Sundance Institute Announces 18 Documentary Film Fellows

9 Film Projects Selected for 2011 Documentary Edit and Story Lab and Composers + Documentary Lab

Posted Jun 29, 2011

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Los Angeles, CA — Sundance Institute today announced the selection of 18 Documentary Film Fellows representing nine film projects to participate in the eighth Documentary Edit and Story Lab (June 24 - July 2) and ninth Composers + Documentary Lab (July 6-12) at Sundance Resort in Sundance, Utah. The Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program (DFP) provides a  global resource for contemporary independent documentary film, including  the Sundance Documentary Fund, Labs/Workshops and other support opportunities. The DFP advances innovative nonfiction storytelling about a broad range of contemporary social issues, and promotes the exhibition of documentary films to audiences.

Lab Fellows are invited from a pool of 40-60 active DFP-supported projects. Built upon the Sundance Institute Lab model launched in 1981 by Robert Redford, Fellows participate in an intensive, residential retreat focused on creative support around issues of story and structure. Renowned film professionals join with Institute staff as Creative Advisors to the Fellows and their projects.

“Holistic creative and professional support for independent documentary films are at the heart of the Sundance Institute DFP mission, and we are thrilled to be increasing the amount of time and resources dedicated to cultivating both film projects and the ongoing careers of independent documentarians through these Labs,” said Cara Mertes, director of the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program. “The Labs offer an opportunity to build new communities of practice in documentary, as well as infusing the documentary field with a deep understanding of the important role of original composition in non-fiction cinema.”

The Documentary Edit and Story Lab is an 8-day immersive Lab focusing on the art of editing in documentary.  Five in-production documentary film teams are mentored by leading editors and directors all working to meet the film’s highest potential. Since 2009, the Composers + Documentary Lab has evolved to a stand-alone Lab over six days, pairing four DFP grantee projects with four emerging film composers specifically interested in documentary. The Lab offers a unique opportunity to explore the role of composition in non-fiction filmmaking. Mentors include leading film composers and  documentarians.

“The Fellows selected for these Labs represent some of the most exciting documentary projects currently being developed, and we are inspired by their potential to impact audiences in meaningful ways,” said Keri Putnam, executive director of Sundance Institute. “The Composers + Documentary Lab, which represents the combined efforts of the Sundance Institute Documentary Film and Film Music Programs, is a strong example of the collaborative nature of filmmaking as well as the need to help artists craft thoughtful music to accompany and enhance non-fiction storytelling.”

DOCUMENTARY EDIT AND STORY LAB

Documentary Edit and Story Lab Fellows will be joined by DFP staff and seven Creative Advisors to jointly engage in the creative process. Editors: Kate Amend (Academy Award–winner Into the Arms of Strangers, The Long Way Home), Joe Bini (Cave of Forgotten Dreams), Lewis Erskine (Freedom Riders), Jean Tsien (Shut Up And Sing, Please Vote for Me) and Mary Lampson (Harlan County, A Lion in the House). Directors: Carol Dysinger (Camp Victory Afghanistan) and Robb Moss (Secrecy, The Same River Twice).

The five films selected for the 2011 Sundance Institute Documentary Edit and Story Lab are:

¿Donde Estan?  (U.S./El Salvador)
Director: Maria Teresa Rodriguez
Producer: Kaye Pyle
Editor: Ann Tegnell
¿Dónde Están? documents the search for children who disappeared during the Salvadoran civil war.  Told through the eyes of three individuals searching for their family, identity and justice in post-conflict El Salvador, it asks how a post-war society can right the wrongs of the past.

The House That Herman Built (Canada/U.S.)
Director: Angad Bhalla
Editor: Ricardo Acosta
Herman’s House (formerly The House That Herman Built) captures the remarkable creative journey and friendship of Herman Wallace, who was imprisoned in a 6-by-9-foot cell for over 30 years, and artist Jackie Sumell while examining the injustice of prolonged solitary confinement.

The Revolutionary Optimists (U.S.)
Codirectors: Maren Grainger-Monsen, Nicole Newnham
Editor: Andrew Gersh
Amlan Ganguly empowers children in the slums of Calcutta to become change agents, battling poverty and transforming their neighborhoods with dramatic results. The Revolutionary Optimists follows Amlan and three children he works with on an intimate journey through adolescence, as they bravely fight the forces that oppress them, including polio, child labor and child marriage.

