Film Independent Selects Filmmakers for 2022 Documentary Lab

Press Contact: Seanna Hore, Ginsberg/Libby

Gladys Santos, Ginsberg/Libby


LOS ANGELES (March 18, 2022) – Film Independent, the nonprofit arts organization that produces the Film Independent Spirit Awards, announced the 12 filmmakers and 6 projects selected for its 2022 Documentary Lab. The Lab is an intensive program designed for filmmakers currently in post-production on their feature-length documentary films, and provides creative feedback. The program advances the careers of its Fellows by introducing them to film professionals who can advise on both the craft and business of documentary filmmaking.

“The films selected for this year’s Lab represent fierce, unapologetic storytelling,” said Lisa Hasko, Director of Artist Development. “From personal to political, and everywhere in between, these boundary-pushing filmmakers will move audiences in the most creative and immersive ways.”

During the Lab, filmmakers will work with Lead Creative Mentors Chris Shellen and Jeff Malmberg (Mickey: The Story of a Mouse, Marwencol) and Anayansi Prado (Maid in America, The Unafraid). Additionally, Fellows will be introduced to advisors and guest speakers on both the craft and business of documentary filmmaking. This year’s Documentary Lab Mentors and Guest Speakers include Sara Dosa and Shane Boris (Fire of Love), Academy Award nominee Jessica Kingdon (Ascension), Matthew Radecki (Founder, Different By Design), Emmy-winning producer Ali Johnes and Sundance Institute’s Carrie Lozano, Emmy-nominated writer/editor Kathryn Robson (Circus of Books), and editor/writer Sara Newens (On the Record, Allen v. Farrow), along with industry partner the UCLA Doc Law Clinic.

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 that provide over one million dollars annually to visual storytellers.

The Documentary Lab is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Notable past Documentary Lab supported projects include Academy Award-nominated films Ascension, by director Jessica Kingdon, and Minding the Gap from Fellows Bing Liu and Diane Quon; Sara Dosa and Shane Boris’ Seer and the Unseen; Sarita Khurana and Smriti Mundhra’s A Suitable Girl; Dyana Winkler and Tina Brown’s United Skates; and Ann Kaneko and Jin Yoo-Kim’s Manzanar Diverted: When Water Becomes Dust, which recently premiered on POV.

For more information on the Documentary Lab and the projects supported through the program, please contact Lisa Hasko, Director of Artist Development, at Additional information and an application form can be found at

The 2022 Documentary Lab projects and Fellows are:

Breaking the Blue Wall (working title)
Director/Producer: Alissa Figueroa
Logline: Two women from Baltimore City take on the Fraternal Order of Police and the politicians wary of crossing it as they push to repeal one of the oldest and strongest police shield laws in the country, Maryland’s Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights.

in love, in memory
Directors: Shalon Buskirk and Drew Swedberg
Logline: In the wake of her son’s murder, Shalon Buskirk assembles intimate memories and intergenerational stories to reframe her loss within her city’s haunting legacy of displacement.

Land of Women
Director: Nada Riyadh
Director/Producer: Ayman El Amir
Logline: In a conservative village in south of Egypt, dominated by patriarchy and full of despair, a lively group of Coptic girls refuse the traditional roles forced upon them by forming an all-female street theatre troupe. A coming-of-age portrait of girls at the crossroads of their lives.

Red Herring (working title)
Director: Kit Vincent
Producer: Ed Owles
Logline: After a young filmmaker is diagnosed with terminal cancer, he enlists his family on an intimate and darkly humorous journey to help them come to terms with his illness.

Untitled Helen Project
Director: Alix Blair
Producer: Lauren Kushner
Logline: For years, Helen balanced being a rebel and a politician’s wife. Now that her much older husband depends on her, she grapples with tension between love for her partner and herself.

Without Arrows
Directors: Jonathan Olshefski and Elizabeth Day
Logline: Filmed with vérité intimacy over the course of twelve years (2011–2022), Without Arrows chronicles the choices, events and relationships that shape a Lakota family’s legacy.


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 and support a community of artists who embody diversity, innovation 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. Weekly 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 delivers monthly, unique cinematic experiences to Members in Los Angeles and beyond.

For more information or to become a Member, visit