Non-profit arts organization Film Independent has announced the 30 filmmakers selected for Project Involve, the organization’s signature diversity mentorship program that fosters the careers of filmmakers from communities traditionally underrepresented in the film industry. The group has also revealed a major new studio support of Project Involve with Focus Features’ Lili Elbe Fellowship, which will be awarded to a transgender filmmaker in the 2016-2017 program and will provide the filmmaker with a $10,000 grant.
According to Film Independent, Project Involve is a free nine-month program for writers, directors, producers, editors, cinematographers and entertainment executives from diverse backgrounds. During the program, participants meet one-on-one with film industry mentors, create short films, and attend master-workshops taught by top film professionals and industry networking events. Past Fellows from Project Involve include Andrew Ahn, whose feature debut "Spa Night" is premiering at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Jon Chu ("Step Up 3D," "Step Up 2: The Streets"), "Advantageous" director Jennifer Phang and "Dear White People" producer Effie T. Brown and director Justin Simien.
"We are thrilled to welcome the 23rd class of Film Independent’s Project Involve," said Jennifer Kushner, Director of Artist Development. "Through Project Involve and across all of our programs, we are working to change the landscape of the industry by discovering and nurturing unique and underrepresented talent. Our commitment to diversity stems from our desire to see the richness of human experience represented in film and television; it is through the stories we tell that we create empathy, dialogue, and deeper cultural understanding."
This year’s mentors include producer Nina Yang Bongiovi ("Fruitvale Station," "Dope"), writer-director Destin Daniel Cretton ("Short Term 12"), writer-director Derek Cianfrance ("Blue Valentine," "The Place Beyond the Pines") and cinematographer Bradford Young ("A Most Violent Year," "Selma"), among many others.
The selected Project Involve filmmakers this year are as follows: