Sundance Launches Ignite Program, Online Shorts Contest for Young Filmmakers

One-to-eight-minute submissions interpreting the theme ‘What’s Next?’ will be accepted Oct. 29-Nov. 16

Sundance Institute

Sundance Institute has launched the Sundance Ignite program, which aims to inspire and connect young independent filmmakers and audiences by offering 18-to-24-year-olds exclusive access to independent film and filmmaking experiences, including at the Sundance Film Festival.

With support from Adobe and its Project 1324 initiative, Sundance Ignite will host an online short film challenge for 18-to-24-year-old filmmakers, and five winners will attend the 2016 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. One-to-eight-minute original film submissions exploring interpretations of the theme ‘What’s Next?’ will be accepted Oct. 29 through Nov. 16 at

Entries will be evaluated for technical excellence, creative interpretation of the challenge, demonstration of an original voice, innovative storytelling, and strong character or subject development. Five winners will be awarded special opportunities to connect with Institute staff and alumni as part of a Sundance Ignite Fellowship and attend the 2016 Festival, including travel, lodging, a stipend for meals, and tickets to Festival screenings and exclusive Ignite events.

“Sundance Institute has always been defined by the spirit of discovery, and eager to advance original voices of new generations of storytellers. By collaborating with Adobe’s Project 1324 and its global community of young creatives, our new Sundance Ignite program asks 18-to-24-year-olds to pick up their cameras or iPhones and show us what’s on their minds,” said Keri Putnam, executive director of Sundance Institute.

“Sundance represents independent, bold, and innovative approaches to filmmaking, and understands the power of the medium to spark thought and action,” said Ann Lewnes, CMO of Adobe. “We are excited to partner with Sundance Institute to identify and support powerful new voices in the next generation of filmmakers.”

For decades, Sundance Institute has long provided young filmmakers, both nationally and internationally, with unique opportunities to develop and showcase their creativity. Through targeted film screenings, programs with schools, opportunities for filmmaker interactions and access to the Sundance Film Festival, the Institute has long helped young artists find opportunities for self-expression. Several notable films showcased at the Festival were created by filmmakers within the age range the Sundance Ignite program will support, including Kevin Smith’s “Clerks” and Robert Rodriguez’s “El Mariachi.”

Building on this, the Sundance Ignite program will include a full range of offerings designed to excite a new generation of filmmakers and audience members. The competitive Ignite Fellows Program offers 18-to-24-year-old artists year-round opportunities with Sundance Institute and mentorship from Institute alumni. The Ignite Ticket Package offers 18-to-24-year-olds exclusive access to new independent films at the Sundance Film Festival as well as opportunities to learn about the film industry and interact with filmmakers. An additional touring program is planned to engage students and emerging filmmakers throughout the country.

Project 1324 is an Adobe initiative that supports a global community of artists ages 13 to 24 who use creativity as a force for positive social change. Its mission is to provide opportunities for emerging creatives to connect, collaborate on projects, and increase the visibility and impact of their work.

The Sundance Ignite program is supported by Adobe Project 1324, S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and the College of Visual Performing Arts at Syracuse University and Chapman University.

Over the course of its 30-year history, Sundance has launched films such as “Napoleon Dynamite,” “Jawbreaker,” “Tangerine,” “Heathers,” “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl,” “Dope,” “Bachelorette,” “Whiplash,” “The Spectacular Now,” “The Way, Way Back,” “The Blair Witch Project” and “Saw.”