Film Independent Names 2018 Directing Lab Fellows


Film Independent, the organization behind the Spirit Awards and Los Angeles Film Festival,  has unveiled the six fellows chosen for its 18th annual Directing Lab, an intensive eight-week program designed to support emerging independent film directors in prep on their feature films. See the list below.

Directing Lab fellows receive script feedback, discuss their visions and select short scenes from their screenplays to workshop. Each director then casts actors and rehearses their scenes in the Lab before undertaking a mini-production.


This year’s creative advisers are Daniel Barnz, Nicole Holofcener and James Ponsoldt. Additional advisers and guest speakers include Ruth Atkinson, Rodrigo García, Catherine Hardwicke, Alex O’Flinn, Lisa Robertson, Nancy Schreiber, Emily Schweber and Chloé Zhao.

“At Film Independent, we work year-round to advocate for an inclusive industry, and there is still vital work to be done to address gender and diversity representation,” said Jennifer Kushner, director of artist development at Film Independent. “The Directing Lab is an essential part of fixing the representation equation in Hollywood. … Our commitment to ensuring that bold and diverse creators remain at the forefront of visual storytelling is stronger than ever.”

The 2018 Directing Lab participants and their projects are:

DOHA – The Rising Sun
Director/Writer: Eimi Imanishi
Logline: Disheartened by her deportation from Europe, Mariam is forced to return home to Western Sahara. Adrift in the very place that’s supposed to be her home, she searches for the means to assert agency over her own life.

Director/Writer: Tim Marshall
Logline: A recent widow sees the face of Jesus on her gay Aqua Aerobics instructor’s swimming shorts and sets out to convince him that he is Jesus.

Girl with Child
Director/Writer: Maria Abraham
Logline: Near Quito, Ecuador, teenager Diana escapes from an institution for troubled girls with her toddler. The goal: travel to pick up her younger sister from their abusive childhood home and start a new life. But along the way, Diana ends up down and out and must figure out how to survive with her young son, whom she’s not even sure she wants.

The Hiding House
Director/Writer: Ally Pankiw
Logline: An awkward Canadian teen befriends the mysterious girl next door, and discovers that her new neighbor is actually the “child bride” of a notorious, polygamous FLDS leader wanted by the FBI.

Toughest MoFo in Portland, Oregon
Director: Ryan Velásquez
Logline: A hyper-belligerent teen, sent to live with his estranged brother in Portland, Oregon, struggles to cope with his best friend’s suicide and the very real possibility that he is losing his mind.

Valley of Exile
Director/Writer/Producer: Anna Fahr
Logline: In the arid valley of Eastern Lebanon, two Syrian sisters set out in search of their missing brother uncertain of where their own journey into exile will lead.

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