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Reporting on movies, film festivals, film production, premieres, movie events, industry trends and plays from around the world



By Marla Lewin


LOS ANGELES (October 12, 2009) — Last night at a special reception concluding the 2009 edition of Film Independent’s Filmmaker Forum, Josh Welsh, Film Independent’s Director of Talent Development, awarded Jenny Deller and Kristin Fairweather its 3rd annual Sloan Producers Grant for their feature film project Future Weather.  Deller and Fairweather will receive a $25,000 production grant, and participate in Film Independent’s 2009 Producers Lab, as well as receive year-round support from the organization.  


The grant is funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, which seeks to create and develop new scripts and films about science and technology, and to see them into commercial production with national and international distribution.  Film Independent, the non-profit arts organization also produces the Spirit Awards and Los Angeles Film Festival.


“We are thrilled to have the continued support of our filmmakers from the Sloan Foundation, and their generous grant will help Jenny and Kristin take Future Weather to the next level,” said Josh Welsh.  “This kind of backing is key to the success of our year-round programs.”   


Film Independent also announced this year’s producers and film projects selected for its 9th annual Producers Lab, sponsored by Technicolor.  Taking place in Los Angeles from October 15 until November 23, the Producers Lab is an intensive seven-week program designed to help producers improve their craft, and move their current projects into production in a nurturing, yet challenging creative environment.  Film and television producer Naomi Despres (Winged Creatures, Chapter 27) will be this year’s Lab Instructor. The filmmakers are advised on the craft and business of producing, and are also introduced to established producers and film professionals who act as advisors on their projects.  They are chosen based on the strength of the submitted script, their business plan, and their creative vision.  The Producers Lab is provided free to accepted producers, and upon completion, they become Film Independent Fellows, receiving year-round support including access to Film Independent’s annual film educational offerings, on-staff Filmmaker Advisor, and the Los Angeles Film Festival.


Recent projects developed through the Lab include Suzi Yoonessi’s Dear Lemon Lima, which premiered at the 2009 Los Angeles Film Festival; Morgan Stiff’s Mississippi Damned, which won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2009 Outfest Film Festival; Scott Prendergast’s Kabluey, which premiered at the 2007 Los Angeles Film Festival; Ted Kroeber’s American Gun, which was nominated for three Spirit Awards in 2007; So Yong Kim’s In Between Days, which was released by New Yorker Films in 2007; and Jessica Sanders’ After Innocence, which was short-listed for the 2006 Academy Awards.


The 2009 Producers Lab filmmakers and projects are:


1.   Mosquita y Mari A timid 15-year-old Chicana’s life changes when she develops a complex friendship with the rebellious new girl in her East Los Angeles neighborhood.  


Charlene Agabao studied Film at Columbia College Chicago and graduated in 2005.   Most recently, she was Associate Producer on Peter Bratt’s La Mission, which premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival.  Her short  American Beauties (2007), which she produced, wrote, and directed was featured on the Dove website for their "Pure Beauty" campaign.



2.  Mullet – For the Frank family, a mullet is a rite of a passage, but for 16-year-old Danny Frank, it’s a social death sentence.


Graciela Muraida-Del Toro started her producing career at NYU as an Associate Producer of the short film, Must Be Love, which was produced as part of the Coca-Cola Refreshing Filmmakers Award. After graduating from NYU she joined Anonymous Content, where she assisted on commercial production for high-profile clients such as Nike, Michelob, and American Express.  She joined JWT, where she produced commercials for clients including Domino’s, Schick, T. Rowe Price, Smirnoff, and Pfizer. She has also produced a series of award winning short animated interstitial films for the Sundance Channel.


3.  Future Weather – When her flaky single mom runs away from home, a 13-year-old loner struggles to sustain her dream of saving the planet from climate crisis while searching for a safe place to put down roots.


