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IFP Announces Narrative Projects for Its Annual IFP Labs

by Erik Luers on May 23, 2016

The Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP) announced today the ten narratives selected for the 2016 IFP 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 23-27 in New York City.

The IFP Narrative Filmmaker Labs are the only labs that support 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.

Now entering its twelfth year with over 100+ first-feature filmmakers supported, the community of Labs alumni is comprised of some of the most exciting and critically-acclaimed artists working today across film, television, new media and VR; these include multi-hyphenate creators such as Amy Seimitz (The Girlfriend Experience), Alex Karpovsky (Girls), David Lowery (Pete’s Dragon), Dee Rees (Bessie), Andrew Dosunmu (Mother of George), Tim Sutton (Dark Night), Jennifer Phang (Advantageous), and Terence Nance (An Oversimplification of Her Beauty).

Recent 2015 IFP Labs Fellows have been already making their mark on the festival circuit. Just this year, The Arbalest won SXSW’s Narrative Grand Jury Prize and Donald Cried received distribution from The Orchard . Of the 10 selected projects, 7 have already premiered at top festivals including SXSW, Tribeca, Los Angeles Film Festival, Slamdance and Bentonville and two fellows are shooting new projects this summer.

“To highlight and support diverse stories and storytellers has always been the mission of the IFP Labs and of IFP as a whole,” says Joana Vicente, Executive Director of IFP and the Made in NY Media Center. “This year’s Narrative Lab Fellows are a perfect example of this, and the boundless creativity and diversity in their work is evident in just how wide-ranging these films’ settings are: from Kyiv, Ukraine, to the Alaskan fish canneries, to right here in Brooklyn’s Borough Park neighborhood.”

Under the artistic direction of IFP Head of Programming Amy Dotson and Program Manager & Producer Zach Mandinach, the supervising 2016 Narrative Lab leaders include Jon Reiss, director/producer and author (Bomb It!Think Outside the Box Office), Susan Stover, producer (Welcome to the Dollhouse; High Art; Happy Accidents); Pierce Varous, producer (Always Shine; H.) and founder of Nice Dissolve; Scott Macaulay, Filmmaker Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief and producer (Julien-Donkey Boy). Individual Workshop Leaders include composer Keegan Dewitt (I’ll See You in My Dreams; Queen of Earth), film editors Sabine Hoffman (Maggie’s Plan; The Ballad of Jack and Rose), Lee Percy (Maria Full of Grace; Boys Don’t Cry), Jennifer Ruff (A Woman, A Part; Glass Chin), and Marc Vives (Museum Hours; I Used to be Darker), marketing experts Adam Kersh (Brigade Marketing) and Nick Camacho (Oscilloscope Laboratories), producers Anne Carey (The Diary of a Teenage Girl; The Savages), Mollye Asher (Songs My Brothers Taught Me), Jodi Redmond (The Witch), and Darren Dean (Tangerine), festival programmers Tom Hall (Montclair Film Festival) and Dan Nuxoll (Rooftop Films), and fellow filmmakers Ingrid Jungermann (Women Who Kill), Leah Meyerhoff (I Believe in Unicorns), and Takeshi Fukunaga (Out of My Hand).    

In addition to lead support from the Time Warner Foundation, additional support for the IFP Filmmaker Labs includes grants from The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Ford 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 2016 IFP Narrative Lab and their attending Lab Fellows are:

 

Alaska is a Drag

An aspiring superstar’s diva fabulous dreams are hard fought working at a fish cannery in Alaska. He dreams of escaping the monotony of fish guts and fist fights, but in the meantime, out of necessity he has learned to fight and is scouted by the local boxing coach and a new boy moves to town and wants to be his sparring partner. Shaz Bennett (Director, Writer, Producer), Jean-Pierre Caner (Producer, Consulting Editor). Los Angeles, CA.

