The Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP) has selected 10 documentaries for the 2014 Independent Filmmaker Labs, IFP’s annual yearlong fellowship for first-time feature directors. Chosen from a national pool of more than 200 submissions, the creative teams of the selected films are currently attending the first week’s sessions, The Time Warner Foundation Completion Labs, which runs from May 12th-16th in New York City. The IFP’s Narrative Lab selections will be announced in June.
The Independent Filmmaker Labs are a highly immersive, free mentorship program supporting first-time feature directors with projects in post-production as they complete, market and distribute their films. Focusing on low-budget features with budgets under $1 million, the Labs provide filmmakers with the technical, creative and strategic tools necessary to launch their films and careers.
“With the ability to support filmmakers and their projects over the long-term, the Labs remain one of IFP’s most rewarding and successful programs,” said Joana Vicente, Executive Director IFP and the Made in NY Media Center. “With 80 percent of previous Lab projects debuted in festivals and released worldwide, the impact of the program continues to be significant.”
The 2014 labs mark the 10th anniversary edition of the mentorship program. Launched in 2005 as a three-day program for eight narrative projects, the Labs have evolved into an extensive, yearlong program for 20 projects (10 documentary and 10 narrative) with a focus on post-production, marketing, distribution and audience engagement strategy.
As of 2013, 156 projects have gone through the program including such critically acclaimed films as Lotfy Nathan’s “12 O’clock Boys,” Aron Gaudet & Gita Pulapilly’s “Beneath the Harvest Sky,” Alexandre Moors’ “Blue Caprice,” Stacie Passon’s “Concussion,” Bassam Tariq & Omar Mullick’s “These Birds Walk,” Lucy Mulloy’ “Una Noche,” Keith Miller’s “Welcome to Pine Hill,” and many more.
Documentary alumni of the most recent lab “class” of 2013 include the Grand Prize winner at the 2014 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, Darius Clark Monroe’s “Evolution of a Criminal.”
“I had been working on Evolution of a Criminal, on and off, for six years when I finally applied to the IFP Doc Lab,” said Darius Clark Monroe. “From editing to festivals, sales, distribution, and beyond, the entire team at IFP made sure that fellows left the lab with a complete understanding of what it means to finish and release an independent film in the current market.”
The selected projects for the 2014 IFP Documentary Lab and Lab Fellows are listed below (descriptions courtesy of IFP):
The Dream of the Audience: Theresa Hak Kyung Cha
The film traces Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s emergence as an artist, her tragic death, and her continuing influence as a creative pioneer who came of age during the transformative, experimental culture of 1970’s. This chronology is interwoven with events from Korean history and Cha’s experience of emigration, contextualizing her unique examination of universal human processes of memory, language and communication. Fellows: Woo Jung Cho (Director, Producer, Writer), Cindy Yoon (Producer, Editor); JiYe Kim (DP, Editor). New York, NY
An old Japanese man named Yellow toured the country for fifteen years in his boy band until his partner, Red, decides to quit. Yellow struggles to keep the band together while Red tries to move on. Only after finding himself completely alone, Yellow is forced to face the parts of himself that he kept hidden in his fantasy. Fellows: Jonathan Yi & Michael Haertlein (Directors, Producers, DPs). New York, NY
Man of the Monkey
Intrigued by the tale of a scary man living in isolation with his chimpanzee wife, David Romberg travels to his childhood home on Ilha Grande, Brazil, to find him, only to discover that the tale pales in comparison to what he uncovers. His search guides him to the island’s dark histories that contradict his family’s own history in this place. Fellows: David Romberg (Director), Èlia Gasull Balada (Editor). Philadelphia, PA
When Sharon Shattuck’s father came out as a transgender, Sharon was in the awkward throes of middle school. Her father’s transition to female was difficult for her straight-identified physician mother to accept, but her parents remained married. As the Shattucks approach Sharon’s wedding day, they address the truce at the heart of their family, and discover what it means to stay together. Fellows: Sharon Shattuck (Director, Producer), Martha Shane (Producer), Frederick Shanahan (Editor). Brooklyn, NY
Quest: The Fury and the Sound
Quest runs a hip hop studio from his home in North Philadelphia. He attempts to balance family and musical ambitions while recording neighborhood artists struggling with criminal records and drug addictions. His commitment to the neighborhood and family is tested when one of his children is diagnosed with cancer and another is shot by crossfire. Fellows: Jonathan Olshefski (Director, Producer, DP), Tim Fryett (Editor), Christopher Rainey (Music Supervisor). Philadelphia, PA
Romeo Is Bleeding
Donte Clark’s poetic voice was honed on the violent street corners of a struggling city. Yet rather than succumb to the pressures of Richmond, CA, Clark uses his artistic perspective to save his city from itself. Fellows: Jason Zeldes (Director), Michael Klein (Producer), Kevin Klauber (Editor). Los Angeles, CA
(T)error is the story of Omar ****, a 62-year-old former Black Panther turned counterterrorism informant for the FBI. Interweaving Omar’s turbulent past, with unprecedented access to his current investigation, (T)error probes the moral and ethical dilemmas behind the scenes of the war on Terror. Fellows: Lyric Cabral & David Felix Sutcliffe (Directors, DPs). Bronx, NY
T-Rex is the story of Claressa “T-Rex” Shields, the seventeen-year-old from Flint, Michigan who became the first woman to win the middleweight gold medal in Olympic boxing. While her journey to the top of the podium in London was epic – and historic – success for a young, black girl in Flint doesn’t always make things easier. Fellows: Zach Canepari (Director, Producer, DP), Drea Cooper (Director, Producer, Editor, DP), Sue Jaye Johnson (Producer). Berkeley, CA
The Seventh Fire
An Ojibwe community in rural Minnesota is caught between the violent rise of Native American gangs and the struggle for cultural identity. The Seventh Fire is a raw cinematic journey into a rarely seen part of America that reveals the crisis facing American Indian communities across the country. Fellows: Jack Pettibone Riccobono (Director, Producer, DP), Jihan Robinson (Producer), Shane Slattery-Quintanilla (Producer, DP), Andrew Ford (Editor). Brooklyn, NY.
Very Semi-Serious goes behind the scenes of the New Yorker and introduces the past, present and future generations of cartoonists who create the iconic cartoons that have inspired, baffled—and occasionally pissed off—all of us for decades. Fellows: Leah Wolchok (Director), Davina Pardo (Producer), Nels Bangerter (Editor). San Francisco, CA.