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The Gotham Announces 10 Projects and Selected Fellows for The 2022 Documentary Feature Lab

by Matt Hagemeier on June 15, 2022

Brooklyn, NY (June 13, 2022) – The Gotham Film & Media Institute announced today ten documentary projects participating in the Gotham Documentary Feature Lab (running June 13-17). The Gotham Documentary Feature Lab supports first-time feature filmmakers over the course of the year through the completion, marketing, and distribution of their debut features, with support from Gotham staff and mentorship from leading industry members and filmmakers.

“Capturing universal themes, including family, home and the power of personal narrative, this year’s films promise to push out the boundaries of documentary filmmaking with distinctive and original voices. We are thrilled to support these amazing creators from around the globe in reaching their intended audiences,” said The Gotham’s Executive Director Jeff Sharp.

For the first time, included in the cohort of ten projects are three from the Expanding Communities program,  a program dedicated to providing resources, a community space, and industry access to individuals with Disabilities and Black, Indigenous, PoC, and LGBTQIA+ creators across film, TV, and audio industries. These include by way of recommendations of partner organizations, Finding Your Laughter, Prodigal Daughter, and Standing Above the Clouds. Through partnerships with organizations aligned with uplifting historically excluded voices, the Expanding Communities program acts as a platform for both creators and organizations to reach new audiences, develop networks of potential collaborators, and access career advancement resources and opportunities within the media and entertainment industry.

The Documentary Feature Lab provides extensive mentorship and resources to the selected fellows. All 2022 Lab projects will automatically participate in the 44th Gotham Week’s Project Market, where they will pitch their projects to industry decision makers. The Documentary Feature Lab operates under the artistic direction of Senior Director, Programming, Milton Tabbot and Nonfiction Programs Manager, Soheil Rezayazdi.

The 2022 Documentary Feature Lab is guided by Lab Leaders Sabrina Schmidt Gordon (Producer, To the End, Quest; Producer, Editor, Documented; Director, Editor, BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez), www.vespertinefilms.com, and Maureen A. Ryan (Co-Producer, Man on Wire, Dick Johnson Is Dead; Author, Producer to Producer: A Step-by-Step Guide to Low Budget Independent Film Producing; Professor of Professional Practice at Columbia University’s MFA Film program, www.ProducerToProducer.com

The 2022 Gotham Documentary Feature Lab Projects and Attending Fellows include:

