You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

A&E, Sundance Institute Partner on Documentary Film Grants (EXCLUSIVE)

The Sundance Institute and A&E are partnering on a new series of grants that will help documentary filmmakers develop their projects. Dubbed the “Brave Storytellers Award,” the program will give four directors $25,000 in seed funding, as well as mentorship from the staff of the Institute. The idea is to help them shape their documentaries at the earliest stages of their production. 

“We want to develop the bench of documentary filmmakers,” said Molly Thompson,  the founder and head of A&E IndieFilms. “These are basically fire-starter grants. They let people come in with an idea, and gives them a chance to shoot for a few days and see if they have enough to make a film.”

A&E IndieFilms is the feature documentary division of A&E Network. The channel has been very active in the space in recent years, fielding such acclaimed films as “City of Ghosts,” “Cartel Land,” “The Imposter,” and “Life Animated.” This year the division debuted “Studio 54,” Matt Tyrnauer’s comprehensive look at the disco mecca, at the Sundance Film Festival, where it received sterling reviews. The company often partners with indie studios such as Magnolia, Sony Pictures Classics, or The Orchard to release their films theatrically. “Studio 54” is looking for theatrical distribution.

The Sundance Institute not only presents the Utah-based film festival of the same name, but it also nurtures rising directors and screenwriters by pairing them with established directors, editors, cinematographers and actors who serve as creative advisers.

Rob Sharenow, president of programming at A&E Networks, praised Thompson’s work in building the division into a premiere boutique label, calling it “the mouse that roared” when it comes to releasing documentaries. He said that ideally the grant will identify filmmakers who can join the fold.

“The dream is to discover new voices,” said Sharenow. “It gives us the opportunity to stay involved in some of these projects. Sometimes we will and sometimes we won’t.”

More Film

  • Woolsey Fire Malibu

    Many Malibu Areas Still Off-Limits for Filming After Fire

    The California Film Commission has maintained its ban on filming in several Malibu areas hit by the massive Woolsey fire in Southern California last month. The commission announced Tuesday that due to continued clean-up and repair work along Pacific Coast Highway, permits for filming on the highway are not being issued at this time. PCH [...]

  • Against the Clock

    Film News Roundup: Andy Garcia's Spy Thriller 'Against the Clock' Bought by Gravitas

    In today’s film news roundup, Andy Garcia’s spy thriller is sold, “Battlestar Galactica” gets a screenwriter, and Brooklyn Decker gets an award. ACQUISITION Gravitas Ventures has acquired North American rights to spy thriller “Against the Clock,” starring Andy Garcia, Dianna Agron (“Glee”), and Justin Bartha, Variety has learned exclusively. The film, formerly titled “Headlock,” is [...]

  • 'Pacific Rim Uprising' film premiere

    John Boyega in Talks to Star in Legal Drama 'A Naked Singularity'

    “Star Wars” actor John Boyega is in talks to star in the legal drama “A Naked Singularity” with Ridley Scott’s Scott Free Productions on board to produce. The movie is based on Sergio De La Pava’s debut novel, which centers on a successful New York public defender whose life begins to unravel after he loses [...]

  • Penny Marshall Dead Obit

    Remembering Penny Marshall, Who Forged Her Own Path and Paved the Way for Others

    She was a natural comedian — fearless and funny, willing to trade on her natural Bronx brogue to craft a sassy and street-wise character that was tailor-made for sitcoms. But Penny Marshall, who died Monday night at the age of 75, proved throughout her long career that she had so much more in the way [...]

  • Aquaman 2018

    'Aquaman' Outpacing 'Wonder Woman' in Fandango Pre-Sales

    Pre-sales of “Aquaman,” which opens on Thursday night, are outpacing “Wonder Woman” at the same point in the advance ticket sales cycle on online ticketer Fandango. “Wonder Woman” opened with $103 million domestically during the June 2 to June 4, 2017, weekend on its way to a $412 million North American total for Warner Bros. “Aquaman,” [...]

  • European Union Placeholder

    Europe, Hollywood Hail Landmark E.U. Territorial Licensing Agreement

    Industry organizations and major companies in Europe and Hollywood welcomed Tuesday a high-level European Union agreement that in large part preserves producers’ ability to sell movies and TV shows on an exclusive territory-by-territory basis. Territorial licensing is a financial backbone of the film and TV business in Europe. Recognition of such licensing came last Thursday in [...]

  • Box Office: 'Aquaman,' 'Mary Poppins Returns'

    Box Office: 'Aquaman' Battles 'Mary Poppins Returns' in Crowded Holiday Weekend

    It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and the most competitive time at the multiplexes. This weekend sees two very different heroes vying for the box office crown with “Aquaman” and “Mary Poppins Returns” both eyeing sizable debuts. “Mary Poppins Returns” is getting a head start by opening on Wednesday, though estimates show “Aquaman” [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content