Ten new documentaries at the rough cut stage have been selected to participate in IFP’s Independent Filmmaker Lab, which takes place this week. The Lab is an immersive, free mentorship program for low-budget (under $500,000) first feature films which have shot all or a substantial amount of footage for their features but have not completed post-production. The goal of the program is to connect mentors with projects before they are submitted to festivals.
Drawing from a national candidate pool, 20 projects (10 documentaries and 10 narratives) were selected for a year-long fellowship which includes: one-on-one mentorship; workshops that assist filmmakers with technical, creative and strategic advice needed to complete their films; scheduled meetings with potential buyers and festival programmers; and inclusion in a Lab Showcase presentation in September during IFP’s Independent Film Week. Each project has three participating Fellows, typically the director, producer, and editor or post-supervisor.
“IFP’s strongest niche has always involved proactively supporting filmmakers at the work-in-progress stage, the precise moment in their post process when they are most in need of mentorship,” said Michelle Byrd, Executive Director of IFP, in a statement.
The 2009 Documentary Lab leaders are producer Lori Cheatle (51 Birch Street) and producer Lesli Klainberg (Paul Monette: The Brink of Summer’s End, IFC’s Indie Sex). Workshop leaders include, amongst others: composer T. Griffin (A Walk into the Sea) and music supervisor Barry Cole (Trouble the Water); editors Mona Davis (Love and Diane), Jonathan Oppenheim (Paris Is Burning), Michael Levine (My Kid Could Paint That), Toby Shimin (Everything’s Cool), and Adam Zucker (American Hollow). In addition, prior to the Labs each selected project director works with a top documentary filmmaker who serves as a one-to-one mentor to establish goals, provide additional feedback, and share ideas to prepare them for the Lab Program – and beyond. The 2009 Pre-Lab Mentors are: Daniel Anker (Scottsboro: An American Tragedy), Whitney Dow (Two Towns of Jasper), Sandi DuBowski (Trembling Before G-d), Peter Gilbert (At the Death House Door), Ross Kauffman, (Born into Brothels), Tia Lessin (Trouble the Water), Amanda Micheli (La Corona), Julia Reichert (A Lion In The House), Amy Sewell (Mad Hot Ballroom) and Marco Williams (Banished).
The selected projects for the 2009 Documentary Lab and Lab Fellows include (descriptions provided by IFP):
Beijing Taxi – Intimate stories of three cabbies connect a morphing cityscape and tales of citizens coping with the dizzying pace of change accelerated by the 2008 Olympics. Miao Wang (Director, Producer, Editor)
Casino Nation – After a long and bloody struggle, the Seneca Nation of Indians now owns one of the most lucrative casinos in the world. Is this a new beginning…or the end of days? Laure Sullivan (Director, Producer, Editor), Terry Jones (Director, Producer), Paul Wilson (Director Producer, DP)
An Interview with Simone Weil – A journey to understand the controversial French philosopher and activist Simone Weil (1909-1943) becomes a reflection on the complex role of documentarians in today’s world. Julia Haslett (Director, Producer, Editor), Fabrizia Galvagno (Producer)
Land of Opportunity – A chronicle of the historic and tumultuous rebirth of a great American city, New Orleans, through the eyes of those on the front lines. Luisa Dantas (Director, Producer, Editor), Rebecca Snedeker (Co-producer)
Our House – In an industrial warehouse in New York City, three young political radicals form an underground squatter community for the homeless – all in the name of Jesus Christ. Greg King (Director, Producer, DP, Editor), David Teague (Director, DP)
Paul Goodman Changed My Life – About one of America’s most important social thinkers, whose Growing Up Absurd ushered in the 1960s, opening up a new world for its young readers. Jonathan S. Lee (Director, Producer), Kimberly Reed (Editor), Robert Hawk (Associate Producer)
The Road to Nasiriyah – The struggle to document the looting at Iraqi archaeological sites following the 2003 war ends with the kidnapping of an American journalist and his Iraqi interpreter. Marie Helene Carleton (Director, Producer, Writer, DP, Editor), Micah Garen (Director, Producer, Writer, DP, Editor)
Texas Heart – Bridging non-fiction with science fiction, Texas Heart follows two surgeons as they prototype a pulse-less artificial heart, creating a new physiology for the post-human future. Treva Wurmfeld (Director, Producer, Writer, DP, Editor)
Twelve Ways to Sunday – Set in the poverty belt of Western New York, a film about sharing stories when there is little else to share. Anna Farrell (Director, Producer, DP, Editor)
War Don Don – A chronicle of the rise and fall of a former rebel leader in Sierra Leone. Through his trial, a nation faces its wartime past. Rebecca Richman Cohen (Director, Producer), Francisco Bello (Producer, Editor)