Film Independent Selects Documentary Lab Fellows

Film Independent Selects Documentary Lab Fellows

Among the many things that Los Angeles-based Film Independent does, besides the high-profile Independent Spirit Awards and the Los Angeles Film Festival, is provide crucial support to independent filmmakers. Every year a select few get chosen to participate in their Documentary Lab, which is designed to help them during the post-production phase on a film.

In the past, participants have gone on to complete excellent work, among them Andrew Droz Palermo & Tracy Droz Tragos, whose “Rich Hill” won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, as well as PJ Raval (“Before You Know It”), Hilla Medalia’s (“Dancing in Jaffa”), Nicholas Wrathall (“Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia”), Katherine Fairfax Wright and Malika Zouhali Worrall (“Call Me Kuchu”), Laura Nix and Julia Meltzer (“The Light In Her Eyes”) and Nicole Karsin (“We Women Warriors”).  

Among this year’s mentors are editor Doug Blush (“20 Feet from Stardom”), Laura Gabbert (“No Impact Man”), Linda Goldstein-Knowlton (“Somewhere Between”), Sundance programmer Caroline Libresco (“Sunset Story”), and Jeff Malmberg and Chris Shellen (“Marwencol”). Guest speakers at the Lab include Peter Broderick on Marketing and Distribution, Michael Donaldson on Legal Issues for Documentarians, and Susan Littenberg on her film “Everything Is Going Fine.” 

See full release below. 

LOS ANGELES (March 17, 2014) — Film Independent, the nonprofit arts organization that produces the Film Independent Spirit Awards and the Los Angeles Film Festival, has announced its filmmakers for the 2014 Documentary Lab, a seven week intensive program designed to help filmmakers who are currently in post-production on their feature-length documentary. This year’s Lab Fellows are Esteban Arguello & Xuan Jiang, Jamie Sisley & Mayuran Tiruchelvam, Suzanne Joe Kai, Robyn Symon, Nick Spark, Andrew James, Jonathan Matthews, and Jen Heck.  Designed to help filmmakers who are currently in post-production on their feature-length documentary films, the Documentary Lab has two primary focuses: (1) providing creative feedback and story notes to the selected filmmakers; and (2) helping filmmakers strategize the completion, distribution, and marketing of their film.

Projects developed in past Documentary Labs include Andrew Droz Palermo & Tracy Droz Tragos’ Rich Hill which won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, PJ Raval’s Before You Know It; Hilla Medalia’s Dancing in Jaffa; Nicholas Wrathall’s Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia; Katherine Fairfax Wright and Malika Zouhali Worrall’s Call Me Kuchu; Laura Nix and Julia Meltzer’s The Light In Her Eyes; and Nicole Karsin’s We Women Warriors, among others.

“We are delighted to kick off the fourth year of our Documentary Lab with such an talented group of filmmakers and esteemed mentors,” says Kelly Thomas, Producer in Residence and Interim Director of Artist Development.

Documentary filmmakers Doug Blush (Editor, Twenty Feet from Stardom), Laura Gabbert (No Impact Man), Caroline Libresco (Sunset Story), Linda Goldstein-Knowlton (Somewhere Between), Jeff Malmberg (Marwencol) and Chris Shellen (Marwencol) are this year’s Documentary Lab Mentors. Guest Speakers include Peter Broderick (Marketing and Distribution), Michael Donaldson (Legal Issues for Documentarians), Andrew Droz Palermo (Rich Hill) and Tracy Droz Tragos (Rich Hill) as well as Susan Littenberg (And Everything Is Going Fine).

The documentaries this year’s Fellows are making are:

Title: Jiàoliàn [Coach]

Director/Producer:  Esteban Arguello

Producer: Xuan Jiang

Logline:Jiàoliàn is the story of 27 year-old Norman DeSilva, an American who overnight becomes the head coach for the Foshan Longlions, a unique basketball team comprised of Americans, Syrian and Chinese players. Together, DeSilva rallies his team to overcome their challenges in order to win a spot in the Chinese Basketball Association playoffs.

Title: Farewell, Ferris Wheel

Director/Producer:Jamie Sisley

Co-Director: Miguel Martinez

Producer: Mayuran Tiruchelvam, Gerry Kim

Editor: Eugene Yi

Logline: Farewell, Ferris Wheel explores the dual morality of the H-2B seasonal migrant work visa through the lens of the American Carnival and a Mexican town that provides one third of the labor that staffs the carnivals.

Title: Like a Rolling Stone: The Life & Times of Ben Fong-Torres

Director/Producer:Suzanne Joe Kai

Logline: When one man’s passion for rock and roll coincides with a cultural revolution, the truth is set free. Like a Rolling Stone is the story of legendary journalist, Ben Fong-Torres, an original editor-writer at Rolling Stone magazine, who brought an honest literary voice to the revolutionary force of music that continues to influence our society to this day.

Title: My Uncle Gloria

Director/Producer:Robyn Symon

Logline:At age 66, Bernard “Butch” Rosichan, a Jewish, balding pot-bellied and homophobic owner of an auto wrecking business undergoes a risky sex change operation. Rosichan is reborn as “Gloria Stein” and attempts to reunite with her dysfunctional family while also becoming a leading advocate for transgender rights.

Title: Rightfooted

Director/Producer: Nick Spark

Cinematographer: Bill Megalos

Editor: Susan Metzger

Logline:Rightfooted chronicles Jessica Cox’s struggle to overcome enormous physical and emotional obstacles to become the world’s first armless pilot and her transformation into an activist for the handicapped in America and abroad.

Title: Street Fighting Man

Director/Producer/Cinematographer: Andrew James

Producer: Sara Archambault, Katie Tibaldi

Editor: Jason Tippet

Composer: Zachary Saginaw/Shigeto

Co-producers: Jamila Wignot and Torben Bernhard

Logline:In a new America where the promise of education, safety and shelter are in jeopardy, three Detroit men fight to build something lasting for themselves and future generations.

Title: Surviving Cliffside

Director/Producer:Jonathan Matthews

Producer: Richard Bever

Logline:A West Virginia family faces illness, addiction, and gun violence, while their daughter makes a run for Little Miss West Virginia.

Title: We’re With the Band

Director/Producer/Co-Editor/Co-Cinematographer:Jen Heck

Producer: Maria De La O

Cinematographer: Martina Radwan

Editor: Ben Frazer

Logline:Using a band as a cover story, a group of unlikely rebels with dubious musical skills traverse forbidden borders and become entangled in each other’s lives in Israel and Palestine.

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