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IFP Announces Documentary Line-up for Its Annual Independent Filmmaker Labs

by Erik Luers on May 11, 2015

Docs by Women Dominate Mentorship Program for First Features

 

Brooklyn, NY  (May 11, 2015) – The Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP) announced today the ten documentaries selected for the 2015 Independent Filmmaker Labs, IFP’s annual yearlong fellowship for first-time feature directors. The creative teams of the selected films are currently attending the first week’s sessions – The Time Warner Foundation Completion Labs – taking place May 11-15 in New York City.

The Independent Filmmaker Labs are a highly immersive, free mentorship program supporting first-time feature directors with projects in post-production as they complete, market and distribute their films. The Labs provide filmmakers with the technical, creative and strategic tools necessary to launch their films and careers. As part of IFP’s ongoing commitment to diversity, the Independent Filmmaker Labs also seek to ensure that at least 50% of the participating projects have an inclusive range of races, genders, sexual orientations, ethnicities and physical abilities in key creative positions. Comprised of both documentary and narrative strands, the Narrative Lab selections will be announced in June.

“After 11 years the Independent Filmmaker Labs remain one of our core and most valued programs for emerging filmmakers,” says Joana Vicente, Executive Director of IFP and the Made in NY Media Center. “We’re proud of the results that have come from filmmakers embracing the strategies provided to be engaged and instrumental to their films’ successes.”

As of 2014, the 176 projects that have gone through the program include such critically acclaimed films as Lotfy Nathan’s 12 O’clock Boys, Aron Gaudet & Gita Pulapilly’s Beneath the Harvest Sky, Alexandre Moors’ Blue Caprice, Stacie Passon’s Concussion, Michael Collins & Marty Syjuco’s Give Up Tomorrow, Angad Bhalla’s Herman’s House, Daniel Carbone’s Hide Your Smiling Faces, Penny Lane’s Our Nixon, Dee Rees’ Pariah, Tim Sutton’s Pavilion, Bassam Tariq & Omar Mullick’s These Birds Walk, Lucy Mulloy’s Una Noche, and Keith Miller’s Welcome to Pine Hill.

Documentary alumni of the most recent lab “class” of 2014 include special Jury Award winner at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, Lyric Cabral and David Felix Sutcliffe’s (T)error, while other 2014 alumni premiered this year at Berlin (Jack Pettibone Riccobono’s The Seventh Fire); SXSW (Zackary Canepari & Drea Cooper’s T-Rex); Full Frame (Sharon Shattuck’s From This Day Forward); San Francisco International Film Festival (Jason Zeldes’ Romeo Is Bleeding) and Tribeca (Leah Wolchok’s Very Semi-Serious).

This year, for the first time in the Lab’s 11-year history, the Documentary Lab contains the largest number of women directors – eight of the ten project directors. Including the other team members of the selected projects, women comprise 64% of the attending 25 fellows.

“While diversity is one of several goals that go into project selection, the increased number of women participants speaks as much to the documentary form and doc creative community itself as long having being a place where women artists have been welcomed and have distinguished themselves,” says Milton Tabbot, Senior Director of Programming for IFP, who oversees the Documentary Lab.

The labs provide multiple levels of mentorship throughout the process. Supervising 2015 Documentary Lab leaders include Jon Reiss, director/producer and author (Bomb It!Think Outside the Box Office), Lori Cheatle, producer (112 Weddings; Captivated: The Trials of Pamela Smart), and Maureen A. Ryan, producer (The Gates, Man on Wire) and author of Producer to Producer. Individual workshop mentors include, amongst others: composer T. Griffin (E-Team; The Overnighters); Music Supervisor Barry Cole (Blue Caprice); film editors Penelope Falk (Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work; Maidentrip); Mary Manhardt (American Promise, Street Fight); Jonathan Oppenheim (The Oath, Paris Is Burning); and David Teague (Cutie and the Boxer; E-Team); Sound Designer Tom Paul (Cartel Land, The Wolfpack); deliverables (HBO’s Barbara Caver); experts on audience building and outreach (Sara Kiener & Merrill Sterritt of Film Presence); marketing and PR (RJ Millard of Obscured Pictures); festival strategy (programmer Basil Tsiokos); and workshops on theatrical, digital and international sales; distribution case studies, and career sustainability.

Following the Spring Lab, the Lab Fellows will return for additional sessions in September (Marketing Lab) and December (Distribution Lab) as they put the finishing touches on their films.

In addition to lead sponsor the Time Warner Foundation, additional sponsors of The Independent Filmmaker Labs include The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, Ford Foundation, Heineman Foundation, Hollywood Foreign Press Association, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, New York State Council on the Arts, and SAGIndie. Lab partners include The Adrienne Shelly Foundation, BMI, and Rooftop Films.

