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by Brian Brooks
June 29, 2011 8:37 AM
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Sundance Institute Names 18 Doc Fellows for Two Labs

Photo by Brian Brooks/indieWIRE

Eighteen Documentary Fellows from nine projects will take part in the 8th Documentary Edit and Story Lab (June 24 - July 2) and ninth Composers + Documentary Lab (July 6-12) at Sundance Resort in Sundance, Utah, Sundance Institute said Wednesday.

Documentary Film Program (DFP) provides a "global resource for contemporary independent documentary film," including the Sundance Documentary Fund, Labs/Workshops and other support opportunities. The DFP supports nonfiction storytelling about a broad range of contemporary social issues, and promotes the exhibition of documentary films to audiences.

The group of 18 were selected from a pool of 40 - 60 active DFP-supported projects and participate in what's described by Sundance Institute as an "intensive, residential retreat focused on creative support around issues of story and structure. Renowned film professionals join with Institute staff as Creative Advisors to the Fellows and their projects.

The Documentary Edit and Story Lab is an eight-day immersive Lab focusing on the "art of editing in documentary." Five in-production documentary film teams are mentored by established editors and directors. Since 2009, the Composers + Documentary Lab has evolved to a stand-alone Lab over six days, pairing four DFP grantee projects with four emerging film composers specifically interested in documentary. The Lab, says Sundance, "offers a unique opportunity to explore the role of composition in non-fiction filmmaking." Mentors include leading film composers and documentarians.

"The Fellows selected for these Labs represent some of the most exciting documentary projects currently being developed, and we are inspired by their potential to impact audiences in meaningful ways," commented Keri Putnam, executive director of Sundance Institute in a statement. "The Composers + Documentary Lab, which represents the combined efforts of the Sundance Institute Documentary Film and Film Music Programs, is a strong example of the collaborative nature of filmmaking as well as the need to help artists craft thoughtful music to accompany and enhance non-fiction storytelling."


Selected projects with information and credits provided by Sundance Institute

Documentary Edit and Story Lab:
Joining the DFP staff are seven Creative Advisors including: Kate Amend (Academy Award-winner "Into the Arms of Strangers"), Joe Bini ("Cave of Forgotten Dreams"), Lewis Erskine ("Freedom Riders"), Jean Tsien ("Shut Up And Sing") and Mary Lampson ("A Lion in the House"). Directors: Carol Dysinger ("Camp Victory Afghanistan") and Robb Moss ("Secrecy").

The five films selected for the 2011 Sundance Institute Documentary Edit and Story Lab are:

"¿Donde Estan?" (U.S./El Salvador)
Director: Maria Teresa Rodriguez
Producer: Kaye Pyle
Editor: Ann Tegnell
"¿Donde Estan?" documents the search for children who disappeared during the Salvadoran civil war. Told through the eyes of three individuals searching for their family, identity and justice in post-conflict El Salvador, it asks how a post-war society can right the wrongs of the past.

"The House That Herman Built" (Canada/U.S.)
Director: Angad Bhalla
Editor: Ricardo Acosta
Herman's House (formerly The House That Herman Built) captures the remarkable creative journey and friendship of Herman Wallace, who was imprisoned in a 6-by-9-foot cell for over 30 years, and artist Jackie Sumell while examining the injustice of prolonged solitary confinement.

"The Revolutionary Optimists" (U.S.)
Codirectors: Maren Grainger-Monsen, Nicole Newnham
Editor: Andrew Gersh
Amlan Ganguly empowers children in the slums of Calcutta to become change agents, battling poverty and transforming their neighborhoods with dramatic results. The Revolutionary Optimists follows Amlan and three children he works with on an intimate journey through adolescence, as they bravely fight the forces that oppress them, including polio, child labor and child marriage.

"Turkey Creek" (U.S.)
Director: Leah Mahan
Editor: Bill Anderson
When Turkey Creek's historic African-American cemetery is bulldozed for commercial development, prodigal son Derrick Evans returns home to coastal Mississippi to help save his community. Residents challenge powerful developers and politicians, persevere through Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil disaster, and take their case for a sustainable future to a national stage.

Untitled Lauren Greenfield Project (U.S.)
Director: Lauren Greenfield
Editor: Brian Johnson
This new film by Lauren Greenfield is a cinema verite portrait of a former beauty queen and her billionaire husband, against the backdrop of the financial crisis.

Composers + Documentary Lab
Five Creative Advisors are slated to participate, including filmmakers Jon Else ("Sing Faster"), Vivien Hillgrove ("In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee") and Cara Mertes as well as composers Martin Bresnick and Peter Golub.

The four films selected for the 2011 Sundance Institute Composers + Documentary Lab are:

"Cesar's Last Fast" (U.S.)
Director: Richard Ray Perez
Composer: Heather Schmidt
"Cesar's Last Fast" is a multi-platform feature documentary film about the private sacrifice behind Cesar E. Chavez's struggle for the humane treatment of farm workers, and the impact Chavez's inspirational and complex legacy has on new generation of organizers fighting today.

"Gardens of Paradise" (U.S.)
Director: Bernardo Ruiz
Composer: Ben Goldberg
A veteran reporter and his colleagues at an embattled news weekly challenge the drug cartels and corrupt local officials during a wave of unprecedented violence against journalists in Mexico.

"The House That Herman Built" (Canada/U.S.)
Director: Angad Bhalla
Editor: Ricardo Acosta
Composer: Ronen Landa
Herman's House (formerly The House That Herman Built) captures the remarkable creative journey and friendship of Herman Wallace, who was imprisoned in a 6-by-9-foot cell for over 30 years, and artist Jackie Sumell while examining the injustice of prolonged solitary confinement.

"A Place at the Table" (U.S.)
Director/Producer: Jerret Engle
Coproducer: Cort Tramontin
Composer: Michael Roth
The small but tenacious Eziko Cooking and Catering Centre trains some of the poorest people from Cape Town's slums for skilled jobs in the restaurant industry A Place at the Table follows four of these students through classes and into internships at luxury hotels, where they are quickly pushed beyond the boundaries of their own dreams, into new and uncertain terrain. Their experiences provide a remarkable window on a struggle millions of the world's poor undertake every day: the surprisingly difficult journey from poverty to middle class life.

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