National Geographic Documentary Films and the Sundance Institute today announced Ilinca Calugareanu as the inaugural recipient of the Further Filmmaker Fellowship. The Romania-born filmmaker was selected for her embodiment of National Geographic’s ethos, pushing the boundaries of exploration, science and storytelling further.

Calugareanu will receive a cash grant along with a personalized experience at the Sundance Film Festival that includes industry meetings, networking opportunities and screenings.

“At National Geographic, we believe in empowering new visionaries,” said Tim Pastore, president of original programming and production for National Geographic. “With a background in anthropology, Ilinca is uniquely positioned to create films that truly immerse viewers into different cultures.”

The fellowship builds on National Geographic’s history of creating opportunities for the next generation of storytellers, including Nat Geo Wild’s Wild to Inspire short film contest and the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, which gives young scholars the chance to hone their communications skills during a yearlong expedition abroad.

“Becoming the Further Fellow is very personal for me,” said Calugareanu. “National Geographic played a very important part of my formative years growing up in Romania. Not long after the fall of communism, I saw my first-ever issue of National Geographic magazine. It was then that I realized the power of an image and the importance of storytelling. National Geographic became my window to the world, and I am so thrilled to receive this incredible honor.”

Said Tabitha Jackson, director of Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program: “Ilinca brings a bold palette to her visually rich, captivating nonfiction storytelling,” Her filmmaking combines a powerful driving narrative with high cultural stakes whether in Eastern Europe or the South Bronx.”