Doris Duke Foundation Awards $1M to Sundance for Muslim Storytelling

Short Summary:

The Doris Duke Foundation has committed $1 million to the Sundance Institute to support Muslim storytelling through the Building Bridges Fellowship and Completion Fund. This three-year initiative will provide financial support, mentorship, and networking opportunities to filmmakers, with grants of up to $25,000 available for post-production and marketing. Six artists are selected as the inaugural fellows, benefiting from tailored services and industry exposure.
Sundance Film Festival
United States (USA)

The Doris Duke Foundation has announced a significant $1 million grant to the Sundance Institute, furthering its mission to uplift Muslim stories through the newly established Building Bridges Fellowship and Completion Fund. This three-year initiative aims to provide essential financial and creative resources, mentorship, and industry support to filmmakers and creators focusing on Muslim narratives.

The Building Bridges Fellowship is designed to foster creativity and equip fellows with the necessary skills to navigate the entertainment landscape. Each fellow will receive an unrestricted grant of $10,000, alongside access to a customized slate of services tailored to their creative and career goals. Additionally, the fellows will be part of the Sundance Collab Community, gaining year-round professional development opportunities through Sundance Institute’s ELEVATE program.

The Completion Fund will offer non-repayable grants of up to $25,000 to support post-production, marketing, and public relations efforts for Muslim-focused films and episodic content. This funding is crucial for filmmakers aiming to premiere their works at the Sundance Film Festival and connect with wider audiences.

“Great stories change hearts and minds — but only those hearts and minds they can reach,” stated Sam Gill, President and CEO of the Doris Duke Foundation. “The Building Bridges Fellowship and Completion Fund will elevate the fresh voices and stories we so desperately need in our fractured society.”

“For nearly 20 years, the Doris Duke Foundation has worked to create inclusive spaces for artists and creators to tell authentic Muslim stories,” said Zeyba Rahman, Director of the Building Bridges Program at the Doris Duke Foundation. “We are thrilled to expand our partnership with the Sundance Institute and Islamic Scholarship Fund to create the Building Bridges Fellowship program, ensuring these emerging talents have access to the very best the industry has to offer and greater opportunities to bring their stories to life.”

Hajnal Molnar-Szakacs, Director of Artist Accelerator and Women at Sundance, expressed excitement about the partnership, saying, “This visionary program not only offers support from project inception to audience engagement but also nurtures a vibrant pipeline of artists and the diverse narratives that enrich our world.”

The six inaugural fellows for 2024 have been selected based on their unique projects and storytelling capabilities. These filmmakers will benefit from curated in-person Sundance Film Festival experiences, including targeted panels, industry meetings, and screenings, fostering a supportive community among peers and alumni mentors.

The 2024 Building Bridges Fellows and Their Projects:

  • Fatimah Asghar, When We Were Sisters — A poignant exploration of the bond between three orphaned U.S. Muslim siblings.
  • Colette Ghunim, Traces of Home — A documentary tracing the forced migrations of Ghunim’s parents from Mexico and Palestine.
  • Sherif Ibrahim, Wormholes in Cairo — A time-travel adventure featuring a 16-year-old ancestor and his 29-year-old descendant.
  • Samia Khan-Bambrah, The Banker’s Daughter — An intimate memoir of the rise and fall of the Bank of Credit and Commercial International (BCCI).
  • Samina Saifee, AmeriGirl — A coming-of-age story about a 12-year-old girl navigating friendships at a summer camp.
  • Akram Shibly, The Gift of Flight — A British Palestinian postal worker’s quest to save his childhood home.

The Building Bridges Fellowship and Completion Fund are part of the Sundance Institute’s Artist Accelerator Program, which strives to create a more equitable and sustainable independent film and television ecosystem. This initiative aligns with the foundation’s broader efforts to promote mutual understanding and combat hate against U.S. Muslim communities.

For more information about the Sundance Institute and its artist programs, visit Sundance Institute.

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