Ten Nonfiction Films Combine Art, Science, Storytelling: Sundance Institute | Sandbox Fund Grantees

 

The nonprofit Sundance Institute and Sandbox Films, a new mission-driven documentary studio, selected and announced their latest cohort of filmmakers and projects supported by the Sundance Institute | Sandbox Fund, an initiative that elevates the voices of independent artists working at the intersection of science and nonfiction storytelling as they produce and promote work and discourse that highlights the overlap of science and art.

The ten selected project teams will receive non-recoupable grants and access to Sundance Institute’s year-round continuum of support, which can help address creative, financial and production issues. In addition to this tailored project support, the grantees will receive opportunities for engagement events where they can connect with Sundance’s network of alumni and creative advisors and Sandbox Films ’s roster of renowned scientists, as well as enthusiastic audiences.

Hajnal Molnar-Szakacs, Sundance Institute Documentary Film Fund Director, said, “These visionary storytellers are working at a crucial intersection in this moment — one that centers artful nonfiction storytelling and scientific exploration and thinking. We’re pleased to champion their works, and look forward to leveraging our collective expertise to help them develop, shape and uplift their stories as they come together.”

Jessica Harrop, Head of Production, Sandbox Films, said, “We are thrilled to announce this new cohort of Sandbox Fund awardees, each of whom is expanding the boundaries of science storytelling in their own way. It is so important to us at Sandbox Films to reimagine what science stories can look like. We could not be more excited to see what this diverse group of artists creates.”

The 2020 Sundance Institute | Sandbox Fund Grantees are: 

DEVELOPMENT

The Age of Loneliness (USA, Canada, Germany)
dir. Jenni Morello
prod. Leslie Norville and Bennett Elliott

It is estimated that over 40% of the planet’s insect species are flying towards a catastrophic demise. As the world enters the 6th wave of extinction, we need to prepare ourselves to live in a flowerless world, with silent forests and the collapse of functioning ecosystems. If we lose insects, who is to say humans aren’t next? The Age of Loneliness is a look at the global fight to stop the impending insect apocalypse. 

Darwin’s Baby (Spain)
dir. Shenny A. Madrigal and Daniel B. Arvizu
prod. Shenny A. Madrigal and Daniel B. Arvizu

Darwin’s Baby follows the venture of an illustrator and a science-philosopher in their pursue to draw a user’s manual for the human mind. A map of where the inbuilt program ends and the self begins.

End of Land (USA, Russia)
dir. Sara Dosa
prod. Shane Boris, Anna Fitch, Elijah Stevens

End of Land is an observational portrait of apocalypse, myth, and the human relationship with non-human nature, told through the explorations and interpretations of a mysterious new phenomenon: exploding methane deposits that open portals to the past and leave vast craters on Siberia’s Yamal Peninsula.

Finding Your Voice (USA)
dir. Raúl O. Paz-Pastrana and Daniel Chein
prod. Raúl O. Paz-Pastrana and Daniel Chein

From vocalists to emcees, educators to artificial intelligence, our voices are something that define much of who we are, but which we often take for granted. Finding Your Voice explores our unique identity rooted in voice through the lens of science, technology, and culture, and the universal journey to find it. 

Red Moon (UK)
dir. Nelly Ben Hayoun-Stépanian
prod. Luke W. Moody

Old worlds decolonise future worlds, migrant bodies prepare to settle on the moon. Through role-play, magic, and doppelgängers, Red Moon offers an experimental vision and template for future diasporas beyond Earth. How will the first children of the moon understand origins, borders and territories?

Testosterone: The Movie (USA)
dir. Kimberly Reed
prod. Louise Rosen

In an eye-opening exploration of the gender spectrum, humans increasingly defy binary categories, while science has learned to measure biological sex by myriad factors. Is it time to socially redefine gender in more complex ways, beyond our narrow ideas of chromosomes and testosterone? 

Wilfred Buck (Canada)
dir. Lisa Jackson
prod. Lisa Jackson, Alicia Smith

Wilfred Buck is a hybrid feature centering on a Cree elder who’s been called the Indiana Jones of Indigenous star knowledge. Weaving together his harrowing past and his present life with sky stories, we’ll move between the gutter and the stars to unpack colonization’s impact on Indigenous ways of knowing.

PRODUCTION

Brigidy Bram: The Kendal Hanna Story (Bahamas, USA)
dir. Laura Gamse, Toby Lunn
prod. Kareem Mortimer, Bernard Myburgh

Bahamian painter Kendal Hanna endured years of 1950s-era electroshock therapy before emerging to create a body of work described as “a gold mine.” Artists and scientists collaborate to explore Hanna’s story and the forces that threatened to erase his memory, his work, and his name from history.

Nocturnes (India)
dir. Anirban Dutta and Anupama Srinivasan
prod. Anirban Dutta

In the dense forests of the Eastern Himalayas, a young woman scientist studies moths. A young man rediscovers the forest he has grown up with. The film follows their fascinating journey into the secret world of moths, inviting us to witness their beauty, their fragility in the face of rising temperatures and our own hidden connection with them.

Planet Nine (USA)
dir. Daniel J. Clark
prod. Caroline Clark, Nick Andert

The world’s greatest astronomers have recently calculated that a new planet, never before seen by human eyes, lurks at the edge of our solar system. Now, the race is on to find it, and whoever succeeds will be responsible for one of the most momentous discoveries in history.

For more information about the partnership go to https://www.sundance.org/sandbox-fund. For more information about Sandbox Films go to https://www.sandboxfilms.org/.
Sundance Institute
As a champion and curator of independent stories for the stage and screen, Sundance Institute provides and preserves the space for artists in film, theatre, film composing, and digital media to create and thrive. Founded in 1981 by Robert Redford, the Institute’s signature Labs, granting, and mentorship programs, dedicated to developing new work, take place throughout the year in the U.S. and internationally. Sundance Co//ab, a digital community platform, brings artists together to learn from each other and Sundance Advisors and connect in a creative space, developing and sharing works in progress. The Sundance Film Festival and other public programs connect audiences and artists to ignite new ideas, discover original voices, and build a community dedicated to independent storytelling. Sundance Institute has supported such projects as Clemency, Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Zola, On The Record, Boys State, The Farewell, Honeyland, One Child Nation, The Souvenir, The Infiltrators, Sorry to Bother You, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Hereditary, Call Me By Your Name, Get Out, The Big Sick, Mudbound, Fruitvale Station, City So Real, Top of the Lake, Between the World & Me, Wild Goose Dreams and Fun Home. Join Sundance Institute on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

Sandbox Films
Sandbox Films is a documentary studio that illuminates the art and beauty of scientific inquiry. Mission-driven. Artist-first. Non-profit. We collaborate with production partners and visionary filmmakers around the world, providing co-production and financing opportunities for feature-length documentary projects at every stage of production. We’re a collective that brings together clashing viewpoints, industries and approaches. We celebrate both the precision and peculiarities of the process. Because science should be embraced for what it really is: humankind’s weird, messy, brilliant way of navigating the world. Sandbox Films, LLC is an entity of the Simons Foundation, a 501c-3 organization dedicated to advancing the frontiers of scientific research. More info at: sandboxfilms.org.

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