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Kickstart Five Nights in Maine

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Nekisa Cooper

Nekisa Cooper is an independent producer who most recently worked on Dee Rees’ 2011 Festival selection, Pariah. She is currently producing Maris Curran’s debut feature Five Nights in Maine along with a team of Sundance Film Festival alumni.


In 2008, I participated in the inaugural Sundance Institute Creative Producing Lab and it was an experience that truly changed my life. To be instructed and nurtured by such incredible producing superstars as Mary Jane Skalski, Ted Hope, Paul Mezey, and Meg LaFauve was beyond a blessing. They reinforced my chosen path to support independent artists in pursuit of their dreams.

My job as a creative producer sits at the intersection of art and commerce—supporting a writer and/or director in realizing their creative vision from concept to screen and beyond in a world of limited resources. This journey led me to producing Dee Rees’s first narrative feature Pariah, also supported by the Sundance Institute Screenwriting and Directors Labs, to be released by Focus Features this winter.

Currently, I am producing writer/director Maris Curran’s first feature, Five Nights in Maine. I read the script and fell in love with her writing. The storytelling is layered and beautifully poetic with characters that engaged my senses and my heart.

In Maris’ own words:

“The film is about the complicated relationships we all have with the people we love – about the process of leaving home and returning – about negotiating and learning from the process of coming home… And it is a film about race. It is a film about subtlety, about tension, and what is left unspoken. Ultimately, Sherwin [the protagonist] makes the personal political and elevates the film to be about much more than one person’s loss. It is a film about compassion.”

I’m proud to be part of a team of amazing artists who all recently had films screening in the 2011 Sundance Film Festival including cinematographer Brad Young (Pariah, Restless City), Composer Gingger Shankar (Circumstance), and Production Designer Chad Keith (Martha Mary May Marlene, Take Shelter, On The Ice, Restless City). The project was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship and was selected as one of 10 international projects to develop at the Cine Qua Non Writers Lab in Mexico. It will also participate in IFP’s No Borders International Co-production Market in September.

It truly takes a village to make an independent film. We have only a few days left in our Kickstarter campaign and could really use your help. Thanks so much for your time and support!

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Sundance Institute Piloting Direct Individual Support for Mediamakers Through the Sundance Institute | Humanities Sustainability Fellowship

Long before the COVID-19 pandemic upended life in general, and halted production and distribution for many creatives, the nonfiction field was plagued by issues of sustainability. For several years, sustainability has been an urgent and vigorous topic of study, debate, and organizing, as more and more filmmakers find it difficult, if not impossible, to make a living solely on the basis of their creative work. 

In Memoriam: Diane Weyermann (1955–2021)

A singular force within the documentary film world with a global reach, Diane Weyermann passed away at age 66 after battling cancer. Over the course of her 30-year career as a funder and an executive, her work elevated the documentary form and expanded its cultural impact.

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