Sundance Institute Selects 2022 Producers Lab, Summit Participants

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Sundance Institute, the nonprofit organization that puts on the yearly film festival in Park City, has announced the entrants for its Producers Lab and Producers Summit.

Both events, the former taking place from July 25 to 28 and the latter from July 29 to 31, will be held in person at Utah’s Sundance Mountain Resort. The Institute picked six fiction film and five non-fiction film producers and their projects. Producers Lab and Producers Summit, which counts more than 40 industry leaders and 26 independent filmmakers among its participants, supports up-and-coming producers through year-round mentorship, granting, educational resources, strategic introductions, and networking opportunities with the industry.

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“It has been three years since we have been able to gather in person, and over this time, the landscape for independent storytelling has shifted dramatically. It’s never been more critical to work to create a sustainable future for independent producers, a key priority for the Lab and Summit,” said producing and artist support director Shira Rockowitz and documentary film program deputy director Kristin Feeley. “The Producers Summit is a unique space that brings together producers and industry to advance bold, independent projects and address timely questions and issues in the field. We are excited to convene and build community through these vital conversations.

The Producers Labs will include group sessions and one-on-one meetings with veteran producer advisers to discuss problem-solving skills and develop strategies for pitching, financing, production and navigating the marketplace. Fellows selected for the Labs Feature Film Program include Apoorva Guru Charan with “The Rotting Of Casey Culpepper,” Leah Chen Baker with “The President’s Cake,” Eli Raskin with “Starfuckers,” Chloe Sabin with “Sales Per Hour” and Helena Sardinha and Doménica Castro with “Huella.” In the Documentary Film Program, those chosen are Lindsey Dryden with Untitled Dwarfism Project, Yoni Golijov with Untitled Sura Mallouh Project, Dawne Langford with Untitled Baltimore Project, Neyda Martinez with “Bartolo,” Igor Myakotin with “Queendom.”

Advisers for the Feature Film Program include David Hinojosa (“Zola,” “Bodies Bodies Bodies”), Amy Lo (“Nancy,” “Sugar”), Riva Marker (“The Guilty,” “Relic”), Josh Penn (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”), Jason Michael Berman (“Nine Days,” “Uncorked”). For the Documentary Film Program, advisers are Daffodil Altan (PBS “Frontline” series producer), Violet Feng (“Hidden Letters,” “Tigre Gente”), Andrea Meditch (“Ernie & Joe,” “Fathom”), Bob Moore (“Midwives”), and Amanda Spain (MSNBC Films).

The Summit convenes emerging and mid-career fiction and nonfiction producers with industry experts — including distributors, financiers, sales reps, talent agents, and seasoned independent producers — to gain knowledge about the landscape and make connections to advance their projects.This year’s program will include panels, roundtables, one-on-one meetings, and a keynote address by interdisciplinary artist and activist Glenn Kaino.

Industry participants in this year’s Summit include Maria Altamirano (Son of Monarchs), Maggie Bowman (Indie Media Arts Group), Josh Braun (Submarine Entertainment), Gabby Canton (Orion Pictures), Liz Cardenas (7 Days), Deniese Davis (Reform Media Group), Scott Foundas (Amazon Studios), Jannat Gargi (Westbrook Inc), Emilie Georges (Paradise City Films), Anna Godas (Dogwoof), Wyck Godfrey (Temple Hill Entertainment), Elizabeth Grave (Sony Stage 6 Films), Eliza Hajek (SAGindie), Poppy Hanks (MACRO), Alex Hannibal (CNN Films), Jessica Harrop (Sandbox Films), Kevin Iwashina (Endeavor Content), Sarah Kim (I Was a Simple Man), Jessica Lacy (Sales Agent), Dylan Leiner (Sony Pictures Classics), Anjanette Levert (The Only Doctor), Amira Lewally (A&E Indie Films), Maida Lynn (Genuine Article Pictures), David Magdael (David Magdael & Associates), Michelle Momplaisir (Focus Features), Lisa Nishimura (Netflix), Brianna Oh (Amazon Studios), Tommy Oliver (Confluential Films), Beth Osisek (Hulu), Chan Phung (Searchlight Pictures), Jason Ropell (MUBI), Mikey Schwartz-Wright (UTA), John Sloss (Cinetic Media), Avril Speaks (Distribution Advocates), Scott Shooman (IFC Films), Rory Thost (Participant Media), Lois Vossen (ITVS), Jason Wald (Neon) and Alex Walton (WME Entertainment).

