Sundance Institute Archives

Since 1981, Sundance Institute has supported thousands of independent film and theatre artists with its artist development programs and its annual Sundance Film Festival. The Sundance Institute Archives is dedicated to preserving and facilitating access to the work of these independent film and theatre artists and the material that documents their artistic processes in the creation of this work. Learn more or donate.
Before making his feature directorial debut with Rudderless during the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, William H. Macy played many roles at the Festival, including a senator in Thank You for Smoking, a priest in The Sessions, a cartoon dentist in Ernest & Celestine, and a cowboy when hosting the Festival Awards Ceremony in 2008.William H. Macy not only directed 2014’s Rudderless, he starred, co-wrote, and co-produced the film as well.Sam is a former high-profile advertising executive whose life has been torn apart by the tragic death of his son. When Sam discovers a box filled with his son’s demo tapes and lyrics, his own child’s musical talent is a revelation for him, a grieving father who felt he’d been absent from his son’s life. Communing with his deceased son’s lost dreams, Sam learns each song and eventually musters the will to play one at a local bar. When Quentin, a young musician in the audience, is captivated by the song, the unlikely duo form a band that ultimately changes both of their lives.A searing performance from Billy Crudup, as Sam, leads an exemplary cast. Casey Twenter and Jeff Robison’s potent screenplay was the launching pad for acclaimed actor William H. Macy’s glorious feature-directing debut. Rudderless is a poignant musical drama about the power of a parent’s love.Rudderless is now playing in select cities, On Demand, and Digital HD.Film stills and head shot courtesy of Sundance Institute Archives

Before making his feature directorial debut with Rudderless during the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, William H. Macy played many roles at the Festival, including a senator in Thank You for Smoking, a priest in The Sessions, a cartoon dentist in Ernest & Celestine, and a cowboy when hosting the Festival Awards Ceremony in 2008.

William H. Macy not only directed 2014’s Rudderless, he starred, co-wrote, and co-produced the film as well.

Sam is a former high-profile advertising executive whose life has been torn apart by the tragic death of his son. When Sam discovers a box filled with his son’s demo tapes and lyrics, his own child’s musical talent is a revelation for him, a grieving father who felt he’d been absent from his son’s life. Communing with his deceased son’s lost dreams, Sam learns each song and eventually musters the will to play one at a local bar. When Quentin, a young musician in the audience, is captivated by the song, the unlikely duo form a band that ultimately changes both of their lives.

A searing performance from Billy Crudup, as Sam, leads an exemplary cast. Casey Twenter and Jeff Robison’s potent screenplay was the launching pad for acclaimed actor William H. Macy’s glorious feature-directing debut. Rudderless is a poignant musical drama about the power of a parent’s love.

Rudderless is now playing in select cities, On Demand, and Digital HD.

Film stills and head shot courtesy of Sundance Institute Archives

Los Angeles–based producer, writer, and director Justin Simien made his feature directorial debut with Dear White People during the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and took home the U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent.With tongue planted firmly in cheek, writer/director Justin Simien makes an auspicious debut with Dear White People, a witty and whip-smart satire about black militancy, postracial fantasies, and the commodification of blackness. Nothing is black and white in this playful portrait of race in contemporary America.Check out the Meet the Artist interview with Justin Simien here.Dear White People opens in select cities on Friday, October 17 and expands nationwide on October 24.Photos / Film stills by Fred Hayes / WireImage and Dear White People Productions

Los Angeles–based producer, writer, and director Justin Simien made his feature directorial debut with Dear White People during the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and took home the U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent.

With tongue planted firmly in cheek, writer/director Justin Simien makes an auspicious debut with Dear White People, a witty and whip-smart satire about black militancy, postracial fantasies, and the commodification of blackness. Nothing is black and white in this playful portrait of race in contemporary America.

Check out the Meet the Artist interview with Justin Simien here.

Dear White People
opens in select cities on Friday, October 17 and expands nationwide on October 24.

Photos / Film stills by Fred Hayes / WireImage and Dear White People Productions

Director Jesse Moss first attended the Festival in 2009 as a producer on William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe.  Most recently Moss premiered The Overnighters in 2014 and won the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Intuitive Filmmaking.When hydraulic fracturing unlocks a vast oil field in North Dakota’s Bakken shale, tens of thousands of unemployed men descend on the state with dreams of six-figure salaries. In the tiny town of Williston, busloads of newcomers step into the sad reality of slim work prospects and nowhere to sleep. Pastor Jay Reinke is hell-bent on delivering the migrants some dignity and night after night he converts his Concordia Lutheran Church into a makeshift dorm and counseling center for his “overnighters.”As broken men arrive in droves, the congregants sling criticism, neighbors get suspicious, and the town threatens an ordinance to shut Reinke down. With unfettered access to electrifying and poignant moments, it’s impossible not to be riveted by the pastor’s dogged battle in a treacherous world where no man is immune to losing everything.The Overnighters opens in NYC on Friday, October 10 and expands on October 17.Film stills by Jesse Moss

Director Jesse Moss first attended the Festival in 2009 as a producer on William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe.  Most recently Moss premiered The Overnighters in 2014 and won the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Intuitive Filmmaking.

