When Robert Redford founded Sundance Institute, he ensured that support for Indigenous voices would be a pillar of the organization. From iconic Indigenous artists like Sydney Freeland, Sterling Harjo, and Taika Waititi to rising stars Erica Tremblay, Taietsarón:sere ‘Tai’ Leclaire, and Shaandiin Tome, the Indigenous films showcased at the previous 39 Sundance Film Festivals have left a rich tapestry of storytelling that encompasses the rich and diverse facets of Indigeneity.
At the 40th Festival, we are honored to showcase seven films by Indigenous artists who will add to this legacy. From documentary features to narrative shorts, these works presented in January highlight Indigeneity in its many creative forms.
In addition to the projects premiering at the Festival, the Indigenous Program is proud to host and highlight its fellows attending the Festival and whose films and episodic works are being supported throughout their development. Stay tuned throughout the festival for the announcement of the 2024 Merata Mita Fellow and the inaugural 2024 Graton Fellow.
In-person and Online packages are on sale for the 2024 Sundance Film Festival now and single film tickets will be available starting in early January. Check out the full list of films by Indigenous artists below and make sure to favorite the films that speak to you to make sure you don’t miss them.
All titles listed below will be available in person and online.
Co-Director: Julian Brave Noisecat (Canim Lake Band Tsq’escen, Lil’Wat Nation of Mount Currie)
Section: U.S. Documentary Competition
An investigation into abuse and missing children at an Indian residential school ignites a reckoning on the nearby Sugarcane Reserve.
Director: Jon Bell (Wiradjuri Bundjalung Yaegl)
A young Aboriginal couple bring home their second baby. What should be a joyous time takes a sinister turn as the mother starts seeing a malevolent spirit she is convinced is trying to take her baby.
Director: Jared James Lank (Mi’kmaq)
Section: U.S. FICTION SHORT FILMS
Calling on the strength of his ancestors, a young Mi’kmaq man reflects on the pain of bearing witness to the destruction of his homelands.
Director, Screenwriter, and Producer: Alisi Telengut (Mongolian, Telengut)
Section: ANIMATION SHORT FILMS
The formation of Lake Baikal in Siberia is reimagined, featuring the voice of a Buryat woman who can still recall some words in her endangered Buryat language (a Mongolian dialect).
Director: Vea Mafile’o (Tongan, Māori)
Screenwriter: Luciane Buchanan (Tongan)
Section: INTERNATIONAL FICTION SHORT FILMS
A young speech therapist disconnected from her Tongan heritage lies about her Tongan language skills to get a job. Out of her depth, she must find a way to communicate or risk her patient’s life.
Director: Mariah Eli Hernandez-Fitch (United Houma Nation)
Section: NONFICTION SHORT FILMS
While learning to make gumbo, the creator shares personal stories about their grandparents as a way to honor and preserve their Indigenous history and life.
Co-Director: Alexandra Lazarowich (Cree)
Section: NONFICTION SHORT FILMS
Eastern Shoshone MD-PhD student Jenna Murray spent summers on the Wind River Indian Reservation helping her grandpa anyway she could. When he suddenly dies, she must find a way to heal before realizing her dream of a life in medicine.
MEET THE FELLOWS
Meet the 2023 Indigenous Program Fellows whose films and episodic works are being supported in their development.
Eva Grant (St’at’imc)
Degrees of Separation
In this smart and stylish ensemble comedy, Indigenous PhD student Delphine plans a daring heist to return Ancestral remains to her tribe. But first she and her team must outsmart the White Saviours and Collectors who have arrived in the community like vultures, ready to pick the bones clean.
Eva Grant is a bilingual filmmaker of mixed St’at’imc Indigenous, Asian, and European heritage. She is currently a Vancouver Queer Film Festival Disruptor Fellow, and an Artist in Residence at the Art Gallery of Ontario. A former E20 screenwriter, she studied literature and philosophy at Stanford University.
Quinne Larsen (Chinook)
Five people living in an abandoned desert motel try to put their world (and their giant robot) together from scraps.
Quinne Larsen is a Chinook writer and cartoonist in Los Angeles (Tongva territory). They’ve worked on shows at Sony Pictures, Cartoon Network, Disney TVA, and Netflix. They’re currently working on an original graphic novel for First Second.
Anpa’o Locke (Hunkpapha Lakota, Ahtna Dené)
Kawá, an urban Native teen, and her mother, Elizabeth, a relocated rezzer, return to their hometown in South Dakota after Elizabeth is hired as the new Lakota teacher at the reservation high school; Kawá navigates friendship, queerness, and belonging on the reservation.
Anpa’o Locke is a Hunkpapha Lakota and Ahtna Dené writer, filmmaker, and curator from the Standing Rock Nation. She was a 2022 Sundance Indigenous Fellow focused on Native diaspora experience and self-determination in filmmaking. She holds a BA in Film Studies from Mount Holyoke College and lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Jana Schmieding (Mniconjou and Sicangu Lakota, enrolled Cheyenne River Lakota Sioux Tribe)
A rezzy spinster must find her inner auntie when she’s tasked with taking care of her siblings for two weeks.
Jana Schmieding wrote on and co-starred in Rutherford Falls and is known for her comedic roles on Reservation Dogs, The Great North, and Spirit Rangers. A Lakota woman, Jana is making her mark on the entertainment industry as an actor, writer, and producer bringing Native stories to mainstream audiences.
Cian Elyse White (Ngāti Pikiao, Te Arawa)
Aotearoa, 1962. 19-year-old Te Puhi claims international fame overnight when she is crowned Miss New Zealand — the first Māori to win the title. Torn between duty and her dreams, Te Puhi navigates the disconnect from home when she moves to London against her family’s wishes.
Cian Elyse White (she/her) is a Te Arawa, Ngāti Pikiao/ Ngāti Te Tākinga, Ngāi Tūhoe, Ngāti Porou (Te Whānau a Ruataupare, Te Whānau a Hinetāpora), Ngāti Kahungunu ki Te Wairoa, Tainui writer, director and actress born in Rotorua, New Zealand. Cian has written scripts for stage and screen including: Kōtiro (Daddy’s Girl), PIIKSI/HUIA, and Te Puhi (in development). In 2022, Cian won the award for Outstanding Newcomer at the Women in Film & Television awards, NZ.