Fellows and project details for those selected for the 2022 Producers Lab:

Feature Film Program

The Rotting Of Casey Culpepper (U.S.A.)

Producing Fellow: Apoorva Guru Charan

A young girl battling leukemia and her single father fall into a well of paranoia when she experiences visions of a tumor-covered creature.

Apoorva Charan is an LA-based producer whose film Joyland premiered at the 75th Cannes Film Festival in Un Certain Regard and won the Jury Prize and Queer Palm. With an MFA in Film from Columbia University, Charan has participated in Project Involve, Film Independent’s Producing Lab, and Women in Film’s Emerging Producers program.

The President’s Cake (Iraq, U.S.A.)

Producing Fellow and Mark Silverman Honoree: Leah Chen Baker

While people struggle daily to survive under sanctions in Saddam’s Iraq, nine-year-old Saeed must use his wits to gather ingredients for the mandatory cake to celebrate President Saddam Hussein’s birthday or face the consequences – prison or death.

Leah Chen Baker is an independent producer and filmmaker. She produced Jamie Dack’s debut feature, Palm Trees And Power Lines, which premiered at Sundance 2022 and won the U.S. Dramatic Directing Award. She is a Media Services Producing Award recipient and a Producers Guild of America member.

Starfuckers (U.S.A.)

Producing Fellow: Eli Raskin

A high-end rentboy living an insular life in the Hollywood Hills becomes obsessed with a mysterious star of the underground drag scene. His identity is called into question and life begins to unravel as he discovers the true objective of his new friend.

Eli Raskin is the co-founder of the production company Field Trip. Narrative credits include Starfuckers (Sundance/Berlinale), Coded (Tribeca), Beast Beast (Sundance, SXSW), and Union County (Berlinale). Music Videos: The Weeknd, Bad Bunny, Megan Thee Stallion, Alicia Keys, H.E.R, Doechii, etc. Live Performance: Coachella, The Oscars, BBMAs, B.E.T. Awards, Jimmy Fallon & Seth Meyers. Commercials: Prada, Google, Nike, Spotify, Tory Burch, etc.

Sales Per Hour (U.S.A.)

Producing Fellow: Chloe Sabin

A top sales associate at a luxury clothing store in New York City becomes engulfed in a case brought against her company for housing an assault that happened inside of a dressing room, under her watch.

Chloe Sabin produced Michelle Uranowitz & Daniel Jaffe’s short film Sales Per Hour, which premiered at SXSW 2021 and is featured in Showtime’s “Spotlights” series highlighting emerging voices in film. She co-produced Jeremy Hersh’s feature debut, The Surrogate, which premiered at SXSW in 2020 and is now streaming on Starz.

Huella (U.S.A. / Dominican Republic)

Producing Fellows: Helena Sardinha and Doménica Castro

A Dominican flamenco dancer prepares for a life-changing audition in NYC when she receives news that her grandmother passed. By abstaining from a family religious tradition, she unleashes a generational curse tracing back to her indigenous roots. Forced to confront the past, she will chase her future, at a cost.

Helena Sardinha is a Brazilian creative producer and co-founder of Driven Equation. Residing in Los Angeles, her work has been featured in festivals like Sundance, Aspen and Tribeca. She is in production for Beautiful, FL, with Disney+, and in development on the feature Huella.

Doménica Castro is a Mexican producer, writer, director, and co-founder of 271 Films. Her work has been featured on MTV, HBO, BET, in Adweek, and at Sundance, AFI Fest, and the Tribeca Festival. Empowering the next generation of BIPOC filmmakers, she co-runs and executive produces the Indeed Rising Voices Initiative with Lena Waithe’s Hillman Grad Productions.

