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Kerry LeVielle ’17 Named an Ignite Fellow by Sundance Institute

Her senior thesis project was instrumental to her growth as a filmmaker.

Sundance Institute recently named Kerry LeVielle ’17 (cinema studies) to its Class of 2019 Ignite Fellows. She’s one of fifteen 18-to-24-year-old filmmakers selected for the one-year fellowship from a pool of 1,200 applicants.

Before that, she served as the Fall 2017 Valentine and Clark Emerging Artist Fellow in the Creative Culture Fellowship Program at the Jacob Burns Film Center (JBFC) in Pleasantville, NY. 

Soon after she arrived at Purchase, LeVielle knew focusing on cinema theory alone wouldn’t be enough for her. The opportunities available at Purchase allowed her passion to flourish.

“As I grew in the program, I realized how I yearned for much more than theory. I wanted to take part in the creative process of film production as a writer and director. Throughout my remaining time at Purchase I crewed on many a student film, as well as a few independent features. I also had the great opportunity to intern at IndieWire in New York City, which was one of the best experiences and where my love for independent filmmaking came to fruition,” she writes in a blog post for the JBFC.

The film she created for her senior thesis project, Her Natural Crown, became her entrée into the Sundance program.

“My thesis proved to be one of the greatest teaching tools in understanding that who I am as an artist and who I am as a person are intersectional. I became aware of what stories I want to tell and the social activism I seek to convey with my art; how I stress the importance of the inclusion of women both onscreen and behind the camera, and the importance of telling stories that are ignored, overlooked, or disregarded.”

The Sundance Institute selects their Ignite Fellows finalists based on their original voice, diverse storytelling, and rigor in their filmmaking pursuits. They’re paired with a Sundance Institute alumni professional for a full year of guidance and development, gaining industry exposure, and meaningful mentorship.

Congratulations and best of luck to Kerry.