Group of young Women

Financing Intensive

Equipping filmmakers with financing strategies and introducing them to leading financiers.

For the last seven years, Sundance Institute and WIF have been working together to address the most challenging obstacles facing women filmmakers at structural and project-based levels. Accessing capital remains elusive even for seasoned creators, and our research has shown that women continue to deal with particular gendered biases that make it harder to secure financing.

The annual WIF and Sundance Institute Financing Intensive is designed to help women-helmed filmmaking teams—fiction and documentary—advance a front-burner project to the next stage of financing success. Over two days, filmmaking teams participate in the following events: small group workshops focused on both pitching and financing strategy, an evening panel with financing experts, and one-on-one meetings with potential financiers and partners.

The goal of this Intensive is for filmmakers who are actively seeking financing to walk away with stronger presentations as well as actionable, strategic steps to advance their projects to the next stage, and a chance to meet with potential partners.

2021 applications to be announced; please subscribe to our newsletter or check back on this site for updates.

FELLOWS

Documentary

Fiction

Coexistence My Ass

• Amber Fares, Director/Producer
• Áine Pennello, Associate Producer

Coexistence My Ass

• Amber Fares, Director/Producer
• Áine Pennello, Associate Producer

Logline
Can comedy solve the Israel-Palestine conflict? Israeli comedian Noam Shuster thinks it’s worth a try. As the traditional routes of diplomacy continue to fail, Noam—best known for proposing to the Saudi Crown Prince on live TV—is challenging the power dynamics in the Middle East and the USA one joke at a time.

Amber Fares, Director/Producer
Amber Fares is an award-winning documentary director, producer, and cinematographer. Her recent projects include AMERICA INSIDE OUT WITH KATIE COURIC (National Geographic 2018, Senior Producer/Cinematographer), TRANSPARENT (Amazon 2017, Associate Producer) and THE JUDGE (TIFF 2017, Cinematographer/Co-Producer). She also directed, produced, and filmed Sundance-supported SPEED SISTERS (Hot Docs 2015, Netflix) which The New York Times called “subtly rebellious and defiantly optimistic.” Fares’ films have won numerous awards and have played in film festivals around the world, including TIFF, Sheffield, Hot Docs, IDFA, CPH:Dox, and Doc NYC. Her work has been featured on CNN, Al Jazeera, Allure, Amazon, Hulu, PBS, and National Geographic. Fares was a 2019 Sundance Momentum Fellow, 2014 Sundance Catalyst participant, 2014 Sundance Institute Edit and Story Lab participant, and 2012 Sundance fellow.

Áine Pennello, Associate Producer
Áine Pennello is a documentary filmmaker and journalist based in New York. She recently worked as co-producer for “The Genetic Detective,” a new ABC documentary show about cold cases solved by genetic genealogy. Pennello also served as an additional camera person for WARRIOR, an Irish documentary about a young woman with cystic fibrosis in need of a double lung transplant. The film’s premiere led to a reported surge in requests for organ donor cards in Ireland. Pennello worked as a video journalist at MSNBC where she produced news feature docs. Her work has been published by news outlets including NBC, The New York Times, The Guardian, Fast Company, and others.

The Kids Are Not Alright

• Mikaela Shwer, Director/Producer
• Robyn Kopp, Producer
• Kimberly Stuckwisch, Executive Producer

The Kids Are Not Alright

• Mikaela Shwer, Director/Producer
• Robyn Kopp, Producer
• Kimberly Stuckwisch, Executive Producer

Logline
Despite decades of documented abuse and hundreds of deaths, thousands of teenagers across the United States are held in cult-like reform programs that generate multibillion-dollar profits with little to no government oversight. THE KIDS ARE NOT ALRIGHT draws the curtain back on this controversial industry.

Mikaela Shwer, Director/Producer
Mikaela Shwer is an award-winning filmmaker and editor based in Los Angeles. Her feature documentary about undocumented activist Angy Rivera, DON’T TELL ANYONE/NO LE DIGAS A NADIE, broadcast on PBS/POV in the fall of 2015 and was honored with the George Foster Peabody Award. In 2016, she partnered with PBS SoCal and KCPT on The Re:Dream Project, a national campaign exploring the American dream, where she directed, produced, and edited eight stories of people in Los Angeles and what the American dream means to them. Her films have been supported by ITVS, Latino Public Broadcasting, IFP, The Fledgling Fund, and Women Make Movies. She is also an Associate of the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley and a Logan Nonfiction Fellow. Shwer’s career spans years of working in post-production, working with Blowback Productions and Steeplechase Films in New York, and currently Chain Camera Pictures in Los Angeles.

