To a supercentenarian, 25 years probably doesn’t seem like that long of a time. And to a geologist, it’s barely a blip. But for the rest of us, 25 years is hugely significant (and symbolic) chunk of time. We quantify 2.5 decades worth of earthbound lunar cycles as “a generation”—the rough amount of time it takes a person to mature from infant to a participating member of the adult world. Time enough, in other words, for a person to finally become what they are.
The same goes for institutions and organizations. Which is just a fancy way of saying that all this year we’re incredibly excited to be celebrating the 25th anniversary of Project Involve, Film Independent’s signature diversity and mentorship program. Each year, PI invites 30+ up-and-coming filmmakers from underrepresented backgrounds to attend an intensive nine-month program designed to help hone their creative skills and better navigate the film industry.
Each year, PI Fellows collaborate to produce a series of brand new short films. These films are as wide-ranging in their subject matter, tone and approach as the personalities who shape them—from lighthearted romantic fables to gritty depictions of current social issues to genuinely weird one-offs. And in recognition of the program’s 25th anniversary we’ve been rolling out some of our favorite PI shorts from the long history of Project Involve on our YouTube channel—something we’re calling “Project Involve Selects.”
Each Thursday throughout the summer we’ll be posting a new Project Involve Select from the PI archives. There are four up so far but if you haven’t been watching along, don’t worry. You can catch up below:
Starring actress and singer Tatyana Ali as a conflicted inner-city schoolteacher trying to do right by her students, Teachers explores the challenges educators face in connecting with their students as well as the moral grey area that can erupt when personal and professional lines become blurred. The film was written by Jason Park and directed by Mark Columbus. Jordyn Barber so-stars as the struggling student that Ali’s Ms. Faith Mayfield takes under her reluctant wing.
FOOLISHLY SEEKING TRUE LOVE (2009)
In contrast to the gritty realism of Teachers, writer and director Jarrett Lee Conaway’s Foolishly Seeking True Love is as light and fluffy as an expensive dessert ordered from a fancy restaurant. In the stylish four-minute clip, Angela Sarafyan (Westworld) and Jason Stoll star as a pair of star-crossed would-be lovers who eventually connect in the back of taxi during an ill-fated ride through downtown LA. Highly recommended for fans of La La Land and Wes Anderson.
GET THE LIFE (2016)
One of the most daring (and explicit) shorts in Project Involve history, Get the Life is the decidedly NSFW tale of a young trans man (Devanny Torres) who is accidentally impregnated by his boyfriend (Tonatiuh Elizarraraz) and must weigh the implications of seeking an abortion. The short was written by Adelina Anthony and directed by Ozzy Villazon, with naturalistic cinematography by Simu Feng and an original score by Pancho Burgos-Goizueta.
7 DAY GIG (2013)
Balancing humor and heart, 7 Day Gig is inspired in part by writer/director Kate Marks’ own experiences immediately prior to the start of Project Involve. In the film, Winston Story (Brooklyn Nine-Nine) plays a lonely man caught in limbo between his dueling Jewish and Guamanian heritages. When his father passes away, Story’s character finds himself without any friends to sit shiva. One ill-conceived Craigslist ad later, a motley crew of mourners joins in—at first frustrating him, but eventually guiding him to some much-needed catharsis.
To learn more about Project Involve and how you can make a difference, visit our website.
To learn more about Film Independent please subscribe to our YouTube channel. To learn how to become a Member of Film Independent, click here. And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Film Independent’s Project Involve is supported by Artist Development Lead Funder Time Warner Foundation, Lead Sponsor Turner, and Project Involve Shorts Lead Funder Kiehl’s Since 1851. Principal Sponsors include 21st Century Fox Global Inclusion, EFilm | Deluxe, HBO, The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, Los Angeles County Arts Commission, Loyola Marymount University School of Film and Television, National Endowment for the Arts and Sony Pictures Entertainment. The program is also supported by Amazon Studios, ARRI, the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, Formosa Group, LAIKA, Participant Media, and The Camera Division
(Header: Tatyana Ali in Teachers)