 

A Bad Idea Gone Wrong

A comedy about two would-­be thieves who accidentally arm the alarm system and have to break out of the house they just broke into. When they discover an unexpected housesitter, they suddenly have to deal with a hostage situation, double crosses, and discoveries that make their difficult escape even more dubious. Jason Headley (Director, Writer), Tim Fender (Editor). San Francisco, CA.

 

Cold November

A 12-year-old girl being raised within a matriarchal household is taken through the right of passage of killing a deer for the first time. Expectations dissolve into chaos, and Florence finds herself alone, relying on instinct and training to follow through with her decisions and pull herself together while simultaneously living through the aftermath of a recent family trauma. Karl Jacob (Director, Writer, Producer), Pete Ohs (Editor). Hibbing, MN.

 

Dayveon

Dayveon is a twelve-year-old boy who is coming to terms with the death of his older brother. Torn between a loving sister who has become his sole caretaker and the sense of camaraderie offered by his local gang, he’s forced to make decisions that threaten to rob him of his innocence. Amman Abbasi (Director, Writer, Producer), Steven Reneau (Writer, Producer). Little Rock, AR.

 

Heartlock

A convict realizes his best shot at escaping is to master the art of “ducking,” a specialized form of prison manipulation in which an inmate befriends a flawed guard for the purposes of blackmail. He targets a tough-as-nails female guard with an underlying vulnerability. However, it doesn’t take long for his plan to hit a snag: he falls in love with her. Jon Kauffman (Director, Writer), Chris Cummings (Writer), Dominic Laperriere (Editor). New York, NY.

 

Julia Blue

Julia, a bright university student, is preparing for a life abroad when she meets English, a damaged soldier returning from the war zone in eastern Ukraine.  An unexpected romance sparks between the two, as Julia and English fall deeply for each other.  From metropolitan Kyiv to a remote Carpathian village, Julia and English must decide if they are ready to build a future together in a homeland that is slowly being torn apart.  Roxy Toporowych (Director, Writer), Nilou Safinya (Producer), Ben Kim (Editor). Brooklyn, NY.

 

The Missing Sun

After a solar flare powers down her remote community, Alma discovers her husband Terry comatose. Pursuing a series of bizarre clues, she soon believes Terry is astral traveling to reunite with his deceased ex-wife. Determined to bring him back, Alma seeks helps from Terry’s estranged, psychedelic son and from the leader of a new-age religion who believes the sun-storm may signal the end-times. Brennan Vance (Director, Writer, Producer, DP, Editor), James Christenson (Producer). Minneapolis, MN.

 

Poor Jane

Jane and Henry are in a loving marriage. Another man humiliates Henry at a Christmas party and Jane decides she no longer loves him. The following morning Jane tells Henry she’s going to Target, but instead checks into a hotel and stops answering her phone. Jane spends the holidays drinking, having impulsive encounters with men and contemplating whether or not she wants to remain married. Katie Orr (Director, Writer), Alex Orr (Producer), David Swinburne (Co-Producer). Atlanta, GA.

 

Solace

When her father dies, Sole 17, numbs her emotions with food. She unwillingly lives with her estranged grandmother. Desperate to escape her grandmother’s controlling love and illicit relationship with the pastor, Sole enters a forbidden friendship with the rebellious teenage neighbors. Juggling these relationships spirals Sole out of control with food but it ultimately forces her to confront her pain. Tchaiko Omawale (Director, Writer, Producer), Eileen Cabling (Associate Producer), Amanda Griffin (Editor). Los Angeles, CA.

 

Untitled Hasidic Film

Given unprecedented access to New York’s Orthodox Jewish community, the film is a story of faith and fatherhood – performed entirely in Yiddish. Joshua Z Weinstein (Director, Writer, Producer, DP), Royce Brown (Co-Producer), Daniel Finkelman (Producer), Danelle Eliav (Co-Producer) Brooklyn, NY.

 

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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 tech and media incubator space developed with the New York Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment.

IFP represents a growing network of storytellers around the world, and plays a key role in developing 350 new feature and documentary works each year. During its 37-year history, IFP has supported over 10,000+ 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.

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