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8 Emerging Directors to Receive Film Independent Fellowship and Support Services-

Film Independent, the non-profit arts organization that produces the Spirit Awards and Los Angeles Film Festival, has announced the filmmakers and film projects selected for its 8th annual Directors Lab, sponsored by Eastman Kodak Company. Taking place in Los Angeles from now until the end of March, the Directors Lab is an intensive eight-week incubator designed to assist directors with strong, original voices develop new narrative feature films, improve their craft, and advance their filmmaking careers in a nurturing yet challenging creative environment. This year’s Lab Mentors include writer/directors Kasi Lemmons (“Talk to Me”), Keith Gordon (“The Singing Detective”), Alfredo De Villa (“Nothing Like the Holidays”), and Andrew Wagner (“Starting Out in the Evening”).

“Through the Lab, we ensure talented fimmakers gain access to industry contacts and support services that may not otherwise be available. This year’s Lab is comprised of a diverse and talented group of directors who represent the next generation of independent filmmakers,” said Film Independent’s Director of Talent Development, Josh Welsh.

In the Directors Lab, filmmakers are provided a cash stipend for their project and access to camera and sound packages. Under the tutelage of the Lab Mentors, filmmakers learn to work with actors, collaborate with cinematographers and crew, refine scripts and shoot scenes from their projects. And throughout the Lab, filmmakers are introduced to established directors and film professionals who serve as one-on-one Advisors on both the art and business of filmmaking. The Lab is provided free to accepted filmmakers, and upon completion, filmmakers become Film Independent Fellows, receiving year-round support including access to Film Independent’s annual film educational offerings, on-staff Filmmaker Advisor, and the Los Angeles Film Festival. Recent projects developed through the Lab include Cherien Dabis’s “Amreeka,” which premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival; Tina Mabry’s “Mississippi Damned,” which premiered at the 2009 Slamdance Film Festival; and Scott Prendergast’s feature “Kabluey,” starring Lisa Kudrow and Teri Garr, which premiered at the 2007 Los Angeles Film Festival and was released theatrically in 2008.

The 2009 Directors Lab filmmakers and their projects are:

1. “Arcadia” - Greta’s dad moves his kids cross-country, promising a California paradise and a restored family when they reach the other coast.

Olivia Silver is a writer/director raised in Connecticut and California, and is a recent graduate of the UCLA MFA Directing program. After earning a B.A. in English from Williams College, she worked in book publishing and foreign policy before turning to filmmaking. She has since worked for the Nantucket Film Festival and for directors John Sayles and Hany Abu-Assad. Olivia’s short film “Aisle 73,” starring Bob Larkin and Angela Paton (“Groundhog Day”), screened in festivals around the world. Most recently, her thesis film “Little Canyon” screened at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival and the UCLA Director’s Spotlight.

2. “Untitled ‘Biscuit’ Project” - A troubled Native American woman and her defiant mixed-blood daughter flee their reservation to create a new life in the inner city.

Cedar Sherbert is a writer/director originally from the Santa Ysabel Indian Reservation in northeastern San Diego County. His short film credits include “Gesture Down (I Don’t Sing),” which premiered at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival and won Best Short Documentary honors at the Los Angeles Film Festival, Arizona Film Festival that same year; and “Memory,” which screened at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival, and went on to win Best Live Short at the American Indian Film Festival and Best Short Drama at the ImagineNATIVE Film and Video Festival in 2004. Sherbert was recently the first filmmaker to be selected for an artist’s residency at the prestigious School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which allowed the further development of his current screenplay, “Biscuit.” He is a graduate of the MFA production program at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts, where as an undergraduate he also earned an academic minor in Critical Studies.

3. “Close to Me” - When a high school teacher's wife tragically dies, he and a teenage student, who knew his wife better than he did, find comfort in each other.

Jonathan V. Hludzinski is a writer/director who attended Columbia University Graduate Film School for screenwriting, during which he produced the digital video feature film, “American Saint” with Michael Hausman (“Amadeus,” “Gangs of New York”). Hludzinski won the Chesterfield Writer's Film Project Fellowship, which included a first look deal with Paramount. Hludzinski is currently working with director Walt Becker developing comedy projects for his banner. In 2006 he sold his pilot, “Almost Dead” to NBC through Dick Wolf’s banner. In January of this year, he and producer Wittney Horton attached director Alison Eastwood to his feature script, “An Honest Man.” This month, he will be producing a commercial shoot for cell phone carrier, Zain International in Tanzania, Africa. Hludzinski just completed Film Independent’s 2008 Screenwriters Lab with “Close to Me.”

4. “Half Truth” - An insecure, teenage security guard in the Deep South is taken on a raucous backroads adventure by a mysterious, charismatic, wonder boy.

