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IFP Announces Participants for 2011 Narrative Independent Filmmaker Lab

by Website Update on September 9, 2011

IFP Announces Participants for 2011 Narrative Independent Filmmaker LabFor Immediate Release – New York, NY (June 6, 2011) Following the unprecedented success of the 2010 Lab season – in which more than half the projects have already launched their first feature at prestigious film festivals including Sundance, Berlin, SXSW and Tribeca and won notable film awards – IFP is pleased to announce the participants of the 2011 Narrative Independent Filmmaker Lab. The year-long fellowship will commence June 6-10 in New York City.

Program’s 7th Edition Follows 2010 Banner Year

The 2011 Narrative Lab Fellows and their features are Matt Ruskin (BOOSTER), Rola Nashef (DETROIT UNLEADED), Nir Paniry (EXTRACTED), Jenny Deller (FUTURE WEATHER), Andrew Semans (NANCY, PLEASE), Sara Blecher (OTELO BURNING), Tim Sutton (PAVILION), Jaron Henrie-McCrea (PERVERTIGO), Ryan O’Nan (THE BROOKLYN BROTHERS BEAT THE BEST), Mark Harris (THE LOST CHILDREN), and Keith Miller (WELCOME TO PINE HILL).

Since 2005, this highly immersive, free mentorship program for first-time feature filmmakers has provided participants with the technical, creative and strategic tools necessary to launch their films – and their careers. Recent alumni currently on the festival circuit and in the marketplace include: Dee Rees’ PARIAH, Alrick Brown’s KINYARWANDA, John Henry Summerour’s SAHKANAGA, Brady Kiernan’s STUCK BETWEEN STATIONS, Eleanor Burke & Ron Eyal’s STRANGER THINGS, Zeina Durra’s THE IMPERIALISTS ARE STILL ALIVE!, Victoria Mahoney’s YELLING TO THE SKY, and Tariq Tapa’s ZERO BRIDGE.

“2010 was definitely a breakout year for our Lab program, but we’re just hitting our stride,” says Joana Vicente, Executive Director of IFP and, for the first time, a participating Lab Leader. “We’ve found that talent alone is not enough to launch a strong first-feature in today’s marketplace. With so many films available to audiences, we’ve found that it’s absolutely critical to teach the next generation of great filmmakers the true nuts and bolts of how to launch a film and connect with audiences.”

A cornerstone IFP program, the Narrative Independent Filmmaker Labs are currently the only film program that supports diverse, low budget, independently produced filmmakers when they need it most: through the completion, marketing and distribution of their first feature film. While many programs are geared toward teaching filmmakers how to write, produce, direct, and compose their films, IFP’s Labs support projects from post-production onwards working with industry mentors and facilitating workshops that emphasize festival strategy, finding audiences, and overall promotion of the film.

The program is also unique for its diversity: half of the 2011 submissions were from minority filmmakers, making it the premiere showcase to both introduce talent and empower new voices on the independent scene.

Drawing from a national candidate pool, eleven narratives in post-production were selected for this year-long Lab fellowship. “This year’s Lab Fellows hail from all over the U.S., creating original and highly sophisticated stories set in unfamiliar corners of the globe,” observes Amy Dotson, IFP’s Deputy Director of Programming. “Whether it’s a love story set in a Detroit convenience store or a teenager’s struggle for identity in a surfing community in South Africa, IFP works with each filmmaker to find their most compelling core narrative and strategize how to reach the audiences that will best connect with it.”

The Narrative Independent Filmmaker Labs include an initial five days of workshops in June that assist filmmakers with the technical, creative and strategic advice needed to complete their films. In September, a Strategy & Networking Lab coincides with IFP’s Independent Film Week, and in December, there is an intensive Distribution Lab. The Strategy & Networking Lab in the fall features specialized one-to-one workshops on web building, sales and marketing and audience building, as well as pre-scheduled meetings with potential buyers, funders and festival programmers. The Distribution Lab at the end of the year specifically focuses on hands-on creation of the necessary tools and the analysis of the initiatives for each film as it launches its individualized festival and distribution strategy, web and marketing plans. 2011 Documentary Lab Fellows were announced in May.

“IFP was one of the first organizations to see promise in our film and us as filmmakers,” said Dee Rees, director of PARIAH, a 2010 Lab alumnus. “The Labs were incredibly helpful because it connected us with creative mentors and really helped us to complete and plan for the marketing and distribution of our first feature film. The case studies and workshops that we studied there came in handy when our film had its world premiere on opening night at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and when Focus Features picked us up for distribution. I would definitely recommend IFP as a strong community of peer and mentor support to other indie filmmakers who need a launching pad for their first features.”


