Last call for submissions: The 2014 Sundance Institute | TED Prize Filmmaker Award

2006 Directors Lab_by Fred Hayes_0413_by Fred Hayes (3)

Copyright: 2006 Directors Lab by Fred Hayes

Attention filmmakers: for the second year in a row, the Sundance Institute and TED are awarding a hefty prize to an exceptional filmmaker. If you have the storytelling skills and imagination to make a compelling film that will engage people and mobilize them around an issue that affects millions, then you should consider applying for the Sundance Institute | TED Prize Filmmaker Award … and doing so quickly. The deadline for proposal submissions is: May 9, 2014.

This annual award, launched last year, is inspired by both TED and the Sundance Institute’s commitment to story, social impact and big ideas. The purpose is to raise awareness about a TED Prize winner’s wish and show how progress is made toward achieving it. One filmmaker, chosen jointly by TED and the Sundance Institute, will receive $125,000 to craft a short, original documentary film—up to 40 minutes long—telling the story behind the wish, and revealing the many challenges and triumphs as it unfolds.

The winner of last year’s award, Jerry Rothwell, has spent the last year following TED Prize winner Sugata Mitra as he plants the seeds of the School in the Cloud. Traveling between a remote village in India and a forward-thinking elementary school in the U.K., Rothwell is mid-way through capturing this wish in progress. He released a trailer of his film during TED2014, and the doc is slated for release in 2015.


Filmmaker Jerry Rothwell films a family in Korakati, India. He is making a documentary that tells the story of the School in the Cloud. Photo: Courtesy of Jerry Rothwell

The winner of the 2014 award will have an equally fascinating challenge ahead of them. This year’s TED Prize winner is anti-corruption activist Charmian Gooch of Global Witness. For the past 20 years, Gooch and her colleagues have worked to expose a global network of anonymous companies that enable corrupt despots and moguls to rob natural resources from a country, degrade the environment and dodge billions of dollars in taxes in the process. “Our wish is for us to know who owns and controls companies, so that they can no longer be used anonymously against the public good,” says Gooch in her talk from TED2014.


Charmian Gooch shares the question that has guided so much of her work at TED2014. Photo: James Duncan Davidson

With TED’s support, Global Witness is igniting a campaign to rally people, mobilize communities, initiate investigations, and execute high-level interventions targeting governments around the world—including the US, the European Union and the G20 group of leading economies—to challenge vested interests and change this system.

“Every year, we award the TED Prize to an inspirational individual tackling a critical issue,” says Anna Verghese, Deputy Director of the TED Prize. “This year, we are looking for a creative storyteller to help tell this complex story of anonymous companies and their destructive, far-reaching impact.”

Do you have a creative idea for telling the story of this wish? How would you capture Global Witness in action as they expose corruption and attempt to dismantle the infrastructure that facilitates swindling on a massive scale? Or would you choose a different approach, perhaps following the money, the people most affected by fiscal fraud, or the perpetrators themselves? Now is your chance to share the out-of-the-box approach that only an accomplished filmmaker can imagine.

Applications for the Sundance Institute | TED Prize Filmmaker Award will be received until midnight PST on May 9, 2014 and will be reviewed by an independent advisory committee, as well as by TED and the Sundance Institute. The winning proposal will be announced in June 2014 and the project must be completed within 18 months of this announcement. The deliverables for the award include a short, cinematic film of 25-40 minutes, a multi-platform release strategy, a trailer of 90 seconds or less, and a 3-5-minute distillation of the film.

Learn more about the Sundance Institute’s Request for Proposals and about the application process >>

Find out more about Charmian Gooch’s wish >>

2011 Directors Lab by Jonathan Hickerson 34 (2)

Copyright: 2011 Directors Lab by Jonathan Hickerson