Thursday, December 2, 2010

IFP Alumni Features in Sundance 2011

Big news for IFP alumni this week as Sundance Film Festival announces their slate. IFP is proud to have been a part of these films’ processes, from scripts and rough cuts at Independent Film Week, and through finishing and distribution with the Independent Filmmaker Labs.

IFP Alumni include US Dramatic Competition films Here, Gun Hill Road, On the Ice and Pariah. Kinyarwanda premieres in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition.

Premiering in the US Documentary Competition are Crime After Crime, Hot Coffee and If A Tree Falls.

Restless City (pictured) premieres in the NEXT Competition, festival favorite Incendies shows in Spotlight, and Granito and Those Amazing Shadows are in Documentary Premieres.

"I heart IFP because they were one of the first organizations to see promise in Pariah and in Dee [Rees, director] and I. We were so amazed because after the IFP Market ended in 2007, I thought, "well that's it, we're on our own again," but now looking back, that was just the beginning. Amy [Dotson] and team have been our constant champions, opening doors and giving counsel as we labored to get this film made. We're so grateful and excited to share this premiere with the IFP team." says Nekisa Cooper, producer of Pariah, which is an alumnus of Emerging Narrative 2007 and Narrative Lab 2010.

Says Kinyarwanda director Alrick Brown of his experience in the 2010 Independent Filmmaker Labs “[IFP are] goddesses on the hero’s journey. Thank you for the swords and the shields.”

Rashaad Ernesto Green, writer/director of Gun Hill Road said "Through IFP's No Borders, we met with festival programmers and industry professionals who became aware and excited about our feature film Gun Hill Road. We were able to establish relationships with many talented filmmakers and top executives that we may otherwise never have met. It was the beginning of a wonderful journey. Thank you, IFP, for the continued support. We look forward to returning the favor some day!"

You can read the full slate of projects over at Filmmaker Magazine.

Spirit Awards Nominations for IFP Alumni

Film Independent’s Spirit Awards announced their nominees this week. Congratulations to IFP alumni Night Catches Us, nominated for Best First Feature; Lbs. nominated for the John Cassavetes Award; Adele Romanski, nominated for the Piaget Producers Award for Myth of The American Sleepover; and Summer Pasture (pictured), which is up for the Aveeno Truer Than Fiction Award.

Matthew Bonifacio, director of Lbs., says "the IFP/Emerging Narrative program was our first opportunity to introduce Lbs to the film industry. I couldn't believe the exposure we gained from a 28-minute presentation of selected scenes. The experience was unforgettable."

Current Individual-level IFP members can screen Spirit Awards nominees in the coming months; additional details coming soon to you via email!

Good luck to all the nominees!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Let’s Talk About Trust, Victoria Mahoney, Director of Yelling to the Sky

Actor Zoe Kravetz & Director V. Mahoney on set

Nutter season is officially upon us.

We've entered the stretch of announcement time for top tier festivals in the first quarter of 2011.

I know fourteen narrative filmmakers and five Doc filmmakers, who applied to the January festival.

I know nine films/filmmakers, who applied to the February festival.

I know eleven filmmakers, who applied to the March festival.

This past week begins the first round of everyone getting their phone call of acceptance or email of rejection, or the dreaded soul ache of silence.

Weeks like this (occur in cycles throughout the year) testing our sense of safety, deceiving our internal knowing.

If a filmmaker's blog on an indie site is valuable for anything then let it be the truth no? As my friends and I comfort and guide each other's overall long term navigation regarding appropriate launch toward optimum filmic needs per individual goals, I am compelled to break code and say something out loud for ye' up and coming filmmakers;

Actor Gabourey Sibide on set

THE WHERE AND WHY OF FESTIVAL LAUNCH IS F*CKING MYTH. LEGEND. FOLKLORE. I have watched over a decade, every quarter of every year, filmmakers' spirits get busted, yanked and thrown asunder into the crushing heartbreak of "festival" rejection.

The way I see it, the only thing "we're waiting on" is a human being to connect with our story in such a manner, that their need to support the film's existence in the world, matches ours.

The search is absolutely no different from hunting; DP, LP, UPM, PD, AD, CD, LS, financing, cast and so on.

If I insisted on hunting cast and crew based on their connection to the story, then why wouldn't I also be looking for the equivalent in sales reps, festival launch, distributors? [Full stop].

