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Sundance Lab Focuses On Middle East; Post-Soviet Society

Photo of Peter Knegt By Peter Knegt | Indiewire June 9, 2009 at 8:19AM

Sundance Institute announced the selection of 12 Documentary Film Fellows representing six projects to participate in the 6th Documentary Film Edit and Story Laboratory, set to run June 21 - 28 in Sundance, Utah. The Lab convenes filmmakers in the process of making feature-length independent documentaries for "an intensive week of creative feedback in a supportive community setting." Films this year include stories of life in Post-Soviet societies such as Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Romania, to the role of the United States in areas such as Afghanistan and Yemen.
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Sundance Institute announced the selection of 12 Documentary Film Fellows representing six projects to participate in the 6th Documentary Film Edit and Story Laboratory, set to run June 21 - 28 in Sundance, Utah. The Lab convenes filmmakers in the process of making feature-length independent documentaries for "an intensive week of creative feedback in a supportive community setting." Films this year include stories of life in Post-Soviet societies such as Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Romania, to the role of the United States in areas such as Afghanistan and Yemen.

"The annual Doc Edit and Story Labs are central to our Program's support for creative nonfiction filmmakers and commitment to the art form," said Cara Mertes, Director of the Sundance Documentary Film Program, in a statement. "Creative Advisors and Fellows reflect a wealth of talent, with artists crossing from Fellow to Advisor and back again depending on their current projects. Either role makes a significant contribution to the field of long-form documentary story telling."

The lab offers an "intensive artist-to-artist collaborative experience where quality nonfiction storytelling is engaged with rigor and candor." Each artist is encouraged to explore story structure, narrative arc, character development, artistic elements and more.

An international group of Directing and Editing Fellows was selected from projects which have received previous support from the Sundance Documentary Film Program. The 2009 Documentary Edit and Story Lab Fellows in alphabetical order are: Erin Casper (Editing Fellow), Michelle Chang (Editing Fellow), Keiko Deguchi (Editing Fellow), Carol Dysinger (Directing Fellow), Gayle Ferraro (Directing Fellow), Michal Gabor (Editing Fellow), Robin Hessman (Directing Fellow), Toma Kudrna (Directing Fellow), Mona Nicoar• (Directing Fellow), Jonathan Oppenheim (Editing Fellow), Laura Poitras (Directing Fellow), Garret Savage (Editing Fellow).

These Fellows will be joined by six Creative Advisors, including Directors and Editors, to jointly engage in the creative process. Editors: Kate Amend (Academy Award-winner Into the Arms of Strangers and The Long Way Home), Joe Bini (Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired, Grizzly Man) Richard Hankin (Home Front, Capturing the Friedmans) and Mary Lampson (Harlan County, A Lion in the House), Directors: Greg Barker (Sergio, Ghosts of Rwanda) and Jennifer Fox (Flying: Confessions of a Free Woman, Beirut: The Last Home Movie).

The films selected for the 2009 Sundance Institute Documentary Editing and Story Lab are (with descriptions provide by the institute):

ALL THAT GLITTERS (Czech Republic / Kyrgyzstan) Situated at the a crossroads of global interests, Kyrgyzstan reflects the political rivalry between Russian and America influence, reveals the religious rivalry between Christianity and Islam, and lies between the economic predominance of China and Russia. All That Glitters examines how strange capitalism and democracy can be when introduced to a former Soviet country, one where people never before given autonomy are suddenly expected to make their own financial and political decisions.

CAMP VICTORY, AFGHANISTAN (U.S. / Afghanistan) U.S. National Guardsmen are stationed in Herat, Afghanistan with the Afghan officers they have been sent to train. Together they are charged to bring the 207th Corps of the nascent Afghan National Army into an institution capable of providing security, stability, and a civilian government to a tattered, volatile nation. The Americans came, not to fight, but to teach. Camp Victory is the story of things that keep them apart, and the one unlikely friendship that makes it all seem possible.

MUHAMMAD YUNUS BANKS ON AMERICA (U.S.) This film journeys with Dr. Muhammad Yunus, 2006 Nobel Peace Laureate and the architect of microfinance, as he continues building opportunities for the poor world-wide and as close to home as in Queens, New York through Grameen micro credit, his original social business.

OUR SCHOOL (Romania) The descendants of former slaves, Romanian Roma ("Gypsies") continue to live in poverty, at the edges of society. Over the course of several school years, Roma children struggle to break the barriers of segregation in a small Transylvanian town. Our School documents one of the first integration efforts following a European Court of Human Rights judgment similar to Brown v. Board of Education in the United States.

RELEASE (U.S. / Yemen) Filmed in Yemen, Release is a family drama about two men whose fateful encounter in 1996 set them on a course of events that would lead to Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden, 9/11, Guantanamo Bay, and the U.S. Supreme Court. Release is the second documentary (after My Country, My Country) in a trilogy titled The New American Century about America post 9/11.

RUSSIA'S PEPSI GENERATION (working title) (US/UK) Russia's Pepsi Generationtells the story of the last generation of Soviet children brought up behind the Iron Curtain. Just coming of age when the USSR collapsed, they witnessed the world of their childhood crumble and change beyond recognition. Told through the lives of a married couple and their childhood friends, the film interweaves their memories of the past and their lives in contemporary Moscow to reveal how Communism's crossover children are adjusting to their post-Soviet reality.

This article is related to: Documentary, Lineups





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