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By Sundance Film Institute
Nov 20, 2005, 09:07

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From Argentinian “disappeared” and East Timor truth and reconciliation hearings to Russian “crossover” children, projects reflect impressive filmmaking

Los Angeles, CA -– The Sundance Documentary Fund announced its second round of grants for 2005. Thirteen feature-length documentary films selected from 460 submissions will receive a total of $665,000. The Fund, made possible by a grant from the Open Society Institute with a match from the Ford Foundation, is dedicated to supporting documentary films from around the world that focus on human rights, freedom of expression, social justice and action, civil liberties, and push the creative boundaries of form and content.

The supported projects address a range of important topics: an exploration of Shia, Sunni and Kurd experiences following the fall of Saddam Hussein in Iraq; preservation of Tibetan musical traditions under Chinese occupation; an examination of the 1979 Greensboro massacre in a present-day truth commission; a glimpse into the lives of three generations of women shouldering poverty, oppression and sexual violence in post apartheid South Africa; a chronicle of truth-and-reconciliation hearings in East Timor; a personal search for friends who ere “disappeared” in Argentina during the 1976-1983 dictatorship and its legacy; and a harrowing look at the exoneration of a wrongful rape-and-murder conviction of a 19-year-old.

“These filmmakers demonstrate extraordinary courage and vision, many of them risking their lives to bring these stories to audiences hungry for such films as the burgeoning success of documentaries shows.” said Ken Brecher, Executive Director of the Sundance Institute. “On the eve of the 10th year anniversary of the Documentary Fund, the Institute is committed and proud to support the diverse exchange of ideas crucial to developing an open society, and the fostering of an ongoing debate about these issues.”

Sundance Institute has supported and launched many documentaries to critical acclaim and distribution, and has brought an overall greater public awareness to
the field. Recent note-worthy projects supported by the Sundance Documentary Fund include: Eugene Jarecki’s Why We Fight, winner of the 2005 Sundance Film Festival Documentary Grand Prize; Ross Kauffman and Zana Briski’s 2004 Academy Award® and 2004 Sundance Audience Award winning Born Into Brothels; Catherine Tambini and Carlos Sandoval’s Farmingville,winner of a Special Jury Prize at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival; Gail Dolgin and Vicente Franco’s 2002 Sundance Festival Documentary Grand Jury prize winner and Academy Award® nominee, Daughter From Danang;Edet Belzberg’s 2001 Academy Award® nominee Children Underground; and Long Night’s Journey Into Day,Academy Award® nominee and 2000 winner of the Sundance Documentary Grand Jury Prize.

The Sundance Documentary Fund makes grants ranging from $15,000 to $75,000 for development, works-in-progress, and on-going support. These grants are made twice a year, and details on the Fund’s award guidelines can be found on the Sundance Institute website,

The thirteen Sundance Institute Documentary Fund grant recipients are:

Work in Progress Grants:

Ngawang Choephel (US/Tibet)

Documents the courageous and determined preservation of Tibetan musical traditions under Chinese occupation.

Adam Zucker (US)

Follows 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.

Francois Verster (South Africa)


A documentary profiling three generations of women shouldering burdens of poverty, oppression and sexual violence in post-apartheid South Africa.

Senain Kheshgi and Geeta Patel (US)


Chronicles the journey of two American women (one Muslim and the other Hindu) to Kashmir on a mission to understand the lingering effects of war and their own
cultural identities.

Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern (US)


A harrowing documentary following the wrongful conviction and 19-year imprisonment of Darryl Hunt for an infamous rape and murder of which he was later exonerated.

James Longley (US)


A prismatic exploration of different sectors of the Iraqi public, and their experiences during the first two years after the fall of Saddam Hussein and his regime.

James Leong and Lynn Lee (Singapore/East Timor)


A chronicle of Truth and Reconciliation hearings in East Timor, in which one participant confesses his crimes in a 1999 massacre, seeking atonement and understanding.

Aaron Matthews (US)


A revealing glimpse of the pressures and challenges of modern journalism as faced by the staff of a University newspaper embroiled in controversy.

Doan Hoang (US/Vietnam)


The moving story of a Vietnamese family’s attempts to reconcile, following decades of political schism, war, exile and recrimination.

Development Grants:

Robin Hessman (US)


Follows the present day lives of the last generation of Soviet Children brought up behind the Iron Curtain, and the journey of these “crossover” children in dealing with their post-Soviet reality.

Juan Mandelbaum (US/Argentina)


A filmmaker’s personal search for friends who were “disappeared” in Argentina during the 1976-1983 military dictatorship in Argentina to understand their complicated legacy.

Supplemental Grants (previously awarded Development Grant):

Robb Moss and Peter Galison (US)


About the fundamental threat to democracy stemming from the exponential growth of systems of classified information.

Richard Hankin (US)


Explores daily life of a wounded veteran of the Iraq war as he attempts to readjust to friends, family, community and his new reality.

Sundance Documentary Fund

Created in 2001 as part of the Sundance Documentary Film Program, the Sundance Documentary Fund (SDF) is made possible by grants from the New York–based Open
Society Institute (OSI) and the Ford Foundation. Originally established in 1996 as the Soros Documentary Fund, the Sundance Documentary Fund is dedicated to supporting documentary projects from around the world focused on human rights, freedom of expression, social justice and action, civil liberties, and that push the creative boundaries of form and content. In supporting these artists and their works, the Fund aims to give voice to the diverse exchange of ideas crucial to developing and maintaining an open society, and engaging citizens around the world opportunities for meaningful, ongoing discourse about these issues and the human stories within them.

The Sundance Documentary Fund supports projects in three categories— Development, Work In Progress, and Supplemental. Development grants provide seed funds to filmmakers whose projects are in the early research stage or in pre-production. Documentaries in production or postproduction are eligible for the Work in Progress grants. Finally, the Fund awards Supplemental grants to those projects that have previously received Development grants and that require on-going support. Funds ranging from $15,000 to $75,000 are disbursed twice a year. Details on the Fund’s award guidelines can be found on the Sundance Institute website,

Sundance Documentary Film Program

The Sundance Documentary Film Program provides year-round support to, and nurtures the growth of, nonfiction filmmakers. The Program encourages the exploration of innovative nonfiction storytelling, and promotes the exhibition of documentary films to a broader audience. It supports independent artists around the world through the Sundance Documentary Fund, the Filmmaker Lodge at the Sundance Film Festival, the Documentary Film Music Laboratory and Edit & Story Laboratory, as well as through a number of ongoing collaborative international documentary initiatives.

Sundance Institute

Dedicated year-round to the development of artists of independent vision and to the exhibition of their new work, Sundance Institute celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2006. Founded by Robert Redford in 1981, the Institute has grown into an internationally recognized resource for thousands of independent artists through its Film Festival and artistic development programs for filmmakers, screenwriters, composers, playwrights and theatre artists. The original values of independence, creative risk-taking, and discovery continue to define and guide the work of Sundance Institute, both with US artists and, increasingly, with artists from other regions of the world.

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