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Sundance Institute Announces 8 Projects for Annual Documentary Edit and Story Lab

The new projects explore such timely themes as modern day lynchings, the Dakota Access Pipeline, impeachment, immigration detention centers, and more.

Jonathan Hickerson / Sundance Institute

The Sundance Institute has announced the eight projects selected for its annual Documentary Edit and Story Lab, which will take place in two sessions at the Sundance Resort in Utah, including June 23 – July 1 and July 7 – 15. The Documentary Edit and Story Lab was designed to “create an incubation space for nonfiction storytellers to creatively interrogate their projects during the later stages of post-production. Among the breathtaking scenery of the Sundance Mountain Resort, filmmakers take advantage of the Lab’s creative environment to intensively explore story, dramatic structure and character development, centering their work around their own original motivation and intention.”

The Lab will be overseen by Documentary Film Program Director ​Tabitha Jackson ​and Labs Director ​Kristin Feeley​,​ ​and will combine independent director and editor teams with world-renowned documentary filmmakers who serve as mentors and advisors. For the second year, the Lab will also host writers-in-residence Eric Hynes and Logan Hill, as part of a program designed to “bring film critics and nonfiction filmmakers together to forge a deeper understanding of nonfiction film through immersion in the creative process.”

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“This vibrant array of projects illustrates the power of documentary filmmakers to use the language of cinema to tell untold stories, challenge and change perspectives and use their independent voice to speak truth to power,” said Jackson. “Convening these directors and editors, to refine and hone their craft with the help of our creative advisors, will we hope fuel their bold and pivotal work at this critical moment.”

Recent projects that have participated in the Documentary Edit and Story Lab include​ “Unrest,” “Whose Streets?,” “Newtown,” “Strong Island​,” and “​Cameraperson.” Each year, the Lab hosts 26 residential Labs, each dedicated to the discovery and fostering of artists in film, theatre, new media, and episodic content.

The selected projects for the Documentary Edit and Story Lab are, with all project synopses provided by Sundance:

Jacqueline Olive (director) / ​”Always in Season” ​(USA):​ ​As the trauma of more than a century of lynching African Americans bleeds into the present, ​”Always in Season”​ follows relatives of the perpetrators and victims seeking justice and reconciliation – all in the midst of police shootings, church burnings and heated national debate about the value of black lives.

Marilyn Ness (director), Don Bernier (editor) / ​”Charm City​” ​(USA)​: During three years of unparalleled violence in Baltimore, ​”Charm City”​ delivers an unexpectedly candid, observational portrait of those left on the frontlines. With grit, fury and compassion, a group of police, citizens and government officials grapple with the consequences of violence and try to reclaim their future.

Sedika Mojadidi (director), Sinead Kinnane (editor) / ​”Facing the Dragon”​ ​(Afghanistan/USA)​: ​Filmmaker Sedika Mojadidi follows two compelling Afghan women, a Member of Parliament and a journalist, as the international community withdraws from Afghanistan, threatening its fragile democracy.

Naziha Arebi (director), Alice Powell (editor) / ​”Freedom Fields”​ ​(UK/Libya)​: In post-revolution Libya, a group of women are brought together by one dream: to play football for their nation. But as the country descends into civil war, their personal stories of aspirations, love and struggle collide with history.

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Petra Costa (director), Jordana Berg (editor) / ​​”Impeachment​” ​(Brazil)​: ​An epic tragedy of corruption and betrayal, “​Impeachment​” is a behind-the-scenes look at the ousting of Brazil’s first female president. With unique access to the president and other key politicians, the film unravels like a political thriller as Brazil falls into disarray, echoing the undoing of so many democracies throughout the world.

Cristina Ibarra (co-director/co-editor), Alex Rivera (co-director/co-editor) / ​”The Infiltrators”​ ​(USA)​: ​When two young immigrant-activists get detained by Border Patrol, on purpose, their mission to expose the abuses inside a detention center becomes much more complex and dangerous than they imagined.

Hao Wu (director), Nanfu Wang (editor) / ​”People’s Republic of Desire” (China/USA​): ​In China’s popular live-streaming showrooms, three millennials seek fame, fortune and human connection, ultimately finding the same promises and perils online as in their real lives.

Christina D. King (co-director), Elizabeth Castle (co-director), Kristen Nutile (editor) / “Warrior Women” (USA): ​Chronicling the lifelong struggle of a Lakota mother and daughter in the American Indian Movement’s fight for Native liberation from the 1970s to today, where they are protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline in Standing Rock, North Dakota.

Creative advisors for the first session ​include R​obb Moss, Carol Dysinger, Andrea Chignoli, Carla Gutierrez, Mary Lampson, Bill Ross, and writer-in-residence Eric Hynes. Creative advisors for the second session include ​Kate Amend, Erin Casper,​ L​ewis Erskine, Jonathan Oppenheim, ​and writer-in-residence Logan Hill.

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