Jenny Deller is a writer, director and actor living in Philadelphia. Her second feature-length screenplay, Future Weather, won the 2009 Showtime Tony Cox Award for Best Screenplay at the Nantucket Film Festival. The project was a finalist for the Netflix FIND Your Voice Film Competition. A recipient of a National Endowment for the Humanities Young Scholars grant, Deller has been writing fiction for over twenty years, and directing theater and film since attending high school at the Illinois Math & Science Academy. Jenny went on to study acting at the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco, and her appearances include Law & Order and several Off-Broadway productions including Romeo & Juliet


Kristin Fairweather has worked in local politics and public finance in Philadelphia for the past ten years, managing public relations campaigns as well as large field efforts for local politicians – an experience that translated well to film production.  As a producer, her entrepreneurial savvy has aided in development and marketing for Future Weather and will play a crucial role in managing pre-production.  She was instrumental in producing Save the Future, Deller’s companion-short to Future Weather for the Netflix FIND Your Voice Film Competition.



4.  The Spirit Catches You – In 1980’s Merced, California, the beliefs of a traditional Hmong family collide with those of American doctors trying to treat their epileptic child. The film is based on Anne Fadiman’s National Book Critics Circle Award-winning non-fiction tome The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down.    


Lynne Littman received an Academy Award for her documentary film, Number Our Days, based on the fieldwork of anthropologist, Barbara Myerhoff.  Ten years later, her feature documentary, In Her Own Time, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, and chronicled Dr. Myerhoff’s final fieldwork and her death at age 49.  She made her feature film-directing debut withTestament, starring Jane Alexander, who was Oscar-nominated for Best Actress. Originally produced for American Playhouse, Testament premiered at the Telluride Film Festival, screened at the Berlin Film Festival and was distributed theatrically by Paramount Pictures. Littman also was an Executive Producer of Movies for Television at ABC.  She currently serves on the Board of Governors for AMPAS, is the Chair of the DGA Documentary Awards, and is on the Board of Directors for the IDA.  


5.  The Unexpected – A mail order bride must survive the winter with the man who tried to kill her during the Klondike Gold Rush of 1898.  The film is based on the short story by Jack London.  


Tom Putnam has been recognized as one of the "25 New Faces of Independent Film" by Filmmaker Magazine and was a participant in Film Independent’s Fast Track program.  His previous feature documentary premiered at the Locarno International Film Festival, where it was the only American film chosen to be part of the festival's prestigious Critic's Week section, and had a Veterans Day broadcast on the PBS/ITVS series “Independent Lens.”  


Jeff Malmberg produced and edited Red White Black & Blue with Tom Putnam. Malmberg's credits include the critically acclaimed BET documentary series American Gangster, A&E's “Biography,” ESPN's “SportsCentury,” and numerous shows for the History Channel. He has cut over 100 commercials for such directors as George Lucas, Errol Morris, TRAKTOR and Harald Zwart. Malmberg is a graduate of USC School of Cinema-Television. He is currently in post-production on his directorial debut, the feature-length documentary Welcome to Marwencol, which is expected to be completed in late 2009.   


Putnam and Malmberg also wrote, produced, and directed the short film phenomenon Tom Hits His Head, which has played over 200 international film festivals - more than any other short film in history – and has won over 15 major awards, including the Spirit of Slamdance Award at the Slamdance Film Festival and the Grand Jury Prize at Aspen Shortsfest, the world's premiere short film festival. In addition to The Unexpected, they are currently producing and directing a pilot for the PBS/ITVS documentary series Into the Fire, about Detroit firefighters.  



6.  Tallulah – A rootless young woman steals a baby and passes it off as her own child, transforming the lives of three women.  


David Newsom graduated with a film production degree from Ithaca College, and worked in film and rock videos in New York City for 3 years before turning to acting. Between 1991 and 2004, Newsom appeared in dozens of comedies and dramas, including Quantum Leap, China Beach, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, Will & Grace, Homefront, CSI (Miami and Vegas), Without a Trace, Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang and The Mentalist.  In 2008, Newsom field-produced, directed and hosted 14 segments for the show Word on Discovery’s Planet Green.  Recently, he produced the pilot The Line for A&E written by Matthew Carnahan and starring Anthony LaPaglia. The Line follows the lives of Russian organized crime figures in Los Angeles and the Federal Agents who prosecute them.  



