By Ray Pride

Artists, Critics, Writers, Filmmakers Among Sundance Institute 2017 Art of Nonfiction Fellows and Grantees

 Artists, Writers, Filmmakers Among Sundance Institute’s 
2017 Art of Nonfiction Fellows and Grantees. New: Nonfiction Critics Fellowship, Fostering New Writing on Documentary

Los Angeles, CA — Sundance Institute’s Art of Nonfiction Initiative welcomes four Fellows and five Grantees, as well as three Nonfiction Critics Fellows, in its third year of granting key creative and financial support to inventive nonfiction storytellers working in the field today.

“This year’s Art of Nonfiction cohort, expanded to include writing fellows, signals our commitment to supporting artists in getting inventive nonfiction work made, seen and situated within the culture.” said Tabitha Jackson, Director of Sundance Institute’s Documentary Film Program. “At a time when the independent voice has never been more necessary, learning from artists about how we can better support and sustain their creative process so that they can describe the world truthfully and powerfully is not a luxury but a necessity.”

The Art of Nonfiction Fellowship, encouraging the creative process of boundary-pushing nonfiction filmmakers, includes an unrestricted direct-to-artist grant and a yearlong fellowship track tailored to each Fellow’s creative aspirations and challenges. The Art of Nonfiction Fund, supporting pioneering artists at the forefront of creative nonfiction filmmaking, provides grants annually to filmmakers developing a project that takes on an inventive cinematic approach and pushes the boundaries of the form. Alumni of the Art of Nonfiction Fellowship and Fund include Khalik Allah (Field Niggas) Kitty Green (Casting JonBenét), Kirsten Johnson (Cameraperson), Joshua Oppenheimer (The Act of Killing) and Robert Greene (Kate Plays Christine).

New this year, the Nonfiction Critics Fellowship was developed to address a dearth of nuanced and in-depth critical writing about nonfiction films. Each fellow receives financial support as well as participation in process-oriented conferences and workshops, including the Sundance Institute’s Documentary Edit and Story Labs. During the course of the year are encouraged to explore new modes of nonfiction criticism. The Fellowship is developed in partnership with the Jonathan B. Murray Center for Documentary Journalism at the University of Missouri, and Artist Advisor Eric Hynes.

The 2017 Art of Nonfiction Fellows are:

Theo Anthony is a writer, photographer, and filmmaker currently based in Baltimore, MD. His work been featured by the The Atlantic, Vice, BBC World News, and other international media outlets. His films have received premieres at the Toronto International Film Festival, Locarno International Film Festival, Rotterdam International Film Festival, SXSW, and Anthology Film Archives. In 2015, he was named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film”. His first feature, RAT FILM, debuted at the 2016 Locarno International Film Festival to critical acclaim, with Richard Brody of the New Yorker calling it “one of the most extraordinary, visionary inspirations in the recent cinema”. RAT FILM will be distributed domestically by Cinema Guild and internationally by Visit Films. Theo is currently in production on his next untitled project.

Garrett Bradley is an American-born artist and filmmaker. An alumna of Smith College, UCLA and The Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, she is a 2014 Gotham Award nominee and recipient of the 2017 Sundance Film Festival Jury Award for Nonfiction Filmmaking. She has also received the Artadia Prospect 3 Award and is a grantee of the Art Matters Foundation, the Ford Foundation and the Warhol Foundation for her upcoming project due to release in 2018 entitled American Rhapsody. Bradley’s work has screened at festivals and institutions around the world including The Rotterdam International Film Festival, DokuFest, The Tribeca Film Festival, The International Arts Biennial, Prospect 3, Rooftop Film Festival, SXSW, The Hammer Museum and the US Embassy in Tel Aviv. Her most recent short film, Alone was released by The New York Times Op-Docs. Bradley lives and works in New Orleans, Louisiana where she currently serves as Adjunct Faculty at Loyola University.

