Film Independent announces 2022 Documentary Lab fellows and projects

Film Independent, the non-profit behind the annual Film Independent Spirit Awards, has revealed the list of fellows and projects selected to participate in its 2022 Documentary Lab. Funded by the National ...
May 25, 2022

Film Independent, the non-profit behind the annual Film Independent Spirit Awards, has revealed the list of fellows and projects selected to participate in its 2022 Documentary Lab.

Funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Documentary Lab is an intensive program that provides filmmakers in the post-production stage on feature-length documentaries with creative feedback and business advice from industry professionals. It is one of five Lab tracks that Film Independent runs under its multi-pronged artist development program.

The lead creative mentors for this year’s Doc Lab will be Chris Shellen and Jeff Malmberg (producer and director, respectively, of Mickey: The Story of a Mouse and Marwencol) and Anayansi Prado, producer and director of such docs as Maid in America and The Unafraid. Other mentors and guest speakers participating include previous Lab fellows Jessica Kingdon (Ascension) and Sara Dosa and Shane Boris (Fire of Love, The Seer and the Unseen); Matthew Radecki, founder of post-production studio Different by Design; Carrie Lozano, director of the documentary film and artist programs at the Sundance Institute; Emmy-winning producer Ali Johnes (Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer, Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God); Emmy-nominated writer, editor and producer Kathryn Robson (Netflix’s Circus of Books); and doc-maker and Emmy-winning editor Sara Newens (Top Spin).

The six projects selected for the 2022 Doc Lab are listed below, with loglines supplied by Film Independent:

Breaking the Blue Wall (w/t)
Director/producer: Alissa Figueroa

Two women from Baltimore City take on the Fraternal Order of Police, and the politicians wary of crossing it, as they push to repeal one of the oldest and strongest police shield laws in the country, Maryland’s Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights.

In love, in memory
Directors: Shalon Buskirk, Drew Swedberg

In the wake of her son’s murder, Shalon Buskirk assembles intimate memories and intergenerational stories to reframe her loss within her city’s haunting legacy of displacement.

Land of Women
Directors: Nada Riyadh, Ayman El Amir
Producer: Ayman El Amir

In a conservative village in the south of Egypt, dominated by patriarchy and full of despair, a lively group of Coptic girls refuse the traditional roles forced upon them by forming an all-female street theater troupe. A coming-of-age portrait of girls at the crossroads of their lives.

Red Herring (w/t)
Director: Kit Vincent
Producer: Ed Owles

After a young filmmaker is diagnosed with terminal cancer, he enlists his family on an intimate and darkly humorous journey to help them come to terms with his illness. 

Untitled Helen Project
Director: Alix Blair
Producers: Lauren Kushner, Elise McCave

For years, Helen balanced being a rebel and a politician’s wife. Now that her much-older husband depends on her, she grapples with tension between love for her partner and herself.

Without Arrows
Directors: Jonathan Olshefski, Elizabeth Day

Filmed with verité intimacy over the course of twelve years (2011–2022), Without Arrows chronicles the choices, events and relationships that shape a Lakota family’s legacy.

“The films selected for this year’s Lab represent fierce, unapologetic storytelling,” Film Independent director of artist development Lisa Hasko said. “From personal to political and everywhere in between, these boundary-pushing filmmakers will move audiences in the most creative and immersive ways.”

Several titles chosen for the Doc Lab have also been participants in or recipients of other recent development and granting initiatives. Both Red Herring and Without Arrows took part in this year’s Hot Docs Forum, while Land of Women received a grant of CDN$150,000 through the Hot Docs–Blue Ice Docs Fund that supports African documentary filmmaking.

About The Author
Andrew Tracy joined Realscreen as associate editor in 2021, following 17 years as managing editor of the award-winning international film magazine Cinema Scope. From 2010 to 2020 he also held the position of senior editor at the Toronto International Film Festival, where he oversaw the flagship publication for the organization’s year-round Cinematheque programming and edited its first original monograph in a decade, Steve Gravestock’s A History of Icelandic Film. He was a scriptwriter and consultant on the first season of the Vice TV series The Vice Guide to Film, and his writing and reporting have been featured in such outlets as Cinema Scope, Reverse Shot, Sight & Sound, Cineaste, Film Comment, MUBI Notebook, POV, and Montage.