LOS ANGELES, CA â€” Film Independent, the non-profit arts organization that produces the Film Independent Spirit Awards and the Los Angeles Film Festival, announced the names of the 10 filmmakers and six projects selected for the 2015 Documentary Lab, a five week intensive program designed to help filmmakers who are currently in post-production on their feature-length documentaries. Also announced today, a year-round partnership with Netflix to support documentary filmmakers. Netflix is now the official supporter of all Film Independentâ€™s documentary initiatives, including the organizationâ€™s annual Documentary Lab, the Documentary Competition at the Los Angeles Film Festival, and all the documentary elements in Film Independentâ€™s educational programs.
â€œWe are so appreciative of Netflixâ€™s deep and generous support of our programs that are geared to documentary filmmakers,â€ said Film Independent President Josh Welsh. â€œDocumentary film is incredibly exciting today and I canâ€™t think of a better company to partner with in this space.â€
Starting off this new collaboration is the 2015 Documentary Lab, a five week intensive program designed to help filmmakers who are currently in post-production on their feature-length documentaries. Thanks to Netflixâ€™s support, this yearâ€™s Lab includes a finishing fund for projects being developed in the Lab. Now in its fifth year, the Documentary Lab has two primary focuses: (1) providing creative feedback and story notes to the selected filmmakers; and (2) helping filmmakers strategize the completion, distribution, and marketing of their film.
â€œWe are delighted to kick off the fifth year of our Documentary Lab with such a talented group of filmmakers and esteemed advisors,â€ said Jennifer Kushner, Director of Artist Development. â€œWe are so thankful to Netflix for helping us provide a finishing fund for the filmmakers we support in this program.â€
Projects developed in past Documentary Labs include Marah Strauchâ€™s Sunshine Superman, which premiered at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival, Andrew Droz Palermo & Tracy Droz Tragosâ€™ Rich Hill which won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, PJ Ravalâ€™s Before You Know It; Hilla Medaliaâ€™s Dancing in Jaffa; Nicholas Wrathallâ€™s Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia; Katherine Fairfax Wright and Malika Zouhali Worrallâ€™s Call Me Kuchu; Laura Nix and Julia Meltzerâ€™s The Light In Her Eyes; and Nicole Karsinâ€™s We Women Warriors, among others.
Documentary filmmakers Lucy Walker (The Crash Reel), Eddie Schmidt (Twist of Faith) and Linda Goldstein Knowlton (Code Black) are this yearâ€™s Documentary Lab Advisors. Guest Speakers include Doug Blush (Editor, 20 Feet From Stardom), Marah Strauch (Sunshine Superman) and Jennifer Arnold (Tig, A Small Act).
The Documentary Lab is supported by Artist Development Lead Funder Time Warner Foundation and is sponsored by Netflix, ARRI, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Loyola Marymount Universityâ€™s School of Film and Television, and the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional support provided by Dolby Laboratories, Inc.
The 2015 Documentary Lab projects and Fellows are:
Title: Becoming April March
Director/Producer: Craig Jackson
Producer: Stephanie Levy
Logline: A striking portrait of an 80-year-old burlesque icon. Becoming April March is an exploration of one woman’s struggle with aging and her last-ditch attempt at securing the fame and fortune she chased in her youth.
Title: My Country, No More
Directors: Rita Baghdadi, Jeremiah Hammerling
Producer: Rita Baghdadi
Logline: My Country, No More reveals the complexities of rural life in the North Dakota oil boom as a farming community fights industrialization. Filmed over three transformational years, the film poses a fundamental question: what and who are we willing to sacrifice in our pursuit of progress?
Title: Real Boy
Director/Producer: Shaleece Haas
Logline: Bennett Wallace, a transgender teenager with musical aspirations, embarks on a journey to find his voiceâ€”as a musician, a friend, a son, and a man.
Director: Cassidy Friedman
Producer: Carmen Osterlye
Logline: Three men painfully seek rehabilitation through a radical process of cathartic storytelling before getting released from one of Californiaâ€™s most violent and overcrowded prisons.
Title: The Peacemaker
Director/Producer: James Demo
Logline: The Peacemaker follows Padraig Oâ€™Malley, an international peacemaker who helps make peace for others but struggles to find it for himself. The film takes us from Padraig’s isolated life in Cambridge, Massachusetts to some of the most dangerous crisis zones on Earth â€“ from Northern Ireland to Kosovo, Nigeria to Iraq â€“ to chronicle, over five years, Padraig’s journey as he works a peace making model based on his recovery from addiction.
Title: What Lies Upstream
Director: Cullen Hoback
Producer: John Ramos
Logline: What starts as a simple investigation into a chemical spill unravels into a massive mystery, ultimately showing, with unprecedented access, why the American political system is fundamentally broken.