  • Black Snow –– A taut and revelatory thriller told through the eyes of a maverick citizen journalist which promises to shine new light on the human cost of coal. Alina Simone (Director, DP), Kirstine Barfod (Producer)
  • Brief Tender Light –– At America’s elite MIT, four African students strive to graduate into agents of change for their home countries. But what changes come from living in two different worlds? Arthur Musah (Director, Producer, DP), Kelly Creedon (Editor), Brook Sitgraves Turner (Co-producer)
  • Finding Your Laughter (Expanding Communities Fellow) –– Comedian Arlieta Hall must learn how to balance her life as an up-and-coming artist with the heartbreak of watching her dad die slowly from Alzheimer’s. She illuminates a pathway to hope, healing, and help for other caregivers to find their own laughter. Arlieta Hall (Director, Writer), Brittany Alsot (Director, Producer, Writer), (Donnie Seals Jr, Editor)
  • Joybubbles –– Joybubbles (1949-2007) was the chosen name of Joe Engressia: a boy genius, blind since birth, who could hack into the analog telephone system by whistling a magic tone. Exploiting weaknesses in early telecommunications with his signature 2600-hz whistle, Joybubbles spent his whole life on the phone: winning hearts, battling demons and eventually, declaring himself to be 5 years old, forever. Rachael Morrison (Director, Writer), Sarah Winshall (Producer), Will Butler (Producer), Patrick Lawrence (Editor, Writer)
  • Made in Ethiopia –– Three women navigate the bumpy expansion of the biggest Chinese industrial park in Ethiopia. Xinyan Yu (Director, Producer), Max Duncan (Director, Producer, DP)
  • Prodigal Daughter (Expanding Communities Fellow) –– As filmmaker Mabel Valdiviezo reunites with her Peruvian family who she had not seen in sixteen years, she must confront secrets from her past that tore her apart from her parents, while battling stage IV cancer. The clock ticking, Mabel must find a way to heal her broken family ties before it’s too late. Art may be her only hope. Prodigal Daughter explores the nexus of family reconnection, mental health, identity, and belonging during anti-immigrant times. Mabel Valdiviezo (Director, Producer, Writer), Sara Maamouri (Editor), Chelo Alvarez-Stehle (Impact Producer)
  • Standing Above the Clouds (Expanding Communities Fellow) –– When the world’s largest telescope is set to be built on their sacred mountain, Mauna Kea, three Native Hawaiian families dedicate their lives to defending it. Through the lens of mothers and daughters, Standing Above the Clouds explores intergenerational healing and the social and emotional labor of retaining ancient ceremonies while putting your body on the line to protect a sacred mountain. Jalena Keane-Lee (Director, Producer, DP), Amber Espinosa-Jones, (Producer), Erin Lau (Producer)
  • Traces of Home –– Filmmaker Colette Ghunim embarks on journeys with her parents to find the ancestral homes they were forced to flee as children in Mexico and Palestine. The intertwining trips unearth familial trauma and her struggle for a sense of home in suburban America. What begins as a desire to connect to Colette’s cultural origins turns into an internal quest to heal her difficult relationship with her parents, and, ultimately, herself. Colette Ghunim (Director, Writer), Capella Fahoome (Producer), Sara Maamouri (Editor)
  • unseen –– unseen follows the story of Pedro, as he aspires to become a social worker. A blind, undocumented immigrant, Pedro faces harsh political realities in the U.S. to achieve his dreams of providing mental health care for the underserved. What starts as a journey to foster the mental health of others, ultimately transforms into Pedro’s path towards his own healing. Set Hernandez Rongkilyo (Director, Producer, DP, Editor), Félix Endara (Producer), Daniel Chávez-Ontiveros (Editor)
  • Untitled Muscogee Nation Documentary –– When the Muscogee Nation suddenly begins censoring their free press, a rogue reporter fights to expose her government’s corruption in a historic battle that will have ramifications for all of Indian Country. Rebecca Landsberry-Baker and Joe Peeler (Directors), Jean Rheem (Editor)

ABOUT THE GOTHAM LABS

Now in their 18th year, the Gotham Labs work to ensure that talented emerging voices receive the support, resources, and industry exposure necessary to develop and complete their visions and reach audiences and industry decision makers. Creators in the areas of documentary feature filmmaking and TV series content meet multiple times during the year including pitching their projects at the Gotham Project Market in September.

ABOUT EXPANDING COMMUNITIES 

Expanding Communities is a program dedicated to providing resources, a community space, and industry access to individuals with Disabilities and Black, Indigenous, PoC, and LGBTQIA+ creators across film, TV, and audio industries. Through partnerships with organizations aligned with uplifting historically excluded voices, the program acts as a platform for both creators and organizations to reach new audiences, develop networks of potential collaborators, and access career advancement resources and opportunities within the media and entertainment industry. Partner organizations include Austin, Film Society, Black Film Space, Black Star Projects, Black TV & Film Collective, CAAM, Film Fatales, Film Festival Alliance, Film Independent, Islamic Scholarship Fund, mama.film, Minorities in Film, NewFest, New Orleans Film Society, Philadelphia Latino Film Festival, Q26, ReelAbilities Film Festival, Transgender Film Center, Undocumented Filmmakers Collective, Women in Film, Women Make Movies, among others.

If interested in participating or supporting this program, please reach out to [email protected]

SUPPORT FOR THE GOTHAM LABS

The Gotham Labs are made possible by the generous support of the National Endowment for the Arts, 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 THE GOTHAM FILM & MEDIA INSTITUTE

The Gotham celebrates and nurtures independent film and media creators, providing career-building resources, access to industry influencers, and pathways to wider recognition. The organization, under the leadership of Executive Director and award-winning producer Jeffrey Sharp, fosters a vibrant and sustainable independent storytelling community through its year-round programs, which include Gotham Week, Gotham Labs, Filmmaker Magazine, the Gotham Awards, Gotham EDU, Owning It, and Expanding Communities.