Robyn Kopp, Producer
Robyn Kopp is a producer based in San Francisco, CA. Kopp has produced and is continuing to work on a series of short documentary films on a national health campaign launching in 2021 alongside award-winning directors including Bonni Cohen, Jon Shenk, Dawn Porter, Pedro Kos, and Isabel Castro. Previously, Kopp served as Associate Producer on the BAFTA-nominated film AN INCONVENIENT SEQUEL: TRUTH TO POWER, which was selected to be the opening night film of the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. In 2016, Kopp served as the Associate Producer and Assistant Editor on the Peabody Award-winning film AUDRIE & DAISY, which premiered in competition at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival and was picked up as a Netflix Original film. Since 2014, Kopp has worked at Actual Films alongside filmmakers Bonni Cohen, Jon Shenk, and Richard Berge to produce a broad range of film & video projects across departments. She holds an M.F.A. in Cinema from San Francisco State University.

Kimberly Stuckwisch, Executive Producer
Kimberly Stuckwisch is a Los Angeles-based, award-winning film, television, commercial, music video, and theatre producer and director. Stuckwisch built a career as an avid supporter of bold creative ideas, with her work often bringing awareness to timely social issues and breaking conventional expectations. Her works have showcased at Sundance, Cannes, SXSW, the Hammer Museum, MTV, Camerimage, The Public Theatre, and on theater screens throughout the world. In 2018, she produced K-12, a visual album shot in Budapest with Melanie Martinez which garnered 28 million views on YouTube in less than a month. She premiered her first narrative feature, SUMMERTIME, with Carlos Lopez Estrada directing, at Sundance 2020 in the NEXT category, and is finishing production on the documentary THE KIDS ARE NOT ALRIGHT with Mikaela Shwer directing.

Mama Bears

• Daresha Kyi, Director
• Laura Tatham, Producer

Mama Bears

• Daresha Kyi, Director
• Laura Tatham, Producer

Logline
MAMA BEARS is a feature documentary that explores the many ways in which the lives of conservative, Christian mothers are utterly transformed when they decide to accept their LGBTQ children. Spread throughout the country but connected through private Facebook groups, they call themselves “mama bears” because they fight ferociously for the civil rights of their children and the entire LGBTQ community.

Daresha Kyi, Director
Daresha Kyi is an Emmy Award-winning director who also writes and produces film and television in Spanish and English. A graduate of NYU Film School, she is currently in post-production on MAMA BEARS, her second feature documentary about how conservative, Christian mothers are transformed when they decide to accept their LGBTQ children. In 2018 she was commissioned by the ACLU to direct TRANS IN AMERICA: TEXAS STRONG, which garnered over 3.5 million views online, screened at SXSW, won two Webby Awards, and an Emmy for “Outstanding Short Documentary.” TEXAS STRONG is a standalone short that also serves as a proof of concept for MAMA BEARS. In 2017 she co-directed and co-produced CHAVELA, a multiple award-winning documentary about iconic singer Chavela Vargas that was distributed domestically by Music Box Pictures and screened in over 40 countries.

Her films have been funded by ITVS, NEA, NYSCA, NYFA, the Jerome Foundation, and BPM (as NBPC), among others, and have screened and won awards at more than 40 festivals nationally and internationally. Kyi has an extensive background in television and has produced programming for FX, WE, AMC, Telemundo, and FUSE, among other networks.

Laura Tatham, Producer
Laura Tatham is currently producing MAMA BEARS, having previously served as the associate producer for the documentaries CHAVELA (world premiere at the 2017 Berlinale) and DISPATCHES FROM CLEVELAND (part of Color of Change’s 2016 #VotingWhileBlack viral campaign). Tatham acted as the NYC production office manager for “America,” a series of silent, narrative shorts (world premiere at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival). She is a 2020 Film Independent Doc Lab Fellow.

Originally hailing from the world of book publishing, Tatham has spent over a decade in both the corporate (Simon & Schuster) and nonprofit (Feminist Press) publishing sectors, working on countless New York Times bestsellers, as well as Lambda Literary and Pulitzer Prize–winning works.

Masafer Yatta

• Ryah Aqel, Director
• Emma Alpert, Producer

Masafer Yatta

• Ryah Aqel, Director
• Emma Alpert, Producer

Logline
MASAFER YATTA chronicles the incredible struggle of the last remaining resident of a Palestinian village, a shepherd who chooses to stay on his land and resist against the ongoing threat of erasure.

