The Independent Filmmaker Project has selected ten documentaries for its 2013 Independent Filmmaker Labs, IFP’s annual year-long fellowship for first-time feature directors. The selected teams will participate in three week-long sessions over the course of 2013, with the first taking place May 13-17 in New York City.
Since 2005, 148 docs and narrative features have participated in the labs, with 82% of the projects completed and premiered at major US and international festivals, and 60% finding distribution on platforms beyond the festival circuit.
The selected projects for the 2013 Documentary Lab and Lab
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).
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.
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.