Sundance Institute 2023 Latine Fellows & Collab Scholarship Recipients Revealed

EXCLUSIVE: The nonprofit Sundance Institute reveals  the recipients of the 2023 Latine Fellowship and Collab Scholarship, launched last year to meaningfully expand Latine representation in independent media. The 2023 program will provide fellowships and scholarships to 10 emerging Latine artists and offer professional development and networking opportunities. Recipients will also gain special access to Sundance Collab, Sundance Institute’s digital learning space for artists to learn from experts and build a global community.

“In its sophomore year, the Latine Fellowship and Scholarship continues its mission to cultivate a vibrant space for Latine artists across various fields. It’s a place for community, professional growth, and financial and creative support,” said Hajnal Molnar-Szakacs, Director of the Artist Accelerator. “We’re ecstatic to back a brand new cohort of emerging artists, amplifying the Latine voice in film and television!”

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 The Sundance Institute Latine Fellowship will provide five early career Latine artists working in film or television with a yearlong fellowship experience. The fellows will each receive a $10,000 grant, bespoke creative and tactical support on their projects, and engage in regular cohort meetings. Fellows were selected from Sundance Institute artist support programs across fiction and nonfiction. 

The Sundance Institute Latine Scholarship will provide five emerging Latine artists a yearlong scholarship to a course of their choice featuring unique expert insights and learnings on Sundance Collab. In addition, scholars will receive customized feedback on their projects, mentorship from a Sundance Institute artist alum, and opportunities to connect with Sundance staff and its broader creative community.

Since the Latine Fellowship and Collab Scholarship launched last year, 11 artists have participated in the program. Alumni include Michael León, who has since made his Broadway debut as a playwright in New York, New York, and Cat Rodríguez, who recently received an Obie Award for her work with ensemble Fake Friends Theater Collective. Rodríguez’s ensemble will embark upon several residencies where they will continue to develop their upcoming Sundance supported project, Untitled Bikini Body Building Project. 

The 2023 Latine Fellowship and Collab Scholarships were developed with leadership funding support from Lyn Lear and Cindy Horn, and additional support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

The fellows selected for the 2023 Sundance Institute Latine Fellowship are: 

Johnny Alvarez (writer-director) with Average Dick: Borrowing from pop culture, current events, and the fraught collective consciousness, this tragicomic anthology series weaves together a complex tapestry of fragile masculinity. Each surreal tale introduces us to a disparate cast of characters, from closeted congressmen and porn-addicted priests to polyamorists in the apocalypse. Amidst triumphs, transgressions, and acts of self-degradation, these men learn the true weight carried between their legs.

 Johnny Alvarez is a queer Cuban-American writer and filmmaker. His work has been supported by Sundance, SFFILM, Comedy Central, and Outfest. His films have screened at festivals in LA, Chicago, Seattle, and elsewhere. Originally from St. Louis, he currently resides in Northern California, where he is completing his MFA in Fiction.

Esteban Bailey (writer-director) with The Death of Salvador Colón: In the aftermath of a devastating hurricane, Juan’s father Salvador passes away, but when the overwhelmed police force fails to remove the body, Juan sets out to give his father a proper burial, confronting his own grief and the challenges of a ravaged community along the way. Bailey is an award winning Puerto Rican filmmaker. After graduating from NYU Tisch, Esteban’s short film El Extraño en la Casa Rivera screened at several festivals, including the Atlanta Film Festival where he won the “Filmmaker to Watch Award” and the 2023 Sundance Film Festival.

Gabriella Garcia Pardo (director-producer) with Fenced (working title): Fenced reflect our desires and fears. From our obsession with owning land and controlling virtual frontiers to the ways in which we divide ourselves, Fenced questions how the most ubiquitous human structure –– the fence –– shapes how we live, where we live, and the rules we live by. Gabriella Garcia Pardo is a Colombian-American documentary filmmaker whose work centers stories of land, community, and non-humans. Gabriella produced and co-wrote La Bonga (True/False, 2023) with directors Sebastián Pinzón Silva and Canela Reyes. She’s currently directing her first feature, Fenced, and producing the observational feature, Backside, with director Raúl Paz Pastrana.