There are four tiers of mentorship support made available to Lab Fellows throughout the year.

In addition to Lab Leaders, Workshop Leaders, and IFP staff, new this year is Individual Mentor support. This exclusive peer-to-peer connection features working filmmakers and producers who offer hands-on, “in the trenches” guidance to the filmmakers.

The following outline lists participating industry professionals for the 2011 Narrative Independent Filmmaker Labs:

– Individual Mentors help the filmmaker establish goals prior to the Labs, provide additional feedback on their cut, and share ideas on their individual marketing and distribution plans.

The 2011 Narrative Lab Mentors are:

o Barry Jenkins (director, MEDICINE FOR MELANCHOLY)

o Alicia Van Couvering & Kyle Martin (producers, TINY FURNITURE)

o Peter Phok (producer, STAKELAND)

o Gretchen McGowan (producer, THE LIMITS OF CONTROL)

o Paola Mendoza (director, ENTRE NOS)

o Matthew Porterfield (director, PUTTY HILL)

o David & Nathan Zellner (GOLIATH)

o Josh Mond (producer, MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE)

o Mike Ryan (executive producer, MEEK’S CUTOFF, CHOKE)

o Lisa Cortes (executive producer, PRECIOUS)

– Established producers act as Lab Leaders, supervising each of the intensive sessions throughout the year. The 2011 Narrative Lab Leaders are:



o Jon Reiss, director and marketing & distribution specialist (Think Outside the Box Office, BOMB IT!).

– Workshop Leaders are experts who provide individualized advice and one-to-one creative and technical support to help bring the films to completion – and, ultimately, to audiences. This year’s Workshop Leaders include:

o Composer David Torn (THE WACKNESS) and music supervisor Barry Cole (NOTORIOUS),

o Editors Lee Percy (BOYS DON’T CRY), Nat Sanders (HUMPDAY), and Michael Taylor (DAY NIGHT DAY NIGHT)

o Filmmakers Michael Tully (SEPTIEN), Sol Tryon (THE LIVING WAKE), Alrick Brown (KINYARWANDA), and Ron Eyal & Eleanor Burke (STRANGER THINGS)

o Marketing & PR experts Adam Kersh (Brigade Marketing) & Todd Sklar (EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP)

o Sales experts Ronna Wallace & Sarah Lash

o Entertainment Lawyer Jonathan Gray

– Finally, IFP programming staff and senior leadership provide year-round ongoing support in areas such as festival strategy, key industry introductions, and special screening opportunities, for example. The staff can also give access to international professional development programs, which are available to all participants as needed on an ongoing basis.



When Simon’s brother is arrested for armed robbery, he is asked to commit a string of similar crimes in an attempt to get his brother acquitted. Through his family and the people closest to him, Simon is forced to examine his life in the face of this monumental decision. Cast includes: Seymour Cassel (RUSHMORE, THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS). Fellows: Matt Ruskin (Writer/Director); Andrea Roa (Producer); Troy Johanson (Executive Producer).


Two misfit musicians set off on tour across the country, armed only with a guitar and a bunch of children’s instruments. Along the way, a beautiful young woman, with a hunger for adventure and a mysterious spirit, joins them. Together, this unlikely trio crash into the unknown, as the waves of responsibility and adulthood grow higher and higher around them. Cast includes: Michael Weston (GARDEN STATE), Andrew McCarthy (PRETTY IN PINK), Melissa Leo (THE FIGHTER), Jason Ritter (GOOD DICK), Wilmer Valderrama (THAT 70’S SHOW), Ryan O’Nan (THE DRY LAND). Fellows: Ryan O’Nan (Writer, Director), Jason Berman (Producer), Kwesi Collisson (Producer).


Sami, a first generation Lebanese American, runs a gas station with his cousin Mike, a charismatic hustler. More than just a pit stop for late-night gas and rolling papers, but a place where the uniqueness of this Detroit Eastside neighborhood becomes most visible. When Najlah walks into the station, Sami begins to see a life beyond the bulletproof glass. Fellows: Rola Nashef (Director, Writer, Producer), Nathanael Sherfield (Editor).


