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IFP Announces Ten Debut Feature Films Selected for 2017 Narrative Labs

by Erik Luers on May 9, 2017

Brooklyn, NY (May 9, 2017) – The Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP) announced today the projects selected for the IFP Narrative Labs, IFP’s year-long fellowship for first-time filmmakers currently in post-production on their debut narrative feature films. The program runs through May 12 at the Made in NY Media Center by IFP located in DUMBO, Brooklyn.

Under the leadership of IFP Head of Programming Amy Dotson and Program Manager & Producer Zach Mandinach, the Labs will provide 10 filmmakers with the knowledge, resources and mentor support necessary for finshing, marketing and releasing their films. Over the course of these first five days of the Lab program, known as the Time Warner Foundation Completion Lab, Lab Fellows will receive mentorship in regards to editing, music composing & supervison, sound design, post-production budget, as well as developing marketing materials and festival stratagies, working with talent and sales agents, and building a sense of career sustainability in the ever-shifting landscape of independent film.

“The Narrative Labs continue to be a hotbed of discovery, shining a spotlight on bold storytellers whose work, though diverse in style and subject matter, is bound by their shared passion for pushing against the boundaries of independent filmamking,” says Joana Vicente, IFP’s Executive Director.

The IFP labs have a played a vital role in launching the first features and careers of many of today’s top film and television directors including Andrew Dosunmu (Where is Kyra?), Alex Karpovsky (Girls), David Lowery (Pete’s Dragon), Terrance Nance (18 Black Girls…)  Dee Rees (Mudbound), Matt Ruskin (Crown Heights), Amy Seimetz (The Girlfriend Experience), Tim Sutton (Dark Night), and Chloé Zhao (The Rider).  Producers Jason Berman (The Birth of A Nation), Darren Dean (Tangerine), Chadd Harbold (Most Beautiful Island),  Carly Hugo & Matt Parker (Bachelorette), Katie Mustard (Appropriate Behavior), and Adele Romanski (Moonlight) are also lab alums.

Alumni of the IFP Narrative Labs currently in festival and theatrical release include Amman Abbasi’s Dayveon, Kris Avedisian’s Donald Cried, Claire Carré’s Embers, Matteo Norzi’s Icaros: a vision, Rodrigo Reyes’ Lupe Under the Sun, Deb Shoval’s AWOL, Joshua Z Weinstein’s Menashe.


Now in its thirteen year, the IFP Filmmaker Labs support first-time feature filmmakers when they need it most: through the completion, marketing, and distribution of their debut narrative and documentary features. Each year, IFP selects ten narrative feature films and documentary feature films currently in post-production for the Labs. Through their participation, Filmmaker Labs Fellows receive support from IFP Staff and mentorship from leading industry members and filmmakers. Selected Fellows take part in three modules of the Lab: the Time Warner Completion Lab in May, IFP Film Week in September, and a Marketing & Distribution Lab in November.



The Labs provide multiple levels of mentorship throughout the process, to be overseen by 2017 Lab Leaders:

  • Susan Stover, Producer (Happy Accidents  High Art, Welcome to the Dollhouse)
  • Pierce Varous, Producer (Always Shine, H.); Founder, Nice Dissolve



  • American Thief (Thriller) Against the backdrop of the 2016 presidential election, a black teenage hacker is out to avenge his father’s killing by the police. Not knowing who he works for, he concentrates on his personal revenge unaware that it may lead to his own demise. Miguel Silveira (Director, Writer), Melissa Hernandez (Co-Writer), Michel Stolnicki (Writer, Producer).
  • Cubby (Coming of Age) After a lie to his mother finds him unwittingly in New York City, a depressed and unfocused millennial discovers self-discipline and his artistic calling in the arms of a male dominatrix who appears thanks to a psychedelic cupcake. Mark Blane (Director, Writer), Carolina Gimenez (Producer), William Colby (Editor).
  • Dead Pigs (Drama) While thousands of dead pigs float mysteriously down the Huangpu River, five people cross paths as they search for their place in a rapidly transforming modern China. Cathy Yan (Director, Writer).
  • The Garden Left Behind (Drama) A Mexican trans woman struggles to build a life for herself as an undocumented immigrant in New York City. Flavio Alves (Director), Roy Wol (Producer), Alex Lora (Editor).
  • Geppetto (Adventure) Disgruntled female carpenter paints entire body with woodgrain, transforming herself into Pinocchio, a wildly destructive creature, who wreaks havoc on the town. Z Behl (Director, writer), Sam Kuhn (Director of Photography), Justin Cox (Music Supervisor)
  • Jinn (Coming of Age) Summer is a carefree, black teenage Instagram celebrity whose world is shaken when her mother abruptly converts to Islam and becomes a different person. At first resistant to the faith, she begins to reevaluate her identity after becoming attracted to a Muslim classmate, crossing the thin line between physical desire and piety. Nijla Mu’min (Director, writer), Avril Z. Speaks (Producer), Collin Kriner (Editor).
  • Jules of Light and Dark (Drama) A chronicle of Maya’s turbulant relationship with her first love Jules in the aftermath of a major car accident. Daniel Laabs (Director, Writer, Editor), Jeff Walker (Producer), Judd Myers (Producer, Editor).
  • Kids Go Free to Fun Fun Time (Drama) Kids Go Free to Fun Fun Time is an international road movie that follows an ex-pat couple for 10 years as they travel around the world. Ben Hicks (Director, Writer).
  • Nancy (Drama) When the elaborate lies told by a serial imposter inevitably unravel, she becomes perilously close to losing her entire identity – and the only person who ever truly loved her. Christina Choe (Director, Writer), Amy Lo (Producer), David Gutnik (Editor).
  • The Third Wife (Drama) 19th century rural Vietnam, newly wed 14-year-old May must fight to find her own place within a household full of strangers. Ash Mayfair (Director, Writer, Producer), Ngoc Tran Thi Bich (Producer).



The IFP Narrative Labs are made possible by the generous support of our lead sponsor, the Time Warner Foundation, as well as the Ford Foundation, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the New York State Council on the Arts, and SAGindie. Together, we are partnering to discover, nurture and celebrate the next generation of storytellers.

About IFP

The Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP) champions the future of storytelling by connecting artists with essential resources at all stages of development and distribution. The organization fosters a vibrant and sustainable independent storytelling community through its year-round programs, which include IFP Film Week, Filmmaker Magazine, the IFP Gotham Awards and the Made in NY Media Center by IFP, a tech and media incubator space developed with the New York Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment.

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For more information on IFP, please contact:

Amy Dotson, Deputy Director & Head of Programming, IFP (212) 465-8200 x203