Billy [Mullligan, Yelling producer] and I, have made some unconventional decisions up for debate, based on one private unflinching need. He and I made a pact at the gate for Yelling to the Sky. (Every film has different needs, our job is to know what those needs are up front, get them met, protect them to the wire and never settle for less.)

The hiccups in our giddyup happen during moments of exhaustion when the veneer and seduction of name "brand" holds a perceived promise of "safety".

Our nasty, rough, dirty, uncomfortable, dark, messy, complicated job at this point of [finish] is the exact same as it was at the point of [start]. We are responsible to L I S T EN.

We have to listen in each arena of decision making, beyond household names, brands and tiers. We have to listen between consonants and vowels. We have to listen to what is not said. We have to listen to what is withheld. We have to listen to behavior and gesture. We have to listen to pauses and repetition. We have to listen to our insides. We have to listen to the original intention for telling the story. We have to listen to the nexus wail for becoming storytellers.

The lie is; that a film will sink or swim based on an acceptance or rejection.

Actor Shareeka Epps & crew on set

The lie is; that "a" programmer's interest is not subconsciously subjective to their life experience. In so much as, they're human and innocently may connect to what excites "them" not necessarily what excites "us".

Dare we discuss how much of that excitement is also business based? Past relationships, sponsor's dollar and audience's dollar. Enormous factors having absolutely nothing to do with the film you bled and died a thousand deaths for. All kinds of shit we will never know, that has nothing to do with us, our talent or our film. That is certain.

Fortunately it is also certain that when we decide to lead with our original intention, [mine is "to tell stories, allowing people safety to feel."] What happens before, during and after steady allegiance to my intention, truthfully, isn't any of my business.

I am responsible to a teeny, corny lil wish to [allow an exchange between celluloid and human] to the best of my ability, in the given circumstances, with the given tools, in the given time.

Far as I can see, what we, filmmakers are really waiting for (if anything) isn't confirmation or approval or industry "aww/awe".

During festival announcement season, indie filmmakers are waiting, via programmers for the same damn thing we're always waiting for;

A person, to hear what we've said, through lens, through performance, through cinematography, through word, through blocking, through locations, through wardrobe, through edit, through sound, through score, through color correct, through...just through...we're simply waiting for someone to see us through.

So as we commandeer a respectful, deserved launch. What say, we continue using pre pro-post pro rejections to ignite will and feed purpose.

What if you were to walk in, trust that rejection - on any level of getting a film made - is clarity of what does not--belong.

If this winter quarter of announcements brings you heartbreak, how about you get yourself a nice sized bag of ice cubes, walk to an empty alley, and smash the ice cubes (along with ego) against the wall. Cuss and yell and stomp and howl.

After you smash the last ice cube, turn around and give THANKS TO THOSE WHO REJECT YOU, WITH THE SAME PRAISE FOR THOSE WHO ACCEPT YOU. Have a party, doing mental-laundry; go down the list and thank all the actors who rejected you, the DP's, the sorted crew, thank the financiers who rejected you, the producers, the post houses, the sales reps, the publicists, the lawyers, thank the festival programmers who rejected you, the distributors and the critics.

Individually thank whoever uttered "no". They too, are our teachers. They too, are helping us get where our film intends to be.

Lace your bootstraps and walk on, let it go.

Your energy, focus, fight and heart are needed in progression.

Last but not least, let's give three cheers to our mates, who are catching light before and beside us...

About the Author: Victoria Mahoney spent one year at Southampton University, dabbling in Fine Art and World Lit before hightailing West. Where she spent three years doing art installations at Tower Records, while informally auditing Poli Sci and all things Feature Narrative at U.C.L.A. Coming back to New York for twice weekly classes with Marcia Haufrecht, inspired a seat working under Shelley Winters at the Actor’s Studio. After years of Theater, TV, Indie and Studio features, world travel and residences in Paris, Italy and Morocco, she relentlessly thrust herself down the filmmaking rabbit hole with mentor guidance from Hubert Selby JR.. Honing her strengths; writing countless One Acts, lensing a couple Documentaries and directing short film upon short film. Mahoney is a 2006 Sundance Institute Lab Alumn, 2006 Auerbach Fellow, 2006 Maryland Fellow, 2009 Annenberg Fellow and 2010 Cinereach Fellow. She is currently in post-production on her first feature film, YELLING TO THE SKY.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Watch The Gothams Live Monday, November 29th at 8PM!

