The “Columbus” movie filmed in the city last summer will be released starting in August with support from the Sundance Institute.

The Utah-based institute, founded in 1981 by actor and director Robert Redford, advances the work of independent storytellers in film and theater. It produces the Sundance Film Festival, where “Columbus” and other independent films were screened earlier this year.

The institute’s Creative Distribution Fellowship aims to provide funding for U.S. distribution of the “Columbus” film shot last July and August against architecturally significant backdrops in Columbus.

The drama, by a first-time Nashville, Tennessee, director who goes by the name of Kogonada, is paired with a documentary, “Unrest,” for the fellowship support, according to the nonprofit institute.

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The two films are part of a combined $150,000 Kickstarter online fundraising campaign through June 1 for the public to support with donations.

That Kickstarter goal must be met, however, as the funding has an all-or-nothing component, according to the Sundance Institute’s media relations department.

However, Sundance is committed to helping with some aspects of distribution regardless of the Kickstarter campaign’s results, the spokesman said.

As of Thursday, the Kickstarter fund stood at about $18,000 with gifts from nearly 100 donors during its first two days — what a Sundance representative characterized as good traction.

Contributions will go to the filmmakers of “Columbus” and “Unrest,” enabling them to pioneer a marketing and distribution strategy in which they own the rights and receive all revenue from their films, according to a Kickstarter web page. This includes funding for theatrical booking, advertising and publicity, creative marketing and post production, including a soundtrack or other components.

As a core part of the fellowship, the films’ producers are committed to sharing lessons learned from their creative distribution, the institute said. Their lessons will create best practices to help guide future independent filmmakers.

Institute officials described Kogonada and “Unrest” director Jennifer Brea as “intrepid filmmakers who turned down more traditional distribution offers because they believe there is a better way to reach audiences.”

Keri Putnam, executive director of Sundance Institute, called the two films “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.

“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.”

Although the “Columbus” movie release is planned for August, filmmakers are trying to work out a local premiere that could be scheduled in September at YES Cinema.

“Columbus” highlights the story of Casey (Haley Lu Richardson), who lives with her mother in a small Midwestern town haunted by the promise of Modernism. Jin (John Cho), a visitor from the other side of the world, attends to his dying father. In their friendship, they find respite in one another and the architecture and its symbolism that surrounds them.

Erin Hawkins, marketing manager for the Columbus Area Visitors Center, worked for weeks to help the “Columbus” film crew meet its tight production schedule demands and gain access to landmarks and well-known structures in Columbus, including First Christian Church, North Christian Church, the Bartholomew County Public Library and the former Republic building.

“It is exciting that the Sundance Institute has selected ‘Columbus’ to be one of the first two films supported by the Creative Distribution Fellowship,” Hawkins said. “It says a lot about the confidence Sundance has in Kogonada and the caliber of his film.”

The fellowship also signifies confidence the Sundance Institute has for the “Columbus” movie to be successfully self-distributed, Hawkins said.

“And of course, it’s exciting to have the prestige of the Sundance brand attached to the project,” she said.

How you can help

Go to and click on “film & video,” then scroll down to and click on the Sundance logo superimposed over stills from the “Columbus” and “Unrest” movies. The kickstarter campaign must raise $150,000 by June 1 for the two movies to receive the funds.

Here are links to three reviews of the “Columbus” movie.

See Variety’s at

Read Vanity Fair’s review at

Read’s review at

On the Web

Learn more about the Utah-based Sundance Institute at

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Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at or 812-379-5672.