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Women-Directed Documentaries Dominate IFP’s 2015 Indie Filmmaker Labs

Women-Directed Documentaries Dominate IFP's 2015 Indie Filmmaker Labs

READ MORE: Filmmaker Survey: What We Wish We Knew Before Making Our First Movie

The Independent Filmmaker Project released the list of projects that will participate in the documentary section of the 2015 edition of the organization’s annual Independent Filmmaker Labs.

Each year, the program provides mentorship to 10 documentary projects from first-time filmmakers, guiding them through the post-production, marketing and distribution stages. Per a press release issued today by IFP, the Independent Filmmaker Labs are designed to “provide filmmakers with the technical, creative and strategic tools necessary to launch their films and careers.”

Notably, this year, eight out of ten of the projects selected are directed by women. Additionally, more than half of the 25 fellows participating in the program are women.

“While diversity is one of several goals that go into project selection, the increased number of women participants speaks as much to the documentary form and doc creative community itself as long having being a place where women artists have been welcomed and have distinguished themselves,” said to Milton Tabbot, who, as IFP’s Senior Director of Programming, oversees the operations of the Documentary Lab.

Notable alumni from last year’s class of films is the 2015 Sundance Film Festival Special Jury Award-winner “(T)error,” which is pictured above.

The program kicks off this week with filmmakers participating in sessions for The Time Warner Foundation Completion Labs. Check out the list of projects selected for the Documentary Lab portion below. IFP plans to announce the Narrative Lab selections next month.


Fellows: Christopher LaMarca (Director), Katrina Taylor (Editor). Portland, OR.
“Boone” explores the unsentimental journey of three young goat farmers and the complex reality of living off the land. The goal is the experience; dealing with the realities of a season of farming and the physical and emotional grit born of self-reliance. Filmed over two years, Boone is a sensual homage to the liberation inherent in self-discipline and risk.
“Decade of Fire”
Fellows: Gretchen Hildebran (Director, Producer, Writer, Editor), Vivian Vazquez (Producer, Writer). Brooklyn, NY.
Throughout the 1970’s fires consumed the South Bronx, and New York City let it burn. Black and Puerto Rican residents were blamed for the devastation, even as they battled to save their communities. Now, Bronx native Vivian Vazquez is setting the record straight: uncovering NYC’s legacy of neglect, lifting up stories of resistance, and returning the truth to the people.
“Distant Constellation”
Fellows: Shevaun Mizrahi (Director, DP), Shelly Grizim (Producer), Deniz Buga (Producer). Brooklyn, NY.
A photographer who cannot see, an aging playboy who still tries to charm and seduce, an Armenian woman who lived through the genocide 100 years ago afraid to this day of telling her story… Time slows down and dreams mix with routine as the world outside rapidly changes.
Fellow: Gina Abatemarco (Director, Producer), Nadav Harel (Editor). Brooklyn, NY.
“Kivalina” is a feature documentary film that explores the lives of the Inupiaq Eskimo people of Kivalina, Alaska, whose tiny island is disappearing into the warming of the modern Arctic. The film begins its telling a century after the ancestors of the people of Kivalina were forced to abandon their nomadic way of life and settle on a fragile barrier island.

“Memories of a Penitent Heart”
Fellows: Cecilia Aldarondo (Director), Patricia Benabe (Producer), Hannah Buck (Editor). Brooklyn, NY.
Twenty-five years after my uncle Miguel repented of being gay on his deathbed, I go looking for his long-lost partner Robert in order to hear his side of the story. The first-ever documentary to tackle the unresolved wounds of family conflict wrought by AIDS, Memories of a Penitent Heart is a nuanced exploration of faith, love, and redemption.
“The Nine”
Fellows: Katy Grannan (Director, Writer, Producer, DP, Editor), Marc Smolowitz (Producer), Eli Olson (Editor). Berkeley, CA.
The Nine is an intimate, at times disturbing view into an America most would rather ignore. Raw, poetic, direct and unnerving, the film is as much a window into a forgotten world as it is a distorted mirror, reflecting a shared human experience.
“Raising Bertie”
Fellows: Margaret Byrne (Director, Writer Producer), Leslie Simmer
(Writer, Editor), Jon Stuyvesant (DP, Co-Producer). Chicago, IL.
In Raising Bertie, we follow three young men over the course of five years as they grow into adulthood in Bertie County, a rural African American-led community in North Carolina. Through their stories, we see the complex issues facing America’s rural youth, and the repercussions of a woefully underfunded rural educational system.
“The Road from Hainan”
Fellows: Nanfu Wang (Director, Writer, Producer, DP, Editor), Kuan He (Composer). New York, NY.
Traveling across southern China, a cadre of seasoned activists led by Haiyan Ye (aka Sparrow) stage protests to call attention to a scandalous affair where a school principal took six schoolgirls to a hotel for a night. Given the intense censorship in China, Sparrow becomes an enemy of the State. But detentions, interrogations, and evictions are no match against citizen media as pictures of Sparrow’s protest go viral.
Fellows: Jessie Auritt (Director, Producer, Editor), Carmen Osterlye (Producer, DP), Justin Levy (Co-Producer). Brooklyn, NY.
“Supergirl” tells the coming of age story of Naomi “Supergirl” Kutin, an 11-year-old Orthodox Jewish girl and world record-holding power lifter. The film follows Naomi’s transformation into a young woman and her struggle to find her identity within two disparate worlds. As she faces a series of complex challenges, from religious obligations to serious health issues, Naomi’s true strength is revealed.
“Swing Low”
Fellows: Javid Soriano (Director), Manuel Tsingaris (Editor) San Francisco, CA.
On the eve of his 50th birthday, Tim, once a successful opera singer, finds himself homeless in San Francisco. Attributing his demise to a “lethal combo of sex, drugs and opera,” Tim presses forward in the present by busking and selling used goods from the shopping cart he pushes around the city. The music of Tim’s past lives on inside him, his interpretation of arias and roles evolving in the flux of his unsettled everyday life. Swing Low weaves together the music of Tim’s vocal repertoire and paints a uniquely operatic portrait of the low-life, recalling both Tim’s descent into the underworld and his present day struggles to climb out.

READ MORE: Attention, Documentary Filmmakers: 9 Deadlines You Don’t Want to Miss

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