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


Directors Zal Batmanglij, Zoe Cassavetes, Kat Coiro and Mark Tonderai to Mentor

LOS ANGELES (February 3, 2014) — Film Independent, the non-profit arts organization that produces the Spirit Awards and Los Angeles Film Festival, is pleased to announce the eight directors selected for its 13th annual Directing Lab. The Lab is an intensive nine-week incubator designed to help directors working in independent film improve their craft and take their current projects to the next level in a nurturing yet challenging creative environment.

Directors Zoe Cassavetes (Broken English), Zal Batmanglij (Sound of My Voice, The East), Kat Coiro (L!fe Happens, A Case of You), and Mark Tonderai (House at the End of the Street, Hush) are the 2014 Directing Lab Mentors. The primary focus of the Lab is on working with actors in the rehearsal process.  Under the guidance of the Lab Mentors, directors select short scenes from their scripts to workshop and shoot. Film Independent provides digital camera and sound packages. The edited scenes are watched and critiqued by the Lab Mentors, Directing Fellows, and other advisors.

“We are delighted to welcome a talented group of filmmakers with diverse voices into the Lab under the tutelage of such accomplished mentors,” said Kelly Thomas, Producer in Residence.

The Directing Lab is provided free to invited filmmakers, and upon completion they become Film Independent Fellows, receiving year-round support, including eligibility for grants and awards, and access to Film Independent’s annual film educational offerings and a pass to the Los Angeles Film Festival. Past Directing Lab Fellows include Sheldon Candis with LUV (2012 Sundance Film Festival), Cherien Dabis with Amreeka (2009 Sundance Film Festival, FIPRESCI Award Winner at 2009 Cannes Film Festival), and Robbie Pickering with Natural Selection (2012 Spirit Award Nominee for Best First Feature, Winner SXSW Grand Jury Prize, Audience Award).

The Directing Lab is supported by lead funder The Time Warner Foundation. Additional funding provided by the National Endowment for the Arts’ Art Works.

The Directing Lab is one of Film Independent’s Artist Development Programs, which include a Documentary Lab in the spring, a Screenwriting Lab running early fall, and a Producing Lab running in late fall. For more information on any of the Labs or the projects that have been developed in them, please contact Kelly Thomas, Producer-in-Residence, at 310.432.1262.  Additional information and an application form can be found at

The 2014 Directing Lab participants and their projects are:

1. Chokora—Amyn Kaderali (writer/director)
A bright Kenyan boy must join a gang of “Chokora” (street kids) in order to survive on Nairobi’s mean streets, but the life of petty crime and glue-sniffing threatens to derail his dream of one day becoming a pilot and escaping a life of poverty.

2. Commerce—Lisa Robertson (writer/director)
A spiraling compulsion threatens to alienate a Los Angeles businessman from his family, and leads to a chance meeting with a young gambler who could save or destroy him in the City of Commerce.

3. Dark Karma—Chitra Elizabeth Sampath (writer/director)
Two South Indian girls in West Virginia try to evade arranged marriage and escape their borderline mother’s brutal physical and emotional abuse.

4. Kimchi Princess—Jean Lee (writer/director)
Four best friends compete against each other for the coveted “Kimchi Princess” crown at the Los Angeles Kimchi Festival, and their competitive natures and familial problems threaten to derail both their chances and their friendships.

5. Mine 9—Edward Mensore (writer/director)
Half a mile underground, nine Appalachian miners struggle to survive after a methane explosion leaves them trapped with only a one-hour supply of oxygen.

6. Nairobi—Thymaya Payne (writer/director)
When a seasoned war correspondent is executed in a posh Nairobi suburb, his 25 year-old mentee/lover is forced to confront corrupt politicians, Somali extremists and her own demons and become the reporter she was destined to be.

7. Spa Night—Andrew Ahn (writer/director)
Struggling to escape his crumbling family life, a closeted Korean-American teenager follows his desires and finds more than he bargains for at the Korean spa.

8. White Mice—Simon Arthur (co-writer/director)
A retired Northern Irish joiner kindly drives a young thief across country to re-connect with his estranged father. But the old man has a secret: he’s using the boy to catch and kill his father, in revenge for ruining his life during The Troubles.

About Film Independent
Film Independent is a non-profit 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.  Film Independent also produces the Los Angeles Film Festival, showcasing the best of American and international cinema and 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