The Sundance Institute has named Caroline Monnet as the recipient of the 2023 Merata Mita Fellowship.

The annual fellowship is in honor of the late Māori filmmaker Merata Mita (1942-2010) created for Indigenous women-identified artists poised to direct their first feature film.

Monnet (Anishinaabe/French) was recognized at the Native Forum Celebration at The Park in Park City, Utah during this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

Sundance Institute Indigenous Program Director Adam Piron (Kiowa and Mohawk) also announced the five 2022 Native Lab Fellows, three 2022 Full Circle Fellowship Fellows, and acknowledged the eleven Indigenous-made projects from around the world that are premiering at this year’s Sundance.

Monnet is a multidisciplinary artist from Outaouais, Quebec. She studied Sociology and Communication at the University of Ottawa (CA) and the University of Granada (ES) before pursuing a career in visual arts and film. Her work has been programmed extensively in exhibitions and festivals internationally, including Sundance, Palm Springs (USA), TIFF, Cannes (FR), and the Whitney Biennale. In 2016, she was selected for the Cinéfondation residency in Paris. She is based in Montréal.

Mita (Ngāi Te Rangi/Ngāti Pikiao) broke new ground as the first Māori woman to write and direct a dramatic feature film. She was an advisor and artistic director of the Sundance Institute Native Lab from 2000 to 2009, championing emerging Indigenous talent. In continuation of her legacy, the Sundance Institute is in its eighth year of awarding a fellowship in her name to an Indigenous woman-identified filmmaker from a global applicant pool. The Fellowship includes yearlong support with activities, including attendance at the Sundance Film Festival, access to strategic and creative services offered by Sundance Institute’s artist programs, a cash grant and mentorship opportunities.

“After years of watching her work evolve across many mediums, selecting Caroline Monnet as this year’s Merata Mita Fellow not only made sense, but her oeuvre also echoed Merata’s own creative spirit of breaking the mold and demanding that the work of Indigenous artists be met on its own terms,” said Piron. “We’re beyond thrilled to be supporting Caroline in this next step in her creative journey and are elated to be a part of the creation of her film.”

“I am honoured to be named this year’s Merata Mita’s fellow and to be following in the legacy of such talented Indigenous women that have accomplished groundbreaking work,” said Monnet. “This acknowledgement from the Sundance Institute comes at a pivotal time for me. This recognition will allow me to continue on my cinematic journey and enable me to strengthen and further define my cinematic voice. This acknowledgment inspires me to continue to challenge myself and to strive for greater heights. I recognize that this would not be possible without the support of the indigenous filmmaking community and my community as a whole.”

Over the years, the Sundance Institute has supported leading Indigenous filmmakers such as  Lyle Corbine, Chris Eyre, Sydney Freeland, Sterlin Harjo, Sky Hopinka, Jr., Elle-Maija Tailfeathers and Taika Waititi.

Last year’s Merata Mita fellow, Fox Maxy, will be premiering their debut feature Gush as part of the New Frontier selection at this year’s fest.


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