The selected projects for the 2015 IFP Documentary Lab and Lab Fellows are:

 

Boone

Boone explores the unsentimental journey of three young goat farmers and the complex reality of living off the land. The goal is the experience; dealing with the realities of a season of farming and the physical and emotional grit born of self-reliance. Filmed over two years, Boone is a sensual homage to the liberation inherent in self-discipline and risk. Fellows: Christopher LaMarca (Director), Katrina Taylor (Editor). Portland, OR

 

Decade of Fire

Throughout the 1970’s fires consumed the South Bronx, and New York City let it burn. Black and Puerto Rican residents were blamed for the devastation, even as they battled to save their communities. Now, Bronx native Vivian Vazquez is setting the record straight: uncovering NYC’s legacy of neglect, lifting up stories of resistance, and returning the truth to the people. Fellows: Gretchen Hildebran (Director, Producer, Writer, Editor), Vivian Vazquez (Producer, Writer). Brooklyn, NY

 

Distant Constellation

A photographer who cannot see, an aging playboy who still tries to charm and seduce, an Armenian woman who lived through the genocide 100 years ago afraid to this day of telling her story… Time slows down and dreams mix with routine as the world outside rapidly changes. Fellows: Shevaun Mizrahi (Director, DP), Shelly Grizim (Producer), Deniz Buga (Producer). Brooklyn, NY.

 

Kivalina

Kivalina is a feature documentary film that explores the lives of the Inupiaq Eskimo people of Kivalina, Alaska, whose tiny island is disappearing into the warming of the modern Arctic. The film begins its telling a century after the ancestors of the people of Kivalina were forced to abandon their nomadic way of life and settle on a fragile barrier island. Fellow: Gina Abatemarco (Director, Producer), Nadav Harel (Editor). Brooklyn, NY.

 

Memories of a Penitent Heart

Twenty-five years after my uncle Miguel repented of being gay on his deathbed, I go looking for his long-lost partner Robert in order to hear his side of the story. The first-ever documentary to tackle the unresolved wounds of family conflict wrought by AIDS, Memories of a Penitent Heart is a nuanced exploration of faith, love, and redemption. Fellows: Cecilia Aldarondo (Director), Patricia Benabe (Producer), Hannah Buck (Editor). Brooklyn, NY.

 

The Nine

The Nine is an intimate, at times disturbing view into an America most would rather ignore. Raw, poetic, direct and unnerving, the film is as much a window into a forgotten world as it is a distorted mirror, reflecting a shared human experience. Fellows: Katy Grannan (Director, Writer, Producer, DP, Editor), Marc Smolowitz (Producer), Eli Olson (Editor). Berkeley, CA

 

Raising Bertie

In Raising Bertie, we follow three young men over the course of five years as they grow into adulthood in Bertie County, a rural African American-led community in North Carolina. Through their stories, we see the complex issues facing America’s rural youth, and the repercussions of a woefully underfunded rural educational system. Fellows: Margaret Byrne (Director, Writer Producer), Leslie Simmer (Writer, Editor), Jon Stuyvesant (DP, Co-Producer). Chicago, IL.

 

The Road from Hainan

Traveling across southern China, a cadre of seasoned activists led            by Haiyan Ye (aka Sparrow) stage protests to call attention to a scandalous affair where    a school principal took six schoolgirls to a hotel for a night. Given the intense censorship in China, Sparrow becomes an enemy of the State. But detentions, interrogations, and evictions are no match against citizen media as pictures of Sparrow’s protest go viral. Fellows: Nanfu Wang (Director, Writer, Producer, DP, Editor), Kuan He (Composer). New York, NY

 

Supergirl

Supergirl tells the coming of age story of Naomi “Supergirl” Kutin, an 11-year-old Orthodox Jewish girl and world record-holding power lifter. The film follows Naomi’s transformation into a young woman and her struggle to find her identity within two disparate worlds. As she faces a series of complex challenges, from religious obligations to serious health issues, Naomi’s true strength is revealed. Fellows: Jessie Auritt (Director, Producer, Editor), Carmen Osterlye (Producer, DP), Justin Levy (Co-Producer). Brooklyn, NY.

 

Swing Low

On the eve of his 50th birthday, Tim, once a successful opera singer, finds himself homeless in San Francisco. Attributing his demise to a “lethal combo of sex, drugs and opera,” Tim presses forward in the present by busking and selling used goods from the shopping cart he pushes around the city. The music of Tim’s past lives on inside him, his interpretation of arias and roles evolving in the flux of his unsettled everyday life. Swing Low weaves together the music of Tim’s vocal repertoire and paints a uniquely operatic portrait of the low-life, recalling both Tim’s descent into the underworld and his present day struggles to climb out. Fellows: Javid Soriano (Director), Manuel Tsingaris (Editor) San Francisco, CA.

 

Press Contacts:

 

RJ Millard, Obscured Pictures, rj@obscuredpictures.com

Kory Mello, Obscured Pictures, kory@obscuredpictures.com

 

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About IFP

The Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP) champions the future of storytelling by connecting artists with essential resources at all stages of development and distribution. The organization fosters a vibrant and sustainable independent storytelling community through its year-round programs, which include Independent Film Week, Filmmaker Magazine, the Gotham Independent Film Awards and the Made in NY Media Center by IFP, a new incubator space developed with the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment. IFP represents a growing network of 10,000 storytellers around the world, and plays a key role in developing 350 new feature and documentary works each year. During its 35-year history, IFP has supported over 8,000 projects and offered resources to more than 20,000 filmmakers, including Debra Granik, Miranda July, Michael Moore, Dee Rees, and Benh Zeitlin. More info at www.ifp.org.

For more information on IFP, please contact:

 

Amy Dotson, Deputy Director & Head of Programming, IFP (212) 465-8200 x203

Milton Tabbot, Senior Director, Programming, IFP (212) 465-8200 x207

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