Thomas Jacobs invents a way to watch people’s memories from the inside. Going against his morals, he accepts an offer to enter a heroin addict’s memories to literally see if he committed a crime. However a malfunction causes his consciousness to become trapped inside the criminal’s mind. He remains a prisoner in the addict’s memories for more than four years until he discovers the possibility of escape. Fellows: Nir Paniry (Writer, Director), Gabriel Cowan (Producer), John Suits (Producer).


When her single mom runs off to California, Lauduree, a passionate environmentalist, clings to her rural home and a carbon sequestration experiment. But her grandmother Greta, a caustic nurse on the verge of moving in with her long-distance boyfriend, has other plans. Thrust into each other’s lives, this functioning alcoholic and teenage loner must learn to trust each other and leap into the unknown. Cast includes: Amy Madigan (GONE BABY GONE); Perla Haney-Jardine (KILL BILL: VOL. 2); Lili Taylor (SAY ANYTHING); William Sadler (THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION). Fellows: Jenny Deller (Director, Writer, Producer), Kristin Fairweather (Producer), Shelby Siegel (Editor).


Escaping her troubled, rich family, party girl Evelyn Hamilton joins The Lost Children death cult, where she comes to believe in her own mystical origin and powers, and that only her death can save the world from an ancient evil. A transmedia project. Fellows: Mark Harris (Director, Writer, Producer, Editor).


Nancy, Please is a satire that explores obsession, self-righteousness, and the perverse allure of victimhood in New Haven, CT. Cast Includes: Will Rogers (HAPPY NEW YEAR); Eleonore Hendricks (DADDY LONGLEGS); Rebecca Lawrence (THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT). Fellows: Andrew Semans (Director, Writer), Dave Saltzman (Producer), Ron Dulin (Editor).


Somewhere between City of God and Blue Crush, Otelo Burning is a coming of age story set against the backdrop of Nelson Mandela’s release from prison. It’s an emotional story of kids in the township learning to surf. It’s a story of the explosive potential for change at the time of apartheid’s end – all seen through a child’s eye. Fellows: Sara Blecher (Director, Writer, Producer).


Max, a quietly troubled 15 year old, leaves his mother’s house in a small lakeside town in upstate New York to start a new life with his father on the sun-blasted fringe of suburban Arizona. What starts in a calm, lush, seemingly safe environment ends in frayed confusion. Fellows: Tim Sutton (Director, Writer, Producer), Seth Bromse (Editor).


Lloyd Gills, a lonely Peeping Tom, is propositioned to murder his landlord’s wife. Spooked, he runs for the hills. But with a badass debt collector hot on his tail, Lloyd has no choice but to agree to the murderous offer. Only problem is, Lloyd has fallen in love with the target. Cast includes: Mark Zeisler (AFTERSCHOOL). Fellows: Jaron Henrie-McCrea (Director, Writer, Editor), Shrihari Sathe (Producer).


Former dealer Shannon Harper is diagnosed with terminal cancer. The young Brooklynite visits his estranged mother and friends, and truths emerge in the many things left unsaid. He travels upstate to experience a transcendental moment while hiking toward his death in Pine Hill. Through long improvisational takes with non-actors, Pine Hill offers a poignant portrait of one man’s release. Fellows: Keith Miller (Director), Elisabeth Holm (Producer), Alex Mallis (DP).

Support for the Independent Filmmaker Labs program is provided by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, Hollywood Foreign Press Association, New York State Council for the Arts, SAGIndie/Screen Actors Guild and Time Warner. Lab partners include The Adrienne Shelly Foundation, BMI, Deluxe New York, Eastman Kodak Company, FILMMAKER Magazine, Mother New York, 92YTribeca, Rooftop Films, and United States Artists.


After its program debut in the 1979 New York Film Festival, the IFP evolved into the nation’s oldest and largest nonprofit organization of independent filmmakers. Championing the early works of leading filmmakers such as Charles Burnett, Edward Burns, Jim Jarmusch, Barbara Kopple, Michael Moore, Mira Nair and Kevin Smith, IFP has supported the production of 7,000 films since its start and provided resources to more than 20,000 filmmakers – diverse voices that otherwise might not have been heard. IFP continues to advocate for filmmakers, fostering the development of 350 new feature and documentary films each year through its Independent Filmmaker Labs; Project Forum of Independent Film Week; projects in its fiscal sponsorship program; and through its celebration of the prestigious annual Gotham Awards. IFP believes that independent films enrich the universal language of cinema, seeding the global culture with new ideas, sparking awareness and encouraging activism.

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