7.  Jefferson Kings – Attempting to share in the limelight with his golden-boy older brother Truck, starry-eyed freshman Ted seeks initiation into a group of boys called “The Kings” by joining a contest to have sex with freshman girls.  But as corruption beneath The Kings is revealed, Ted must expose the ugly truth about the brother he once idolized.


Chase B. Kenney is an award-winning writer/director and hails from Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Kenney studied film and television at the University of Minnesota and went on to complete his Master of Fine Arts at the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts. He worked as a writer, director, and producer on a number of short films. Kenney has produced, directed and edited a number of documentaries, short films, music videos and commercials. His unique visual style and artistic sense has landed work with clients such as Linda Perry (Four Non Blonds), Heineken, Gucci Group, the Australian pop sensation RAEN, Lifehouse, Ringo Starr and Dave Stewart.  Jefferson Kings is the winning project from this year’s Netflix FIND Your Voice Film Competition.    



8. El FlacoWhen a street-smart Chicano teenager falls for the daughter of a man he and his father murdered, the boy must choose between loyalty to his family and loyalty to his heart.


Jeff Seymann has a broad background of work in both film and television as a director, editor and writer.  Recently, Seymann was awarded a Fellowship in Screenwriting from the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA).  In conjunction with his fellowship, Jeff’s project El Flaco won the prestigious Geri Ashur Grant awarded to the foundation’s highest ranked screenplay. Currently, El Flaco is a quarterfinalist for the Nicholl Fellowship, won the Martha Muñoz Award from the Latino Screenwriting Competition, placed as a Top Five Finalist in the Blue Cat Screenwriting Competition. His documentary Pitch Man was a finalist for the Independent Film Channel’s short documentary award and was broadcast on PBS.  Professionally, Seymann has a long list of editing credits for networks such as National Geographic, History Channel and the BBC.  


9.  Things We’ve Made – Set in the near future, a human clone shattered by a recent diagnosis of lung cancer, embarks on a journey to find his originator.


An Tran is a graduate of the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts. In 2001, she was selected by Film Independent as a Project:Involve Fellow in writing and directing.  Hailing from the Midwest, Tran has produced music videos for the bands Spoon, Clearlake and The Postal Service, along with the feature-length documentary Tran 5.  Things We’ve Made is a 2008 IFP Emerging Narrative Finalist and marks Tran’s first feature film project as producer.  As a journalist, Tran has covered entertainment technology and filmmaking for the past decade. Her articles and interviews have appeared in American Cinematographer, Filmmaker, Exposure, In Camera, Videography, and theLos Angeles Times


Film Independent’s Talent Development Program was established in 2000 to develop and train the next generation of talented independent filmmakers by cultivating the careers of directors, producers, and screenwriters. Each year, Film Independent selects approximately 80 filmmakers—from a competitive pool of over 1,500 submissions—who become Film Independent Fellows.  Fellows show promise in his or her chosen discipline and over 70% are from backgrounds traditionally underrepresented in the film industry. Tracks within the Talent Development Program include Fast Track at the Los Angeles Film Festival, Grant Winners at the Spirit Awards, the Directors Lab, Project:Involve, the Producers Lab, and the Screenwriters Lab.  Annually Film Independent invests nearly $1,500,000 in its Talent Development Program, allowing the program to be offered free to selected filmmakers.

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 provides access to a network of like-minded artists who are driving creativity in the film industry. Film Independent’s mentorship and job placement program, Project:Involve, pairs emerging culturally diverse filmmakers with film industry professionals.


For more information or to become a member, visit







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About MarlaLewinGFV

Lewin Marla
(Global Film Village)

Marla is a producer, playwright, screenwriter, publicist and now a journalist. She attends 12 to 20 film festivals per year. She has spoken on filmmaking at many festivals including Cannes and SXSW.



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