Ryah Aqel, Director
Ryah Aqel was born to a Palestinian family and grew up in Michigan. She is a cultural producer and multimedia artist interested in the relationship between indigenous communities, identity, and land, in Palestine and beyond. She holds a B.A. in politics and Middle Eastern Studies (University of Michigan) and an M.A. in Near Eastern Studies (New York University). Aqel served most recently as Curator of Education and Public Programming at the Arab American National Museum and was a 2019 Sundance Institute Knight fellow.

Emma Alpert, Producer
Emma Alpert is the Deputy Director for Just Vision, an organization that highlights the power and reach of Palestinians and Israelis working to end the occupation and build a future of freedom, dignity, and equality. She is also the impact producer for Just Vision’s newest documentary, NAILA AND THE UPRISING and was an integral member of the team’s impact campaign for the award-winning documentary THE WANTED 18. Through this work, she has worked to build effective outreach and education campaigns that amplify stories of Palestinian-led civil resistance movements, grassroots organizing, and women’s leadership to universities, conferences, think-tanks, faith communities, and other audiences across the U.S.

oaklead alex bledsoe reaa puri financing intensive

Oaklead

• Alex Bledsoe, Director
• Reaa Puri, Producer

Oaklead

• Alex Bledsoe, Director
• Reaa Puri, Producer

Logline
After a groundbreaking Reuters report found that the Fruitvale neighborhood of Oakland, California, has higher rates of lead poisoning than Flint, families fight to protect their children—and confront over 100 years of environmental racism.

Alex Bledsoe, Director
Alex J. Bledsoe is a writer, producer, and director whose work is inspired by dismantling exploitative systems. She is currently directing two documentaries: OAKLEAD (development) investigates Oakland’s lead poisoning crisis and racialized health disparities, and HEART RACE (post-production) follows one man’s attempt to obtain a heart transplant while grappling with the daily realities of racial inequity in Milwaukee. Bledsoe has been a guest columnist for The Washington Post, a Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Fellow, a Maynard 200 honoree, and an Aspen Institute emerging writer nominee. She frequently directs and advises social issue campaigns for nonprofit and commercial clients, including directing four short documentaries for the launch of the Nike Equality vertical and Until We All Win campaign. Bledsoe is the co-founder of Breaktide Productions, a film production company owned and operated by women of color and rooted in intersectional solidarity. Breaktide’s current films address issues of environmental racism, human rights, and indigenous sovereignty. Breaktide has earned awards and recognition from Sundance, SXSW, ITVS, and Cannes Lions, and was named to the YBCA 100 list of changemakers in 2019. Bledsoe earned her B.S. from Georgetown University with a degree in international politics, where she studied Portuguese, Spanish, and Arabic.

Reaa Puri, Producer
Reaa Puri is a filmmaker whose work addresses sexual and state violence, as well as collective power and healing. Her film and social justice practice is informed by her queer identity, Kashmiri-Sikh ancestry, and upbringing between Berkeley, Mumbai, and Kuwait. Puri is a TEDx speaker and recipient of two Cannes Lion awards, the Roselyn Schneider Eisner Prize, and the SFFilm Holbrooke Female Fund. She is a current artist-in-residence at the San Francisco Filmhouse. Puri’s work has been showcased at film festivals around the world, including SXSW, London Asia Film Festival, SF IndieFest, and BAMPFA. Previously, Puri was the Director of Photography and Editor for Nike’s 2019 Black History Month campaign, showrunner of a Vh1 TV show, and Assistant Director on the feature film MARY KOM. She has formerly led video teams at Wear Your Voice magazine, Carbonated.TV, and Hearst Digital Media, and her photography has been published in Vogue magazine. Puri is a co-founder of Breaktide Productions, a women-of-color-owned production company rooted in intersectional solidarity producing films on issues of environmental racism, human rights, and indigenous sovereignty. Breaktide was named to YBCA’s 100 list of change-makers in 2019.

maximina juson sarah olson one person one vote financing intensive

One Person, One Vote?

• Maximina Juson, Director
• Sarah Olson, Producer

One Person, One Vote?

• Maximina Juson, Director
• Sarah Olson, Producer

Logline
ONE PERSON, ONE VOTE? is the first-ever documentary to examine the contentious (but little known) history and current debates surrounding the Electoral College in the lead up to the 2020 presidential election. The film will look at this key institution of our democratic process, in all its complexity, spotlighting key moments in its over 230-year history up through the present day—a moment when the Supreme Court is set to rule this year on a case that could irrevocably upend our electoral system.

