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Sundance gives docu grants

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Fifteen feature-length documentaries focusing on human rights issues, freedom of expression, social justice, current events and civil liberties will receive $605,000 in grants from the Sundance Institute Documentary Fund.

In its first of two announcements of this year's awards, the fund will support films on topics ranging from the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans to Muslim orphans in China who attempt tightrope walking.

"The projects selected in this funding cycle point to a growing chorus of international documentary filmmakers grappling with contemporary issues playing out in all sectors of society," said Cara Mertes, director of the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program.

This year's Work in Progress recipients are Skye Fitzgerald's "Bombhunters"; Almudena Carracedo and Robert Bahar's "Made in L.A."; Maria Yatskova, Irina Vodar and Raphaela Neihausen's "Miss Gulag"; Shari Roberston and Michael Camerini's "My American Dream"; Ramona S. Diaz's "The Learning"; Ido Haar's "9 Star Hotel"; Melis Birder's "The Visitors"; Tia Lessin, Carl Deal and Amir Bar-Lev's "Trouble the Waters"; and Petr Lom's "The Tightrope."

Development grants were awarded to Margarita Martinez Escallon and Miguel Salazar's "The Baton Resistance," Ra'anan Alexandrowicz's "Justice Must Be Seen," and Marion Lipschutz and Rose Rosenblatt's "Chekpapi."

Supplemental grants went to Adam Zucker's "Greensboro: Closer to the Truth," Daniel Junge's "Rebirth of a Nation" and Jon Else's "Wonders Are Many."

Since its establishment in 2002, the fund has given almost $4 million to 113 projects.