Park City, UT — Sundance Institute announced today the recipient of the 2022 Merata Mita Fellowship, an annual fellowship named in honor of the late Māori filmmaker Merata Mita (1942-2010) designed for Indigenous women-identified artists who are striving to direct a feature film. This year’s Fellow, Fox Maxy (Payómkawichum and Mesa Grande Band of Mission Indians) was recognized at the Native Forum Celebration on The Spaceship in the Festival Online Platform during the 2022 Sundance Film Festival.
The Native Forum Celebration featured an opening blessing by Bart Powakee and the Red Spirit Singers from the Ute Tribal Nation and remarks from newly appointed Sundance Institute CEO Joana Vicente, Sundance Institute Board member Amy Redford, Nia Tero (represented by Tracy Rector), Jennifer Lorenfrom the Cherokee Nation Film Office, and Indigenous Program Interim Director Adam Piron (Kiowa and Mohawk). Piron also announced the 2021 Native Lab Fellows and Artists-in-Residence and acknowledged the nine Indigenous-made projects from around the world that are premiering at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival from January 20-30.
Merata Mita (Ngāi Te Rangi/Ngāti Pikiao) was one of the first Māori women to write and direct a dramatic feature film. She served as an advisor and artistic director of the Sundance Institute Native Lab from 2000 to 2009, where she championed emerging Indigenous talent. In continuation of her legacy, the Sundance Institute is in its seventh year of awarding a fellowship in her name to an Indigenous woman-identified filmmaker from a global applicant pool. The Fellowship includes a cash grantand yearlong support with activities, including attendance at the Sundance Film Festival, access to strategic and creative services offered by Sundance Institute’s artist programs, and mentorship opportunities.
Fox Maxy is a filmmaker and artist based in San Diego, CA. Her work has screened at BAM CinemaFest, International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR), imagineNATIVE Festival, MoMAs Doc Fortnight, LACMA, AFI Docs and Camden International Film Festival among other places. Maxy’s first feature film, Watertight, is “a collection of interviews about mental health and suicide, interrupted by fake commercials, reality tv parodies, animations and archival footage. Watertight flips through channels, traveling around Indian country and big cities, following people who create their own realities.”
Supporting self-determination in storytelling for Indigenous filmmakers and decolonizing the screen has always figured prominently at Sundance Institute. Native American filmmakers were invited to participate in the founding meetings of Sundance Institute and its first filmmaking Lab in 1981, and the Institute’s Feature Film Program, Documentary Film Program, and Sundance Film Festival conduct ongoing outreach to Indigenous artists and collaborate with the Indigenous Program to identify artists for support across the globe. Last year’s Merata Mita fellow, Marja Bål Nango, just attended the Sundance Feature Film Program’s January 2022 Screenwriters Lab.