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2020 Documentary Fund

Grants to USA, Canada, and International Independent
Filmmakers for Feature-Length Films in Eligible Genres

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program

Deadline Date:

06/29/20 1:59 PM MDT


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Grants to USA, Canada, and International independent filmmakers for feature-length films in eligible genres. Funding is intended to support nonfiction films at any production phase from development through post-production. Films should demonstrate effective storytelling, feasibility and originality, relevance in contemporary culture, artful or innovative film language and potential to reach and connect with its intended audience. The Sundance Institute Documentary Fund supports projects that are feature-length documentaries (52 minutes and longer). Hybrid/animated and experimental documentaries are also eligible to apply.

The subject of the film should convey the general issue area that the film addresses. Below are the six subject areas:

  • Cultural activity and freedom of expression
  • Democracy, peace and security, human rights
  • Economic justice and equity
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Institutional and government responsibility
  • Vulnerable populations, tolerance, and social inclusion

Grant Categories:

  • Development:
    • There is no reel required with an application, but access to location and characters must be confirmed. The proposal should clearly articulate a potential direction for the project and ask questions that would indicate a layered and nuanced approach. Also, applications are invited for a specific need—i.e., to shoot a test re-enactment or sample animation. If a creative technique is integral, and needs funding in order to understand how the film will work, please indicate this. Mood reels, stills, or some visual references for or depiction of the project in development are recommended. Prior work samples are strongly recommended for development applications.
  • Production/Post-production:
    • Production grants provide funds to projects that are able to deliver to us at least 10 minutes of edited material. At least 20 minutes are required for post-production grants. The reel should convey the narrative and aesthetic approach for the final film.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 127055

Number of Grants:

Size of Grant Pool: 40 to 50 projects per year

Estimated Size of Grant:

- Development: Up to $15,000
- Production/Post-production: Up to $40,000

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Independent filmmakers making cinematic nonfiction films anywhere in the world are welcome to submit project proposals. Films may be in any language with English subtitles or transcript. First-time filmmakers are eligible. Prior funding, fiscal sponsorship, and American producers are not requirements.

The Foundation accepts feature-length (52 minutes or more) nonfiction projects. The fund is open to projects and film teams from around the world.

The Foundation does not fund: Short, fictional, NGO, or educational films. Historical or biographical films must demonstrate their broader contemporary relevance and/or innovation in form. Films that are picture-locked or scheduled to premiere before our scheduled decision are not eligible for post-production funds.

The Foundation is unable to consider proposals for story research.

Fiction films, even based on true events, are not eligible to apply.

Tape-to-film transfers, film prints and debt reimbursement to complete work are not eligible for funding. The Foundation generally does not provide solely completion funding.

Pre-Application Information:

Submissions to the Documentary Fund are accepted year-round, with granting decisions occurring three times per year. The next round of grant-making decisions is slated for December To be considered for the decision, applications must be received by 1:59 p.m. MDT on June 29 2020. Submissions received after the deadline will be considered for the following round.

Applications must be received approximately five months prior to a decision.

Decisions typically take three to six months.


Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Register to apply online:


Sundance Institute
5900 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 800
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Tel: 310-360-1981
Fax: 310-360-1969

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Alabama;   Alaska;   Arizona;   Arkansas;   California;   Colorado;   Connecticut;   Delaware;   Florida;   Georgia;   Hawaii;   Idaho;   Illinois;   Indiana;   Iowa;   Kansas;   Kentucky;   Louisiana;   Maine;   Maryland;   Massachusetts;   Michigan;   Minnesota;   Mississippi;   Missouri;   Montana;   Nebraska;   Nevada;   New Hampshire;   New Jersey;   New Mexico;   New York City;   New York;   North Carolina;   North Dakota;   Ohio;   Oklahoma;   Oregon;   Pennsylvania;   Rhode Island;   South Carolina;   South Dakota;   Tennessee;   Texas;   Utah;   Vermont;   Virginia;   Washington, DC;   Washington;   West Virginia;   Wisconsin;   Wyoming

USA Territories: American Samoa (USA)   Guam (USA)   Puerto Rico (USA)   Virgin Islands (USA)   Northern Mariana Islands (USA)

USA Compact Free Associations: The Federated States of Micronesia (USA)   Marshall Islands (USA)   Republic of Palau (USA)

Canada: Alberta   British Columbia   Manitoba   New Brunswick   Newfoundland and Labrador   Northwest Territories   Nova Scotia   Nunavut   Ontario   Prince Edward Island   Quebec   Saskatchewan   Yukon


International country outside of the USA, Israel and Canada.

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