Film Independent Selects Nine Fellows For 2018 Documentary Lab

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Film Independent, the non-profit arts organization that produces the Spirit Awards and the LA Film Festival, announced the nine filmmakers and six projects selected for its 2018 intensive five-week Documentary Lab designed to help filmmakers currently in post-production.

This year's projects span the globe – from a film about undocumented youth in the US, to an indigenous family in the Andes standing up to one of the largest gold producers in the world, to an unexpected environmental film about invisible elves, the free market and the surprising power of belief told through an Icelandic grandmother's quest to save a threatened landscape.

"We're delighted to welcome this talented group of filmmakers who will be joining us for the eighth year of the Documentary Lab from diverse regions across the US and as far away as Egypt," said Jennifer Kushner, Director of Artist Development. "Through mentorship, career development and a lively collaborative work environment, the Lab provides support to filmmakers as they work to bring these meaningful nonfiction stories to audiences."


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Through a series of meetings and workshops, the Documentary Lab provides creative feedback and story notes to participating filmmakers, while helping them strategize for the completion, distribution and marketing of their films.

Additionally, the program serves to advance the careers of its Fellows by making introductions to film professionals who can advise on both the craft and business of documentary filmmaking.

Lab Fellows attend multiple guest speaker and workshopping sessions with established documentary directors, institutional funders, legal professionals, festival programmers and distributors, and each is paired with an experienced Creative Advisor who provides one-on-one support and insight as the Fellows ready their projects for release.

This year's Documentary Lab Advisors and Guest Speakers include Ramona S. Diaz (Motherland), Greg Finton (Editor, A River Runs Through It, Dazed and Confused), Amy Halpin of the International Documentary Association, Alexandra Johnes (The Square), Senain Kheshgi of Majority Film, Jeff Malmberg (Spettacolo, Marwencol), Marjan Safinia (But You Speak Such Good English), Chris Shellen (Spettacolo, Marwencol) and Rahdi Taylor of Concordia Films (Blue Note). 

Notable past Documentary Lab projects include Tracy Droz Tragos and Andrew Droz Palmero's Rich Hill; Marah Strauch's Sunshine Superman; Sarita Khurana and Smriti Mundhra's A Suitable Girl; Dustin Nakao Haider, Daniel Dewes and Derek Doneen's Shot in the Dark; and Bing Liu and Diane Quon's Minding the Gap, winner of the 2018 US Documentary Competition Award for Breakthrough Filmmaking at Sundance.

Film Independent Artist Development promotes unique independent voices by helping filmmakers create and advance new work through its Filmmaker Labs (Directing, Documentary, Episodic, Producing and Screenwriting), Grants Program which awards over $800K annually to filmmakers, the Fast Track finance market, Fiscal Sponsorship and Project Involve, celebrating 25 years of mentoring the next generation of visual storytellers and working toward an inclusive industry.


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The Documentary Lab is supported by Artist Development Lead Funder Time Warner Foundation and is sponsored by lead sponsor Netflix and the National Endowment for the Arts. 

For more information on Film Independent's Artist Development programs, please contact Jennifer Kushner, Director of Artist Development or visit filmindependent.org.

The 2018 Documentary Lab projects and Fellows are:

Title: I am a Script Girl

Director/Producer: Mina Nabil

Logline: I Am a Script Girl is an up close and personal examination of the life, challenges and career of the unstoppable Sylvette Baudrot who at 89-years old recounts her journey from Egypt to Paris where she became a trusted confidant to the great auteurs of 20th century cinema.


Title: Pathways

Director: Florencia Krochik

Logline: Pathways tells the stories of six "DACA-mented" & undocumented youth and the struggles they face pursuing higher education. The film weaves together their captivating stories and explores the crippled US immigration policies that have led to the hardships they and their families face.


Title: Sage Country

Director: Yuri Chicovsky       

Producer: Lauren Blair

Logline: A Colorado sheep rancher who inherits a beloved piece of land and way of life must come to terms with his legacy and his life's dream.


Title: The Seer and the Unseen

Director/Producer: Sara Dosa

Producer: Shane Boris

Logline: The Seer and the Unseen is an unexpected environmental film about invisible elves, the free market and the surprising power of belief told through an Icelandic grandmother's quest to save a threatened landscape – and the beloved home her family has lived in for generations.


Title: Unapologetic

Director: Ashley O'Shay

Logline: After two Black Chicagoans are murdered by the police, young Black citizens begin challenging the city's corrupt policies while redefining the meaning of community organizing. Unapologetic goes behind the veil with two Black, queer women, providing an intimate peek into the personal lives that sustain a movement.


Title: Untitled Claudia Sparrow Documentary

Director: Claudia Sparrow

Producer: Ryan Schwartz

Logline: An indigenous family from the Andes stands up to one of the largest gold producers in the world defending their right to live off their land and protect natural resources from devastating corporate greed.

ABOUT FILM INDEPENDENT

Film Independent is a non-profit arts organization that champions creative independence in visual storytelling and supports a community of artists who embody diversity, innovation, and uniqueness of vision. Film Independent helps filmmakers make their movies, builds an audience for their projects, and works to diversify the film industry. Film Independent's Board of Directors, filmmakers, staff, and constituents, is comprised of an inclusive community of individuals across ability, age, ethnicity, gender, race, and sexual orientation. Anyone passionate about film can become a member, whether you are a filmmaker, industry professional, or a film lover.

Film Independent produces the Spirit Awards, the annual celebration honoring artist-driven films and recognizing the finest achievements of American independent filmmakers, as well as the LA Film Festival, celebrating its 20th anniversary of showcasing the best of American and international cinema. Film Independent also produces the Film Independent at LACMA Film Series, a year-round, weekly program that offers unique cinematic experiences for the Los Angeles creative community and the general public.

With over 250 annual screenings and events, Film Independent provides access to a network of like-minded artists who are driving creativity in the film industry. Film Independent's Artist Development program offers free Labs for selected writers, directors, producers and documentary filmmakers and presents year-round networking opportunities. Project Involve is Film Independent's signature program dedicated to fostering the careers of talented filmmakers from communities traditionally underrepresented in the film industry.

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