Sundance Institute Launches New Fellowships, Scholarships for Latino and AAPI Artists

Sundance Institute Launches New Fellowships, Scholarships for Latino and AAPI Artists

The Sundance Institute is adding two new programs, focused on developing Latino and Asian American Pacific Islander artists, to its ongoing suite of initiatives aimed at diversifying independent media.

Both new programs include a fellowship and a scholarship component, with a different cohort selected for each. The Sundance Institute Latine Fellowship and Collab Scholarship is supported this year by board of trustees members Lyn Lear and Cindy Horn at the leadership funding level, and additionally by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Meanwhile, the Sundance Institute | The Asian American Foundation Fellowship and Collab Scholarship has been funded for the next two years by TAAF, a nonprofit founded in May 2021, through a $400,000 grant from its AAPI Giving Challenge partner Panda Express and an additional $140,000 from the MacArthur Foundation.

“It is our hope that by creating opportunities with these two program strands, we can elevate Latinx representation with more visibility, access to resources and meaningful connection with each other, the industry and the larger Sundance ecosystem,” said Michelle Satter, the Institute’s founding senior director of Artist Programs, in a statement about the Latino program.

“Asian American and Pacific Islander experiences are diverse and multifaceted, and creative industries have a significant role to play in properly highlighting these stories through investing in AAPI artists,” added Carrie Lozano, the Institute’s director of Documentary Film and Artist Programs, in a statement about the AAPI program.

The Latine Fellowship, for Institute alumni, is a yearlong multidisciplinary program that starts this month that includes a $10,000 unrestricted, non-recoupable grant for each fellow as well as creative and practical support for their projects. The Latine Scholarship allows entry-level Latino artists who have never previously participated in an Institute program to enroll in one of Sundance Collab’s live online courses. Scholarship recipients also will receive a Creator+ membership to access the Sundance Collab platform’s archived master classes and networking events, in addition to feedback from Sundance staff and artists on their projects.

The TAAF Fellowship, meanwhile, is giving a $20,000 unrestricted grant, plus non-monetary support, for each of its fellows’ projects. TAAF Scholarship recipients will receive the same benefits as their counterparts in the Latine Scholarship program.

“TAAF is helping build the infrastructure needed to increase AAPI representation and storytelling so that our communities can feel a broader sense of belonging in this country,” TAAF CEO Norman Chen said in a statement. “Investing in and empowering AAPI artists is a powerful way of ensuring our stories are seen as part of the fabric of American life and culture.”

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The six 2022 Sundance Institute Latine Fellows and their projects are below.

Ashley Alvarez (2022 Comedy Fellowship, 2022 Screenwriters Lab) and Michael León (2022 Comedy Fellowship, 2022 Directors Lab), Crabs in a Barrel: When her talentless frenemy is anointed the “future of Latinx voices,” a struggling Latina writers set out to sabotage the unearned opportunity. After failing to recruit her friends to join her crusade, she gets a lucky break when she learns her rival isn’t exactly who she says she is.

Luna X. Moya (2021 Accessible Futures Intensive), What the Pier Gave Us: A visually poetic film about immigrants who fish at a New York City pier, lyrically capturing the seasonal changes of a pier in a year in five vignettes.

Marilyn Oliva (2021 Ignite x Adobe Fellow), Chalate: A grandmother teaches her young granddaughter valuable life lessons while they make ends meet selling what they can in the small market of Chalatenango, El Salvador.

George Pérez (2022 Episodic Fellow), Los Cubanos: Forced to flee Castro’s Cuba in 1980, a husband and wife make the gut-wrenching decision to abandon their daughter. Now, in a menacing and uncertain America, they’ll do anything to protect their other child: becoming drug traffickers and assassins, echoing the past they left behind.

Cat Rodríguez (2021 Art of Practice Fellow), Untitled Bikini Bodybuilding Project: A hybrid theater and livestream performance that uses a female bodybuilding competition as an allegory for questions about race, class, gender and climate.

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The five 2022 Sundance Institute Latine Collab Scholarship recipients and their projects are below.