It’s time to gather your family and friends. Bring on the food. And break out the good glasses for a giant glass of bubbly to toast another wonderful year….

No, we’re not talking about Thanksgiving.

In just five days, the 20th Anniversary IFP Gotham Independent Film Awards – the biggest awards show of the indie film world – will be streamed live on

That’s right, wherever you are in the world, you too can attend the Gothams in its entirety this year. And just like those celebrating here in New York, feel free to meet, chat, and connect with other film lovers to discuss the films and nominees. The fresh faces. And of course, gossip about what everyone is wearing!

Confirmed presenters at the awards this year include: Julianne Moore, Anne Hathaway, Jesse Eisenberg,Barbara Kopple, Anthony Mackie, Leighton Meester, Rosie Perez, Sam Rockwell, John Turturro and Michelle Williams. And, like any true film fan, you can be on the lookout to be the first to discover the stars of tomorrow today.

As everyone knows, there are no rules in independent film. So watch in your pajamas if you must. Make it interesting by breaking out the ballots. Or follow the lead of Gotham hosts Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson who suggest “that every time either of them says the word “independent,” everyone at home watching or attending the awards themselves must take a shot.”

And remember, the party doesn’t stop at the stroke of midnight. Nominated films are still in theatres. On VOD. Available directly from filmmakers’ websites. So, make your New Year’s resolution early to be a champion of independent film every day and all year long, supporting the filmmakers and artists you see here tonight.

Learn more at: and

Monday, November 15, 2010

Champion Indie Film With Small, Deliberate Steps

Earlier this fall, I took part on a fantastic panel at the Woodstock Film Festival lead by esteemed critic Thelma Adams, who led FilmDistrict's Jeanne Bernie, Louverture Film's Joslyn Barnes and myself in a fun and spirited panel on the many, many roles women play in this crazy business we call film.

We had quite a discussion that covered little bit of everything - from motherhood to gobos, as I recall- with a lot of laughter and irreverence thrown in for good measure.

But at the end of the day, despite our different paths and personalities, it became clear that the one thing we all had in common was that when life got crazy, production financing went south, and plans went out the window - we somehow found a way to keep our jobs - and our heads up - by simply, humbly starting fresh each morning and continuing to push forward any way we could with small, but deliberate, steps.

This week, I've been thinking a whole lot about another group of women who are currently pushing forward in a big way to ensure their stories are heard. Their films are seen. Their careers able to thrive. They're spending hours in LA, New York, Amsterdam and beyond in dark editing suites, pouring over marketing materials, finding that last bit of funding to jump start their next steps.

One by one in the coming months, they'll be introducing us to their very first feature films at Sundance, Slamdance, Rotterdam, Berlin, True/False, SXSW and beyond. It's an exciting and terrifying time for them, in equal and oscillating measure.

At this year's IFP Independent Filmmaker Labs (the only labs in the world that help first-time feature filmmakers complete, market and distribute their films), we have the highest percentage of women directors and producers we've ever had taking part in this year's program. And as you'll soon learn for yourselves, they are fierce!

We'll be hearing a lot more from these ladies over the coming months as they charge into festivals, theatres and your living room thanks to the the wonders of VOD. Already, good news and good press is trickling out about Lab Fellows Susan Youssef's recent 2010 Women in Film Grant and Victoria Mahoney's Elle Magazine recognition as one of 2010's Elle Women in Hollywood.

And we're excited to see all these Lab Fellows - and fellas too! - at our Distribution Lab here in New York December 9-11. Where after months of hard work, strategy, and struggle we get together one last time to remind each other that what it really comes down to at the end is this: That it's not just about this project. Or this Lab. Or this incredible, hardworking group of filmmakers finding their way through the indie wilds.

It's about each of us - filmmakers and film lovers all - coming together to ensure that we continue to be champions of independent film.

It's a challenge that holds true for emerging and veteran talent alike. It's both simple and powerful. And even still, fueled by small, deliberate steps.

So when you discover a new face in the crowd in the coming months- whether its one of our IFP Lab Fellows or anyone of the thousands of talented filmmakers and artists out there shooting, cutting, building websites, and planning for their festival debuts in tandem - don't forget to tell your friends. Keep the story going. Provide support any way you can. And help them to push on.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Nominees Announced for the 1st Ever Festival Genius Audience Award

Last night, at the Alfred Dunhill store in New York City, actor Oliver Platt (The Big C, Please Give) took the stage to announce the nominees for the first ever FESTIVAL GENIUS AUDIENCE AWARD. The award, presented by IFP and Slated (Owner of Festival Genius) will be given out on November 29th at the 20th Anniversary Gothams Independent Film Awards.

