Sundance Institute Selects 11 Fellows For 2010 Film Composer & Documentary Lab

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Los Angeles — Seven documentary filmmakers representing four films, and four music composers have been invited as Fellows to the Sundance Film Composer & Documentary Lab taking place at the Sundance Resort in Utah from June 27-July 2, 2010. The Fellows include documentary feature filmmakers currently supported by the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program, and four composers immersing themselves in the art of film music composition. Together they will explore the creative process in sound and story, and the role of film music in nonfiction storytelling.  

The 2010 documentary projects – from South Africa, the Palestinian Territories and the U.S. – include a portrait of the Shack Dwellers movement in South Africa, an examination of the Israeli legal system in the Palestinian Territories, a retired Marine’s fight for justice, and a 12-year portrait of two African American boys.

After a year hiatus, the Sundance Film Composer & Documentary Lab is re-emerging as a lab dedicated solely to the importance of music in documentary films. It is a unique collaboration between the Institute’s Film Music Program and Documentary Film Program, providing Fellows uninterrupted time to work with accomplished Advisors and Institute staff in storytelling and film composing. Participants meet daily with composers, musicians and directors to discuss the film, the story and character development, and to experiment in sound and score.

“This year we are thrilled to re-launch a more focused and intensive Composer and Documentary Lab,” said Cara Mertes, Director of the Sundance Documentary Film Program. “The Lab is evolving as a response to a need within both communities for deeper collaboration and we are excited to see such an enthusiastic response from documentary filmmakers and composers alike.” 

“As documentaries have grown technically and have found their way into the marketplace in new ways, music has been an important aspect of overall storytelling. This program offers both composers and filmmakers a unique opportunity to stretch the boundaries of how music and documentary filmmaking can intersect,” said Peter Golub, Director of the Sundance Film Music Program.  “We are excited that our four extraordinary young composers will be working directly with filmmakers on important and meaningful films.”

These Fellows will be joined by three Creative Advisors, including Directors and Composer, to jointly engage in the creative process including: Miriam Cutler (Ghosts of Abu Ghraib, A Powerful Noise), Tod Lending (Legacy, Omar & Pete) and Daniel Anker (Scottsboro Boys).

The composers selected for the 2010 Sundance Institute Film Composer & Documentary Lab are:

Robin Zimmermann
Robin received intensive training in piano performance at the Wausau Conservatory and the School of Music at UW-Madison, where she also earned her degree in film studies.  Influenced by such composers as Nino Rota, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Olivier Messiaen, Robin has worked, in addition to numerous other projects, as the composer for Heather Rae’s upcoming feature documentary Family: The First Circle and has collaborated in songwriting with Built to Spill’s Doug Martsch.

Greg Pliska
Greg Pliska is a composer of film and television scores (including music for Blood in the Water and Life (Discovery) and two NOVA episodes) and a noted orchestrator (The Wildest Dream: Conquest of Everest, National Geographic). His longtime collaboration with the band Hem (as conductor/arranger) includes a 2010 Drama Desk nomination for Best Music in a Play for Shakespeare in the Park’s Twelfth Night as well as appearances with the Boston Pops and several acclaimed albums. His theatrical work includes several off-Broadway successes as well as an opera, The Secret Garden, commissioned by the Pennsylvania Opera Theater.

Paola Prestini
Composer Paola Prestini has been commissioned by the Kronos Quartet, Carnegie Hall, VOX for New York City Opera and Concert Artist Guild in venues from Zankel Hall to Joe’s Pub. She is the director and co-founder of VisionIntoArt, and her music is released on Tzadik.

Ted Reichman
Ted Reichman is an accordion/keyboard player and composer best known for his work with Anthony Braxton, Sam Phillips, and John Hollenbeck (The Claudia Quintet). His work as a composer includes the critically acclaimed CD’s Emigré (Tzadik) and My Ears Are Bent (Skirl) as well as the films Rick (dir. Curtiss Clayton), The Memory Thief (dir. Gil Kofman), and Ahead Of Time (dir. Bob Richman).

The filmmakers and films selected for the 2010 Sundance Institute Film Composers & Documentary Lab are:

Ra’anan Alexandrowicz (The Law In These Parts), Joe Brewster (An American Promise), Tony Harmon (Semper Fi: Always Faithful), Dara Kell (Dear Mandela),  Rachel Libert (Semper Fi: Always Faithful), Christopher Nizza (Dear Mandela), Michele Stephenson (An American Promise).

An American Promise follows the intimate, 12-year journey of two African American boys from the time they enter kindergarten at an elite college preparatory school through their divergent paths to high school graduation.  An examination of educational opportunities, the persistence and impact of racial stereotypes, and family dynamics, the film is a thought-provoking meditation on the challenges of raising black boys in America.

DEAR MANDELA (U.S./South Africa)
As South Africa prepares to host the 2010 Soccer World Cup, the government is trying to ‘eradicate the slums’ by evicting families from their homes at gunpoint. Dear Mandela chronicles the rise of three young leaders from the chaos on the streets to the highest court in the land as a new generation puts Nelson Mandela’s promise of a ‘better life for all’ to the test.

A retired Marine fights for justice on behalf of U.S. soldiers and their families exposed to toxic drinking water.

The Law in These Parts is the first feature-length documentary to explore the formal mechanism of Israel’s forty-year military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

Sundance Institute’s Documentary Film Program is made possible by generous support from The Ford Foundation, Open Society Institute, the Skoll Foundation, The Charles Engelhard Foundation, Cinereach, the MacArthur Foundation, Wallace Global Fund, the S.J. and Jessie E. Quinney Foundation, the Woodruff Charitable Memorial Trust and the Bastian Foundation.  Sundance Institute also gratefully acknowledges the generous assistance provided by the following organizations:  Apple Computer, Avid Technology, Inc., The Baisley Powell Elebash Fund, BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.), Digidesign, G-Tech, Hewlett-Packard Company, HP Marketing, JBL Professional, Mackie, M Audio, Mark of the Unicorn, Native Instruments, Sony Business and Professional Products, Sony Media, Sony ProAudio, and Soundcraft.

Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program
The Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program provides year-round support to nurture nonfiction filmmakers worldwide. The program advances innovative nonfiction storytelling about a broad range of contemporary social issues, and promotes the exhibition of documentary films to a broad audience. Through the Sundance Documentary Fund, the Documentary Edit and Story Laboratory, Documentary Composers Laboratory, Creative Producing Lab, as well as the Sundance Film Festival, the Sundance Creative Producing Summit and a variety of international initiatives, the program provides a unique, global resource for independent documentary film.

Sundance Institute Film Music Program
With the goal of nurturing the development of music in film, the Film Music Program connects composers and directors, giving them first-hand experience  of the collaborative process.  At the Sundance Film Festival, the program raises the profile of music in film through a series of concerts and panels.  Year round, whether through international collaborations or through direct consultations with filmmakers, the Film Music program is committed to enhancing the role of music in film.

Sundance Institute
Founded by Robert Redford in 1981, Sundance Institute is a not-for-profit organization that fosters the
development of original storytelling in film and theatre, and presents the annual Sundance Film Festival.
Internationally recognized for its artistic development programs for directors, screenwriters, producers, film composers, playwrights and theatre artists, Sundance Institute has nurtured such projects as Angels in America, Spring Awakening, Boys Don’t Cry and Born into Brothels.

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