Film Independent 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. It's a free 9-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 also receive passes to the Film Independent Forum, Directors Close-Up and Los Angeles Film Festival.
Film Independent also announced major new studio support of Project Involve with Focus Features' Lili Elbe Fellowship, which will be awarded to a transgender filmmaker in the 2016-2017 program, and will provide the filmmaker with a $10,000 grant. Additionally, the 5th annual Sony Pictures Entertainment Diversity Fellowship in Project Involve will provide a $10,000 grant to a current Fellow, and 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.
This year's mentors include producer Nina Yang Bongiovi ("Fruitvale Station," "Dope"), writer/director Destin Daniel Cretton ("Short Term 12"), writer/director Derek Cianfrance ("Blue Valentine," "The Place Beyond the Pines"), casting director Kim Coleman ("Chi-Raq," "Dope"),writer/director Dan Gilroy ("Nightcrawler," "The Bourne Legacy"), cinematographer Michael Gioulakis ("It Follows," "Split"), writer/producer Misha Green ("Underground," "Sons of Anarchy"), writer/producer Simon Kinberg ("X-Men: Apocalypse," "Fantastic Four"), writer/director Tina Mabry ("Mississippi Damned"), cinematographer/director Reed Morano ("Meadowland," "Vinyl"), writer/director Justin Simien ("Dear White People"), producer Christine Vachon ("Boys Don't Cry," "Carol"), and cinematographer Bradford Young, ASC ("A Most Violent Year," "Selma").
"We are thrilled to welcome the 23rd class of Film Independent's Project Involve," said Jennifer Kushner, Director of Artist Development. "Through Project Involve and across all of our programs, we are working to change the landscape of the industry by discovering and nurturing unique and underrepresented talent. Our commitment to diversity stems from our desire to see the richness of human experience represented in film and television; it is through the stories we tell that we create empathy, dialogue, and deeper cultural understanding. We are thrilled to have Kiehl's Since 1851 returning to support the Project Involve shorts this year. This funding will allow our fellows to bring their visions to life."
This year's filmmakers, some I'm sure you will instantly recognize, follow below:
David Aristizabal – Editor
Juan Avella – Writer
Giulia Caruso – Producer
Christopher Cegielski – Director
Sue-Ellen Chitunya – Producer
Zoe Sua Cho – Producer
Donna Choo – Writer
Ashley Chrisman – Producer
Andressa Cor – Cinematographer
Carmen Delaney – Cinematographer
Simu Feng – Cinematographer
Aleshka Ferrero – Editor
Leon Hendrix III – Writer
Erica Lang – Industry Track: Creative/Development Executive
Isiah Donté Lee – Cinematographer
Irvin Liu – Cinematographer
Elton Loud – Writer
Puja Maewal – Director
Franzis Müller – Editor
Terence Nance – Director
Nico Navia – Cinematographer
Oby M. Okoye – Producer
Codie Elaine Oliver – Producer
Sara Pellegrini – Editor
Yanillys Pérez – Director
Eugene Ramos – Writer
Ana Souza – Industry Track: Festival Programmer
Brook Sitgraves Turner – Writer
Ozzy Villazon – Director
April A. Wilson – Director