EXCLUSIVE: The Independent Filmmaker Project is out with the list of projects for its 2015 Independent Filmmaker Labs, the annual yearlong fellowship for rookie filmmakers. The teams behind the 10 narratives began their first week of sessions on Monday at the Made in NY Media Center by IFP. The projects cover genres ranging from sci-fi, fantasy, drama to young adult, comedy, horror and hybrid. IFP notes that 70% of the creative teams hail from outside of New York and Los Angeles and that nine of the films were shot outside of these hubs including Georgia, Rhode Island, Florida, the Bahamas, Iceland, Mexico and the Amazon.
“The selected projects in year’s Narrative Labs reflect IFP’s commitment to all-inclusive content and is emblematic of the growing presence of personal stories told and made outside the two major U.S. hubs for filmmaking,” said Joana Vicente, Executive Director of IFP. “We look forward to helping these talented filmmakers bring their visions to life.”
In their 11th year, the Labs provide filmmakers with one-on-one mentorship from working filmmakers and provide the technical, creative and strategic tools to help the fellows launch their films and careers. Following the Spring Lab, the Lab Fellows will return for additional sessions in September (Marketing Lab & Independent Film Week) and December (Distribution Lab) as they put the finishing touches on their films.
Here are the winning projects and their teams. Below that are the projects selected for the 2015 IFP Documentary Lab, which were announced last month.
Albion: Rise of the Danaan
A twelve-year-old girl who has had to take care of her father is transported to the mystical world of Albion, where she discovers that she alone is the key to saving an entire race of people. Fellows: Castille Landon (Director, Writer), Dori Sperko (Producer)
A famous, eccentric, recluse toy inventor agrees to his first interview after years of a self-imposed vow of silence to unveil his new invention. Fellows: Adam Pinney (Director, Writer, Editor), Alex Orr (Producer)
On a romantic getaway to Iceland, Riley and Jenai, a young American couple, suddenly discover everyone on earth has disappeared. As Riley struggles to survive and Jenai attempts to reconcile the mysterious event, they must reconsider everything they know about themselves and the world. Fellows: Andrew Sullivan (Director, Writer), Geoffrey Orthwein (Director, Writer), Kent Genzlinger (Producer)
After Peter LaTang’s last living relative passes away, he returns to a small New England town where he grew up. When the bus arrives, he can’t find his wallet so he calls his childhood friend Donald Treeback for some help. What was supposed to be just a ride turns into a long day’s journey through their awkward past. Fellows: Kris Avedisian (Director, Writer), Jesse Wakeman (Writer, Producer), Kyle Martin (Producer)
A dive bar drag queen’s life takes a dramatic turn when his ex drops their 11-year-old son off at his apartment and vanishes. Fellows: Michael Curtis Johnson (Director, Co-Writer, Producer), Tomas Pais (Co-Writer, Producer, Lead Actor), Magela Crosignani (Director of Photography)
Icaros: a vision
By Matteo Norzi and Leonor Caraballo. An American woman with breast cancer travels to the Amazon in search of a miracle. Thanks to a young shaman who is losing his eyesight, she learns instead to confront her ‘susto’: the disease of fear. With the help of Ayahuasca, a hallucinogenic plant medicine, and the Icaros, magical healing songs, they both gain a new vision of their destiny. Fellows: Matteo Norzi (Co-director, co- writer), Abou Farman (Producer), Elia Gasull Balada (Editor), Adella Ladjevardi (Co-Producer)
Katie Says Goodbye
Katie Says Goodbye is the story of a seventeen-year-old waitress who prostitutes herself to support her deadbeat mother, while saving for her dream of escaping to San Francisco. When she falls in love with an ex-convict, things quickly turn south, testing her determination for a better life. Fellows: Wayne Roberts (Director, Writer, Producer), Eric Schultz (Producer), Carlo Sirtori (Producer)
A young couple mourning the death of their baby retreat to a remote Bahamian island where they become entangled in a turf war between a dangerous human trafficker, an aging island patriarch and an obsessive homeless youth. Fellows: Logan Sandler (Director, Writer), Thymaya Payne (Writer, Producer), Lauren Brady (Producer), Randolph Hearst Harris (Producer)
Lupe Under the Sun
Blurring the line between narrative and documentary, with a cast of non-actors, and set in the agricultural heartland of California’s Central Valley, Lupe Under the Sun takes inspiration from the director’s own grandfather to tell the story of an aging Mexican immigrant. Estranged from his family in Mexico, crushed by backbreaking work and poverty, Lupe struggles to come to terms with his life choices. Fellows: Rodrigo Reyes (Director, Writer), Su Kim (Producer), Manuel Tsingaris (Editor)
When his increasingly depraved behavior spirals out of control, reclusive inventor Marcus Milton retreats to his family home along the New England coast. But instead of finding solace, Marcus is haunted by his darkest fears and deepest desires. Is he losing his mind or has something terrible burrowed deep within him? Incubating. Waiting until the climate is right. Fellows: Owen Long (Director, Writer), Steven Weisman (Writer, Producer), Chris Haney (Producer)
2015 IFP Documentary Lab and fellows:
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. Fellows: Christopher LaMarca (Director), Katrina Taylor (Editor). Portland, OR
Decade of Fire
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. Fellows: Gretchen Hildebran (Director, Producer, Writer, Editor), Vivian Vazquez (Producer, Writer). 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. Fellows: Shevaun Mizrahi (Director, DP), Shelly Grizim (Producer), Deniz Buga (Producer). 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. Fellow: Gina Abatemarco (Director, Producer), Nadav Harel (Editor). Brooklyn, NY.
Memories of a Penitent Heart
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. Fellows: Cecilia Aldarondo (Director), Patricia Benabe (Producer), Hannah Buck (Editor). Brooklyn, NY.
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. Fellows: Katy Grannan (Director, Writer, Producer, DP, Editor), Marc Smolowitz (Producer), Eli Olson (Editor). Berkeley, CA
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. Fellows: Margaret Byrne (Director, Writer Producer), Leslie Simmer (Writer, Editor), Jon Stuyvesant (DP, Co-Producer). Chicago, IL.
The Road from Hainan
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: Nanfu Wang (Director, Writer, Producer, DP, Editor), Kuan He (Composer). New York, 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. Fellows: Jessie Auritt (Director, Producer, Editor), Carmen Osterlye (Producer, DP), Justin Levy (Co-Producer). Brooklyn, NY.
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. Fellows: Javid Soriano (Director), Manuel Tsingaris (Editor) San Francisco, CA.