National Geographic Documentary Films Launches Further Filmmaker Fellowship with Sundance Institute to Spotlight Young Filmmakers Who Enlighten and Inspire

Jan 26, 2017 7:00 AM ET

National Geographic harnesses the power of storytelling to share science, adventure and exploration programming from all reaches of the world, and through the launch of a new fellowship program, the company will support the next generation of filmmakers whose work shares those same core goals.

At its Second Annual Filmmakers Reception at this year’s Sundance Film Festival on January 22, National Geographic Global Networks CEO Courteney Monroe announced the creation of the Further Filmmaker Fellowship, a grant program supporting young documentarians who embody the company’s spirit of exploration. The fellowship, a partnership with the Sundance Institute, was named for National Geographic’s global brand tagline “Further,” which symbolizes the desire to take risks, never settle, be radical about facts and always be hungry for more.

“At National Geographic, we believe in empowering visionaries who take risks to tell compelling stories that break through and matter,” Monroe said. “We are excited to partner with an emerging filmmaker to take us even further in our quest to explore the world and all that’s in it—whether big or small. We are thrilled to collaborate with Sundance Institute in a way that contributes to the next generation of storytellers.”

Over the course of the year, an award-winning team of executive producers at National Geographic will work with the Sundance Institute to identify a filmmaker who exemplifies the “Further” brand values Monroe describes. The fellowship builds on National Geographic’s long history of creating opportunities for the next generation of storytellers, including Nat Geo WILD’s Wild to Inspire short film contest, now in its fourth year, and the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, which gives young scholars the chance to hone their communications skills during a year-long expedition abroad.

The creation of the Further Filmmaker Fellowship comes shortly after the launch of the National Geographic Documentary Films banner, which was announced January 13. The banner will focus the company’s efforts to release an estimated four feature-length documentaries per year, following the success and wide digital release of Leonardo DiCaprio’s climate change film, Before the Flood. Monroe has said that the documentaries will tackle critical contemporary subjects such as climate change, the water crisis, space exploration, race and more.

“Those are the issues that are really organic to the National Geographic brand. Who better to tell these stories?” she said during an interview with Variety. “We want to be making timely, issue-oriented, very provocative films with the very best documentary filmmakers in the business… We reach 730 million people around the world. That’s really powerful to filmmakers, who want their stories to be told on the grandest stage possible.”

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