Maximina Juson, Director
Maximina Juson is a director and producer based in Los Angeles. Juson is Consulting Producer for MAMA BEARS, a documentary film that explores how the lives of conservative, Christian mothers are transformed when they decide to accept their LGBTQ children—a short version of the film was commissioned by the ACLU and the short won an Emmy for 2019 Outstanding Documentary Short and two Webby Awards. In 2018, she was hired by The Harlem Children’s Zone as a producer for their legacy documentary, IN THE ZONE, leveraging 30 years of archival footage about their story and commitment to “break the cycle of generational poverty” for Harlem families. She also directed, produced, and edited a video web series for The Washtenaw ID Project, an organization that helps disenfranchised communities and individuals obtain a valid government-issued ID in Washtenaw County, Michigan.

Juson is the founder of H.U.M.ovies, a film and video production company with a mission to develop and produce content that shines a light on areas of culture, politics, and society that have been overlooked, misunderstood, or forgotten. H.U.M. is an acronym for “humans understanding machinery,” meaning the metaphorical machinery of our times.

Sarah Olson, Producer
Sarah Olson is an award-winning producer of documentary films. Her most recent film, KNOCK DOWN THE HOUSE, was on the Oscar shortlist for Best Documentary 2020. KNOCK DOWN THE HOUSE swept Sundance this year, winning both the Audience Award: U.S. Documentary as well as the coveted Festival Favorite Award. Acquired by Netflix at the festival, in a record-breaking deal, KNOCK DOWN THE HOUSE is currently screening in 191 countries around the world, having been translated into 28 languages. Olson’s credits include two award-winning documentaries for Atlas Films. She developed and produced the highly acclaimed documentary FED UP, which premiered at Sundance in 2014—named as a New York Times “Critics Pick” and “a movie that matters” by Rolling Stone; FED UP was acquired by Radius/TWC and enjoyed a broad theatrical release. Olson also line-produced TAPPED, the 2009 documentary which won “Best Documentary Feature” in six film festivals around the country, and continues to educate and entertain students as an educational tool at universities around the world.

Laurie Sumiye

A Paradise Lost

• Laurie Sumiye, Director/Producer

A Paradise Lost

• Laurie Sumiye, Director/Producer

Logline
A taxidermied Hawaiian songbird narrates his incredible true story as the first animal to sue in order to save his kind from extinction, a fable of struggle and hope in the heart of the Extinction Capital of the World.

Laurie Sumiye, Director/Producer
Laurie Sumiye is an environmental artist, animator, and filmmaker whose work about Hawaiian endangered species explores the interconnectedness of nature, place, and humans through her cross-disciplinary creative practice. She has exhibited her artwork in New York, Los Angeles, and internationally, and screened her award-winning films at DOCNYC, BAMcinemaFest, and PS1MoMA. Sumiye has been awarded residencies and fellowships with Firelight Documentary Lab (NY), Digital Artist Studios (N. Ireland), Sacatar Institute (Brazil), and Artfunkl (UK) & UnionDocs Center for Documentary Arts (NY). Laurie received an MFA in Integrated Media Arts from CUNY Hunter College, B.A. in Art & B.S. in Communications from Bradley University, and studied art at Instituto Lorenzo de’ Medici in Florence and Pratt Institute in New York. Sumiye returned to Hawai‘i, where she was born and raised, to work on her first feature documentary. A PARADISE LOST is a hybrid animated film about an endangered Hawaiian bird that sues to save itself from extinction. The project was awarded research and production funding from Pacific Islanders in Communications and Firelight Media, and selected for Good Pitch Local Hawai‘i. Sumiye is an Assistant Professor of Creative Media at the University of Hawai‘i-West O‘ahu. She lives and works in Mililani, Hawai‘i.

The Quiet Zone

• Katie Dellamaggiore, Director
• Tracie Holder, Producer

The Quiet Zone

• Katie Dellamaggiore, Director
• Tracie Holder, Producer

Logline
Welcome to Green Bank, home to the world’s most powerful radio telescope, and the only U.S. town where wireless technology is banned. In this place without cell phones or WiFi, scientists seek to unlock the mysteries of our universe. THE QUIET ZONE follows this close-knit community with one foot in two worlds, past and present, at a moment when the only way of life they know could end.

