Diversity Initiative

Sundance Institute has defined diversity as one of the core values driving the Institute’s work. The Diversity Initiative at Sundance encompasses our efforts in all programs of the organization to reach into new communities of storytellers and audiences across regions, genres, ethnicities, gender and orientation.

Our goals include deepening and expanding our connections to diverse communities, cultures, languages, and regions across the United States. In doing this we hope to increase the diversity of projects submitted for consideration to all Institute programs, and inspire new artists to tell their stories.

For a closer look at our own baseline statistics in the area of racial and ethnic diversity, we opened up our own records to Dr. Stacy L. Smith and her accomplished team at the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, University of Southern California. , Their report Race & Ethnicity in Independent Films: Prevalence of Underrepresented Directors and the Barriers They Face was completed in Spring, 2014.The report assesses the prevalence and experiences of statistically underrepresented directors in film. Dr. Smith examined the ethnicity and race of all directors (more than 1,000) of U.S. dramatic and documentary films screened at the Sundance Film Festival from 2002–2013. Researchers also identified relationships between diversity behind and in front of the camera for 118 Festival films from the past four years and compared this data with that of the 500 top-grossing films released theatrically between 2007–2012. Finally, 20 filmmakers from typically underrepresented groups were interviewed about the barriers they face in their industry.

(Sundance Institute, in collaboration with Women In Film Los Angeles, also published two research reports from Dr. Smith at her team exploring barriers and opportunities for women filmmakers starting from Sundance data. This research shaped the goals of the Women Filmmakers Initiative, which can be found here.

Allied Organizations:
Blackhouse Foundation
Black List
Cinema Tropical
Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment (CAPE)
Film Independent
Latino Public Broadcasting
Muslim Public Affairs Council MPAC’s Hollywood Bureau
National Association of Latino Arts and Culture
National Association of Latino Independent Producers
Pacific Islanders in Communications
Tribeca Film Institute
Visual Communications
VisionMaker Media

Cross Program Work

Time Warner Fellowship Program More >
Knight Fellows Project More >
Feature Film ProgramMore >
Documentary Film Program More > Indigenous Program More >


The Sundance Institute Diversity Initiative is made possible by founding support from Time Warner Foundation. Generous additional support is provided by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, Surdna Foundation, Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation, Arcus Foundation, Ford Foundation, Google, Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, SAGindie, Comcast-NBCUniversal, and Philip Fung-A3 Foundation.

The Knight Fellows Project is made possible by generous support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.