Documentary Film Program

Untitled Dwarfism Project (U.S.A.)

Producing Fellow: Lindsey Dryden

There’s a new drug on the horizon that promises to make Little People taller—and it’s threatening the very community it claims to serve. As Little People grapple with their uncertain future, director Julie Wyman confronts her own complicated diagnosis of dwarfism. At the heart of the film lies the question: if you could give up the qualities that make you different, would you? And at what cost?

Lindsey Dryden is an Emmy® award-winning producer and director. Her producing credits include Trans In America (2019, CondeNast/ACLU) and Sundance Special Jury Award-winning Unrest (Netflix/PBS, 2017).She is a co-founder of FWD-Doc: Filmmakers with Disabilities, a proud member of Queer Producers and QueerDoc, a BFI Vision Awardee 2020 and a full voting member of BAFTA.

Untitled Sura Mallouh Project (U.S.A.)

Producing Fellow: Yoni Golijov

Two friends uncover a conflict that divides their already embattled community. Told from all sides, with unprecedented access to courtrooms, anonymous sources and community leaders, this observational film unfolds in real time.

Yoni Golijov produces documentary films and installations. Recently he produced the short film Terror Contagion by Laura Poitras and Forensic Architecture, and he co-directed/produced the short film When We Fight with co-director/producer Yael Bridge. His projects have premiered at Cannes, the Whitney Biennial, the Manifesta Biennial, and Sundance.

Untitled Baltimore Project (U.S.A.)

Producing Fellow: Dawne Langford

The Untitled Baltimore Documentary Project pulls back the curtain on local American politics during an unprecedented moment when the City of Baltimore and the United States is in the midst of a fight over justice and equity.

Dawne Langford is a documentary producer and editor. After years of working in public media as a broadcast television editor, she transitioned to producing. In 2013, Dawne was accepted to the PBS Producers Academy and began working on independent documentaries, including; Check It, Kandahar Journals, and Finding Joseph I. Recently, Dawne worked in New York City as a story producer with Lee Hirsch. Her primary interest is in amplifying traditionally suppressed narratives and presentations of historic events to deepen understanding, support learning, and stimulate community dialogue.

Bartolo (U.S.A.)

Producing Fellow: Neyda Martinez

The lives of two women intersect through crisis after disasters due to climate change and government neglect decimate the impoverished mountainsides of western Puerto Rico. In the face of housing insecurity and economic inequality, will Jeanette and her community commit to Elisa’s nation-building activism to forge a new way forward?

Neyda Martinez is a producer whose films examine culture, equity, and social justice. Documentaries in production include Bartolo, A Chasm in Chinatown, and The People vs. Austerity. Past credits include Lucky and Decade of Fire. An Associate Professor at The New School, Neyda’s board service includes NYU’s Latinx Project, UPROSE and Women Make Movies.

Queendom (U.S.A. / France)

Producing Fellow: Igor Myakotin

Gena, a queer artist from a small town in Russia, dresses in otherworldly costumes and parades around Moscow to protest the government. It becomes a movement with a million followers she calls “drag activism” until she’s arrested and threatened to flee.

Igor Myakotin is an Emmy-nominated BAFTA-winning filmmaker who co-produced feature-length documentary Welcome to Chechnya (Sundance, Berlinale). He believes that cinema is not a way to escape reality but a way to embrace it with all its peculiarities, its darkness and depth.

The projects participating in the Producers Summit include:

Fiction Features

Jade Jackson with Losa, Lauren Lopez de Victoria with Forward, Fox Maxy with Water Tight, Albert Tholen and Aiko Masubuchi with Earthquake, and Séverine Tibi with Birthday.

Nonfiction Features

Jude Chehab with Q, Amber Espinosa-Jones with Standing Above the Clouds, Jamie Gonçalves with The Monster and the Storm, Maliyamungu Muhande with Nine Days a Week, Julia Solomonoff with The Illusion of an Everlasting Summer, Jacob Thomas with Deep Taxonomy Documentary Project.

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