Katie Dellamaggiore, Director
Katie Dellamaggiore is an award-winning documentary director and television producer whose work has appeared on PBS, MTV, A&E, Discovery and TLC. From her Emmy Award-nominated 2012 film BROOKLYN CASTLE (SXSW, P.O.V.), about the nation’s best junior high chess team and its fight against public school budget cuts, to her most recent documentary for Whirlpool called SAMA’S LUNCHBOX: AN EVERY DAY CARE STORY about a young Syrian refugee who shares traditional foods with her new classmates, Dellamaggiore’s vibrant, character-based films are rooted in universal stories of identity, community, resilience, and hope. She also directed UR LIFE ONLINE, an educational film for A&E that was Emmy Award-nominated for Outstanding Single Camera Editing, and “New Orleans: Here and Now,” a Time Inc. anthology honoring the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. She is currently working on her next documentary, THE QUIET ZONE.

Tracie Holder, Producer
Tracie Holder is a 2016 Sundance Creative Producers Fellow and leads workshops in the U.S. and abroad, tutors, and serves on juries at international pitching and training sessions. She is widely regarded as a “go-to” person and all-round resource for artists seeking U.S. funding, having raised more than $2.5 million for her own projects from a mix of government funders, private foundations, and individuals. Clients include: IDFA, Documentary Campus, DocuDays, DOC NYC, Creative Capital, Unions Docs, and the Made in NY Media Center, among others. Holder was a longtime consultant to Women Make Movies and, more recently, the Development and Funding Strategist for Abby Disney’s Fork Films. In addition to THE QUIET ZONE, she produced grit (Hot Docs premiere and POV broadcast), co-directed by Academy Award-winner Cynthia Wade, and is currently a co-producer of ONE PERSON, ONE VOTE? by director Maximina Juson. Holder co-produced/directed/wrote JOE PAPP IN FIVE ACTS (Tribeca Film Festival premiere, PBS/American Masters co-production). Recently, she received NEH funding for her new film, THE PEOPLE’S WILL, the improbable story of the Astor Place Riots in 1849 which led to the death of 23 people over two rival productions of MACBETH and marked the first time American troops fired on American people.

Kimberlee Bassford

Sia

• Kimberlee Bassford, Director/Producer

Sia

• Kimberlee Bassford, Director/Producer

Logline
Acclaimed Pacific novelist and poet Sia Figiel rebuilds her life after a failed suicide attempt with the goal of reuniting with her sons and returning to her native Samoa to fulfill her cultural responsibilities and claim her chiefly title.

Kimberlee Bassford, Director/Producer
Director/producer Kimberlee Bassford is an independent documentary filmmaker from Hawai‘i with a background in journalism. She produced and directed the documentaries WINNING GIRL (2014, World Channel), PATSY MINK: AHEAD OF THE MAJORITY (2008, PBS) and CHEERLEADER (2003, HBO Family) and was a producer on two national PBS documentary series: UNNATURAL CAUSES: IS INEQUALITY MAKING US SICK? (2008) and THE MEANING OF FOOD (2005). She has garnered numerous honors for her work, including film festival audience awards and grand jury prizes, a duPont-Columbia Award, Student Academy Award, CINE Golden Eagles, and has been featured on panels and juries for ITVS, Center for Asian American Media, Pacific Islanders in Communications, Hawai‘i International Film Festival, and the ‘Ohina Short Film Showcase. Bassford holds a B.A. in psychology from Harvard University and a Masters of Journalism from the University of California, Berkeley. She owns Making Waves Films LLC, a documentary production company in Honolulu, and is an instructor of journalism at Windward Community College where she also advises the award-winning student newspaper and is chair of the campus creative media committee.

Better

• Celia Finkelstein, Director
• Kryzz Gautier, Producer

Better

• Celia Finkelstein, Director
• Kryzz Gautier, Producer

Logline
After a failed suicide attempt and a stint in a psych ward, Jane just wants to get back to normal. But maybe normal is a bit of a stretch. With a touch of magical realism, BETTER explores what it’s like to live in a brain that might not always be telling you the truth.

Celia Finkelstein, Director
Celia Finkelstein is an actor and writer. You might recognize her from “American Horror Story,” HORRIBLE BOSSES, “Shameless,” or “Angie Tribeca.” If you’re a real fan, maybe you saw her in MEASURE FOR MEASURE in a Lower East Side parking lot in the early 2000s. Four years ago, she made the transition to writing. Her first screenplay, BETTER, was a quarterfinalist for the Nicholl Fellowship. Her latest pilot, “Jessica Fletcher Saved My Life,” was a Sundance Episodic Lab second rounder. Most recently, she was staffed on Shondaland/ABC’s “For the People” and created and wrote an original pilot for Tristar Television and Mila Kunis’ Orchard Farm Productions.

