Hack, Persuasion Machines), Toni Kamau (Softie) and executive director of Pop Culture Collaborative Bridgit Antoinette Evans, addressed how storytelling can unite societies in an age where propaganda and disinformation are being spread through new technologies.

For more information about the partnership go to sundance.org/luminate. For more information about Luminate go to luminategroup.com.

About the Sundance Institute
Founded in 1981 by Robert Redford, Sundance Institute is a nonprofit organization that provides and preserves the space for artists in film, theatre, and media to create and thrive. 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 Co//ab, a digital community platform, brings 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 such projects as The Farewell, Late Night, The Souvenir, The Infiltrators, Sorry to Bother You, Eighth Grade, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Hereditary, RBG, Call Me By Your Name, Get Out, The Big Sick, Top of the Lake, Winter’s Bone, Dear White People, Little Miss Sunshine, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Fruitvale Station, State of the Union, Indecent, Spring Awakening, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder and Fun Home. Join Sundance Institute on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

Luminate is a global philanthropic organization focused on empowering people and institutions to work together to build just and fair societies. We support innovative and courageous organizations and entrepreneurs around the world, and we advocate for the policies and actions that will drive change across four impact areas: Civic Empowerment, Data & Digital Rights, Financial Transparency, and Independent Media. We work with our investees and partners to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to participate in and to shape the issues affecting their societies, and to make those in positions of power more responsive and accountable. Luminate was established in 2018 by Pierre Omidyar, the founder of eBay, and his wife Pam. The organization is part of The Omidyar Group.