For posh Hollywood insiders like all of us here today, the first few months of every year are invariably spent deliriously awash in an avalanche of awards screeners. Be they online (like our own Film Independent Spirit Awards virtual screening room) or the extremely fun physical kind you can play DVD frolf with after the Oscars, the first fiscal quarter of the New Year never lacks for viewing options. But then what? What is there to look forward to? Taxes? Spring training? National Potato Chip Day? Luckily, there are at least three upcoming 2024 narrative features for which we’re super-stoked…
Why? Because each of these projects comes courtesy of a Film Independent Fellow–aka our favorite people in the world. We’re talking four staggeringly talented filmmakers, representing three projects and seven different Artist Development cohorts, from the early Obama years to the current stewardship of our republic by good ol’ Sleepy Joe. If you ask us, it’s all part of a perfect capper to #AD30, our year-long celebration of three decades of creative mentorship and career-building.
The other thing these three 2024 movies have in common? Each one is being supported by Film Independent’s Fiscal Sponsorship program. What does that mean, exactly? Find out for yourself on Tuesday, January 16. Here’s quick primer:
December’s featured projects are Riding on the Moon Boat, Doha – The Rising Sun and Where Did The Adults Go? Learn more about the films and how to support them below…
RIDING ON THE MOON BOAT
Project type: Fiction Feature
Project status: Pre-Production
Writer/Director/Producer: Triparna Banerjee
Producer: Sue-Ellen Chitunya
About the project: An adolescent girl faces adversity and discrimination as her father is shunned by the majority of the village, but she perseveres with resilience and hope to overcome these challenges and thrive. In a quaint Eastern Indian village, Amina and her father Gaffur struggle against drought and deprivation, finding themselves trapped in a cycle of adversity. Gaffur lost his land to pay for his debts and now works as a tenant farmer on the land of the village chief. Gaffur’s deep affection for Mahesh, his aging ox, is well-known in the village. His heart aches as he witnesses Mahesh’s frail body deteriorating, worsened by the dwindling grazing land and their inability to afford proper fodder. As summer worsens in a village steeped in superstition, the Priest presents a solution. All must join for a ritual sacrifice of goats, to invoke the Goddess to bring rain. Amina soon learns that unable to pay his debt Gaffur lost all his land. To run the household, she tries to find a job in the village. Amina suggests they should leave the village, but Gaffur disagrees. “Why leave the land of our ancestors?” He asks. Despite the surmounting troubles, Amina doesn’t give up. Does the family manage to “save” their beloved bull? Or is it a tragic defeat of vulnerability at the altar of time and power? The film captures the realities of rural India and the daily grind of the people. The dreams of a young girl offer a ray of hope amidst the struggle, while the touching relationship between a man and an animal adds a poignant layer to the narrative.
Meet the filmmaker: To learn more about Riding on the Moon Boat, including how to support the project, click here. Triparna Banerjee is a filmmaker from India, committed to bringing stories from fringes to the fore that appeal across borders. Her work has been acknowledged with selections at renowned film events, like L’atelier Cinéfondation at the Cannes Film Festival 2012, HAF at the Hong Kong Film Festival 2015, and Film Independent’s Global Media Makers. Producer Sue-Ellen Chitunya is a Presidential Leadership Scholar who has gained recognition for her short films, earning membership in the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS / OSCARS). She has been a recipient of the Roger and Chaz Ebert Foundation Fellowship. Her previous work experience includes marketing for Disney College Program, and programming for Zimbabwe, Atlanta and Slamdance Film Festivals.
Fi Fellows in the mix: Sue-Ellen Chitunya, Producing Lab 2020, Amplifier Fellowship 2023. Triparna Banerjee, 2019 Global Media Makers Fellow.
DOHA – THE RISING SUN
Project type: Fiction Feature
Project status: Production
Writer/Director: Eimi Imanishi
Producers: Shrihari Sathe, Eric Dupont, Virginie Lacombe, Belén Sánchez Silvero
About the project: Mariam, a rebellious young woman, gets deported from Spain after living there for five years, forced to return home to Western Sahara. She crosses the border into her homeland carrying the guilt of her failure to achieve the European dream, and enraged that the independence she experienced in Spain is now stripped from her. Caught in a whirlwind of emotions, the film follows Mariam’s struggle to patch together a sense of identity and purpose in a place that feels both familiar and alienating upon her return. Mariam also reconnects with her ex-boyfriend Sidahmed, who traveled to Spain with her but got deported before her, after the Spanish authorities separated them. Ignorant of what Sidahmed lived through after their separation, Mariam throws herself into trying to rekindle their intimacy. Although this mission gives her a sense of purpose and belonging, she doesn’t realize that her efforts only push Sidahmed further into his trauma. When all of Mariam’s misdirected efforts blow up in her face, Mariam makes a desperate attempt to run away to Spain again. She asks her uncle to smuggle her on his fishing boat, but as she floats in the open waters of the Atlantic ocean, she unexpectedly comes to discover herself and the true meaning of belonging.
Meet the filmmaker: To learn more about Doha – The Rising Sun, including how to support the project, click here. Eimi Imanishi is an award winning Japanese American director and screenwriter. Imanishi is a 2018 Sundance Directing and Screenwriting Fellow. Imanishi earned her BFA at the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London where she majored in sculpture, and currently lives in New York. Shrihari Sathe is a New York-based director and producer. Sathe won the Producers Award at the 2019 Film Independent Spirit Awards and the 2016 Cinereach Producer Award. He is a Visiting Assistant Arts Professor at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and has taught at various universities over the last decade.
Fi Fellows in the mix: Eimi Imanishi, Directing Lab 2018; Shrihari Sathe, Fast Track 2013, Fast Track 2022, Producing Lab, 2011.
WHERE DID THE ADULTS GO?
Project type: Fiction Feature
Project status: Post-Production
Writer/Director: Courtney Marsh
Producer: Jerry Franck
About the project: Every year, on the anniversary of their parents’ death, Cynthia, Bryce and Miles gather at the family summer home to reminisce and have brunch at their parents’ favorite restaurant. But the three siblings have never fully gotten along– Cynthia and Miles have always had a disdain for Bryce, a money-driven real estate broker who is more interested in being the boss than he is a sibling. And to make matters worse, Cynthia is in a financial rut this year. So when she proposes to sell the summer house, Bryce pushes back with full force. The two turn to Miles for the deciding vote, but Miles doesn’t care all that much about the house; he’s hung up on the fact that his long-time girlfriend, Gabby, recently left him to explore her sexuality. Thus, the weekend unfolds with the siblings’ relationships unraveling into dramatic, conflicted fever dreams of self-identity, broken bonds and repressed love.
Meet the filmmaker: To learn more about Where Did the Adults Go? including how to support the project, click here. Courtney Marsh is an Oscar-nominated filmmaker originally from South Florida. Her short films have screened worldwide, winning numerous awards, and have sold to Netflix, Al Jazeera English, The Atlantic and Gunpowder & Sky. Producer Jerry Franck is an American/Luxembourgish producer and director who frequently collaborates with Courtney Marsh. Jerry holds a BFA in Cinema from Columbia College Hollywood, and has worked as a Local 600 camera/steadicam operator for 10 years on countless music videos, features and TV shows.
Fi Fellows in the mix: Courtney Marsh, Project Involve 2011.
Learn more about Fiscal Sponsorship, including its benefits and eligibility requirements, by visiting our website. Check out our Sponsored Projects page to see the projects that are currently being supported.
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(Header: Doha – The Rising Sun)