Finkelstein was born and raised in the panhandle of Florida (the Redneck Riviera for the uninitiated) and as a Jew in the Bible Belt, she knows what it means to be an outsider. She writes from that perspective, making the painful funny and the funny painful.
One of her special skills is that she can turn a fun happy hour into a lecture on the French Revolution in under 7 minutes.

Kryzz Gautier, Producer
Kryzz Gautier is a queer, Afro-Latina writer/director born and raised in the Dominican Republic. As the only child of a disabled mother, she spent most of her formative years having to entertain herself, which is how she developed a penchant for creating complex worlds filled with three-dimensional characters. After high school, she immigrated to the United States to earn her B.A. in Directing Narrative Fiction from Emerson College, but soon after earning her degree, her legal status lapsed and she spent the next half a decade living as an undocumented immigrant. Gautier injects this distinctive and colorful background into her character-driven dramas and novel sci-fi narratives.

Gautier has been selected as a participant in multiple programs and fellowships including Ryan Murphy’s Half Initiative for emerging episodic directors, Women In Film’s INSIGHT program, and the DGA’s Commercial Director’s Diversity Program. Gautier has also been invited to take part in Women In Film’s Mentorship program, where she is currently being mentored by writer/director and “Queen Sugar” showrunner Kat Candler. Some other accolades include being named as an Emerging Content Creator by the National Association Of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP), and being recognized with Superlounge’s Diversity Award for Directors, curated by acclaimed director Jordan Brady.

With a feature, a pilot for A&E/Lifetime, a pilot presentation for one of the major networks, an award-winning theater play, and more than a handful of award-winning shorts that have played at international film festivals under her belt, it’s easy to gauge that Gautier is nothing short of multifaceted.

Diamondback

• Jennia Fredrique, Director
• Holly Payberg and Jennifer Julian, Producers

Diamondback

• Jennia Fredrique, Director
• Holly Payberg and Jennifer Julian, Producers

Logline
Consumed with revenge, Meridey “Dey” Freeman, a black, Apache-trained warrior, is determined to take down the outlaws who killed her father, but when vengeance turns out to be not-so-sweet, she must learn that the only true path to peace is forgiveness.

Jennia Fredrique, Director
Jennia Fredrique Aponte is an award-winning writer/director known for her unique visual style and bold vision, particularly in the areas of production and costume design. Born in Gary, Indiana, Fredrique studied filmmaking at Columbia University and Art at the Art Institute of Chicago. Out of over a thousand submissions, she was one of only 15 selected to be part of the highly competitive Sony Director’s Program, a year-long directing intensive which allowed her to apprentice under several esteemed directors including Randall Einhorn (while he was originating the ‘70s-themed series “Lodge 49”). Fredrique’s first two short films, SACRED HEART and 90 DAYS, were accepted into many prestigious film festivals including Cannes and SXSW. 90 DAYS, a film about the stigma around HIV, is hailed as “a cinematic piece of art that confronts the human experience of overcoming one of life’s greatest perceived challenges,” and has garnered multiple awards including an African Academy Award. She describes herself as being the kind of director who takes a macro approach to the overall vision of filmmaking, preferring to have her hands in all aspects in order to ensure there’s a strong, cohesive theme throughout.

Holly Payberg and Jennifer Julian, Producers
The DIAMONDBACK team is led by producers Holly Payberg and Jennifer Julian (who also happens to be a co-writer on the project). Their producing partnership began at the American Film Market, where their spontaneous teaming turned into an unexpected development deal and led them to form June Bug Pictures in 2018. Since then, they have been making waves in Hollywood with their consistent development of high quality, female-driven content such as FREE HUNTER (about the first and greatest female fighter pilot in history), which currently has them teamed with Academy Award-winning producer Peter Heslop. Primed with decades of prior experience in development, production and delivery to major studios, Payberg and Julian will oversee all creative development, financing, sales & marketing, delivery, and distribution for DIAMONDBACK.

Dibé

• Shaandiin Tome, Director/Writer

Dibé

• Shaandiin Tome, Director/Writer

Logline
Lily, a young Navajo girl, fights to save her herd while figuring out what adulthood means during the livestock reduction of the 1940s.

Shaandiin Tome, Director/Writer
Shaandiin Tome is a filmmaker and director from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Tome was put on the map as a writer/director with her breakout short film, MUD (HASHTL’ISHNII), which was selected to premiere at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and went on to travel the world, receiving awards from Montana Independent Film Festival, Presence Autochtone (Montreal), L.A. Skins Fest, and New Filmmakers Los Angeles.

