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Kodak Film Grants

Each year, Film Independent awards a limited number of grants of Kodak film stock to qualified filmmakers who are in production on their feature films. To be eligible for these grants, one must be an alumnus of one or more of FIND’s Talent Development programs – the Filmmaker Labs, Project:Involve, Fast Track, or the cash grants given out at the Spirit Awards and the festival. Below are some of the projects that Film Independent has supported with Kodak Film grants.


KODAK FILM GRANT RECIPIENTS

Amreeka

Amreeka chronicles the adventures of Muna, a single mother who leaves the West Bank with Fadi, her teenage son, dreaming of an exciting future in small-town Illinois. In America, as her son navigates high school hallways like he used to move through military checkpoints, the indomitable Muna scrambles together a new life cooking up falafel burgers at the local White Castle.

Cherien Dabis, Writer/Director

(FIND Directors Lab, Fast Track, Project:Involve)

Named one of Variety’s “Ten Directors to Watch” in 2009, award-winning independent filmmaker Cherien Dabis makes her feature writing and directorial debut with Amreeka, which premiered to both audience and critical acclaim in U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. The film went on to open the Museum of Modern Art and Film Society of Lincoln Center’s annual New Director’s/New Films series in New York and had its international premiere at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival’s Director’s Fortnight. It was released theatrically in the U.S. in 2009 by National Geographic Films, and was nominated for three awards at the 2010 Spirit Awards, including Best Feature.

Also a television writer and co-producer, Dabis worked on Showtime Network’s ground-breaking, original hit series The L Word for three seasons. A graduate of Columbia University’s Masters of Fine Arts film program, she has written, directed, and produced several short films, which have screened at some of the world’s top film festivals. Make A Wish (2006) premiered at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival, Berlin International Film Festival, and Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival where it won the Prix de la Presse and Mention Spéciale du Jury. The film went on to win top awards in Dubai, Rotterdam, Cairo, Chicago, and Aspen.



Circumstance

Three teenagers grapple with love, friendship, and adolescence.

Maryam Keshavarz, Writer/Director

(Producers Lab)

In 2001, with an all-girl crew and cast, Maryam Keshavarz directed her first experimental 16mm film Sanctuary, a surreal fantasy film about an Iranian woman in post-9/11 America. The film traveled to several international festivals and landed Keshavarz the Steve Tisch Fellowship to attend NYU’s graduate film program. In 2003 Keshavarz drew on her experience growing up between Iran and the United States to direct her first feature documentary, The Color of Love. The documentary showed at international festivals such as Montreal World Film Fest, Full Frame Doc Fest, MoMA New York, It’s All True (Brazil), among others; it garnered top prizes such as the International Documentary Association’s David L. Wolper Award, Jury Award at DocuDays, and the Full Frame’s Spectrum Award.

In 2005 Keshavarz wrote and directed the visual essay The Day I Died, about an adolescent love triangle in a sleepy Argentine seaside town. The Day I Died was the only short film at Berlinale to win two awards: the Gold Teddy Best Short Film and the Jury Prize Special Mention.

Karin Chien, Producer

(2010 Piaget Producers Award Winner)

Karin Chien is an independent film producer based in New York City. She has produced seven feature films, including The Exploding Girl, The Motel, and Robot Stories. Karin is currently in post-production on Circumstance and in post-production on Untitled P. Benoit Project. Karin is the president of dGenerate Films, which distributes the best of contemporary Chinese independent cinema. She also recently curated the Chinatown Film Project, an inaugural film exhibition for the Museum of Chinese in America.

Melissa Lee, Producer

(Project:Involve)

A Hong Kong native by way of England, Melissa Lee is an independent producer based in Los Angeles and Hong Kong. Melissa graduated magna cum laude with a BA in Literature from Harvard University. Graduating from University of Southern California’s Peter Stark Producing MFA Program, Melissa left the world of M&A investment banking with Morgan Stanley to pursue a career in film. In 2008, Melissa produced the feature film Dear Lemon Lima, by writer/director, Suzi Yoonessi. The film premiered in competition at the Los Angeles Film Festival where it garnered the jury acting prize, and has continued to be nominated for and to win awards at festivals all over the world, including Woodstock, London, São Paulo, and Rome. Under the umbrella of her production company, Pegu Pictures, Melissa is in development on several feature film projects and is currently in post-production on Circumstance.

Circumstance is currently in post-production.


Dear Lemon Lima,

As sweet and colorful as a snow cone, this delightful happy-sad confection follows an awkward Alaskan teen as she discovers her Yup’ik heritage while rallying her fellow misfits to compete in her school’s Snowstorm Survivor competition.

