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Sundance Institute receives $5 million grant from Open Society Foundations

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Park City, Utah: Innovative documentary films addressing some of the most important issues facing the world today received a boost with a $5 million grant to the Sundance Institute. Christopher Stone, president of the Open Society Foundations, announced the dollar-for-dollar matching grant at the Sundance Film Festival.

"My foundations have long supported arts and culture-especially film-as a means to build and strengthen open societies around the world," said George Soros, Founder and Chairman of the Open Society Foundations. "This support will help bring open society issues to a wider audience."

The Sundance Institute’s Documentary Film Program advances nonfiction storytelling on a broad range of contemporary social issues and provides leading support for independent documentary filmmakers worldwide. 

The Open Society Foundations in 1996 launched the Documentary Film Program, which was made part of Sundance Institute in 2002.

“Documentary films profoundly impact our culture; they challenge the traditional role of journalism by illuminating stories that inform, inspire and connect us as members of a global community, said Robert Redford, Founder and President of Sundance Institute. "The continued support from George Soros and the Open Society Foundations speaks to our shared belief in the value and power of documentary film.” 

Through a suite of year-round programs including direct grants to filmmakers, Labs, creative and tactical resources, and a variety of partnerships and international initiatives, the program provides a unique, global resource for contemporary independent documentary film. 

 "The Open Society Foundations have long been one of the world’s leading supporters of those defending and promoting human rights," said Chris Stone, President of the Open Society Foundations. "We believe that film can intensify conversations on rights, justice, and social ills.”

For nearly three decades, Sundance Institute has promoted independent storytelling to inform and inspire audiences across political, social, religious and cultural differences. Through labs, funding, special projects with key partners and the Sundance Film Festival, the Institute serves as the leading advocate for independent artists worldwide. 

 “As the landscape of non-fiction storytelling continues to evolve, independent documentary filmmakers are increasingly exploring new forms and formats.” said Keri Putnam, Executive Director of Sundance Institute. “With the support of Open Society Foundations, Sundance Institute will continue to seek out and support inventive artists whose work pushes the boundaries of non-fiction story telling and whose stories redefine existing notions of human rights.” 

Putnam added “Sundance is also committed to providing access to platforms for artists to creatively distribute their films and inspire and engage audiences around the world.” 

The Open Society Foundations, founded by George Soros, works in more than 100 countries to promote vibrant and tolerant democracies. The original Documentary Film Program paved the way for numerous contributions to storytelling and impact around human rights issues, seeding films that appeared globally in festivals, conferences, on public broadcasting and on cable and other outlets internationally, reaching millions of viewers and mainstreaming the importance of human rights considerations into prevailing social discourse. Its very existence helped establish the emerging primacy of documentary film in galvanizing and consolidating interest and action around key human rights issues, proving to be a model for other funds and initiatives. 

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