Gabriela Ortega (writer-director) with Huella: When her grandmother’s death in the Dominican Republic unleashes a generational curse, Daniela, a restless flamenco dancer living in New York City, must confront her family’s dark past as she fights for one last chance at professional dancing. Ortega is an award-winning writer/director from the Dominican Republic. Her short Huella was a 2022 Sundance Film Festival official selection and will become her first feature film after being supported by the Sundance Labs. She was named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film” and a Sundance Women to Watch fellow.

Walter Thompson-Hernández (writer-director) with If I Go Will They Miss Me: Twelve-year-old Lil Ant begins to see mysterious figures — eerie Black men with their arms spread like wings — around his home. When his father, Big Ant, realizes his son sees these “airplane people ” too, their family history emerges and reveals deeper meaning and connection between them. Hernandez is a writer-director from Los Angeles. His film, If I Go Will They Miss Me, won the 2022 Sundance Film Festival Short Film Jury Award: U.S. Fiction.

The artists selected for the 2023 Sundance Institute Latine Collab Scholarship are:

David Rodríguez Estrada (writer-director-producer-editor) with Believer: Set in present day Mexico, Clemencia is an evangelical working-class mother with a terminally ill son. He confesses to her he used to work for the cartel and shares a notebook with detailed information of those he buried in clandestine graves. After he dies, Clemencia’s faith finds itself at a crossroads. Estrada is a Mexican-American writer/director. He obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Film from the Art Institute of L.A. He’s directed award winning short films including ¿Existes? which premiered at the Palm Springs Shorts Fest and Suripanta, nominated for an Imagen Award. El Tesoro, starring Oscar nominee Adriana Barraza, is David’s latest film.

María Álvarez (writer-director) with Guava Tree: After the discovery of a family secret, a father travels back to his birthplace in Havana, Cuba for the first time in decades. But this time, he is accompanied by his eleven-year-old daughter. Álvarez is an internationally recognized Cuban-Dutch filmmaker based in Los Angeles. She graduated from USC with a BFA in Film Production. María is a 2023 Rising Voices fellow (Hillman Grad / Indeed), where she directed and co-wrote her latest short film, Last Days of the Lab, which premiered at Tribeca.

Daniel Larios (writer-director) with Apocalipsis: Childhood sweethearts grow apart, as Isaac devotes himself to God and Maria becomes the party girl of their Salvadoran village. After Maria survives a freak accident Isaac caused, she declares that God saved her, gifting her His Message. Believing she must be a false prophet, Isaac aims to discredit her.  Larios is a Salvadoran-American producer, director, and writer based in Los Angeles. His short films have played at festivals including Bentonville, NewFilmmakers LA, Philadelphia International, Paraguay International and ICARO International. Daniel was a 2022 Tomorrow’s Filmmakers Today Fellow, and his first nonfiction short won the 2022 Blackstar Doc Shorts Pitch.

Silvia Castaños (co-director) with Untitled: Los Papeles de Mi Mami: Samantha lives in the city of Laredo, TX, in limbo between a country she came from and a country she seeks opportunity in, both bordered by a highly militarized state. Silvia, her first child, wants to heal with their mother as they both face deportation, separation, and the legal process. Castaños is a Boston-based filmmaker and transit planner born and raised in Laredo, Texas. Silvia’s debut feature film Hummingbirds is a collaborative self-portrait directed by them and Estefanía Contreras. Their work is supported by Ford Foundation JustFilms, Field of Vision, Arts2Work, Threshold Fund, Sundance Documentary Fund, SFFILM, and Chicken & Egg Pictures, among others.

Eliana Pipes (writer) with DREAM HOU$E: Two Latina sisters with a strained relationship inherit their family home in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood and decide to cash in on the property by selling it on an HGTV-style reality TV show that takes a twisted left turn.  Pipes is a playwright and filmmaker based in her hometown of LA. Awards include the Academy Gold Fellowship, Alliance Kendeda Prize, and Leah Ryan Prize. Her play Bite Me will premiere off-Broadway with WP and Colt Coeur. Her animated short ¡Nails! received an Outfest x Colin Higgins Foundation Grant.

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