Thirteen Selected for Film Independent’s 2019 Documentary Lab

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Thu, 04/18/2019 - 10:38 -- Nick Dager

Film Independent, the nonprofit arts organization that produces the Spirit Awards, announced the 13 filmmakers and eight projects selected for its 2019 Documentary Lab. The Lab is an intensive two-week program designed to help filmmakers who are currently in post-production on their feature-length documentary films.

The Susan Murdy Documentary Film Fellowship, which includes a $10,000 grant, was awarded to Documentary Lab Fellow Maya Cueva. In addition, Sara Abdallah and Mayye Zayed are recipients of the Global Media Makers Fellowship, sponsored through a partnership between Film Independent and the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, making their travel and participation in the Documentary Lab possible.

"The 13 Fellows in this year's Documentary Lab bring us singular visions and unique vantage points, from Alexandria, Egypt to the US/Mexico border and many places in between, sharing nuanced stories about the most critical issues of our time," said Jennifer Kushner, director of artist development. "Each project takes us on a different journey in the most creative and innovative ways. We couldn't be happier to support these filmmakers in the program and through their careers."

Through a series of meetings and workshops, the Documentary Lab provides creative feedback and story notes to participating filmmakers, while helping them strategize for the completion, distribution and marketing of their films. During the lab, filmmakers will work with Lead Creative Mentor Alexandra Johnes and Editing Mentors Elisa Bonora and Greg Finton in addition to being introduced to celebrated film professionals who advise on both the craft and business of documentary filmmaking. Lab Fellows attend multiple guest speaker and creative work shopping sessions with established documentary directors, institutional funders, legal professionals, festival programmers and distributors as the Fellows ready their projects for release.

This year's Documentary Lab Mentors and Guest Speakers include Elisa Bonora (Editor, David Crosby: Remember My Name), Greg Finton (Editor, Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind), Alexandra Johnes (EP,The Square, Producer, Holy Hell), Matthew Radecki (Founder, Different By Design), Sandi Tan (Director/Writer/Producer, Shirkers), Rhadi Taylor (Executive, Concordia Studios) and Dyana Winkler (Director/Producer, United Skates), among others.

Film Independent Artist Development programs promote unique independent voices by helping filmmakers create and advance new work through Project Involve, Filmmaker Labs (Directing, Documentary, Episodic, Producing and Screenwriting), Fast Track finance market, Fiscal Sponsorship, and our Grants and Awards, which provide over one million dollars annually to visual storytellers.

The Documentary Lab is supported by Artist Development Lead Funder Time Warner Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional funding is provided by Susan Murdy. Documentary Lab industry partners include and the UCLA Documentary Law Clinic.

Notable past Documentary Lab supported projects include Academy Award nominated and Spirit Award winning Minding the Gap from Fellows Bing Liu and Diane Quon; Tracy Droz Tragos and Andrew Droz Palmero's Rich Hill; Sarita Khurana and Smriti Mundhra's A Suitable Girl and Dustin Nakao Haider, Daniel Dewes and Derek Doneen's Shot in the Dark.

For more information or to become a member, visit