When hydraulic fracturing unlocks a vast oil field in North Dakota’s Bakken shale, tens of thousands of unemployed men descend on the state with dreams of six-figure salaries. In the tiny town of Williston, busloads of newcomers step into the sad reality of slim work prospects and nowhere to sleep. Pastor Jay Reinke is hell-bent on delivering the migrants some dignity and night after night he converts his Concordia Lutheran Church into a makeshift dorm and counseling center for his “overnighters.”

As broken men arrive in droves, the congregants sling criticism, neighbors get suspicious, and the town threatens an ordinance to shut Reinke down. With unfettered access to electrifying and poignant moments, it’s impossible not to be riveted by the pastor’s dogged battle in a treacherous world where no man is immune to losing everything.

The Overnighters opens in NYC on Friday, October 10 and expands on October 17.

Film stills by Jesse Moss

Director/screenwriter Damien Chazelle premiered his short Whiplash during the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and won the Short Film Jury Award for U.S. Fiction.  Chazelle then returned to the 2014 Festival with the feature length Whiplash starring Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons and won both the Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize for U.S. Dramatic Film.Andrew, a promising 19-year-old drummer at a cutthroat Manhattan music conservatory, has little interest in being just a musician. Haunted by his father’s failed writing career and plagued with the fear that mediocrity just might be genetic, Andrew dreams of greatness.  The pressure of success ratchets into high gear when he is picked to join the school band led by the infamous Terence Fletcher, a brutally savage music instructor who will stop at nothing to realize a student’s potential. Under Fletcher’s ruthless direction, Andrew begins to pursue perfection at any cost—even his humanity.Driven by fierce, searing performances from Miles Teller as Andrew and J.K. Simmons as Terence Fletcher, Whiplash crescendos to a blistering climax that will rattle audiences long after the lights come up.Check out the Meet the Artist interview with Damien Chazelle here.Whiplash opens in LA and NYC on October 10 and expands on October 17.Photos by Daniel McFadden, George Pimentel / WireImage, and Fred Hayes / WireImage

Director/screenwriter Damien Chazelle premiered his short Whiplash during the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and won the Short Film Jury Award for U.S. Fiction.  Chazelle then returned to the 2014 Festival with the feature length Whiplash starring Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons and won both the Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize for U.S. Dramatic Film.

Andrew, a promising 19-year-old drummer at a cutthroat Manhattan music conservatory, has little interest in being just a musician. Haunted by his father’s failed writing career and plagued with the fear that mediocrity just might be genetic, Andrew dreams of greatness.  The pressure of success ratchets into high gear when he is picked to join the school band led by the infamous Terence Fletcher, a brutally savage music instructor who will stop at nothing to realize a student’s potential. Under Fletcher’s ruthless direction, Andrew begins to pursue perfection at any cost—even his humanity.

Driven by fierce, searing performances from Miles Teller as Andrew and J.K. Simmons as Terence Fletcher, Whiplash crescendos to a blistering climax that will rattle audiences long after the lights come up.


Check out the Meet the Artist interview with 
Damien Chazelle here.

Whiplash opens in LA and NYC on October 10 and expands on October 17.

Photos by Daniel McFadden, George Pimentel / WireImage, and Fred Hayes / WireImage

What starts out as an already-fascinating look at the ways technology may be destroying the lives of Chinese youth Web Junkie quickly becomes something more.  To combat what authorities deem the greatest social crisis for youth today, the Chinese government has created treatment facilities to detox and cure teenagers of their addictions to online life.  As the unorthodox psychological sessions continue and the teenage boys begin to share with their parents the reasons why they feel more connected to disassociated voices in cyberspace than to their families, Web Junkie chronicles the results of a nation going through one of most drastic transformations in human history.In honest and wrenching ways that transcend national borders, this film is a thoughtful examination of a society in flux and a technology-addled generation on the precipice of an unknown future. Directors Shosh Shlam and Hilla Medalia premiered their documentary during the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and it’s currently playing in LA and expands to select cities in October.Film stills by Hilla Medalia and Miao Wang

What starts out as an already-fascinating look at the ways technology may be destroying the lives of Chinese youth Web Junkie quickly becomes something more.  To combat what authorities deem the greatest social crisis for youth today, the Chinese government has created treatment facilities to detox and cure teenagers of their addictions to online life.  As the unorthodox psychological sessions continue and the teenage boys begin to share with their parents the reasons why they feel more connected to disassociated voices in cyberspace than to their families, Web Junkie chronicles the results of a nation going through one of most drastic transformations in human history.