For her upcoming feature, DIBÉ, she has participated in the Sundance Creative Producers Summit 2019 and Sundance Talent Forum 2020. At the beginning of 2020, she was selected as a finalist for the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative. Her current work spans documentary, commercial, and narrative work with National Geographic, Al Jazeera, Vice, Levi’s, and Merrell. Her unique perspective has allowed her to capture other trailblazers in the Indigenous community. She currently lives in Albuquerque, aiming to bring resonating imagery in convergence with story, illustrating her perspective as a Diné woman.

Feral

• Nihaarika Negi, Director
• Nancy Degnan, Producer

Feral

• Nihaarika Negi, Director
• Nancy Degnan, Producer

Logline
In 1950s India, a sadomasochist English madam has raised two tribal sisters to be her domestic servants. Madame’s latest lover, Zee, arrives in search of an ancient forest song, which begins to change the alchemy of the estate—as the sisters slowly transgress, taking over the house and reclaiming their lost, wild, mystical selves.

Nihaarika Negi, Director
Nihaarika Negi is an international interdisciplinary artist, whose work begins at the site of the body and takes flight through the mediums of performance, writing, directing, and producing. She’s trained as a writer/director/performer under master practitioner Phillip Zarrilli in the Psychophysical Acting methodology that uses principles of East-Asian meditative martial arts practices to create self-directed performance and train ensembles. Negi merges this methodology with her work in contemporary performance/live art and narrative storytelling to create theatre shows, films, and VR projects.

Her work has been supported by the UK Arts Council, Roundhouse Theatre, SPILL Festival (UK), Serendipity Arts Festival, NFDC Film Labs (India), Venice Film Festival Development Labs (Italy), and CNC [Center For Cinema & Moving Image] (France). Her films have been screened at New York Indian Film Festival, Mumbai Film Festival, and Bangalore Queer Film Festival, and broadcast on platforms like Channel 4 (UK), Star Gold & Hotstar (India), and Amazon Prime (U.S.).

Nancy Degnan, Producer
Nancy Degnan began her career in Los Angeles working simultaneously as an actor, an executive assistant for an independent production company, and as a production assistant on television shows such as “Ray Donovan” and “Westworld.” She is an active member of Women In Film and is a participant in their 2019 Peer Mentoring Program.

In 2017, Degnan produced her first feature film, BUCK RUN, starring James Le Gros (CERTAIN WOMEN, POINT BREAK), Kevin J. O’Connor (THERE WILL BE BLOOD, WIDOWS), Amy Hargreaves (“13 Reasons Why”) and Nolan Lyons (“Boardwalk Empire”), which premiered at the 2019 Palm Springs International Film Festival and won awards around the country during the film’s festival run. She produced her second feature film in 2019, SILENT NOTES, starring actor Daniel Durant (SPRING AWAKENING), now in post-production. As Associate Producer, Degnan joined Director Jennifer Pepperman for the production of web-series “After Forever” starring Kevin Spirtas (“Days of Our Lives”) and Mitchell Anderson (“Doogie Howser, M.D.”), which won five Daytime Emmys, setting a record for the most Emmys won by an LGTBQ series in one year, and currently streams on Amazon Prime.

Motherhood

• Meryam Joobeur, Director/Writer/Producer
• Sarra Ben Hassen, Producer (Tunisia)

Motherhood

• Meryam Joobeur, Director/Writer/Producer
• Sarra Ben Hassen, Producer (Tunisia)

Logline
Salha, a mother gifted with prophetic dreams and visions, lives in an isolated village in Tunisia. When her eldest son’s sudden return from Syria coincides with a series of strange disappearances in their community, Salha’s maternal love is tested and the family faces how guilt can haunt the human spirit.

Meryam Joobeur, Director/Writer/Producer
Meryam Joobeur is a Tunisian-American director based in Montréal, Canada. Her work includes both documentary and fiction. Her short films GODS, WEEDS AND REVOLUTIONS (2012) and BORN IN THE MAELSTROM (2017), starring Sasha Lane, screened in dozens of national and international festivals. Her Academy Award-nominated short BROTHERHOOD (2018) screened at 150+ festivals and won 75 international prizes.

