The Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program recently announced its second round of grants for 2006 with 20 feature-length documentary films receiving a total of $600,000. Dedicated to supporting U.S. and international documentary films that focus on current human rights issues, freedom of expression, social justice, civil liberties, and exploring critical issues of our time, the Program’s Documentary Fund was established at Sundance Institute in 2002 with a gift from the Open Society Institute and is supported by a leadership grant from the Ford Foundation. Sundance Institute Documentary Fund grants are announced twice a year and since its inception at the Institute, the Fund has disbursed almost $4.5 million to over 125 projects.
A committee of human rights experts and film professionals made recommendations from over 300 projects submitted by filmmakers from around the world. These projects represent a number of themes, including: how religion informs our values and beliefs; the debates over global warming; the experience of war and its aftermath and daily life in several Middle Eastern countries. In supporting such work, the Sundance Institute Documentary Fund encourages the diverse exchange of ideas crucial to developing an open society, raising public consciousness about human rights abuses and restrictions of civil liberties, and fostering an ongoing dialogue about these issues.
The 20 Sundance Institute Documentary Fund grant recipients are:
DREAM OF SHAHRAZAD (South Africa)
Dream follows self-exiled Iranian conductor Alexander (Ali) Rahbari as he returns to Iran to lead the Tehran Symphony Orchestra in a performance of Rimsky-Korsakov’s SCHEHERAZADE suite, the classic symphonic rendition of tales from THE ARABIAN NIGHTS. Using the music as starting point, the film explores the ways in which the West perceives Islam and the Middle East.
This collaboration between “urban theorist” Mike Davis and the filmmaker is a meditation on the changing shape of cities in the modern age.
PORT OF MEMORY (Palestine/Germany)
The film is an historical recounting of the occupation of the Palestinian port town of Jaffa by Israeli forces in 1948 by survivors of the occupation and visible traces in present day Jaffa.
Deann Borshay Liem
PRECIOUS OBJECTS OF DESIRE (US)
A feature-length follow up to Liem’s personal meditation, FIRST PERSON PLURAL, the film will document the search for a woman whose identity the director was given at the time of her adoption from South Korea by an American couple.
Release explores the psychological and political repercussions of the United States’ policy of detention at Guantanamo Bay Prison by following the stories of men released from Guantanamo and returning home.
Carrie Lozano and Sam Green
SPEAKING FROM THE GRAVE (US)
This film is an in-depth exploration of the new frontier of forensic anthropology and the use of science to bring about justice in countries affected by war.
WAR IS A FORCE THAT GIVES US MEANING (US)
A kaleidoscopic journey into the aftermath of war, inspired by and adapted from the national bestseller written by veteran New York Times correspondent Chris Hedges.
Phil Grabsky (UK)
ANGOLA MUSIC SCHOOL (Rivers of Gold) (working title)
The film follows a year in the troubled life of Luanda’s only music school. Phil Grabsky follows the school director and three students as they navigate post-war Angola while pursuing their dreams.
Ed Pincus and Lucia Small (US)
THE AXE IN THE ATTIC
Two filmmakers embark on a road trip across America to document the lives of those displaced by Hurricane Katrina.
Tony Gerber and Jesse Moss (US)
FULL BATTLE RATTLE
Full Battle Rattle follows life inside the US Army’s Iraq simulation in California’s Mojave Desert from the perspective of the Iraqi-American civilians who work there as “role players” and the US soldiers who train there.
Daniel B. Gold and Judith Helfand (US)
A group of self-appointed global warming messengers are on a life or death quest to find the iconic image, proper language, and points of leverage that will help the public go from embracing the urgency of the problem to creating the political will necessary to push for a new energy economy. Meanwhile, the industry funded nay-sayers sing what just might be their swan song of scientific doubt and deception.
Weijun Chen (China/South Africa)
PLEASE VOTE FOR ME
This film follows the race for the prestigious role of Class Monitor in a grade school in China, reflecting on the larger issue of whether democracy is possible in China.
Esteban Uyarra and Michael Christofferson (DENMARK)
SADDAM ON TRIAL: BATTLE FOR SADDAM
The filmmakers were granted unprecedented behind-the-scenes access to this historic trial in a gripping account of the trial of former dictator Saddam Hussein.
Kate Davis, David Heilbroner and Franco Sacchi (US)
WAITING FOR ARMAGEDDON
The film is an in-depth look at individuals and communities of Christian Apocalyptic believers in contemporary America.
Nahid Persson (Iran)
MY WIVES AND ME
Persson’s latest film is an intimate and often comic portrait of a man living with multiple wives and numerous children in an Iranian village.
Mahmoud Al Massad (Jordan)
RECYCLE follows an ex-mujahadeen in Jordan struggling to balance his Islamic faith with the disillusionment and hardships of his daily life.
Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern (US)
THE DEVIL CAME ON HORSEBACK
Following the experiences of former US Marine Brian Steidle, the film documents his quest to document and expose acts of genocide after serving as an unarmed military observer for the African Union in Darfur, Sudan from 2004 through 2005.
Maria Finitzo (US)
TERRA INCOGNITA: THE PROMISE AND PERILS OF STEM CELL RESEARCH
The issues and controversy surrounding stem-cell research are illuminated by the story of one doctor’s pioneering research and the personal stake he has in its success.
Julie Bridgham (US)
THE SARI SOLDIERS
The film intimately follows the story of six Nepali women on opposing sides of Nepal’s conflict as they battle to transform their country’s future.
Parvez Sharma (US)
IN THE NAME OF ALLAH (working title)
This film is an exploration of the intersection of Islam and homosexuality. Openly gay, Muslim filmmaker Parvez Sharma creates a mosaic of homosexuals living in Islamic countries and countries with diasporic Muslim populations.