In honest and wrenching ways that transcend national borders, this film is a thoughtful examination of a society in flux and a technology-addled generation on the precipice of an unknown future. 

Directors Shosh Shlam and Hilla Medalia premiered their documentary during the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and it’s currently playing in LA and expands to select cities in October.

Film stills by Hilla Medalia and Miao Wang

Over 23 years before Terry Gilliam released his new film The Zero Theorem, he served as a Creative Advisor during the 1991 Sundance Institute Directors Lab.  Gilliam is pictured above speaking with Quentin Tarantino and fellow Creative Advisor Volker Schlöndorff.  The Zero Theorem is now playing in select cities and available on VOD.Schlöndorff also recently directed a new film, Diplomacy, which is screening in select cities and expands in late October.Photo by Sandria Miller

Over 23 years before Terry Gilliam released his new film The Zero Theorem, he served as a Creative Advisor during the 1991 Sundance Institute Directors Lab.  Gilliam is pictured above speaking with Quentin Tarantino and fellow Creative Advisor Volker Schlöndorff.  

The Zero Theorem is now playing in select cities and available on VOD.

Schlöndorff also recently directed a new film, Diplomacy, which is screening in select cities and expands in late October.

Photo by Sandria Miller

Director/screenwriter Cutter Hodierne premiered Fishing Without Nets during the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.  Actor Abdikani Muktar had reason to celebrate at the Awards Ceremony after the film won the Directing Award for U.S. Dramatic.Shot in East Africa using Somali nonactors, Fishing Without Nets tells the mesmerizing and sobering story of the bandits from the Somali point of view. First-time feature filmmaker Cutter Hodierne, whose short film of the same name won the Jury Prize in Short Filmmaking at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, combines the epic cinematic vision of a glorious action thriller with the intimate, textured qualities of an art film, humanizing the pirates by bringing us inside their moral dilemmas and gut-wrenching struggles.Check out Cutter Hodierne’s Meet the Artist interview from the 2014 Festival to learn more about the film.Fishing Without Nets opened in LA on Thursday, September 25 and expands on October 3.Photo by Jonathan Hickerson

Director/screenwriter Cutter Hodierne premiered Fishing Without Nets during the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.  Actor Abdikani Muktar had reason to celebrate at the Awards Ceremony after the film won the Directing Award for U.S. Dramatic.

Shot in East Africa using Somali nonactors, Fishing Without Nets tells the mesmerizing and sobering story of the bandits from the Somali point of view. First-time feature filmmaker Cutter Hodierne, whose short film of the same name won the Jury Prize in Short Filmmaking at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, combines the epic cinematic vision of a glorious action thriller with the intimate, textured qualities of an art film, humanizing the pirates by bringing us inside their moral dilemmas and gut-wrenching struggles.

Check out Cutter Hodierne’s Meet the Artist interview from the 2014 Festival to learn more about the film.

Fishing Without Nets opened in LA on Thursday, September 25 and expands on October 3.

Photo by Jonathan Hickerson

Director/screenwriter Hong Khaou first premiered his short Spring during the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.  Khaou returned to the 2014 Festival with Lilting, where he won the World Cinema Dramatic Cinematography Award.  Khaou was also awarded the Sundance Institute/Mahindra Global Filmmaking Award during the Festival and this summer attended the 2014 June Screenwriters Lab.Quiet and spare, Lilting boasts delicate performances by Ben Whishaw and legendary Chinese actress Pei-Pei Cheng, who sustain a palpable sense of discomfort when in each other’s presence onscreen.  Lilting is a perceptive meditation on the path to connection between two human souls and reveals that what separates us can also bind us together. Lilting opens in NYC on Wednesday, September 24 and expands on October 3.Photos by James Dewar and Sonia Recchia / WireImage

Director/screenwriter Hong Khaou first premiered his short Spring during the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.  Khaou returned to the 2014 Festival with Lilting, where he won the World Cinema Dramatic Cinematography Award.  Khaou was also awarded the Sundance Institute/Mahindra Global Filmmaking Award during the Festival and this summer attended the 2014 June Screenwriters Lab.

Quiet and spare, Lilting boasts delicate performances by Ben Whishaw and legendary Chinese actress Pei-Pei Cheng, who sustain a palpable sense of discomfort when in each other’s presence onscreen.  Lilting is a perceptive meditation on the path to connection between two human souls and reveals that what separates us can also bind us together. 

Lilting opens in NYC on Wednesday, September 24 and expands on October 3.

