LOS ANGELES, Oct. 11, 2016 — Film Independent, the non-profit arts organization that produces the Spirit Awards and the LA Film Festival, has selected 30 filmmakers for Project Involve, the organization’s signature diversity mentorship program which fosters the careers of talented filmmakers from communities traditionally underrepresented in the film industry. Project Involve alumni include Effie T. Brown (Dear White People), Jon M. Chu (G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Step Up 2: The Streets); Cherien Dabis (Amreeka, Empire), Kahlil Joseph (Lemonade), Tina Mabry (Queen Sugar) and Justin Simien (Dear White People).
“Diversity and inclusion are at the core of our mission at Film Independent and Project Involve has been walking the talk for 24 years,” said Jennifer Kushner, Director of Artist Development. “It’s great that the conversation about the issue is finally reaching a critical mass. We are thrilled to welcome this talented group of filmmakers and we invite the industry to get to know these bold creators.”
Kiehl’s Since 1851 is returning for the third year as lead funder of the Project Involve Shorts. Kiehl’s is proud to continue to support this important arts education program that celebrates diversity in independent filmmaking.
Film Independent also announced an increase in studio support of the program, with several new donor-named fellowships in the 2016-2017 Project Involve program: Amazon Studios Film Fellowship, which will be presented to a visionary filmmaker; Focus Features’ Lili Elbe Fellowship, which will be awarded to a transgender filmmaker; the LAIKA Fellowship, which will support a director working in animation; the Loyola Marymount University School of Film and Television Fellowship, which will be presented to an LMU alumnus; the Participant Media Fellowship; and the 5th annual, Sony Pictures Entertainment Diversity Fellowship. Each Fellowship underwrites one Fellow’s participation in Project Involve and includes a $10,000 unrestricted cash grant for the filmmaker. In addition, the second annual Sony Executive Track Fellowship will provide a year-long paid executive training fellowship in development and production with Columbia Pictures along with participation and mentorship through Project Involve.
Past Industry Mentors include Ava DuVernay (Selma); Catherine Hardwicke (Twilight); Barry Jenkins (Moonlight); Spike Jonze (Adaptation, Being John Malkovich); Charles D. King (Fences, Mudbound); Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight, Memento); Alexander Payne (Sideways, The Descendants); Christine Vachon (Carol, Boys Don’t Cry); Forest Whitaker (Arrival, The Last King of Scotland) and Bradford Young, ASC (A Most Violent Year, Selma).
This year’s Project Involve Fellows by track are:
Atiya Walcott (Sony Executive Track Fellow)
Marion G. Brooks
Valerie Castillo Martinez
Joenique C. Rose
Thembi L. Banks
Christopher de las Alas
Brittany “B.Monét” Fennell
Daniel Foerste (Focus Features Lile Elbe Fellow)
Brandon Omari Lake (LAIKA Animation Fellow)
Ebony Gilbert (LMU School of Film and Television Fellow)
Rochée Jeffrey (FOX HBCU Fellow)
Farhad Ahmed Dehlvi
Andrea Gonzalez Mereles
Project Involve is a free nine-month program for writers, directors, producers, editors, cinematographers and entertainment executives from diverse backgrounds. During the program, participants meet one-on-one with film industry mentors, create short films, attend master-workshops taught by top film professionals and industry networking events. Project Involve Fellows receive passes to the Film Independent Forum, Directors Close-Up and LA Film Festival. The 2017 Project Involve participants were selected based on the quality of their projects, their passion, vision, talent, and commitment to pursuing a career in the film industry.
For information on all past Film Independent Fellows, please visit our online Film Independent Talent Guide.
Film Independent’s Project Involve is supported by Artist Development Lead Funder Time Warner Foundation and Project Involve Shorts Lead Funder Kiehl’s Since 1851. Principal Sponsors include EFILM | Company 3, HBO, The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, Los Angeles County Arts Commission, Loyola Marymount University School of Film and Television, National Endowment for the Arts and Sony Pictures Entertainment. The program is also supported by AbelCine, Amazon Studios, the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, Focus Features, FOX HBCU Media Alliance, LAIKA, and Participant Media.
ABOUT FILM INDEPENDENT
Film Independent is a nonprofit arts organization that champions independent visual storytelling and supports a community of artists who embody diversity, innovation and uniqueness of vision. Film Independent helps filmmakers make their movies, builds an audience for their projects, and works to diversify the film industry. Film Independent’s Board of Directors, filmmakers, staff and constituents are comprised of an inclusive community of individuals across ability, age, ethnicity, gender, race and sexual orientation. Anyone passionate about film can become a Member, whether you are a filmmaker, industry professional or a film lover.
In addition to producing the Spirit Awards, Film Independent produces the LA Film Festival and Film Independent at LACMA Film Series, a year-round, weekly program that offers unique cinematic experiences for the Los Angeles creative community and the general public.
With over 250 annual screenings and events, Film Independent provides access to a network of like-minded artists who are driving creativity in the film industry. Film Independent’s Artist Development program offers free Labs for selected writers, directors, producers and documentary filmmakers and presents year- round networking opportunities. Project Involve is Film Independent’s signature program dedicated to fostering the careers of talented filmmakers from communities traditionally underrepresented in the film industry.
For more information or to become a Member, visit filmindependent.org.