Contact: Alia Quart Khan, Film Independent
Tel: 310.432.1287 or


Doug Blush, Laura Gabbert, Linda Goldstein-Knowlton, Caroline Libresco, Jeff Malmberg and Chris Shellen to mentor

LOS ANGELES (March 17, 2014) — Film Independent, the nonprofit arts organization that produces the Film Independent Spirit Awards and the Los Angeles Film Festival, has announced its filmmakers for the 2014 Documentary Lab, a seven week intensive program designed to help filmmakers who are currently in post-production on their feature-length documentary. This year’s Lab Fellows are Esteban Arguello & Xuan Jiang, Jamie Sisley & Mayuran Tiruchelvam, Suzanne Joe Kai, Robyn Symon, Nick Spark, Andrew James, Jonathan Matthews, and Jen Heck.  Designed to help filmmakers who are currently in post-production on their feature-length documentary films, 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.

Projects developed in past Documentary Labs include 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.

“We are delighted to kick off the fourth year of our Documentary Lab with such an talented group of filmmakers and esteemed mentors,” says Kelly Thomas, Producer in Residence and Interim Director of Artist Development.

Documentary filmmakers Doug Blush (Editor, Twenty Feet from Stardom), Laura Gabbert (No Impact Man), Caroline Libresco (Sunset Story), Linda Goldstein-Knowlton (Somewhere Between), Jeff Malmberg (Marwencol) and Chris Shellen (Marwencol) are this year’s Documentary Lab Mentors. Guest Speakers include Peter Broderick (Marketing and Distribution), Michael Donaldson (Legal Issues for Documentarians), Andrew Droz Palermo (Rich Hill) and Tracy Droz Tragos (Rich Hill) as well as Susan Littenberg (And Everything Is Going Fine).

The documentaries this year’s Fellows are making are:

Title: Jiàoliàn [Coach]
Director/Producer:  Esteban Arguello
Producer: Xuan Jiang
Logline: Jiàoliàn is the story of 27 year-old Norman DeSilva, an American who overnight becomes the head coach for the Foshan Longlions, a unique basketball team comprised of Americans, Syrian and Chinese players. Together, DeSilva rallies his team to overcome their challenges in order to win a spot in the Chinese Basketball Association playoffs.

Title: Farewell, Ferris Wheel
Director/Producer: Jamie Sisley
Co-Director: Miguel Martinez
Producer: Mayuran Tiruchelvam, Gerry Kim
Editor: Eugene Yi
Logline: Farewell, Ferris Wheel explores the dual morality of the H-2B seasonal migrant work visa through the lens of the American Carnival and a Mexican town that provides one third of the labor that staffs the carnivals.

Title: Like a Rolling Stone: The Life & Times of Ben Fong-Torres
Director/Producer: Suzanne Joe Kai
Logline: When one man’s passion for rock and roll coincides with a cultural revolution, the truth is set free. Like a Rolling Stone is the story of legendary journalist, Ben Fong-Torres, an original editor-writer at Rolling Stone magazine, who brought an honest literary voice to the revolutionary force of music that continues to influence our society to this day.

Title: My Uncle Gloria
Director/Producer: Robyn Symon
Logline: At age 66, Bernard “Butch” Rosichan, a Jewish, balding pot-bellied and homophobic owner of an auto wrecking business undergoes a risky sex change operation. Rosichan is reborn as “Gloria Stein” and attempts to reunite with her dysfunctional family while also becoming a leading advocate for transgender rights.

Title: Rightfooted
Director/Producer: Nick Spark
Cinematographer: Bill Megalos
Editor: Susan Metzger
Logline: Rightfooted chronicles Jessica Cox’s struggle to overcome enormous physical and emotional obstacles to become the world’s first armless pilot and her transformation into an activist for the handicapped in America and abroad.

Title: Street Fighting Man
Director/Producer/Cinematographer: Andrew James
Producer: Sara Archambault, Katie Tibaldi
Editor: Jason Tippet
Composer: Zachary Saginaw/Shigeto
Co-producers: Jamila Wignot and Torben Bernhard
Logline: In a new America where the promise of education, safety and shelter are in jeopardy, three Detroit men fight to build something lasting for themselves and future generations.

Title: Surviving Cliffside
Director/Producer: Jonathan Matthews
Producer: Richard Bever
Logline: A West Virginia family faces illness, addiction, and gun violence, while their daughter makes a run for Little Miss West Virginia.

Title: We’re With the Band
Director/Producer/Co-Editor/Co-Cinematographer: Jen Heck
Producer: Maria De La O
Cinematographer: Martina Radwan
Editor: Ben Frazer
Logline: Using a band as a cover story, a group of unlikely rebels with dubious musical skills traverse forbidden borders and become entangled in each other’s lives in Israel and Palestine.

The Documentary Lab is supported by lead funder Time Warner Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. The Documentary Lab is one of four Labs offered by Film Independent, which include the Screenwriting Lab, Directing Lab and the Producing Lab. For more information on any of the Labs or the filmmakers who have participated, please contact Kelly Thomas, Producer-in-Residence, at 310.432.1262.  Additional information and an application are available at



Film Independent is a nonprofit 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