The Sundance Institute on Monday said that Fox Maxy is the recipient of the 2022 Merata Mita Fellowship, bolstering Indigenous women-identified artists in their efforts to mount a feature film.
Maxy is a filmmaker and artist based in San Diego. Her work has screened at BAM CinemaFest, International Film Festival Rotterdam, imagineNATIVE Festival, MoMAs Doc Fortnight, LACMA, AFI Docs and the Camden Film Festival, among other places. Her first feature film, Watertight, is described as “a collection of interviews about mental health and suicide, interrupted by fake commercials, reality TV parodies, animations and archival footage.”
The fellowship is named in honor of the late Merata Mita, one of the first Māori women to write and direct a dramatic feature film, who also served as an advisor and artistic director of the Sundance Institute’s Native Lab from 2000-2009. Through it, Maxy will receive a cash grant and yearlong support, with access to the Sundance Film Festival, strategic and creative services offered by Sundance Institute’s artist programs, and mentorship opportunities. She was also recently recognized at the festival’s Native Forum Celebration, which took place on its bespoke immersive platform The Spaceship.
“Gathering each year to celebrate the memory of our Sundance Institute colleague Merata Mita in this way is so rewarding as she was the first Indigenous woman to solely write, direct and produce a dramatic feature film — it’s only right to pass on that torch every year by providing resources and support to one of the many Indigenous women-identified filmmakers she has inspired globally,” said Adam Piron, who serves as the Director of Sundance’s Indigenous Program. “We’re in a moment where more Indigenous artists are telling their stories to a wider-reaching audience than ever before. However, the work of indigenizing the moving image is ongoing and, like Merata, we remain committed to contributing to that work in practical ways that build community and uplift Indigenous voices.”
“This opportunity feels like the biggest prize from the craziest game and it came at a time when I’m finally not scared of anything,” said Maxy. “I’ve been filming, taking photos and making collages with sounds or visuals since a very young age. I film every day, but it took me over a decade to put myself out there.
“It takes guts to be vulnerable and pour your real emotions into a project, and there’s no guarantee that anyone will care,” she continued. “When I heard that I received this fellowship, I cried. This means that my voice in my work is actually reaching people and I’m being heard. I’m grateful to the entire Sundance team. Our talks keep me calm. It’s like having a group of friends and mentors who are rooting for me to do what I want — they encourage me to carve my own rules and set out on my own path.”
This year’s virtual Sundance Film Festival is running through January 30.
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