Suzi Yoonessi, Writer/Director

(Directors Lab, Producers Lab, Screenwriters Lab)

Director/writer Suzi Yoonessi’s award-winning first feature film Dear Lemon Lima, premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival where it received an award for Outstanding Performance. The film, which was developed with the support of the Film Independent Screenwriters, Directors, and Producers Labs, went on to receive the Audience Award for Best Feature Film at the Woodstock Film Festival and Anchorage Film Festival, the Grand Jury Prize for Best Feature Film at the San Francisco Asian Film Festival, and several other performance and filmmaking awards. The film is currently traveling through the festival circuit at internationally and domestically renowned festivals including BFI’s London International Film Festival, the Rome International Film Festival, and the São Paulo International Film Festival. Dear Lemon Lima, was developed with the support of a 2008 ITVS Feature Development Grant, a FIND Kodak Grant, and a Tribeca Film Institute post-production grant; the film is scheduled for a Fall 2010 theatrical release.

Yoonessi’s award-winning short film Dear Lemon Lima, received a 2006 Jerome Foundation NYC Media Arts Grant, 2007 All Roads Foundation grant and is being distributed by Shorts International. The film has played internationally in over 70 festivals including the Tribeca Film Festival, Hamptons International Film Festival and Los Angeles Film Festival. The feature version of Dear Lemon Lima, was recognized by the 2007-2008 Film Independent Screenwriters, Directors, and Producers Labs; and 2006 Tribeca All Access Connects.

Shorts International is distributing the short film and Vanguard Cinema distributes Yoonessi’s previous short film No Shoulder, which premiered at the Palm Beach International Shorts Film Festival.

Yoonessi received a Jerome Foundation Grant for Vern (2004), which she wrote, directed, and produced. Vern was a finalist for the Roy W. Dean Foundation Grant, is in the permanent collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and is distributed by the National Film Network.

Yoonessi associate produced the Cannes and Sundance award-winning Me And You And Everyone We Know (2005), written and directed by Miranda July, for IFC Films & Film Four (UK). Yoonessi received her BFA from San Francisco Art Institute, and her MFA from Columbia University where she was a recipient of the FMI Directing Fellowship.

Melissa Lee, Producer

(Project:Involve)

A Hong Kong native by way of England, Melissa Lee is an independent producer based in Los Angeles and Hong Kong. Melissa graduated magna cum laude with a BA in Literature from Harvard University. Graduating from University of Southern California’s Peter Stark Producing MFA Program, Melissa left the world of M&A investment banking with Morgan Stanley to pursue a career in film. In 2008, Melissa produced the feature film Dear Lemon Lima, by writer/director Suzi Yoonessi. The film premiered in competition at the Los Angeles Film Festival where it garnered the jury acting prize, and has continued to be nominated for and win awards at festivals all over the world, including Woodstock, London, São Paulo, and Rome. Under the umbrella of her production company, Pegu Pictures, Melissa is in development on several feature film projects and is currently in post-production on Circumstance.


Jack and Diane

Jack and Diane, two teenage girls, meet in New York City and spend the night kissing erociously. Diane’s charming innocence quickly begins to open Jack’s tough skinned heart. But when Jack discovers that Diane is moving she pushes her away. Unable to grasp her new feelings, Diane’s emotions begin to cause unexplainable violent changes to her body. Through these awkward and insecure feelings, the two girls must struggle to turn their first love into an enduring one.

Karin Chien, Producer

(2010 Piaget Producers Award Winner)

Karin Chien is an independent film producer based in New York City. She has produced seven feature films, including The Exploding Girl, The Motel, and Robot Stories. Karin is currently in post-production on Circumstance and in post-production on Untitled P. Benoit Project. Karin is the president of dGenerate Films, which distributes the best of contemporary Chinese independent cinema. She also recently curated the Chinatown Film Project, an inaugural film exhibition for the Museum of Chinese in America.

So Yong Kim, Producer

So Yong Kim is an independent filmmaker and producer based in New York City. Her first feature film, In Between Day, which she wrote and directed, has won several honors including awards at the Sundance Film Festival and the Berlin International Film People, as well as an LA Film Critics Award. The film was released in 2006 by Kino to wide critical acclaim. Kim’s second feature, Treeless Mountain, the script of which was presented at the 2007 Cannes Atelier Program, was completed in 2008. After screening at a multitude of international film festivals and winning several awards, the film was released theatrically by Oscilloscope Pictures in 2009.

