With Discovery Channel rolling out a new environmental-themed series later this year, the Sundance Institute and cabler today named festival award wining Chasing Ice director Jeff Orlowski as the first recipient of the Sundance Institute Discovery Impact Fellowship. The new fellowship is given to a filmmaker who has dedicated his or her work to tell tales of the natural environment with a commitment to protection. In a very nice move for any artist, the grant money can be used at the filmmaker’s discretion, but the emphasis is obviously on environmental work.

Image (1) Sundance-Institute__140520041339.jpg for post 733438“It is an honor to be associated with Discovery Channel and Sundance Institute,” says Sundance Film Festival alum Orlowski. “Both have been supportive of my work in the past, and I thank them for all they are doing in the world of filmmaking.” Rich Ross, Group President Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and Science Channel said, “at Discovery, we want to support the best environmental storytellers that ignite our audience to engage in the most critical issues of our time and act upon them.”

Chasing Ice snagged an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song, and also won in its category during the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. Orlowski is the founder of production outfit Exposure Labs and has toured as a rep for Sundance Institute, President Barack Obama’s Committee for the Arts and Humanities, and the National Endowment of the Arts. Among his upcoming projects is a film documenting the health of the world’s coral reefs.

Coinciding with today’s announcement, Discovery Channel unveiled details on Discovery Impact, a new series of documentaries examining the impact of humans on the environment. The series will also look at possible solutions to meeting and solving serious environmental challenges. The series will launch officially in 2017, but kicks off in 2016 with the premiere of Drought, a Discovery Impact special from Oscar winners Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, Barbara Kopple, Alan and Susan Raymond, and Jesse Moss. Presented in association with ProPublica, Drought examines the water crisis affecting California and other areas of the United States.