ITVS Achieves Milestone 100th Sundance Film Festival Selection

By Danielle P Orange
Posted on December 3, 2018
2019 itvs sundance blog 02 1920x1080 (1)

Last week the Sundance Institute announced the showcase of independent feature films selected for the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. We are thrilled to share that four of the selections drawn from a record-breaking 14,259 submissions are ITVS co-productions. 

It's a milestone moment for ITVS. The 2019 festival entries mark 100 ITVS co-productions selected for Sundance in our 27 years of partnering with America's vital and vibrant indie filmmakers.

"We are honored and truly grateful to be working with some of the most passionate and dedicated independent filmmakers in the world,” said Sally Jo Fifer, President, and CEO of ITVS. “Reaching this milestone, with over 100 films accepted by Sundance, is a testament to the commitment and drive of our storytellers, our public media colleagues, and our team. We look forward to this year’s festival, and many more to come.”

The ITVS co-productions appearing at Sundance are:

Director of Words From a Bear, Jeffrey Palmer 

Words From A Bear by Jeffrey Palmer

Words from a Bear examines the enigmatic life and mind of Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Navarro Scott Momaday, one of Native America’s most celebrated authors of poetry and prose. Words from a Bear visually captures the essence of Momaday’s writings, relating each written line to his unique American experience representing ancestry, place, and oral history. 

“Jeff's film is a beautiful tribute to the life and work of an American literary giant,” said David Eisenberg, Sr. Director of Production for ITVS. “It's been a real honor to have been able to support this project along with American Masters and Vision Maker Media.  It's going to be exciting to see audiences across America engage with Momaday's writing, his art, and the story of his life through this film's unique lens.”

Words from a Bear was co-produced with ITVS Series and Special Project funding in 2016. It will broadcast on American Masters on PBS. 

Bedlam Director, Ken Rosenberg

Bedlam by Ken Rosenberg

Haunted by the death of a mentally ill sister, psychiatrist Kenneth Rosenberg takes on the role of filmmaker to examine a national health crisis. Bedlam follows the poignant stories of people grappling with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other chronic psychiatric conditions. Impossible to mask when untreated, their symptoms shove them into the path of police officers, ER doctors and nurses, lawyers, and prison guards. Shooting over the course of five years, Rosenberg takes us inside Los Angeles County’s overwhelmed and vastly under-resourced psych ER, a nearby jail warehousing thousands of psychiatric patients, and the homes — and homeless encampments — of people suffering from severe mental illness, where silence and shame often worsen the suffering.

“The best part of my job is working with talented, professional filmmakers like Ken and Peter." said Shana Swanson, Supervising Producer for ITVS.  "I am in awe of the depth of their commitment to making a difference in the mental health crisis in America." 

Bedlam was co-produced with ITVS Open Call funding in 2016. It will broadcast on Independent Lens on PBS. 

Jacqueline Olive, Director of Always in Season

Always in Season by Jacqueline Olive 

Blending observational footage with first-person testimonies and expert insights, Always in Season is the first documentary feature film to spotlight recent grassroots efforts to acknowledge the victims of lynching, repair the damage, and reconcile in four U.S. communities.

"Jackie Olive has created this essential and timely project about the history of lynching in America through diligent research and unwavering commitment. All of us here at ITVS are immensely proud to have collaborated with Jackie on Always in Season. Working on projects like this with filmmakers like Jackie makes it easy for me to come to work every day," said Michael Ehrenzweig, Supervising Producer for ITVS.

Always in Season was co-produced with ITVS Open Call funding in 2016 and will broadcast on Independent Lens. 

Director of Midnight Traveler, Hassin Fazili

Midnight Traveler by Hassin Fazili 

Midnight Traveler traces the Fazili family’s years-long, unpredictable journey out of Afghanistan and westward along one of Europe’s most notorious smuggling routes, with stops in refugee camps in Bulgaria, Serbia, and Hungary. Along the way, Hassan, wife Fatima, and their two young daughters document their interactions with other refugees, smugglers, and police, collecting diverse perspectives on the refugee experience.

"Midnight Traveler was one of the most exciting projects I have been involved with at ITVS," said Michael Ehrenzweig, Supervising Producer.  "Following filmmaker Hassan Fazili and his family on their treacherous journey from danger in Afghanistan to safety in Europe, working with producer Emilie Mahdavian here in the States, and now seeing their film premiere at Sundance, is an absolute thrill."

Midnight Traveler was co-produced with ITVS Open Call in 2018. 

This historic moment is possible thanks to generous supporters at CPB and steadfast broadcast partner, PBS. As well our ongoing partnership with the National Minority Consortia. With distribution to POV, Frontline, and America Reframed, our films reach a wide public media audience. 

Be sure to follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to be part of all the conversation, community, and snow flurries from Utah.  

From our blog

  1. National Issues, Local Impact: How Indie Lens Pop-Up, Filmmakers, and PBS Stations Gather Communities

    October 17, 2018

    Fueling films that spark conversations, and connecting with local audiences, is at the heart of our mission to bring impactful independent documentaries to public media. Indie Lens Pop-Up is the tool in which ITVS filmmakers, PBS member stations, and other local partners connect and engage with their communities. These events translate your film’s

  2. And the Emmy Goes To...

    October 1, 2018

    In a room filled with independent filmmakers and journalists, the 2018 News and Documentary Emmy Awards ceremony was a night to remember.  ITVS received three Emmy awards: Forever Pure (Independent Lens) for Outstanding Politics and Government Documentary; Abacus (FRONTLINE) for Outstanding Business and Economic Documentary; and

  3. When Money and Businesspeople Flood the Documentary Field, Does the Rising Tide Lift All Boats?

    September 26, 2018

    What does the volatile media landscape mean for documentary film and public media?If it seems like we’ve all been asking this question over and over, it’s because the water doesn’t look like it's settling any time soon. Big players conduct capricious spending sprees. Digital advertising climbs over the $100 billion mark. The creative and consumer tastes