Ms. Kim has also produced both of Bradley Rust Gray’s narrative features: The Exploding Girl, in 2009, which won an award for Best Actress at the Tribeca Film Festival, and Salt, in 2003, which won four international awards and was released on the Sundance Channel. She also brings producing experience from working for major multimedia companies in New York and Tokyo. Most recently, Kim wrapped production on her third feature film entitled For Ellen, starring Paul Dano, Jena Malone, and Jon Heder.


Mississippi Damned

 

Mississippi Damned is Mabry’s semi-autobiographical tale about a deeply dysfunctional family that, despite all of their hardships, somehow seem to survive and find strength in each other. The film was such a passion project that Stiff and Mabry financed it themselves. Mississippi Damned premiered at the 2009 Slamdance Film Festival and has won over 12 awards including the Grand Jury Award for Outstanding US Dramatic Feature at the 2009 Outfest Film Festival, the Gold Hugo for Best Feature Film at the 2009 Chicago International Film Festival, and the Grand Jury Award for Narrative Feature Film at the 2009 American Black Film Festival.

Tina Mabry, Writer/Director

(Directors Lab, Project:Involve)

A native of Tupelo, Mississippi, Tina Mabry graduated from the University of Southern California, School of Cinema-Television with an MFA in Film Production in 2005. While participating in Film Independent’s Project:Involve, Tina finished developing and writing her short film Brooklyn’s Bridge to Jordan. She later directed the film, which has been screened in over fifty film festivals worldwide and has won multiple Jury and Audience Awards, along with an award for Best Director. Brooklyn’s Bridge to Jordan also aired on Showtime and BET J, and was voted #1 on the season finale of LOGO’s The Click List 2: Best in Short Film.

Shortly after graduating from USC, Tina co-wrote the feature screenplay Itty Bitty Titty Committee, which was directed by Jamie Babbit (But I’m a Cheerleader, Nip/Tuck, Ugly Betty). The film premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival (2007) and won Best Feature Narrative at the South by Southwest Film & Music Festival (2007).

In 2008, Tina participated in the FIND Directors Lab with her feature Mississippi Damned, and was later awarded the Kodak Film Grant. While playing on the festival circuit, Mississippi Damned has garnered an astounding eleven awards from participation in thirteen film festivals, including an award for Best Screenplay at the Chicago International Film Festival (2009).

Tina was also named among the 25 New Faces of Independent Film in Filmmaker magazine in July of 2009. She was recently recognized by Out magazine as one of the most inspirational and outstanding people of 2009.

Morgan Stiff, Producer, Editor

(Producers Lab, Project:Involve)

Morgan R. Stiff graduated from the University of Southern California School of Cinema-Television with an MFA in Film Production in 2005, after receiving her BFA from New York University in Dramatic Writing in 2002. While attending USC, she was chosen as a participant of Film Independent’s Project:Involve. As a producer, Morgan has produced fiction and documentary films, as well as promotional videos. Producing projects include Porcelain (2004), which is currently being distributed by Iron Rod Motion Pictures, Inc.; Hip Hop Homos (LOGO Networks, 2004); and the award-winning Brooklyn’s Bridge to Jordan (Showtime, LOGO, BET J, 2005). As an editor, Morgan has worked on tributes, music videos, fiction films, and documentaries. Editing projects include Hope’s Choice (Showtime, 2004) and the award-winning documentary One Bad Cat: The Reverend Albert Wagner Story (Ovation TV, 2009), which she also produced. In 2007, Morgan participated in the FIND Producer’s Lab with Mississippi Damned. She is also the Chief Production Officer of Morgan’s Mark, a production company dedicated to bringing marginalized stories to the mainstream.


On the Ice

On the snow-covered Arctic tundra, at the top of the world in Barrow, Alaska, two Inuit teenagers try to get away with murder.

Cara Marcous, Producer

(Fast Track)

Cara Marcous produced the short narrative film Sikumi (On the Ice), which has won numerous awards including the Jury Prize in Short Filmmaking at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival and the BAFTA/LA Award for Excellence, and has screened at over 50 festivals around the world. In 2005 she produced the documentary feature When the Season is Good: Artists of Arctic Alaska, which premiered at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian and was acquired by ARTE for multi-broadcast in 34 European countries. She worked for several years in development with acclaimed independent producer Ben Barenholtz and has produced several plays including the premiere of her own full-length piece Lapse at Walkerspace in New York City. Marcous is the recipient of the Sheila Johnson Fellowship for the 2009 Sundance Institute’s Feature Film Creative Producing Initiative. She is the co-founder of The Hub Project, a development initiative for emerging film and theater artists from New York and Sydney, Australia, and holds a bachelor’s degree from Brown University in Theater Arts.

On the Ice is shooting in Alaska in April 2010.


