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The Adrienne Shelly Director’s Grant Awarded to Leah Meyerhoff for “I Believe in Unicorns”

by Website Update on December 10, 2013



The $5,000 cash grant awarded to a female director alumna of IFP’s Narrative Independent Filmmaker Labs

New York, NY (December 10, 2013) – The Independent Filmmaker Project and The Adrienne Shelly Foundation announced today that its 7th Annual IFP Labs Director’s Grant is awarded to Leah Meyerhoff for her film I Believe in Unicorns. The Grant will be awarded Thursday, December 12, at the Foundation’s 3nd Annual Woman of Vision salute at the Museum of Modern Art honoring filmmaker Ava DuVernay and featuring actor Sharon Lawrence.  The grant is given in memory of actor and filmmaker Adrienne Shelly, and provides a female director $5,000 in finishing or distribution funds to their IFP Narrative Labs project or to support a new project.  The grant is open to female directors presently in the 2013 Narrative Lab program or alumni of any previous IFP Narrative Independent Filmmaker Lab. I Believe in Unicorns participated in IFP’s 2012 Narrative Independent Filmmaker Labs, was a finalist for the Gotham Awards Live the Dream Grant.

The film follows Davina, who avoids taking care of her disabled mother by running away with an older boy in a whirlwind of romance and adventure.  As their new relationship turns abusive, she attempts to retreat to a fantasy world but ultimately must learn to face her stark reality and reconnect with the world she left behind. Leah Meyerhoff is the writer and director of I Believe in Unicorns; the film is executive produced by Allison Anders.

IFP’s Independent Filmmaker Labs are a unique year-long mentorship program supporting first-time feature directors when they need it most:  through the completion, marketing and distribution of their films.  Focusing exclusively on low-budget features (under $1million), this highly immersive program provides filmmakers with the technical, creative and strategic tools necessary to launch their films – and their careers. (

“Our jury, in a unanimous decision, was blown away by this film and by Leah’s talent,” said Andy Ostroy, Founder and executive director of the Adrienne Shelly Foundation. “Unicorns” is visually stunning, superbly written and acted.”

The jury for the IFP Labs Director’s Grant was comprised of board members of the Adrienne Shelly Foundation: producers Adam Brightman (Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist) and Jen Small (The Toe Tactic), independent consultant Michelle Byrd, as well as Ostroy.

The other nominees for the Director’s Grant include: Jennifer Phang for Advantageous (IFP Lab 2005 alum, this is her new film); Garrett Bradley for Below Dreams (IFP Lab 2013 alum); Kimberly Levin for Cantuckee (IFP Lab 2012 alum); and Deb Shoval for AWOL (IFP Lab 2013 alum)

About IFP

The Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP) is the premier advocacy organization for independent filmmakers and artists, championing the future of storytelling in the digital age. The organization fosters a vibrant and sustainable independent storytelling community through its year-round programs, which include the Gotham Independent Film Awards and the Made in NY Media Center by IFP, a new incubator space developed with the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment. IFP represents a growing network of 10,000 storytellers around the world, and plays a key role in developing 350 new feature and documentary works each year. During its 35-year history, IFP has supported over 7,000 projects and offered resources to more than 20,000 filmmakers, including Joel and Ethan Coen, Debra Granik, Miranda July, Michael Moore, Dee Rees, and Benh Zeitlin. More info at

About The Adrienne Shelly Foundation

The Adrienne Shelly Foundation, formed in January 2007, is a 501c3 non-profit organization which supports the artistic achievements of female filmmakers through a series of grants distributed through partnerships with Women in Film, IFP, Nantucket Film Festival, Sundance Institute, Tribeca Film Institute, Columbia University, Boston University, American Film Institute and Rooftop Films.  Since its inception, it has awarded forty-seven grants to female filmmakers all over the world.  For more information, please visit