Sundance Institute, Sandbox Films Set 2022 Sandbox Fund Grantees


EXCLUSIVE: The Sundance Institute and Sandbox Films have announced the 10 projects and filmmaking teams selected as the latest recipients of grants from the Sundance Institute | Sandbox Fund.

The fund offers grants to projects in stages ranging from development to post-production, along with engagement events and other opportunities for independent artists seeking to explore the intrinsic link between science and culture through innovative nonfiction storytelling. The 10 selected project teams will receive non-recoupable grants totaling $300,000, also claiming bespoke film support and joining Sundance Institute’s year-round artist community, with opportunities to connect with Sundance’s network of alumni and creative advisors, as well as Sandbox Films’ roster of renowned scientists.

“Since its inception five years ago, the Sundance Institute | Sandbox Fund has vitally enriched the Documentary Film Program by allowing our team to extend its support to artists pushing the boundaries of the documentary form by exploring unique connections between art and science,” said Paola Mottura, who serves as Director of the Sundance Institute’s Documentary Film Fund. “Our grantees have inspired new audiences to reimagine the definition of ‘science film’ by challenging common preconceptions about the scientific process, who does science and what it means to be a scientist. Our latest cohort of grantees is no exception in brilliance and ambition.”

“We continue to be so impressed by the quality and diversity of projects applying to this fund,” added Sandbox Films’ Head of Production and Development, Jessica Harrop. “Partnering with the talented team at Sundance has helped us connect with and support artists who have unique ways of exploring the art and beauty that can come out of nontraditional science storytelling.”

Past projects supported by grants from the Sandbox Fund include All Light, Everywhere, which won the 2021 Sundance Film Festival’s Special Jury Prize for Nonfiction Experimentation; Herbaria, which premiered at the 2022 Visions du Réel; Users, which also premiered at Sundance 2021; and Wildcat, which was acquired last year by Amazon Studios and more recently premiered at Telluride. 

Information on the latest set of Sandbox grantees, broken down by production stage, can be found below.


Climate in Therapy (Sweden, Norway)
Directors: Nathan Grossman, Olof Berglind 
Producer: Cecilia Nessen

Climate in Therapy is a feature documentary that follows seven climate scientists as they confront a previously unknown field of study: their own emotions.

Conscious (U.K.)
Director: Suki Chan
Producers: Aimara Reques, Teresa Grimes, Suki Chan

Conscious is a hopeful and cinematic experience, taking us closer to understanding the strength and frailty of the human mind. Using mesmerizing visuals, textured sounds, and compelling stories, the film takes the audience on an immersive and illuminating journey into other minds. What can a neuroscientist and three people living with dementia tell us about consciousness in a technological age?

My Mom, The Scientist (U.S.A., Tanzania)
Director: Thomas Allen Harris
Producers: Thomas Allen Harris, Don Perry

Facing unprecedented global threats from new viruses and geopolitical competitors, America is in crisis as it grapples with the issue of why, after 30 years of effort, there are still too few Black & BIPOC scientists in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields to help secure its future competitiveness.

Postmortem (U.S.A.)
Director: Marilyn Ness
Producer: Beth Levison

Postmortem is at once a personal memoir, true crime, and cultural interrogation. Filming the behind-the-scenes experience of staging the Postmortem stage play, we expose another layer: the true story beneath the art, and the ways rigorous artistic creation can reveal deeper, collective truths.

Second Nature (U.S.A., Netherlands, Congo, Uganda) 
Director: Drew Denny
Producer: Jennifer Steinman-Sternin

Did you know clownfish change sex, penguins parent in same-sex pairs, and bonobos (our closest relatives) are matriarchal? Debunking myths that females are “inferior” and being queer is somehow “unnatural,” Second Nature follows LGBTQ scientists who prove that nature is far more diverse than we’ve been taught.

Untitled Animal Project (U.S.A.) 
Director: Jessica Kingdon
Producers: Jamie Gonçalves, Nathan Truesdell

Untitled Animal Project explores contemporary global supply chains through the lens of the animal experience. Through multiple locations around the world, the film weaves the ways in which food industries affect various species – with a focus on exploring the elusive idea of animal sentience. 

Untitled Thwaites Film (Antarctica, U.S.A.) 
Director: Emelie Mahdavian
Producers: John D. Sutter, Emelie Mahdavian

How do you watch the climate crisis unfold without losing hope? Untitled Thwaites Film tells the story of a small, female-led research team’s last trip to a vulnerable Antarctic ice sheet.


The Queendom (Mexico) 
Director: Otilia Portillo Padua
Producers: Paula Arroio, Otilia Portillo, Elena Fortes

Three Mexican women—all indigenous scientists and activists—partner with mushrooms to fight for their lands and cultures. The Queendom combines documentary with science fiction to explore the perspectives of both the humans and their most powerful allies: the fungi.


Brigidy Bram: The Kendal Hanna Story (Bahamas, U.S.A.)
Directors: Laura Gamse, Kareem Mortimer
Producers: Kareem Mortimer, Laura Gamse

In this intimate portrait circling fact and fiction, the true story of prolific painter Kendal Hanna reveals a case study of how we codify genius.

Fire of Love (U.S.A., Canada)
Director: Sara Dosa
Producers: Shane Boris, Ina Fichman, Sara Dosa

Fire of Love is an unexpected love story of two intrepid scientists – Katia and Maurice Krafft – who die in a volcanic explosion doing the very thing that brought them together: seeking to understand the mystery of volcanoes by capturing the most explosive imagery ever recorded. Poetic in style and playful in spirit, Fire of Love uses the Kraffts’ spectacular archives to chart a story of creation and destruction, of nature and humanity, and of Maurice and Katia’s love – both for each other and the planet. Premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival where it received the Jonathan Oppenheim Editing Award: U.S. Documentary 


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