The Sundance Institute has launched a new program, the Latine Fellowship and Collab Scholarship, with the aim of bolstering Latinx representation in indie filmmaking, according to a press release.
Ashley Alvarez, Luna X. Moya, Marilyn Oliva, and Cat Rodríguez are among those chosen for the 2022 Latine Fellowship, which provides six emerging Latinx artists who have previously been supported by the Institute with a year-long, multi-disciplinary fellowship, and offers bespoke creative and tactical support, as well as unrestricted, non-recoupable grants of $10,000 each.
The second component, the Collab Scholarship, has been designed for early-career Latinx artists with no prior engagement with the Institute — they will be offered Creator+ Sundance Collab memberships, and receive bespoke feedback on their projects along with other opportunities to connect with Sundance staff and artists. Shireen Alihaji and Maggy Torres-Rodriguez are among those recipients.
The Institute’s Director of Documentary Film & Artist Programs, Carrie Lozano, described the new program as “a way for us to deepen our ties to extraordinary artists telling valuable stories.” Lozano added, “More importantly, this new program is a way for them to build on their craft, move forward with their current projects and build a community with other up-and-coming, diverse creators.”
Said Founding Senior Director of Artist Programs Michelle Satter: “It is our hope that by creating opportunities with these two program strands, we can elevate Latinx representation with more visibility, access to resources, and meaningful connection with each other, the industry and the larger Sundance ecosystem.”
Bios for the respective Fellowship and Scholarship participants are as follows, courtesy of Sundance Institute.
The 2022 Latine Fellowship
Ashley Alvarez (writer) and Michael León (co-writer and director) with Crabs in a Barrel (U.S.A): When her talentless frenemy is anointed the “future of Latinx voices,” a struggling Latina writer sets out to sabotage the unearned opportunity. After failing to recruit her friends to join her crusade, she gets a lucky break when she learns her rival isn’t exactly who she says she is.
Ashley Alvarez is a Cuban-American actress, writer, and producer. As an actress, she’s worked extensively in theater, film, and television, most recently appearing on Search Party. She is a Sundance Screenwriters Lab fellow and the Sundance Comedy Fellowship recipient. Her short film Crabs in a Barrel won the HBO Latinx Short Film Competition. Screenwriting Fellow, Sundance Institute 2022 Screenwriters Lab.
Michael León is a Cuban-American writer/director. His short, Crabs in a Barrel, is an HBO Latinx Short Film Competition winner. His play, The Cubans, had its world premiere at Miami New Drama. He’s the co-creator of the virtual play Carla’s Quince, which was nominated by the Drama League. 2022 Sundance Institute Comedy Fellow, Directing Fellow at the 2022 Screenwriters and Directors Lab.
Luna X. Moya (director/producer/editor/DP) with What the Pier Gave Us (U.S.A): A visually poetic film about immigrants who fish at a New York City pier. In five vignettes, What the Pier Gave Us lyrically captures the seasonal changes of a pier in a year.
Luna X. Moya is a documentary Director and Editor whose work screened at A+E Networks, MoMA, The Shed, BAMcinemaFest, and AFI Docs. Their second directorial film What The Pier Gave Us started off as a short and a feature is in production with support from Sundance (2021 Accessible Futures Intensive) and Catapult Film Fund.
Marilyn Oliva (director/producer) with Chalate (U.S.A): A grandmother teaches her young granddaughter valuable life lessons while they make ends meet selling what they can in the small market of Chalatenango, El Salvador.
Marilyn Oliva is a first-generation, San Francisco-born, Chicago-based Latina filmmaker. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology with an emphasis on Latinx Studies and a Master’s Degree in Documentary Media. 2021 Sundance Ignite x Adobe Fellow.
George Pérez (creator/writer) with Los Cubanos (U.S.A): Forced to flee Castro’s Cuba in 1980, a husband and wife make the gut-wrenching decision to abandon their daughter. Now, in a menacing and uncertain America, they’ll do anything to protect their other child; becoming drug traffickers and assassins, echoing the past they left behind.
