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‘Alaska is a Drag’ by Shaz Bennett and Producers Diane Becker and Melanie Miller emerges as US in Progress Winner

'Alaska is a Drag' by Shaz Bennett and Producers Melanie Miller and Diane Becker Emerge as US in Progress Winners

The 5th edition of the US in Progress co-production forum was held on October 22-23, 2015, during the 6 th American Film Festival in Wrocław. Director Shaz Bennett and producers Melanie Miller and Diane Becker acquired the most awards and therefore emerged as US in Progress winners for “Alaska is a Drag“. 

US in Progress is an industry event that aims to strengthen the trans-Atlantic film industry collaborations and partnerships and help European film professionals establish working relationships with new emerging American filmmakers. The event is a bi-annual program conducted at the Champs-Elysées Film Festival in Paris during the summer before kicking-off in Wroclaw at AFF during the fall.

At the 6th American Film Festival, six films in various stages of post-production have conducted private screenings for film industry professionals, including Laurent Danielou (Loco Films), Mathieu Delaunay (Memento Films), Oda Schaeffer (k5), Silje Grimsdal (Trust Nordisk), and festival programmers from Edinburgh, Locarno, Tribeca, and a jury composed of yours truly, Sydney Levine, and Polish post-producers, to compete for post-production and promotional packages. In addition to the filmmaking duo, Shaz Bennett and Melanie Miller, two films have earned significant post-production awards – “Actor Martinez” by Nathan Silver and Mike Ott and “The Loner” by Daniel Y-Li Grove.

Here is a detailed listing of the awards:

Alaska is a Drag” by Shaz Bennett, produced by Melanie Millerwill received:

  • post-production services up to the value of €10.000 (e.g. color grading or conforming, master DCP, master HDCAM SR, master Blu-ray, master DVD) from Chimney Poland, based in Warsaw; part of Chimney Group
  • a score composed by Maciej Zielinski from Soundflower Studio
  • final mix 5.1 sound post-production to the value of $20.000 Euro (including rental of sound mixing studio with THX and Dolby Premier certificates) from Toya Studios 
  • an offer to acquire Polish TV rights from Ale Kino+

Several years ago, the filmmakers also received a couple of grants to develop the script  from CLEVER in San Francisco (Cheryl Dunye’s company) and Naked Angels.

The script was developed through several programs at Sundance, Film Independent and Fox as well as the AFI Directing Workshop for Women.

The Loner” by Daniel Grove and produced by Reza Sixo Safai received:

  • digital post-production services up to the value of €10.000 (excluding 35mm processing/scan; including conforming, color grading, grain/noise management, finishing, mastering, simple VFX, DCP and other file based master from Fixafilm based in Warsaw
  • and free registration to Producers’ Network at Cannes 2016.

Actor Martinez” (working title) by Mike Ott and Nathan Silver (produced by  Britta Erickson) received a second acquisition offer by Ale Kino+

Selected projects participating in last year’s US in Progress Wrocław or 2015 US in Progress Paris were included in the AFF program: “Take Me to the River,” dir. Matt Sobel (Polish premiere); “Stinking Heaven” (dir. Nathan Silver); “MA” (dir. Celia Rowlson-Hall) and Reza Safai and Daniel Y Grove-produced “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night” returned to the AFF to let the audiences benefit from the creators’ attendance.

For the missing color correction, sound mix, VFX, and other deliverables for Bennett’s and Miller’s “Alaska is a Drag”, the US in Progress prize adds significant value in the finishing stage of post-production. The organizers and programmers of US in Progress, Ula Śniegowska (artistic director of AFF), Adeline Monzier and Marie Zeniter (Black Rabbit Film), and Chantal Lian (Champs-Elysées Film Festival), look forward to following all the participating unfinished projects, and the future work and collaborations of all US in Progress filmmakers.

More about US in Progress and American Film Festival on

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