First Cohort of Muslim Artists Announced for Sundance-Disney Fellowship

Image: Sundance Institute
Image: Sundance Institute

Short Summary:

The Sundance Institute and The Walt Disney Company have launched the "Sundance Institute | The Walt Disney Company Muslim Artist Fellowship," aimed at supporting four Muslim artists with a year-round development program. This initiative includes a $15,000 grant for each artist and opportunities for networking, aimed at enhancing Muslim representation in film and television.
Sundance Film Festival
United States (USA)

The Sundance Institute, renowned for its support of independent filmmaking, and The Walt Disney Company have jointly announced the inception of the “Sundance Institute | The Walt Disney Company Muslim Artist Fellowship.” This pioneering program is designed to offer substantial creative and strategic support to four Muslim artists, facilitating their growth and enhancing their impact in the film and television industry.

This fellowship is a part of Disney Future Storytellers, an initiative that underscores Disney’s commitment to nurturing the next wave of storytelling talent. Mahin Ibrahim, who holds the position of Director of Creative Talent Pathways, Representation & Inclusion Strategies at Disney, expressed enthusiasm about the partnership, highlighting the goal to enrich the industry with diverse perspectives and narratives.

The program provides each artist with an unrestricted grant of $15,000 to support their projects, along with customized support from the Sundance Institute tailored to their individual objectives. Moreover, the fellowship offers unique networking and community-building opportunities, enabling participants to engage with peers and industry professionals.

Hajnal Molnar-Szakacs, Sundance Institute’s Director of Artist Accelerator and Women at Sundance Programs, emphasized the importance of this initiative in promoting Muslim artists and their stories, aiming to increase visibility and representation in mainstream media.

The first cohort of the fellowship includes a diverse group of artists with unique projects:

  • Kamau Bilal, a filmmaker whose project, Brick Thieves, explores the challenges faced by a family-owned demolition business.
  • Razi Jafri, a documentary filmmaker working on Sanctuary, Purgatory, which follows a Yemeni refugee's struggle in South Korea.
  • Sarah Mokh, a writer and director focusing on Diary of a Muslim Cynic, a narrative exploring personal tragedy and mystical encounters.
  • Jumai Yusuf, who is developing Layla and the Starship Afrotopia, an afrofuturist animated series aimed at families and older children.

This fellowship signifies a significant step towards embracing diversity and inclusivity within the film and television industry, promising a future where diverse narratives and perspectives are celebrated and shared widely.