George Pérez assisted on a TV News station’s five-part series on child sex-trafficking, leading to the rescue of a teen victim from her pimp. This led George to shine the light of truth on juvenile exploitation/injustice through his writing. 2022 Sundance Episodic Fellow.
Cat Rodríguez (divisor/performer) with Untitled Bikini Bodybuilding Project (U.S.A): A hybrid theater and live-stream performance that uses a female bodybuilding competition as an allegory for questions about race, class, gender, and climate.
Cat Rodríguez werks as a feral actor + director. A co-foundress of Fake Friends, she recently performed in the company’s original play Circle Jerk (2021 Pulitzer Prize for Drama Finalist). She considers herself a nomad but always names New Orleans and Nicaragua home. 2021 Art of Practice Fellow.
The 2022 Collab Scholarship
Shireen Alihaji (writer/director) with Blue Veil (U.S.A): In the wake of 9/11, a First-Gen Muslim teenager discovers her mother’s record collection and begins sampling. The songs reflect her parent’s migration stories (from Iran and Ecuador) to America, and serve as a roadmap to Amina’s identity. As music unlocks memories, Amina remembers who she is.
Shireen Alihaji is a Latinx, Iranian, Muslim, Disabled filmmaker born and raised in LA. Her intersections inspire her to create space through film technologies. Given how we remember is pivotal to healing, her films use memory as a contra-gaze to surveillance to uncensor the imagination and mirror our infinite reflection.
Erin Nene-Lee Ramirez (writer/director) with Love, as an Illusion (U.S.A) : In the heat of a New England summer, a young Dominican student finds himself stirring up the intimate dynamic between a reckless teenage couple as he spends his final days in the US, where he challenges the couples’ ideas of acceptance, intimacy and love.
Erin Nene-Lee Ramirez is a queer, Chinese-Jamaican and Dominican filmmaker originally from New Hampshire. His work which explores themes of identity, immigration, and race, investigates the dualities and contradictions within society, with the intention to form a more liberated and collective future. A 2019 NeXtDoc Fellow, Erin is currently pursuing an MFA at Columbia University.
Fabiano Mixo (writer/director) with A Home of My Own (U.S.A) : When an insomniac handyman comes across a train in the forest after a flood in town, he decides it’s time to build his own house.
Fabiano Mixo is a Brazilian artist and filmmaker. He has been working across film, extended reality and new media art. His work has been exhibited worldwide, including film and art festivals such as Tribeca and the European Media Art Festival. Prior film residencies include MIT Open Documentary Lab and Berlinale Talents. Mixo is founder and creative director of VILD Studio.
Maggy Torres-Rodriguez (writer) with Cherries (U.S.A): Inner-city Miami knew the gang as The Cherries – sweet Latina vigilantes who protected teenage girls by keeping drugs off the streets… and butchering drug dealers if they had to. Ten years later, the retired Cherries are forced to reconvene in order to survive against the resurgence of old enemies.
Maggy Torres-Rodriguez is an award-winning Cuban-American screenwriter and editor born in Miami, FL. Upon receiving her MFA from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts in Screenwriting, Maggy worked as an Executive Assistant at Lionsgate and as an editor for HBO. She is currently an adjunct professor teaching film production and screenwriting.
Mathew Ramirez Warren (director/producer) with Weed Dreams (U.S.A): Black-owned businesses in Oakland, California try to break into the predominantly white legal Cannabis industry, through the nation’s first ever Cannabis Equity Program.
Mathew Ramirez Warren is a documentary filmmaker and journalist, whose work has been featured on PBS, National Geographic, The New York Times and NBC. As a director, he seeks to tell uplifting stories of cultural turning points in urban environments, within communities that are often misrepresented, stereotyped or stigmatized.