Film Independent, the non-profit arts organization that produces the Film Independent Spirit Awards and the Los Angeles Film Festival, announced the names of the 10 filmmakers and six projects selected for the 2015 Documentary Lab, a five week intensive program designed to help filmmakers who are currently in post-production on their feature-length documentaries. Also announced today, a year-round partnership with Netflix to support documentary filmmakers. Netflix is now the official supporter of all Film Independent’s documentary initiatives, including the organization’s annual Documentary Lab, the Documentary Competition at the Los Angeles Film Festival, and all the documentary elements in Film Independent’s educational programs.

“We are so appreciative of Netflix’s deep and generous support of our programs that are geared to documentary filmmakers,” said Film Independent President Josh Welsh. “Documentary film is incredibly exciting today and I can’t think of a better company to partner with in this space.”

Starting off this new collaboration is the 2015 Documentary Lab, a five week intensive program designed to help filmmakers who are currently in post-production on their feature-length documentaries. Thanks to Netflix’s support, this year’s Lab includes a finishing fund for projects being developed in the Lab. Now in its fifth year, the Documentary Lab has two primary focuses: (1) providing creative feedback and story notes to the selected filmmakers; and (2) helping filmmakers strategize the completion, distribution, and marketing of their film.

“We are delighted to kick off the fifth year of our Documentary Lab with such a talented group of filmmakers and esteemed advisors,” said Jennifer Kushner, Director of Artist Development. “We are so thankful to Netflix for helping us provide a finishing fund for the filmmakers we support in this program.”

Projects developed in past Documentary Labs include Marah Strauch’s Sunshine Superman, which premiered at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival, Andrew Droz Palermo & Tracy Droz Tragos’ Rich Hill which won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, PJ Raval’s Before You Know It; Hilla Medalia’s Dancing in Jaffa; Nicholas Wrathall’s Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia; Katherine Fairfax Wright and Malika Zouhali Worrall’s Call Me Kuchu; Laura Nix and Julia Meltzer’s The Light In Her Eyes; and Nicole Karsin’s We Women Warriors, among others.

Documentary filmmakers Lucy Walker (The Crash Reel), Eddie Schmidt (Twist of Faith) and Linda Goldstein Knowlton (Code Black) are this year’s Documentary Lab Advisors. Guest Speakers include Doug Blush (Editor, 20 Feet From Stardom), Marah Strauch (Sunshine Superman) and Jennifer Arnold (Tig, A Small Act).

The Documentary Lab is supported by Artist Development Lead Funder Time Warner Foundation and is sponsored by Netflix, ARRI, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Loyola Marymount University’s School of Film and Television, and the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional support provided by Dolby Laboratories, Inc.

The 2015 Documentary Lab projects and Fellows are:

Title: Becoming April March

Director/Producer: Craig Jackson

Producer: Stephanie Levy

Logline: A striking portrait of an 80-year-old burlesque icon. Becoming April March is an exploration of one woman's struggle with aging and her last-ditch attempt at securing the fame and fortune she chased in her youth.

Title: My Country, No More

Directors: Rita Baghdadi, Jeremiah Hammerling

Producer: Rita Baghdadi

Logline: My Country, No More reveals the complexities of rural life in the North Dakota oil boom as a farming community fights industrialization. Filmed over three transformational years, the film poses a fundamental question: what and who are we willing to sacrifice in our pursuit of progress?

Title: Real Boy

Director/Producer: Shaleece Haas

Logline: Bennett Wallace, a transgender teenager with musical aspirations, embarks on a journey to find his voice—as a musician, a friend, a son, and a man.

Title: Soledad

Director: Cassidy Friedman

Producer: Carmen Osterlye

Logline: Three men painfully seek rehabilitation through a radical process of cathartic storytelling before getting released from one of California’s most violent and overcrowded prisons.

Title: The Peacemaker

Director/Producer: James Demo

Logline: The Peacemaker follows Padraig O’Malley, an international peacemaker who helps make peace for others but struggles to find it for himself. The film takes us from Padraig's isolated life in Cambridge, Massachusetts to some of the most dangerous crisis zones on Earth – from Northern Ireland to Kosovo, Nigeria to Iraq – to chronicle, over five years, Padraig's journey as he works a peace making model based on his recovery from addiction.

Title: What Lies Upstream

Director: Cullen Hoback

Producer: John Ramos

Logline: What starts as a simple investigation into a chemical spill unravels into a massive mystery, ultimately showing, with unprecedented access, why the American political system is fundamentally broken.

For more information on Film Independent’s Artist Development programs, please contact Jennifer Kushner, Director of Artist Development, at 310.432.1275 or visit

Film Independent is a non-profit arts organization that champions independent film 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, is 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.

Film Independent produces the Spirit Awards, the annual celebration honoring artist-driven films and recognizing the finest achievements of American independent filmmakers, as well as the Los Angeles Film Festival, celebrating its 20th anniversary of showcasing the best of American and international cinema. Film Independent also produces the 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