Kickstarter campaign in support of filmmakers seeking entrepreneurial ways to connect with audiences.

Sundance Institute

Sundance Institute on Tuesday announced the first fellows under its inaugural Creative Distribution Fellowship.

Sundance Film Festival 2017 selections Columbus by writer-director Kogonada and the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome documentary Unrest by Jennifer Brea will receive grants to fund marketing and distribution as the Institute works with the film teams to help them connect with audiences.

The filmmakers will serve as their own distributors, partnering with a network of professional vendors and digital retailers.

All theatrical and digital revenue flows back to the filmmakers, who have agreed to share lessons learned from the process to create a best-practice guide for others.

The Institute has launched a Kickstarter campaign through June 1 to raise funds and build audiences for Columbus and Unrest.

Columbus and Unrest are perfect examples of the creative spirit of independent filmmaking, and this new Fellowship will provide them with resources, mentorship and tactical support to pioneer independent pathways to audiences,” Sundance Institute executive director Keri Putnam said.

“This entrepreneurial approach to marketing, distribution and audience-building empowers independent filmmakers to release their own films, on their own terms, while retaining their rights.”

Columbus producer Renfrew Behrens said, “Many films have attempted to self-release over the years, but until recently filmmakers haven’t had the tools needed to reach their targeted audience.

“We’ve turned down more traditional distribution offers in the hopes of determining if this is a viable way forward for indie films with identifiable niche audiences. We’re thrilled to have Sundance Institute’s aid and guidance in navigating this new terrain, and hopefully creating a guide that other independent films can follow.”

Unrest’s Brea added: “We can’t wait to connect our film directly with its audience, combining a bespoke theatrical release with innovative ways of reaching those who would not be able to see the film in theaters. With the aid of the Creative Distribution Fellowship we’ll be able to actively engage with our viewers, encouraging an experience that will last far beyond the end of the film.”

The Creative Distribution Fellowship is part of Sundance Institute’s Creative Producing Program.