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IFP Sets Narrative Filmmaker Lab Projects

IFP Sets Narrative Filmmaker Lab Projects

Ten new narrative features at the rough cut stage have been selected to participate in IFP’s 5th Independent Filmmaker Lab, which takes place next week. The Lab is an immersive, free mentorship program for low-budget (under $1 million) first feature films that have shot “all or a substantial amount of footage but have not completed post-production.” The goal of the program is to connect mentors with projects before they are submitted to film festivals.

67 documentaries and narrative features have participated in the Lab between 2005 and 2008. Of the 38 narrative films that have been through the program, 65% have been completed and premiered at major US and international festivals, including “Zero Bridge” (2008 Venice International Film Festival and making its US premiere in competition at the upcoming Los Angeles Film Festival), “The New Year Parade” (2008 Slamdance Grand Jury Narrative Prize winner), and “Half-Life” (2008 Sundance Film Festival and Tokyo International Film Festival). Additionally, 30% have gone beyond the film festival circuit to reach audiences through theatrical, ancillary, web or DVD distribution.

Drawing from a national candidate pool, 20 projects (10 documentaries and 10 narratives) are selected annually for a year-long fellowship which includes: one-on-one mentorship; five days each spring/summer in NYC participating in workshops designed to assist with technical, creative and strategic advice needed to complete the films; and during IFP’s Independent Film Week in September, participation in pre-scheduled meetings with potential buyers, financiers and festival programmers as well as presentation as part of a Lab “Sneak Preview” Showcase.

“IFP has made a long-term commitment to supporting artists at the work-in-progress stage,” says Michelle Byrd, Executive Director of IFP, in a statement. “By focusing intensively on only 20 projects per year we are seeing a measurable impact from the Labs while ensuring that the development of the next generation of diverse artists continues to sit squarely at the center of IFP’s mission.”

As part of IFP’s ongoing commitment to diversity, the Independent Filmmaker Labs also seek to ensure that at least 50% of the participating projects have an inclusive range of races, genders, sexual orientations, ethnicities and physical abilities in key creative positions. This year’s Lab Projects particularly highlight the work of female and diverse directors; 40% of participating directors are women and 30% are diverse voices. 40% of projects come to the program from directors working outside of New York and Los Angeles.

“In today’s challenging and increasingly competitive festival and marketplace environment, emerging and experienced filmmakers alike are struggling to reach audiences,” says Amy Dotson, IFP Deputy Director and supervisor of the Narrative Lab, in a statement. “Now more than ever, the Labs play a critical role in championing diverse filmmakers by helping them complete their films and connecting them with the key festival programmers, distributors and industry who can help take these talented storytellers and their films to the next level.”

Each project has three participating Fellows, typically the director, producer, and editor or post-supervisor. In 2009, the Narrative Lab Fellows include projects representing genres including drama, supernatural thriller, horror, and experimental – “reflect U.S. independent filmmaking at its best, showcasing original, unusual ideas as well as finely-crafted, traditional pieces,” notes IFP.

For five days next week, these filmmaking teams will participate in workshops in which they receive advice on technical, creative, and post-production issues. There are two tiers of mentorship support: via the program’s Lab Leaders who lead each of the five-day-long intensive sessions, and workshop leaders who provide technical, creative and strategic support to help bring films to completion. The 2009 Narrative Lab leaders are producers Scott Macaulay (“Raising Victor Vargas,” and editor of IFP published Filmmaker Magazine) and Gretchen McGowan (“The Limits of Control”).

The Labs are being hosted by Galapagos Art Space in Brooklyn.

The selected projects for the 2009 Narrative Lab and Lab Fellows are listed on the following page, with descriptions provided by IFP.

The selected projects for the 2009 Narrative Lab and Lab Fellows:

Au Pair Kansas
Director: JT O’Neal Producers: Joan Jerkovich, Catherine A. McCabe & JT O’Neal Editor: Brad Roszell
Helen, recently widowed, hires Oddmund, a fun-loving Norwegian soccer player, to work as a male au pair in a small town in Kansas and help raise her two boys and work on their bison farm. Featuring Tracy Lords (Zack & Miri Make a Porno, Crybaby) and Spencer Daniels (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button).

City on a Hill
Director: Amy Seimetz Producer: Justin Barber Editor: Adele Romanski
Present and past begin to merge when Paul finds out his old fling and quasi-revolutionary partner committed suicide. From the producers of Medicine for Melancholy, City on a Hill marks the directorial debut of actress Amy Seimetz (Alexander the Last, Wristcutters: A Love Story).

A scene from Zeina Durra’s “The Imperalists Are Still Alive!” Image courtesy of IFP.

The Imperialists Are Still Alive!
Director: Zeina Durra Producer: Vanessa Hope Editor: Michael Taylor
The Imperialists Are Still Alive! is a film about a woman making her way as an artist in an indifferent and sometimes hostile world. Featuring Elodie Bouchez (The Dreamlife of Angels; Sorry, Haters).

The Myth of Time
Director: Miller “Jaguar X” Koepenick Producer: Scorpion Hernandez Editors: Miller “Jaguar X” Koepenick & Scorpion Hernandez
Shot over five years in Guatemala with a diverse cast including over 5,000 extras, the film relates the unwritten chapter of the Popol Vuh (The Mayan Book of Advice), as told through the protagonist’s (The Dark Eyed-One) journey into manhood.

Director: Christina Beck Producer: Annette Murphy Editor: Rob Poswell
The debut feature from actresses Christina Beck (Suburbia, Boys Next Door) and Annette Murphy (Star Maps), Perfection chronicles the life of Kristabelle, a woman her thirties living at home with her mother who cuts herself to feel “something”; little does she know that Simon, a sweet, newly sober, British stand up comic is about to show her that her scars can’t scare love away.

Phasma Ex Machina
Director: Matt Osterman Producer: Jennifer Kramer Editor: Matt Osterman
A young man tasked with raising his brother after the death of their parents invents a machine intended to be a conduit to the supernatural.

Director: Josh Hyde Producer: Clare Connelly, Dan Fischer, Maxim Holland and PJ Fishwick Editor: Josh Hyde & Evan Smith
In the streets of Cusco, Peru, the lives of an American businessman and his family become irreversibly intertwined with those of a rural Peruvian family struggling day to day to survive.

Stranger Things
Directors: Ron Eyal & Eleanor Burke Producer: Ron Eyal & Eleanor Burke Editors: Ron Eyal & Eleanor Burke
Oona is a young woman faced with the dreadful task of clearing out her dead mother’s home. Returning to the countryside property, Oona discovers a vagrant, Mani, has broken into the house. Their surprising friendship surmounts the disparities between them and offers unexpected hope and strength.

The Tested
Director: Russell Costanzo Producer: Melissa Miller Editor: Russell Costanzo & Michael Taylor
One year ago, plain clothes cop, Julian Varone gunned down an unarmed teen. Darralyn Warren, the teen’s mother, has spiraled into a pit of despair, as her other son Dre, flirts with ganglife. As Julian prepares to get back to work, the three find they cannot find closure without each other. Featuring Aunjanue Ellis (The Taking of Pelham 123, True Blood), Nathan Corbett (The Wire), Tobias Truvillion (Brooklyn’s Finest) and Armando Riesco (Che).

Director: David Kabler Producers: David Kabler, Dan Judson, Mitch Rumfelt & Troy Scott Burnette Editor: Dan Judson
The Drifter is a train-hopping gutter punk alone in the world, isolated by years of ritual abuse and life on the fringe. He returns to his father’s grave to break the curse that haunts him, where he sees salvation in a beautiful girl who could be his key to freedom.

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