Film Independent Announces Screening for the 2023 Project Involve Shorts and Welcomes 32 Filmmakers to the 2024 Cohort

Press Contact: Gladys Santos, Ginsberg/Libby


LOS ANGELES (December 19, 2023) — Film Independent, the nonprofit arts organization that produces the Spirit Awards, has announced the 32 filmmakers that will comprise the 2024 Project Involve cohort. The five previously announced LAIKA Animation Fellows will join the 27 newly selected filmmakers to participate in the 2024 Project Involve program. The filmmakers will be introduced at Film Independent’s annual First Look Screening to be held Thursday, January 11, 2024 at the Directors Guild of America in Los Angeles where six live-action shorts produced by the 2023 Project Involve cohort will screen. This event is open to the public.

Now in its 31st year, Project Involve fosters the careers of talented filmmakers from communities traditionally underrepresented in the film industry. Alumni include Andrew Ahn (Fire Island), Julian Breece (Rustin), Effie T. Brown (The Inspection), Linda Yvette Chávez (Flamin’ Hot), Tze Chun (I’m a Virgo), Jomo Fray (All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt), Mako Kamitsuna (All Day and a Night), Marvin Lemus (Gentefied), LaToya Morgan (The Walking Dead), Justin Simien (Haunted Mansion), Lulu Wang (Expats), Harry Yoon (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings), Kim Yutani (Director of Programming, Sundance) and many, many more.

“Each year we look forward to the brilliance and energy the talented filmmakers bring to the program and see how they continue to flourish during their stay in Project Involve and on their future journey as storytellers. We are thrilled to welcome the 2024 Project Involve Fellows to this community and cannot wait to see what they forge together,” said Francisco Velasquez, Associate Director, Project Involve.

Project Involve is a free nine-month program for writers, directors, producers, editors, cinematographers, animators, programmers, and entertainment executives from diverse backgrounds. During the program, participants meet one-on-one with film industry mentors, attend master workshops taught by top film professionals, participate in industry networking events, and create six short films from inception to completion.

Past shorts produced in the program include Dear Mama… (2023 NAACP Image Award Winner), Blackout (2022 NAACCP Image Award Nominee), Black Boy Joy (2020 NAACP Image Award Winner), Lonely Blue Night (2020 AFI Fest Short Film Audience Award), Liberty (2019 SXSW Narrative Short Film Jury Award; 2019 Special Prize of the Generation 14plus International Jury for the Best Short Film at the Berlin International Film Festival; 2019 AFI Special Jury Prize – Live Action) and Emergency (2018 Sundance Special Jury Award, 2018 SXSW Narrative Short Film Jury Award).

2024 Project Involve donor-named Fellowships to be awarded at a later date are supported by Amazon Studios, Cayton-Goldrich Family Foundation Fellowship, Los Angeles Media Fund and Sony Pictures Entertainment. Each Fellowship provides essential program support to Project Involve and includes a $10,000 unrestricted cash grant for a selected filmmaker participating in the program. In addition, the Panavision Fellowship will provide an outstanding cinematographer in the program with a camera rental package valued at $60,000 for use on a future project produced in the US.

As part of the 2024 Project Involve program, Nigerian filmmaker Josh Olaoluwa is the recipient of a Global Media Makers Fellowship making his travel and participation in the program possible. Global Media Makers is an exchange program sponsored through a partnership between Film Independent and the U.S. Dept. of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

This year’s Project Involve Fellows by track are:

Jeremy Brockman
Vaughn Greve
Karissa Leicht
Angelia Sciulli
Joewi Verhoeven

Natalie Camou
Blaine Morris
Portlynn Tagavi
Manuel Villarreal

Olivia Eliseo
Shannon Griffin
Augustine So
Israel Vasquez
Shay Xueyi Yang

Brandon Diep Bui
Shakera Robinson
Xinyu “Ciao” Zhao

Fabiola Andrade
Philip Yuzhong Ge
Lauren Lukow
Josh Olaoluwa
Bofan Zhang

Julia Elizabeth Evans
Harim Sanchez
Kyle Selby

Michael Lei

S. Lakmé Iyengar
Tiffany Lin
Katherine Martinez DeLeon
Sydney Mills
Olivia Marie Valdez
Film Independent’s Project Involve is made possible by Lead Sponsor Warner Bros. Motion Picture Group. Principal Sponsors are the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, Formosa Group, the Golden Globe Foundation, LAIKA, Los Angeles Media Fund, Panavision, Pearl Milling Company and Picture Shop. Supporting Sponsors are Amazon Studios, Los Angeles County Department of Arts & Culture, SAGindie and Sony Pictures Entertainment. Additional support provided by Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.

Film Independent Artist Development programs promote unique, independent voices by helping filmmakers create and advance new work through Project Involve; Filmmaker Labs (Directing, Documentary, Episodic, Producing and Screenwriting); Fast Track finance market and Fiscal Sponsorship, as well as through Grants and Awards, which provide over one million dollars annually to visual storytellers.

For more information on any of the Labs, or the projects that have been developed in them, please contact Additional information can be found at


For over 40 years, Film Independent has helped filmmakers get their projects made and seen. The nonprofit organization’s core mission is to champion creative independence in visual storytelling in all its forms, and to foster a culture of inclusion. We support a global community of artists and audiences who embody diversity, innovation, curiosity and uniqueness of vision.

In addition to producing the Film Independent Spirit Awards, the organization supports creative professionals with Artist Development programs, grants and labs. Signature mentorship program Project Involve fosters the careers of talented filmmakers from underrepresented communities. Education events and workshops equip filmmakers of all ages and experience levels with tools and resources. Global Media Makers, a cultural exchange program produced in partnership with the U.S. Department of State, provides career-building opportunities for international film professionals. And year-round screening series Film Independent Presents offers a robust program of unique cinematic experiences, including screenings, conversations, Live Reads and Bring the Noise musical events.

For more information or to become a Member, visit