The Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP) has set the ten documentaries selected for the 2013 Independent Filmmaker Labs, IFP’s annual year-long fellowship for first-time feature directors. The key creative teams of the selected films, chosen from a national pool of 200 submissions, will participate in three week-long sessions over the course of 2013, with the first taking place May 13-17 in New York City.
“Now more than ever, it’s essential that independent filmmakers have the knowledge and tools to define and reach their audience through multiple platforms, as well as the time and space to make their work the best that it can be,” says Joana Vicente, IFP Executive Director, in a statement. “With more than 80% of our previous Lab projects debuted in festivals and being released worldwide, the impact of this program has been significant for its participants. We are also thrilled that our longtime supporter Time Warner Foundation has significantly expanded its support of the program, allowing us to provide increased support and crucial mentorship to filmmakers working in the ever-changing landscape of filmmaking, marketing and distribution.”
Two former Lab documentaries will soon premiere on the upcoming season of PBS’ P.O.V. (“Herman’s House” and “High Tech, Low Life”), with other alums having recently premiered in 2013 at top festivals – SXSW (“12 O’Clock Boys;” “Big Joy;” “These Birds Walk”)’ New Directors/New Films (“Our Nixon”); Tribeca (“Alias Ruby Blade;” “Big Joy”); and Hot Docs (“12 O’Clock Boys,” “American Commune,” “Lucky;” “Northern Light;” “Our Nixon;” “These Birds Walk”). Of these, “12 O’Clock Boys” and “These Birds Walk” have been acquired for distribution by Oscillocope Laboratories and “Our Nixon” by Cinedigm and CNN Films.
Focusing exclusively on low-budget features (<$1million), the Labs provide filmmakers “with the technical, creative and strategic tools necessary to launch their films.” Twenty projects (10 documentaries and 10 narratives) are selected for the Lab fellowship. Narrative Lab selections will be announced in June.
Since 2005, 148 documentaries and narrative features have participated in the Labs, with 82% of the projects completed and premiered at major US and international festivals, with 60% having distribution on a variety of platforms beyond festivals. 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.
The selected projects for the 2013 Documentary Lab and Lab Fellows are:
Approaching the Elephant
Given uncommon freedom and individual rights, a group of young children enroll in a newly opened ‘free school,’ where rules are created democratically – students and teachers have an equal vote – and classes are voluntary. Fellows: Amanda Wilder (Director/DP), Jay Craven (Producer). Brooklyn, NY
Bringing Tibet Home
Tibetan artist Tenzing Rigdol sets out on a mission to bring Tibet closer to Tibetan exiles through an unprecedented art project, inspired by his late father’s unfulfilled wish to breathe his last breath in his homeland. Losing his father made Tenzing realize that wishing to return home is common among all Tibetan exiles. Thus an art project was born to make this common dream a reality as the artist struggles to bring 20,000 kilos of native soil from Tibet to Tibetan exiles in India. Fellows: Tenzin Tsetan Choklay (Director/ Producer /Writer/DP/Editor); Milica Zec (Editor). Queens, NY
Do I Sound Gay?
Determined to overcome his shame about “sounding gay,” director David Thorpe embarks on a hilarious, poignant, taboo-shattering exploration of the phenomenon of the “gay voice.” With Margaret Cho, Tim Gunn, Dan Savage, David Sedaris and George Takei. Fellows: David Thorpe (Director/Writer); Howard Gertler (Producer). Brooklyn, NY.
Evolution of a Criminal
Deep in the heart of Texas, what begins as an innocent tale of family, sacrifice, and financial hardship quickly escalates into a true-crime thriller. Fusing together compelling interviews, striking re-enactments, and home video, we are forced to ask ourselves how a 16 year-old honor roll student evolved into a bank robber. Darius Clark Monroe (Director); Jen Gatien (Producer); Doug Lenox (Editor). Brooklyn, NY.
Watching a chicken hatch makes combat veteran Alex Sutton smile, so he decides to become a farmer. The sense of purpose he once felt as a soldier returns, but his crippling PTSD remains. Along with his wife, Jessica, he toils through four seasons on a different kind of battlefield and wonders if, for him, the war will ever end.
Fellows: D.L. Anderson (Director/Producer/Editor); Alix Blair (Director/DP); Mikel Barton (Editor). Durham, NC.
War is hell. Why would anyone want to spend their weekends there? “In Country” is a cinematic feature documentary following a “platoon” of historical reenactors who are recreating the Vietnam War in the woods of Oregon. Not just a film about the aftermath of the Vietnam War or the fantasies of grown men; it’s a meditation on how the drums of war continue to draw men to battle despite devastating consequences. Fellows: Megan O’Hara (Director/Producer); Mike Attie ((Director/Producer/DP); Lindsay Utz (Editor). San Francisco, CA; Seattle, WA.
Kasamayaki (Made in Kasama)
Shaken by the tsunami and nuclear disasters, a grown daughter returns to her rural Japanese artist community to reconnect with her estranged parents and hometown. Meditative moments at the pottery wheel punctuated by tense family conversations, sudden earthquakes and radiation level readings, Kasamayaki exposes the fragility of life and the imperfect nature of human relationships. Fellow: Yuki Kokubo (Director/ Producer/DP/Editor). Brooklyn, NY
The Life and Mind of Mark DeFriest
Mark DeFriest is an American prison legend, an escape artist who has spent 32 years behind bars, most of it in long-term isolation, with little light, hope, or human contact. When the doctor whose diagnosis originally condemned DeFriest to prison admits he was wrong, a new chance for freedom is borne. But is it too late for redemption? Fellows: Gabriel London (Director/Writer/DP); Daniel Chalfen (Producer); Nick Clark (Editor). New York, NY
Mateo follows L.A.’s most notorious troubadour, Matthew Stoneman, as he fulfills his most recent obsession, “Una Historia de Cuba,” a record of original compositions recorded over the course of six years piece meal style in Havana, Cuba. Ultimately, “Mateo” is a study of barriers — cultural, geographic, and moral — and a man who doesn’t believe in any of them. Fellows: Aaron Naar (Director/Writer/Producer/DP/Editor); Nicole Vaskell (Editor). Los Angeles, CA
Roots and Webs
If you lose your family, you must build it anew. Amid the desolate Oregon wilderness, the lives of two former soldiers intersect. Roger, a former US Army sniper in Vietnam, and Kouy, a platoon leader with the Khmer Freedom Fighters who fought against Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge, come together each autumn for the matsutake mushroom hunt. The two each wrestle with wounds from Southeast Asian wars, attempting to find the high-priced mushroom before snowfall. An odyssey into the woods, into the memory of war and survival, we tell a story of family from this enigmatic woodland realm. Fellows: Sara Dosa (Director); Josh Penn (Producer). Berkeley, CA.