Sierra Pettengill is a Brooklyn-based filmmaker. Her most recent film, The Reagan Show, an all-archival documentary which she co-directed with Pacho Velez, played at the Tribeca Film Festival and the Locarno Film Festival in 2017. She produced the Academy Award-nominated documentary Cutie and the Boxer, which also won a News & Doc Emmy Award for Best Documentary. Town Hall, her feature-length documentary, co-directed with Jamila Wignot, broadcast nationally on PBS in 2014. She was the associate producer of several Emmy-nominated historical documentaries for HBO and PBS, and the archivist on Jim Jarmusch’s Gimme Danger (Cannes 2016), Mike Mills’ 20th Century Women (NYFF 2016), Robert Greene’s Kate Plays Christine (Sundance 2016), and Matt Wolf’s Teenage (Tribeca Film Festival 2013), amongst many others. Her writing on film has appeared in frieze magazine, IDA Magazine, and The Talkhouse. Sierra’s next project, Riotsville, USA, is currently in development

Iva Radivojevic is a Brooklyn-based filmmaker who spent her early years in Yugoslavia and Cyprus. Her films have screened at NYFF, SXSW, Rotterdam IFF, HotDocs, MOMA (NYC), PBS, and via The New York Times Op-Docs. She is the recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship, 2011, 2012, 2017 Princess Grace Special Project Award and Film Fellowship and was named one of 25 New Faces of Independent Film by Filmmaker Magazine. Her debut film Evaporating Borders received numerous awards worldwide. Her work Notes From The Border was commissioned for the launch of Field of Vision, founded by Laura Poitras, AJ Schnack and Charlotte Cook. When not working on her own films, Iva cuts both documentary and narrative films, including Celia Rowlson-Hall’s MA, Keith Miller’s Five Star, Martin DiCicco’s All That Passes By Through A Window That Doesn’t Open. She’s currently working on her new film Aleph, inspired by Jorge Luis Borges.

The 2017 Art of Nonfiction Grantees and their supported projects are:

Ra’anan Alexandrowicz, Regarding Ourselves and the Pain of Others

Ra’anan Alexandrowicz is the writer and director of awad-winning films such as The Law in These Parts (Sundance 2012 Grand Jury Award International Documentary,  Peabody Award 2013), the fiction feature James’ Journey to Jerusalem (Cannes 2003 – Director’s Fortnight, Toronto Film Festival 2003), the documentary The Inner Tour (New Directors New Films 2001, Sundance Film Festival 2002), and the documentary Martin (Berlin Film Festival 2000  – Forum for Young Cinema, Purchased for the MoMA permanent film collection). Ra’anan’s critically-acclaimed works have been theatrically-released to international audiences and broadcast worldwide. As an editing advisor Ra’anan served as a consultant on groundbreaking films including Risk (2017), Newtown(2016), A Flickering Truth (2015) Citizenfour (2014), and Trouble the Water (2008).

Regarding Ourselves and the Pain of Others explores contemporary media viewers’ consciousness and the questions the effect depiction of the pain of distant others in audio-visual media.

Yance Ford, Untitled 

Director Yance Ford is a Sundance Institute Fellow, a Creative Capital Grantee and featured in Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film. A graduate of Hamilton College and the Production Workshop at Third World Newsreel, he is a former series producer of the PBS anthology series POV. Ford’s feature documentary Strong Island has played over 15 film festivals worldwide. The Root 100 recently named Ford among the most influential African Americans of 2017. In December the International Documentary Association will present him with their Emerging Filmmaker Award. The Guardian said of his directorial debut “There’s something different about Strong Island, however, a film characterized by raw emotion and calm anger, which must surely be considered one of the finest documentaries of 2017…” Strong Island launched globally on Netflix September 15th.

Project information omitted by request of the artist.

Betzabé Garcia, #Mickey

Betzabé Garcia is the producer and director of the feature documentary Kings of Nowhere (2015), winner of the SX:Global Audience Award at SXSW, the Grand Jury Award at Full Frame Documentary Festival, the Golden Eye for Best International Documentary Film at the Zurich Film Festival, Best Documentary at the Morelia International Film Festival and a number of other awards. The film also screened at Sheffield Doc/Fest, MoMA’s Doc Fortnight, Frames of Representation at ICA, the Warsaw Film Festival and a number. It was nominated for Outstanding Achievement in a Debut Feature Film at the 2016 Cinema Eye Honors, Best Documentary at the Mexican Ariel Awards and won the Golden Eye at Zurich Film Festival. Betzabé also won Best Director of a Documentary Film at the 2016 Cinema Tropical Awards in NYC. Kings of Nowhere is distributed by FilmBuff and was bought by SundanceTV.  Betzabé also directed the The New York Times Op-Docs short Unsilenced (2016).

