Amazon Signs First-Look Deal With Former Sundance Exec Bird Runningwater

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After finishing a two-decade tenure as an executive at the Sundance Institute, Bird Runningwater has signed a first-look deal with Amazon Studios, where he will produce television and film projects for Amazon Prime Video.

A member of the Cheyenne and Mescalero Apache Tribal Nations, Runningwater has been at the Sundance Institute since 2001 as the director of Indigenous programs, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion programs and artist programs. 154 different Indigenous filmmakers were mentored and supported through Sundance labs, grants and fellowships during his time with the organization. Runningwater also curated more than 119 films written, directed, and produced by Indigenous filmmakers that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival over the years.

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“I’m excited to partner with Amazon Studios TV to produce Indigenous stories, building on my 20 years of bringing Indigenous voices to screens while at Sundance Institute,” said Runningwater. “The Indigenous community is experiencing a significant moment — having our stories presented to American audiences — and I’m excited to partner with Amazon to make this moment a lasting cultural shift in our industry, and to serve audiences worldwide.”

“For over two decades, Bird Runningwater has been a relentless source of knowledge and advocacy for more racial and cultural diversity in television and film,” said Vernon Sanders, Amazon Studios’ co-head of television. “Bird’s lived experience and deep commitment to Indigenous representation will only enrich the content he produces, and we are elated and immensely lucky to be working with him.”

Runningwater also served on the Comcast/NBCUniversal External Joint Diversity Advisory Council for a decade, and is currently on the boards of directors of IllumiNative and the Arctic Indigenous Film Fund. He was recently appointed to serve on the Library of Congress’ National Film Preservation Board, and is a past member of the board of jurors for the George Foster Peabody Awards. He is a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. He currently co-executive produces “Sovereign,” a series in development with Warner Brothers Television and Ava DuVernay’s Array Filmworks.

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