Turkey Creek (U.S.)
Director: Leah Mahan
Editor: Bill Anderson
When Turkey Creek’s historic African-American cemetery is bulldozed for commercial development, prodigal son Derrick Evans returns home to coastal Mississippi to help save his community. Residents challenge powerful developers and politicians, persevere through Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil disaster, and take their case for a sustainable future to a national stage.

Untitled Lauren Greenfield Project (U.S.)
Director: Lauren Greenfield
Editor: Brian Johnson
This new film by Lauren Greenfield is a cinema verité portrait of a former beauty queen and her billionaire husband, against the backdrop of the financial crisis.

COMPOSERS + DOCUMENTARY LAB

Composers + Documentary Lab Fellows will be joined by five Creative Advisors to jointly engage in the creative process. Filmmakers: Jon Else (Sing Faster), Vivien Hillgrove (In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee) and Cara Mertes. Composers: Martin Bresnick and Peter Golub.

The four films selected for the 2011 Sundance Institute Composers + Documentary Lab are:

Cesar’s Last Fast (U.S.)
Director: Richard Ray Perez
Composer: Heather Schmidt
Cesar’s Last Fast is a multi-platform feature documentary film about the private sacrifice behind Cesar E. Chavez's struggle for the humane treatment of farm workers, and the impact Chavez’s inspirational and complex legacy has on new generation of organizers fighting today.

Gardens of Paradise (U.S.)
Director: Bernardo Ruiz
Composer: Ben Goldberg
A veteran reporter and his colleagues at an embattled news weekly challenge the drug cartels and corrupt local officials during a wave of unprecedented violence against journalists in Mexico.

The House That Herman Built (Canada/U.S.)
Director: Angad Bhalla
Editor: Ricardo Acosta
Composer: Ronen Landa
Herman’s House (formerly The House That Herman Built) captures the remarkable creative journey and friendship of Herman Wallace, who was imprisoned in a 6-by-9-foot cell for over 30 years, and artist Jackie Sumell while examining the injustice of prolonged solitary confinement.

A Place at the Table (U.S.)
Director/Producer: Jerret Engle
Coproducer: Cort Tramontin
Composer: Michael Roth
The small but tenacious Eziko Cooking and Catering Centre trains some of the poorest people from Cape Town’s slums for skilled jobs in the restaurant industry A Place at the Table follows four of these students through classes and into internships at luxury hotels, where they are quickly pushed beyond the boundaries of their own dreams, into new and uncertain terrain.  Their experiences provide a remarkable window on a struggle millions of the world’s poor undertake every day:  the surprisingly difficult journey from poverty to middle class life.

The Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program is made possible by generous support from the Cinereach Foundation, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, The Charles Engelhard Foundation, The Ford Foundation, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Open Society Foundations, the S.J. and Jessie E. Quinney Foundation, the Skoll Foundation, the Woodruff Charitable Memorial Trust, and the Wallace Global Fund.

The Sundance Institute Film Music Program Composers Labs are also made possible by The George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation and the Jerry & Terri Kohl Family Foundation.

Sundance Institute also gratefully acknowledges the generous assistance provided by the following organizations: Alesis Corporation, Apple Computer, Apple Software, Avid Technology, Inc., the Baisley Powell Elebash Fund, BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.), G-Technology by Hitachi, HP, HP Marketing, JBL Professional, LaCie Limited, M-Audio, Mackie, Mark of the Unicorn,  Native Instruments, Sony Business and Professional Products, Sony Media, Sony Pro Audio, Sony SXRD, and Soundcraft.

Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program

The Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program provides year-round support to 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 audiences. Through the Sundance
Documentary Fund, the Documentary Edit and Story Laboratory, Composers + Documentary Laboratory, Creative
Producing Lab, as well as the Sundance Film Festival, the Sundance Creative Producing Summit and a variety of
partnerships and international initiatives, the program provides a unique, global resource for contemporary independent documentary film. www.sundance.org/documentary

Sundance Institute

Sundance Institute is a global nonprofit organization founded by Robert Redford in 1981. Through its artistic development programs for directors, screenwriters, producers, composers and playwrights, the Institute seeks to discover and support independent film and theatre artists from the United States and around the world, and to introduce audiences to their new work. The Institute promotes independent storytelling to inform, inspire, and unite diverse populations around the globe. Internationally recognized for its annual Sundance Film Festival, Sundance Institute has nurtured such projects as Born into Brothels, Trouble the Water, Son of Babylon, Amreeka, An Inconvenient Truth, Spring Awakening, I Am My Own Wife, Light in the Piazza and Angels in America.

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