The 2014 Sundance Film Festival encourages storytellers to share the strength of those living in poverty. The Sundance Institute aims to “harness the power of independent film,” and drive a global conversation on poverty.

Partnering with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the institute calls for short narrative or documentary films. In three to eight minutes, these films should celebrate the innovation and perseverance of those in poverty.

The Institute also partnered with to manage submissions. Filmmakers can submit projects through 1 July 2014 at no cost. Sundance awards winning films 10,000 dollars and the opportunity to premiere at the 2015 Film Festival. To apply, visit

The 2014 Sundance Film Festival featured the first five films on January 21. The Institute and Gates Foundation plan to release these films online throughout the year.

After My Garden Grows, directed by Megan Mylan
A young girl plants “seeds of independence and financial freedom” in a rural, male-dominated region of India.

Am I Going Too Fast?, directed by Hank Willis Thomas and Christopher Myers
This experimental documentary featured the intersecting lives of shopkeepers, craftspeople and ordinary citizens in Nairobi, Kenya. The sweeping transformation of technology, cell phone banking and micro-finance brought these men and women together.

Kombit, directed by Jeff Reichert and Farihah Zaman
In aftermath of the Haitian earthquake, men and women united to start a micro-garden.

The Masterchef, directed by Ritesh Batra
Akhil, a young shoeshiner, aspires to become a gourmet chef. One day, he has a “chance encounter” with the most popular Indian television chef.

Vezo, directed by Tod Lending
Narrated by a nine-year old girl, this documentary tells the tale of a village close to starvation until it adopts sustainable fishing practices.

The Faces of Global Poverty: 15 Must-See Short Films
Colours in the Dust
Blood Brother Trailer
Rural Poverty in Their Own Words: Ghana
In Your Hands
Syrian Girl Chooses School Before Marriage
The Thread
Pupils Speak Out About UK Child Poverty
Afghan Girl:Teacher? Engineer? Sheppard?
Hope on a Bicycle
The “Poster Girl for Starvation”
Stay: Migration and Poverty in Rural Mexico
Coal Boy
Four Men, 28 Days: Haiti After the Earthquake
Human Rights and Poverty in Ireland

Ellery Spahr

Sources: Why Poverty
Photo: Flipkey