Shireen Alihaji, Blue Veil: In the wake of 9/11, a first-gen Muslim teenager discovers her mother’s record collection and begins sampling. The songs reflect her parent’s migration stories from Iran and Ecuador to America, and serve as a roadmap to Amina’s identity. As music unlocks memories, Amina remembers who she is.

Erin Nene-Lee Ramirez, Love, as an Illusion: In the heat of a New England summer, a young Dominican student finds himself stirring up the intimate dynamic between a reckless teenage couple as he spends his final days in the U.S., where he challenges the couple’s ideas of acceptance, intimacy and love.

Fabiano Mixo, A Home of My Own: When an insomniac handyman comes across a train in the forest after a flood in town, he decides it’s time to build his own house.

Maggy Torres-Rodriguez, Cherries: Inner-city Miami knew the gang as The Cherries, sweet Latina vigilantes who protected teenage girls by keeping drugs off the streets… and butchering drug dealers if they had to. Ten years later, the retired Cherries are forced to reconvene in order to survive against the resurgence of old enemies.

Mathew Ramirez Warren, Weed Dreams: Black-owned businesses in Oakland, California, try to break into the predominantly white legal cannabis industry through the nation’s first-ever cannabis equity program.

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The six inaugural Sundance Institute | TAAF Fellows and their projects are below.

Vera Brunner-Sung, Bitterroot: A Hmong man in Montana hides the truth about his lost job and failed marriage from his mother. But when she suddenly falls ill, he must finally reckon with his painful past to save them both.

Desdemona Chiang, Made in USA: A TV series about a Chinese-American casino host, who takes in the pregnant teen daughter of her wealthiest client after getting passed up for a promotion and unexpectedly fired, turns her home into a birth hotel to regain control of her life.

Shayok Misha Chowdhury, Rheology: A live concert-memoir-physics symposium about an artist son studying his physicist mother, who studies the strange behavior of sand. Together, they unravel the science – the story – of how things flow.

Tadashi Nakamura, Third Act: On its surface, it’s a biopic that explores Robert Nakamura’s life and role as the “Godfather of Asian American film,” made by his son, Tadashi Nakamura. But with Robert’s diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, the film poses a complex question: How can a father and son say goodbye?

Neo Sora, Earthquake: A feature film about a rabble-rousing teenager living in near-future Tokyo, where inhabitants await the next big earthquake, who must decide between continuing a life of youthful abandon, or losing one of his best friends whose blossoming political consciousness has made him more distant.

Sean Wang, Didi (弟弟): A feature film set in Fremont, California, in 2008. In the last month of summer before high school begins, an impressionable 13-year-old Taiwanese American boy learns what his family can’t teach him: how to skate, how to flirt and how to love your mom.

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The six 2022 Sundance Institute | TAAF Collab Scholarship recipients and their projects are below.

Georgia Fu, Approximate Joy: A feature film about a young Taiwanese American teenager who decides to run away with her high school history teacher to escape her grief from the sudden death of her father. On the road, she discovers that no matter how far you run, you cannot run away from yourself.

Leomax (Ziyuan) He, Gungnir: A thesis film set in 2020 Los Angeles, in which the outbreak of COVID-19 accidentally coincides with the birthday wish of a nine-year-old boy, Leo, who wants to stop a Chinese American girl, Charly, whom he crushes on from going back to China. He thinks the pandemic is due to his wish and panics every day as he fears others will learn his secret.

Jenna Lam, Ambitious: A web series starring an impatient, bold Vietnamese-Cambodian American girl who navigates her new life as a college dropout despite her immigrant mother’s wishes and plans for her.

Simi Prasad, Changing of the Guard: Set in a mythical world inspired by medieval India, after a dutiful commoner’s aunt is executed for failing to prevent the mysterious murder of the king she was sworn to defend, she takes her place as an elite guard to the new authoritarian queen to protect her family from retribution.

Norbert Shieh, Preserves: A feature-length documentary following the lives of those who keep a disappearing agricultural tradition alive through intimate moments between work and their quiet domestic lives. Taking place in Taiwan, the film is a lyrical portrait that explores “table to farm” for the culinary ingredient suan cai (酸菜), a pickled mustard green.

Nicole Solis-Sison, Papeles: A coming-of-age film about two young asylum refugees searching for the ICE agent who saved them.