Regional Collaboration Pilot Program: Sundance Institute’s Native Film Program

The Native Arts and Cultures Foundation (NACF) is proud to offer grants to arts organizations actively supporting Native artists.  This year, we are honored to award funding to the Sundance Institute’s Native Program, the Pa'i Foundation, the Longhouse Education and Cultural Center and the First Peoples Fund. Congratulations to each of our Regional Collaboration Pilot Program partners!

Last month, the Sundance Film Festival screened an amazing array of films, including some by indigenous filmmakers. With the help of filmmakers like Billy Luther (Navajo/Hopi/Laguna), the Sundance Institute provides direct support to emerging Native American, Native Hawaiian, and Alaskan Native filmmakers year-round through its Native Filmmakers Lab. The lab pairs participants with talented role models like Billy, who have effectively navigated through the arduous movie making process.

Photo of Billy Luther (Navajo/Hopi/Laguna) by Idris and Tony for the photo book The World According to Wonder published Feb. 5.

After being selected to participate for a Sundance Native film fellowship in 2006, Billy directed the groundbreaking documentaries Grab (2011) and Miss Navajo (2007). Last spring, Billy returned to lead intensive lab workshops at the Mescalero Apache community in New Mexico. Over the next year, he will continue to provide support to the current class of Native Filmmaker Fellows.  By giving feedback and critiques of short films and scripts, Billy will help the filmmaker develop the material and relationships necessary to launch a film project. Lab participants who also go on to create a feature-length film, have the chance to have their work screened at a future Sundance Film Festival.

Lab participants put skills that they learned from Billy and other mentors to use last month, by networking with other artists and pitching their ideas to producers last month at the festival in Park City. By attending the Native Forum Brunch, lab participants begin to navigate the sometimes-thorny business of cinema and join this circle of Native film producers, directors, actors, and supporters, assembled by the Sundance Institute as a Native film community of professional allies.

The work Billy and other filmmakers contribute through the Native Film Lab is supported in part by NACF.   Also, through the foundation’s Regional Collaboration Pilot Program, Native arts organizations  offer professional development training and support for emerging creative voices.

Please help us to continue to support profound efforts like the work Billy is contributing to at the Sundance Institute Native Program. Your donation will help the build real artist success across Native America!