#Mickey – Born in a land of drug cartels and carnival queens, Mickey found in social media a platform where she can explore her gender fluid sexual identity and deal with the deep homophobia of her environment. She has become a well-known Youtube personality, but now she is fighting a new identity crisis: a conflict between her online persona and her real self.

Adam and Zack Khalil, Untitled Norval Morrisseau Project

Adam Khalil and Zack Khalil (Ojibway) are filmmakers and artists from Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan and currently based in Brooklyn, New York. Their work centers indigenous narratives in the present —  and looks towards the future — while subverting traditional forms of ethnography through humor, transgression, and innovative documentary practice. Their films and installations have been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, e-flux, UnionDocs, Maysles Cinema, Microscope Gallery (New York), Walker Arts Center (Minneapolis), Spektrum (Berlin), Trailer Gallery (Sweden), and Carnival of eCreativity (Bombay). They both graduated from the Film and Electronic Arts program at Bard College, and are UnionDocs Collaborative Fellows, Gates Millennium Scholars, and current Sundance Native Film Fellows.

Untitled Norval Morrisseau Project is an unflinching cinematic portrait of Norval Morrisseau, the infamous and lauded forefather of contemporary indigenous art. His tumultuous life, defined by perpetual transformation, is presented through seven vignettes, each representing one of the seven stages of life in the Anishinaabe worldview.

Deborah Stratman, Hello Ladies

Artist and filmmaker Deborah Stratman is interested in landscapes and systems.  Much of her work points to the relationships between physical environments and human struggles for power and control that play out on the land.  Recent projects have addressed freedom, expansionism, surveillance, public speech, sinkholes, levitation, orthoptera, raptors, infrastructure, levitation, comets and faith.  She has exhibited internationally at venues including MoMA NY, Centre Pompidou, Hammer Museum, Mercer Union, Witte de With, the Whitney Biennial and festivals including Sundance, Viennale, Berlinale, CPH/DOX, Oberhausen, Ann Arbor, Full Frame and Rotterdam.  Stratman is the recipient of Fulbright, Guggenheim and USA Collins Fellowships, an Alpert Award, and grants from Creative Capital, Graham Foundation and Wexner Center for the Arts.  She lives in Chicago where she teaches at the University of Illinois.

Hello Ladies is a hybrid doc that looks to women’s language, gesture, rhythm and the public voice as modes of resistance. Science-nonfiction set in Ethiopia’s Afar Depression and the U.S. capitol, in celebration of alternative voices and radical women asking who speaks? Who gestures? Who makes? Who gets heard?

The 2017 Sundance Institute Nonfiction Critics Fellows are:

Logan Hill is a veteran arts reporter and critic who spent more than a decade as a staff writer and editor at New York Magazine and Vulture, then a year at GQ. Now he contributes regularly to The New York Times, Cosmopolitan, Esquire, Rolling Stone, and Wired—and less regularly to outlets including “This American Life,” Billboard, Elle, and Men’s Journal. He also hosts TimesTalks and the new NYT screening series ScreenTimes. You can find links to his stories at

Nick Pinkerton has been writing about film and other moving image-based art since the early aughts, when he rose to power through the online journal Reverse Shot. He converted several years as a contributor at the Village Voice into a semi-booming freelance practice which includes regular contributions to Film Comment, Sight & Sound, Artforum, Frieze, and sundry other publications which he deems worthy to receive his prose.

Alissa Wilkinson is the staff film critic at, which she joined in September 2016 after a decade of writing about film, books, television, and visual art at publications including Rolling Stone, Vulture,, Pacific Standard, Christianity Today, Books & Culture, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Thrillist, Flavorwire, Paste, and more. She is an associate professor of English and humanities at The King’s College in New York City, where she teaches criticism and cultural theory, and is a member of the New York Film Critics Circle.