Pariah

When forced to choose between the fragile cohesion of her middle class family and loyalty to her best friend, a Bronx teenager juggles conflicting identities in a desperate search for sexual expression.

Dee Rees, Writer/Director

(Netflix FIND Your Voice Finalist)

Award-winning writer/director Dee Rees is a recent alumna of New York University’s graduate film program and a 2007 Sundance Screenwriting Lab Fellow. She has written and directed several short films including Pariah, which has screened at over 40+ festivals including the 2008 Sundance Film Festival and garnered several accolades including the Audience Award at the 2007 Los Angeles Film Festival.

Most recently, Dee continued development on the feature project Pariah at the 2008 Sundance Screenwriting & Director’s Labs and was named as one of Filmmaker magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film” for 2008. Dee was also selected as a 2008 Tribeca Institute/Renew Media Arts Fellow (Rockefeller Foundation) for her work, and is currently wrapping post-production on a feature documentary on Liberia titled Eventual Salvation, which was honored with a grant from the 2007 Sundance Documentary Fund in addition to winning the 2007 Tribeca All Access Creative Promise Award.

Nekisa Cooper, Producer

(Project:Involve, Fast Track)

Nekisa Cooper’s producing credits include the critically acclaimed narrative short Pariah. She recently wrapped the feature production of Pariah, which was a finalist for the Netflix FIND Your Voice Competition. She is also developing the feature documentary La Muñeca Fea, a Creative Promise Award winner from the 2009 Tribeca All Access Program. Past accolades include participating as a 2008 Sundance Institute Creative Producing Fellow and representing IFP at the 2009 Cinemart/Rotterdam Producing Lab.

With business partner Dee Rees, Nekisa recently completed the documentary feature Eventual Salvation, which premiered at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in July 2009 and aired on the Sundance Channel in August 2009. She also wrapped production on the narrative short Colonial Gods, which was a US/UK co-production.

Pariah wrapped production in December 2009 and is currently in post-production.


The Wheeler Boys

Bug, a smart but awkward high school freshman, is drafted into a sick contest based on having sex with freshmen girls by his older brother Truck and his friends, a group known as the Kings. When Bug’s best friend and first love Kallea becomes another tally on the Kings’ growing scoreboard, Bug struggles to break free and overcome the dark fate that’s trapped his brother.

Phil Flores, Co-writer/Director

(Screenwriters Lab, Netflix FIND Your Voice Winner)

Philip G. Flores is a writer, producer, and director. His script The Wheeler Boys was recently named the winner in the 2009 Netflix FIND Your Voice competition. While attending USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, Flores produced several USC short films including the award-winning Holocaust film Crescent Star, and was selected to direct the USC-financed comedy short Square Wheels. He has also worked in development at DreamWorks and at Everyman Pictures, director Jay Roach’s production company. Flores earned a MFA in Film/TV Production from USC and a BA in Creative Writing from Stanford University. In addition to his filmmaking work, Flores has volunteered as an instructor at The Ghetto Film School, a South Bronx-based non-profit organization headed by filmmakers David O. Russell and Spike Jonze, which teaches underprivileged youth how to make movies. Currently Flores is the story editor at Bobker/KrugerFilms, whose credits include The Skeleton Key and The Brothers Grimm. Flores co-authored The Wheeler Boys with screenwriter Max Doty.


Chase Kenney, Producer

(Producers Lab, Netflix FIND Your Voice Winner)

Chase B. Kenney is an award-winning writer/director and hails from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Kenney studied film and television at the University of Minnesota and went on to complete his MFA at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. He worked as a writer, director, and producer on a number of short films including WhiteLight, First Time, Surprise Surprise, XII, and Secret Hour. He also produced and shot one of the most notable USC productions in recent years, entitled Wolves in the Woods (2005). The film has since appeared in over fifteen festivals and has received tremendous acclamations and awards. As of late, Kenney has produced, directed, and edited a number of documentaries, short films, music videos, and commercials. His unique visual style and artistic sense has landed work with clients such as Linda Perry (4 Non Blondes), Heineken, Gucci Group, the Australian pop sensation RAEN, Lifehouse, Ringo Starr, and Dave Stewart. The Wheeler Boys is the winning project from the Netflix FIND Your Voice Film Competition.

Netflix celebrates the premiere of The Wheeler Boys by inviting America to a free online screening of the film that won the Netflix FIND Your Voice film competition. The film, which will premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival on Friday, June 25 can be streamed from Netflix for free for 48 hours, from 8:00 p.m. Pacific Time on Friday, June 25 to 8:00pm Pacific on Sunday, June 27, by visiting www.netflix.com/findyourvoice.

 

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