Photos by James Dewar and Sonia Recchia / WireImage

Directors Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard premiered 20,000 Days on Earth, starring Nick Cave, during the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and won the Best Editing and Directing Awards for World Cinema Documentary. While Forsyth and Pollard were new to the Festival this year, Cave starred in the 1992 Festival film Johnny Suede, alongside Brad Pitt, as well as the 1997 film Rhinoceros Hunting in Budapest.  Cave also wrote the screenplay and music for The Proposition, starring Guy Pearce, which premiered during the 2006 Sundance Film Festival.20,000 Days on Earth is an innovative drama/documentary featuring Cave as both subject and coconspirator, intimately documenting his artistic process and combining it with a fictional staged narrative of his 20,000th day on Earth. As a result, the film also explores the creative spirit.This unique blend of documentary essay and cinematic fiction demonstrates the connection between Cave and the filmmakers, visual artists Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard; all three are illuminating the search for truth through artifice and myth. Ultimately, 20,000 Days on Earth reaches beyond Cave to ask all of us how many days we’ve been alive and what use we’ve made of that time.20,000 Days on Earth opens in select cities on Friday, September 19.Photos by Amelia Troubridge, Araya Diaz / WireImage, and Jeff Vespa / WireImage

Directors Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard premiered 20,000 Days on Earth, starring Nick Cave, during the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and won the Best Editing and Directing Awards for World Cinema Documentary.

While Forsyth and Pollard were new to the Festival this year, Cave starred in the 1992 Festival film Johnny Suede, alongside Brad Pitt, as well as the 1997 film Rhinoceros Hunting in Budapest.  Cave also wrote the screenplay and music for The Proposition, starring Guy Pearce, which premiered during the 2006 Sundance Film Festival.

20,000 Days on Earth is an innovative drama/documentary featuring Cave as both subject and coconspirator, intimately documenting his artistic process and combining it with a fictional staged narrative of his 20,000th day on Earth. As a result, the film also explores the creative spirit.

This unique blend of documentary essay and cinematic fiction demonstrates the connection between Cave and the filmmakers, visual artists Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard; all three are illuminating the search for truth through artifice and myth. Ultimately, 20,000 Days on Earth reaches beyond Cave to ask all of us how many days we’ve been alive and what use we’ve made of that time.


20,000 Days on Earth opens in select cities on Friday, September 19.

Photos by Amelia Troubridge, Araya Diaz / WireImage
, and Jeff Vespa / WireImage

Submissions are now open for the 2015 Theatre Lab held at the Sundance Resort in Utah.The Sundance Institute Theatre Lab, the centerpiece of the Theatre Program, is a three-week play development retreat designed to support the creation of new work by playwrights, directors, composers and librettists, and to provide a place where that work can be effectively mentored and challenged.“The space that defines the Sundance Institute Theatre Program is that precious wedge of time between ‘idea’ and ‘production’ when artists dream, leap into their discomfort, their unknown, and get closer to their vision.” —Philip Himberg, Artistic DirectorLab alumni and projects include Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ Appropriate, Annie Baker’s Circle Mirror Transformation, Denis O’Hare & Lisa Peterson’s An Iliad, Taylor Mac’s The Lily’s Revenge, Tracey Scott Wilson’s The Good Negro, Adam Guettel & Craig Lucas’ The Light in the Piazza, Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori’s Fun Home, Stew’s Passing Strange, Byron Au Yong & Aaron Jafferis’ Stuck Elevator, Steven Sater & Duncan Sheik’s Spring Awakening, Moisés Kaufman’s The Laramie Project, and Doug Wright’s I Am My Own Wife.Apply or read more about the Theatre Program here.Photos by Fred Hayes and Ashley Gilbertson

Submissions are now open for the 2015 Theatre Lab held at the Sundance Resort in Utah.

The Sundance Institute Theatre Lab, the centerpiece of the Theatre Program, is a three-week play development retreat designed to support the creation of new work by playwrights, directors, composers and librettists, and to provide a place where that work can be effectively mentored and challenged.

“The space that defines the Sundance Institute Theatre Program is that precious wedge of time between ‘idea’ and ‘production’ when artists dream, leap into their discomfort, their unknown, and get closer to their vision.” —Philip Himberg, Artistic Director

Lab alumni and projects include Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ Appropriate, Annie Baker’s Circle Mirror Transformation, Denis O’Hare & Lisa Peterson’s An Iliad, Taylor Mac’s The Lily’s Revenge, Tracey Scott Wilson’s The Good Negro, Adam Guettel & Craig Lucas’ The Light in the Piazza, Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori’s Fun Home, Stew’s Passing Strange, Byron Au Yong & Aaron Jafferis’ Stuck Elevator, Steven Sater & Duncan Sheik’s Spring Awakening, Moisés Kaufman’s The Laramie Project, and Doug Wright’s I Am My Own Wife.

Apply or read more about the Theatre Program here.

Photos by Fred Hayes and Ashley Gilbertson