The Festival Genius Audience Award celebrates this year’s audience award winners from across the top 50 US and Canadian film festivals. True to the democratic spirit of the independent film community, all nominees were determined through online voting. Over 12,000 votes came in to narrow the initial list of twenty-six films down to five. Those nominees are:

Winter’s Bone, directed by Debra Granik, also nominated for three other Gotham Awards including Best Feature, Best Ensemble and Breakthrough Actor for Jennifer Lawrence. Winter’s Bone won the audience award for feature film at the 2010 San Francisco and Traverse City Film Festivals.

Waiting for Superman, directed by Davis Guggenheim, which won the audience award for documentary at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.

White Irish Drinkers, directed by John Gray, which won the audience award for feature film at the 2010 Woodstock Film Festival.

9000 Needles, directed by Doug Dearth, which won the audience award for best documentary at the 2010 Phoenix Film Festival.

Brotherhood, directed by Will Canon, which won the audience award for best feature at the 2010 South by Southwest Film Festival (SXSW).

Voting to select the final winner starts today at, and will end on November 29th at 5 pm EST. One lucky voter will win a night’s stay at the Andaz Wall Street in New York City plus two tickets to the Gotham Awards.

As the first major award show of the film season, the Gotham Independent Film Awards provides critical early recognition and media attention to worthy independent films. This new award will be presented alongside other competitive categories including: Best Feature, Best Documentary, Breakthrough Director, Breakthrough Actor, Best Ensemble Performance and Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You. This year, actors Robert Duvall and Hilary Swank, director Darren Aronofsky and Focus Features CEO, James Schamus, will each be presented with career tributes.

Check out for a full list of nominees, and don’t forget to visit to vote. Then, tune to on the evening of November 29th to live-stream the entire award show.

We’ll see you there!

Friday, November 5, 2010

IFP/Rotterdam Lab Producer's Fellowship Call For Entry

November in New York City is here, bringing a fresh slate of great indies, docs and awards-season films vying for our attention and of course, throngs of athletes lining the sidewalks getting in their final jog before marathon weekend.

Across the Atlantic, IFP's long-time international partners Marit van den Elshout & Jacobine van der Vloed are in Rotterdam hard at work preparing for the 10th annual Rotterdam Lab. This terrific four-day training workshop is designed to help producers from around the world build up their international network and experience.

As the sole U.S. partner, IFP annually selects two producers to participate in the Rotterdam Lab, which runs concurrently with the CineMart Co-production Market (January 30-February 4, 2011).The Fellowship is open to producers with at least one narrative, feature producing credit who are current IFP Members at any level.

Past IFP Producer Fellows have included many of our talented members who continue to work tirelessly to ensure that independent films connect with audiences here and abroad. Paul Mezey (Half Nelson), Howard Gertler (Shortbus), Effie Brown (Real Women Have Curves), Dan Carey (Cold Souls), Mynette Louis (Mutual Appreciation), Anish Savjani (Wendy & Lucy), Ben Howe (Treeless Mountain) are all previous recipients of IFP's fellowship. 2010 Producers Jason Orans (Night Catches Us) and Thomas Woodrow (Bass Akwards) most recently took part, enjoying the one-to-one meetings, networking opportunities and of course, an unforgetable Indonesian feast with fellow filmmakers and industry that any working producer - or marathoner! - would envy.

To apply for this fellowship, please send your one-page letter of inquiry and resume to Deputy Director Amy Dotson by Monday, November 15th. All finalists will be notified by Monday, November 22nd of acceptance.

Good luck to everyone in the home stretch and don't forget to enjoy the run!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Catch These Docs

Two Spotlight on Documentaries alums of IFP’s Project Forum opened theatrically this Friday, giving New Yorkers the opportunity for an IFP subway series of sorts - the ability to shuttle between two terrific documentaries.

Jennifer Arnold’s A Small Act (now at Quad Cinema), which premiered at Sundance 2010, chronicles how one small act can dramatically change the entire course of another person¹s life as it tells how the donation of a then-stranger (Hilda Back) allowed young Chris Mburu stay in school in Kenya. Mburu is now a Harvard Law School graduate who is a human rights officer for the United Nations, and A Small Act follows Mburu¹s efforts to honor his benefactor, give back to his community and continue the cycle of sponsorship. With clarity and grace, the film bears witness to the ripple effect one singular action can have.