Sundance Institute’s Art of Nonfiction Initiative is made possible by founding support from Cinereach. Generous additional support is provided by Genuine Article Pictures, Nion McEvoy & Leslie Berriman.

Sundance Institute
Founded in 1981 by Robert Redford, Sundance Institute is a nonprofit organization that provides and preserves the space for artists in film, theatre, and new media to create and thrive. 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. The Sundance Film Festival and other public programs connect audiences to artists in igniting new ideas, discovering original voices, and building a community dedicated to independent storytelling. Sundance Institute has supported such projects as Boyhood, Swiss Army Man, Manchester By the Sea, Brooklyn, Little Miss Sunshine, Life, Animated, Sonita, 20 Feet From Stardom, Beasts of the Southern WildFruitvale StationSin Nombre, Spring AwakeningA Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder and Fun Home.

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What do you make of the criticism directed at the film that the biopic genre or format is intrinsically bourgeois? That’s the most crazy criticism. That’s an excuse for not engaging with the content of the movie. Film critics sometimes, you know, can be very lazy.

Come on, formal criticism is valuable too. But I’m amazed when this is the thing they put in front of the discourse. My situation is that I’m dealing with a highly explosive subject, a taboo subject that nobody wants to deal with.

Karl Marx? Yes, this is the first film ever in the Western world about Marx. And I managed to make an almost mainstream film out of it. You want me at the same time to play the artist and do a risky film about the way my camera moves and the way I edit? No, it’s complicated enough! The artistic challenge — and it took me ten years with Pascal to write this story — was the writing. That was the most difficult part. We were making a film about the evolution of an idea, which is impossible. To be able to have political discourse in a scene, and you can follow it, and it’s not simplified, and it’s historically true. This is the accomplishment. So when someone criticizes the formal aspects without seeing that first, for me, it’s laziness or ignorance. There’s an incapacity to deal with what’s on the table. I make political films about today, I’m not making a biopic to make a biopic. I don’t believe in being an artist just to be an artist. And by the way, this film cost $9 million. I dare anyone in the United States to make this film for $9 million.
Raoul Peck on The Young Karl Marx

“The Motion Picture Academy, at considerable expense and with great efficiency, runs all the nominated pictures at its own theater, showing each picture twice, once in the afternoon, once in the evening. A nominated picture is one in connection with which any kind of work is nominated for an award, not necessarily acting, directing, or writing; it may be a purely technical matter such as set-dressing or sound work. This running of pictures has the object of permitting the voters to look at films which they may happen to have missed or to have partly forgotten. It is an attempt to make them realize that pictures released early in the year, and since overlaid with several thicknesses of battered celluloid, are still in the running and that consideration of only those released a short time before the end of the year is not quite just.

“The effort is largely a waste. The people with votes don’t go to these showings. They send their relatives, friends, or servants. They have had enough of looking at pictures, and the voices of destiny are by no means inaudible in the Hollywood air. They have a brassy tone, but they are more than distinct.”All this is good democracy of a sort. We elect Congressmen and Presidents in much the same way, so why not actors, cameramen, writers, and all rest of the people who have to do with the making of pictures? If we permit noise, ballyhoo, and theater to influence us in the selection of the people who are to run the country, why should we object to the same methods in the selection of meritorious achievements in the film business? If we can huckster a President into the White House, why cannot we huckster the agonized Miss Joan Crawford or the hard and beautiful Miss Olivia de Havilland into possession of one of those golden statuettes which express the motion picture industry’s frantic desire to kiss itself on the back of its neck? The only answer I can think of is that the motion picture is an art. I say this with a very small voice. It is an inconsiderable statement and has a hard time not sounding a little ludicrous. Nevertheless it is a fact, not in the least diminished by the further facts that its ethos is so far pretty low and that its techniques are dominated by some pretty awful people.

“If you think most motion pictures are bad, which they are (including the foreign), find out from some initiate how they are made, and you will be astonished that any of them could be good. Making a fine motion picture is like painting “The Laughing Cavalier” in Macy’s basement, with a floorwalker to mix your colors for you. Of course most motion pictures are bad. Why wouldn’t they be?”
~ Raymond Chandler, “Oscar Night In Hollywood,” 1948