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

Ryan Collins, Ginsberg/Libby
Tel: 323.645.6800 or




LOS ANGELES (March 21, 2017) — Film Independent, the non-profit arts organization that produces the Spirit Awards and the LA Film Festival, announced the launch of its new Fiscal Sponsorship Program, along with the names of the 10 filmmakers and six projects selected for its 2017 Documentary Lab.

The Film Independent Fiscal Sponsorship Program is open to all types of eligible projects at every stage including documentary and fiction films and interactive media. Fiscal sponsorship is a legal arrangement between a 501(c)3 and an independent artist that gives them the eligibility to apply for grants and solicit tax-deductible donations for their project.

“In response to what our Members have told us they need, we’re happy to deepen our support by offering Fiscal Sponsorship, helping filmmakers gain access to new sources of project funding,” said Jennifer Kushner, Director of Artist Development. Learn more about the program and how to apply by visiting

The 2017 Doc Lab is a five-week intensive program designed to support filmmakers who are currently in post-production on their feature-length documentaries.

“We’re thrilled to bring together this group of talented filmmakers for the seventh year of our Documentary Lab and provide them with career support and mentorship that will help elevate their unique visions and fully realize the potential of their stories,” said Kushner.

This year’s Documentary Lab Advisors and Guest Speakers include Jennifer Arnold (Tig, A Small Act); Nels Bangerter (Editor, Cameraperson); Peter Broderick (President, Paradigm Consulting); Greg Finton (Editor, He Named Me Malala); Keith Fulton (The Bad Kids); Simon Kilmurry (Executive Director, International Documentary Association); Peter Nicks (The Force); Lou Pepe (The Bad Kids); and Chris Perez (Partner, Donaldson + Callif LLP).

The Documentary Lab is supported by Artist Development Lead Funder Time Warner Foundation and is sponsored by Netflix and the National Endowment for the Arts.


The 2017 Documentary Lab projects and Fellows are:


Brooklyn/Alaska, Erica Sterne – director/producer

Teenage boys from tough Brooklyn neighborhoods discover the natural world on an unlikely adventure through the remote Alaskan wilderness and are transformed by the physical and emotional challenges encountered along the way.


Minding the Gap, Bing Liu – director/producer, Diane Quon – producer

Bing, a 25-year-old Chinese-American skateboarder and filmmaker, returns to his hometown and reconnects with two skateboarders: Keire, an African-American 17-year-old and Zack, a white 23-year-old, who all share a history of childhood trauma. Over the next three years, their freewheeling lives unravel as they figure out who they hope to be.


Shadow of His WingsLucas Habte – director/producer, Isidore Bethel – producer/editor

Hoping to understand his Ethiopian father’s history of forced migration, an American filmmaker moves to Addis Ababa and falls in love with a young man who soon must flee homophobic death threats at home to become France’s first LGBT refugee from Ethiopia.


A Taste of Sky, Michael Lei – director/producer

In the dizzying heights of Bolivia’s capital of La Paz a gastronomical revolution is offering the possibility of hope to the country’s impoverished youth. We follow the trials and tribulations of GUSTU, the innovative cooking school and world-class restaurant of South America’s poorest country.


A Woman’s Work, Yu Gu – director, Elizabeth Ai – producer

Football and feminism collide in this feature documentary that follows three former NFL cheerleaders as they battle against their former teams and the NFL to reverse 50 years of illegal employment practices.


Waiting for Kate…(female is not a genre), Amy Goldstein – director/producer, Anouchka van Riel –producer

Waiting for Kate…(female is not a genre) takes us on the roller coaster of contemporary pop stardom, with an unprecedented inside look at the euphoric highs and destructive lows on the cutting edge of today’s music industry.


For more information on Film Independent’s Artist Development programs, please contact Jennifer Kushner, Director of Artist Development, at 310.432.1275 or visit



Film Independent is a non-profit arts organization that champions creative independence in visual storytelling 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 LA 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