Wade Gasque is a writer/director from rural South Carolina. Gasque just completed Film Independent’s 2008 Screenriters Lab with “Half Truth,” which is inspired by that peculiar world of his childhood. His short film, “The Hardest Job in the Business,” produced by Acuna Entertainment, is currently being submitted to festivals. Theatre directing credits include the 2006-7 season of City at Peace-LA, a non-profit that uses the performing arts to empower a diverse group of teens from across Los Angeles. As resident director for the stage musical, “The Ohmies!,” he won Best Musical Play of 2006 by Beverly Hills Outlook. The Los Angeles Times called it “…smartly balanced with crisp theatricality and a polished cast by director Wade Gasque.” Gasque has directed “The Ohmies!” at the Geffen Playhouse, The Skirball Cultural Center and the Falcon Theatre, as well as a national tour in ’06. He was also co-director of “The Ohmies Live!” on DVD, produced by Herzog Cowen in ’05. He has directed numerous solo shows and short plays in Los Angeles and New York. He wrote and directed the full-length play, “The Allegory of Golf,” with a run at the Flatiron Playhouse in New York in 2002. Also in 2002, his short plays, “I Do Not Wish To See The Needle” and “The Sweater Issue,” won Buffalo’s Maxim Mazumdar New Play Competition and the Cleveland New Works Festival, respectively. He received theatre scholarships to both Marymount Manhattan College and the College of Charleston, and won the South Carolina Archibald Rutledge State Scholarship for Playwriting.

5. “Learning Uncle Vernon” - An orphaned thirteen-year-old boy is forced to face the unpleasant truth about his only father figure during one harrowing day on the mean streets of Baltimore.

Sheldon Candis is a writer/director and Baltimore native with a graduate from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. His short film “Sonny Listening,” a coming-of-age boxing drama, which he wrote and directed, has played at over twenty film festivals worldwide and is being distributed by hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons through his Simmons Lathan Media Group. With his writing partner Justin Wilson, Candis wrote the screenplay “Golden Boy, ” which is based on a true story about Olympic great Jesse Owens and his triumphant rise from a poverty-stricken childhood to symbolically defeating Adolph Hitler at the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games. “Golden Boy” has been selected as a quarter-finalist for the prestigious Nicholl Fellowship Award. Candis’ first documentary “The Dwelling” is being distributed domestically by Scion and Asian pop-culture magazine Giant Robot.
6. “Operation June Black” - A righteous Christian teen sets out to save the soul of a sexy single mom, but ends up sleeping with her instead.

Bridget Bedard is a New York based writer/director, who originally hails from Salt Lake City. Bedard has written several original scripts, including a feature version of her award-winning short film “Baby,” which was originally optioned by FilmFour, UK, and is currently being produced by Don Roos, Dan Bucatinsky and Lisa Kudrow, who will also star. She has been commissioned to write comedies for both studio and independent producers, and most recently wrote for a season on the new hit series, “Mad Men,” which won both a Golden Globe and an Emmy for Best Drama. As an award-winning graduate of NYU’s prestigious MFA film program, Bedard has written and directed numerous shorts, including “Baby,” which premiered at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival, and for which she was named Best Female Student director by the Director’s Guild of America, East. Her work has screened at numerous film festivals, including USA Film Festival (Best Short Film), Clermont-Ferrand, Nashville (Best of Sundance), Woodstock (award winner), and many others. Her work has also been seen worldwide on television, including the Sundance Channel and Canal Plus. Bedard has been supported by numerous grants and foundations, including Screen Gems, Inc., the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. She is a member of the Writers Guild of America and is represented by Industry Entertainment and UTA.

7. “Tallulah” - A rootless young woman steals a baby and passes it off as her own child, transforming the lives of three women.

Siân Heder is a writer/director hailing from Cambridge, MA, and received her BFA in theater from Carnegie Mellon University. She has worked extensively as an actress Off-Broadway, as well as in television and film. In 2005, Heder was among eight women chosen to receive the prestigious Directing Workshop for Women Grant and Fellowship at the American Film Institute. Her short film “Mother” was an official selection at over 30 film festivals worldwide. The film won the Cinéfondation at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival, the Grand Jury Prize at the Florida Film Festival, Best Narrative Short at the Seattle International Film Festival and the Oxford Film Festival, and “Most Promising Filmmaker” at the 24fps Film Festival on the 2006 circuit. It has been bought for broadcast by Canal+. Heder was one of four writers chosen to participate in the Nantucket Screenwriters Colony in 2008 with her screenplay “Tallulah.” She is currently in prep on the film, which will be her feature directorial debut. Kristen Stewart (“Into the Wild,” “Twilight”) is attached to star, and Station 3 is producing. She is also in development with The Mark Gordon Company and Touchstone ABC with an original hour-long drama called “The Store.” She is represented by ICM.

8. Why We Pull the Trigger
Three desperate friends find a way out of their dead end lives by selling human remains on the black market.

Eric Lin, Writer/Director
Eric Lin earned his MFA at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts Graduate Film Program. His Student Academy Award-nominated short documentary, Music Palace, has screened at film festivals worldwide including New Directors/New Films in New York, Telluride Film Festival, and Clermont Ferrand Short Film Festival. It is currently airing on the Independent Film Channel. His narrative short film What Remains was awarded the Caucus Foundation Student Production Grant as well as the Warner Bros. Pictures Film Production Award. In addition to being honored as a BAFTA Best Short Film Award Runner-Up at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, it has received recognition at festivals across the country. In 2003, he won the Asian American International Screenplay Competition for his script, Kilgore. His work has received support from the C.V. Starr Institute, the Oppenheimer New Filmmakers Grant, and New York State Council for the Arts. Lin also shot the feature film The Exploding Girl, which has its world premiere at the 2009 Berlin International Film Festival.




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