At Spotlight on Documentaries 2010, Jen and producer Patti Lee connected with HBO’s Lisa Heller at a Project Forum meeting, and A Small Act rapidly became an HBO Documentary Film. Jen writes about this and her film’s production story this week on Ted Hope’s blog.

Last July, just prior to its HBO broadcast, A Small Act was the opening film for IFP’s ENVISION: Addressing Global Issues through Documentaries, produced jointly with the United Nations Department of Public Information. It’s always great when an IFP-supported film can work cross-programmatically and it was a perfect fit for this program - and it was especially wonderful to have Jen, Patti, and Chris Mburu here for it.

Speaking of being part of more than one IFP program…this brings me to our second opening: Doug Block’s The Kids Grow Up. Films that Doug has been involved with as a producer, DP, and, of course, director have been coming through IFP, well, since before even I was here. Most recently, Doug’s The Kids Grow Up (then titled Almost Gone) was one of my favorite projects in Spotlight on Documentaries 2008, so I was happy to be asked to join Doug and producer Lori Cheatle to introduce it at Friday’s theatrical opening at the Angelika. A companion piece in spirit to his 51 Birch Street, it continues his personal look at parents and children and family relations, centering on the emotional reverberations and ripples through time prompted by his daughter Lucy’s eminent flight from the nest as she prepares to depart for college. It’s a rich and moving work.

So, in short – seize the opportunity to see both of these docs – A Small Act and The Kids Grow Up now playing in New York, and continuing to play across the country the rest of this year.

And coming up:

Standing in front of the Angelika last night when I arrived was the tireless Thom Powers, handing out brochures for his upcoming inaugural DOC NYC (November 3-9). Check out their schedule – you really can’t go wrong with anything. A special shout out to the exquisitely compelling Puppet by David Soll, an alum project of IFP’s 2010 Independent Filmmaker Labs.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Ten IFP Alum Ready to Rock IDFA!

IDFA, the world's largest documentary festival, has just announced its stellar line-up for the 2010 incarnation. IFP is thrilled ten of the 280 films (84 of which are World Premieres), are IFP supported projects!

These are:
Budrus, directed and produced by Julia Bacha and produced by Ronit Avni. An alumnus of IFP'S 2009 Spotlight on Documentaries, it will be showcased in the category "Reflecting Images: Best of Fests." Also in this category, which focuses on "Documentaries that have made an impact on this year's international festival circuit," is a fellow alumnus of 2009 Spotlight on Documentaries, Laura Poitras' widely acclaimed The Oath, also a nominee of the 2010 Gotham Independent Film Awards.

In the category "Reflecting Images: Panorama", which presents "films that are thought-provoking in form and choice of theme", a total of five IFP alum are included: Minustah Steals Goats (Minustah vole kabrit) (fiscally sponsored by IFP); Pushing the Elephant (Spotlight on Documentaries alumnus 2009); Sons of Perdition (Spotlight on Documentaries alumnus 2009); Utopia in Four Movements (Radziwill grant); and Queen of the Sun (Spotlight on Documentaries alumnus 2009). Queen of the Sun also will be shown in the Competitive Green Screen section. According to the website, "Documentaries that focus on the interaction between man and his environment will for the first time compete for a special award in this new competition."

The final IFP alum films are in Competitive Sections of the Festival. First, An Encounter with Simone Weil (An alumnus of the Independent Filmmaker Labs and Spotlight on Docs 2009) will make its World Premiere in the IDFA Competition for First Appearance. iThemba, directed by Elinor Burkett, is also in this competition, which is derived from the original concept/footage as Oscar-winner Music by Prudence, which came through IFP's fiscal sponsorship program and is an alumnus of Spotlight on Docs 2008. Finally, Our Summer in Tehran (2009 Spotlight on Docs alumnus) will compete in the IDFA Competition for Mid-Length Documentary.
We wish all our diverse and talented alumni great luck with their incredible films.

Update (11/18):

Four more IFP alum in the IDFA Forum

Bettie Page Reveals All (Spotlight on Docs 2008)

Diana Vreeland: The Eye has to Travel (Spotlight on Docs 2010)

From Texas to Tehran (Spotlight on Docs 2008)

Versailles (Spotlight on Docs 2010)

Have a great Festival everyone!