Sarra Ben Hassen, Producer (Tunisia)
Producer Sarra Ben Hassen has over 20 years of experience in the Tunisian film industry, having worked on over 40 films and television projects as production coordinator, manager, script supervisor, and producer. After gathering a vast amount of experience, Hassen founded the production company Instinct Bleu in 2018 with Tunisian filmmaker Meryam Joobeur. In 2018 she produced the short film BROTHERHOOD by Meryam Joobeur, which premiered at TIFF (winner, ‘Best Canadian Short’), screened in dozens of festivals including Sundance, Tampere, Winterthur, and Carthage, and was nominated for an Academy Award for ‘Best Live Action Short.’ Hassen was selected to participate in the Med Film Factory (2015 & 2017), Doha Producer’s Lab (2017), EAVE Producer’s Workshop (2018), and the Rotterdam Producer’s Lab (2019). Hassen is currently developing shorts, documentaries, and features by emerging Tunisian talent including Meryam Joobeur’s first feature MOTHERHOOD, a co-production with Midi La Nuit (Canada) and Tanit Films (France).

The Old Man in the Mountain

• Caitlin and Christina Kleppinger, Directors
• Carolina Groppa, Producer

The Old Man in the Mountain

• Caitlin and Christina Kleppinger, Directors
• Carolina Groppa, Producer

Logline
After surviving an apocalyptic event, Sara retreats to her family’s land in the remote mountains of Wyoming. There, she discovers an ancient entity in the woods that can offer her protection at a heavy price.

Caitlin and Christina Kleppinger, Directors
Caitlin and Christina Kleppinger are sisters, writing partners, and bear wrestlers (they might have made that last one up). They hail from the mountains of Wyoming, but currently live and work in Los Angeles, CA. The youngest two in a family of seven girls, the Kleppingers spent most of their childhood creating and playing make-believe together. Christina was bit by the film bug early and attended the University of Colorado’s Film Studies Program and FAMU, The Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. Caitlin initially pursued a career in music, studying at The Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences before moving to Los Angeles to work in music production. She quickly found herself falling in love with the film world instead, and by the time Christina joined her in Los Angeles, both sisters had decided that their passions laid in writing for film and television. They quickly realized that they loved telling stories together, and that they told bigger, better, and more ambitious stories as a team. For the next few years, the two worked day jobs while writing in every spare moment. Their first feature screenplay was SCHOOL SPIRITS, a teen horror/comedy starring Alysia Reiner (“Orange Is The New Black”), Audrey Whitby (“The Thundermans”), and YouTube star Tiffany Alvord.

Carolina Groppa, Producer
Carolina Groppa is a Brazilian-born and Emmy-nominated producer. She produced the 2017 Emmy-nominated documentary AUTISM IN LOVE, which explores how adults with autism find and navigate romantic relationships. It world premiered to rave reviews at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival and aired on PBS’ “Independent Lens” series in January 2016. The film picked up many awards, including Best Documentary at Mammoth Lakes Film Festival and the Audience Award at Warsaw International Film Festival. In February 2016, AUTISM IN LOVE was the recipient of the fifth annual Peek Award for Disability in Film by the Utah Film Center. The award pays tribute to artists who are positively impacting our society’s perception of people with disabilities. Narrative feature films include MISS VIRGINIA, starring Uzo Aduba, and the Netflix Originals GIRLFRIEND’S DAY and HAPPY ANNIVERSARY. She had the pleasure of co-producing THE FEMALE BRAIN, Whitney Cummings’ directing debut feature film. She was a physical producer on SYLVIE’S LOVE, Official Selection of the 2020 Sundance Film Festival in dramatic competition. Written and directed by Eugene Ashe, it’s a beautiful period romance film set in the world of jazz in the late ‘50s, starring Tessa Thompson and Nnamdi Asomugha. She is currently shooting a documentary about women in stand up comedy for FX for Campfire Films with director Andrea Nevins at the helm.

Tenebris Vulnus

• Anais Blondet Medina, Director/Writer
• Lindsey Cordero, Producer
• Illari Orccotoma, Producer

Tenebris Vulnus

• Anais Blondet Medina, Director/Writer
• Lindsey Cordero, Producer
• Illari Orccotoma, Producer

Logline
Andina Quintana is an eccentric composer attempting to write her magnum opus but an unexpected ailment has created a block; her period won’t stop. Desperate to regain control, she travels from New York back to her Peruvian homeland to seek treatment at a holistic center where a uterine healer takes her on a mystical journey to reconnect with her body and her ancestral roots.

Anais Blondet Medina, Director/Writer
Anais Blondet Medina is a Peruvian multidisciplinary artist and filmmaker living and working in New York City. Feminism, magical realism, absurdist humor, and the use of music as a narrative tool are the staples of her cinematic language. She is currently developing her first feature film, TENEBRIS VULNUS. In 2019, she won the Film Lab prize at FEST—New Directors New Films Pitching Forum in Portugal, she was named a 2019 NALIP Fellow, and she was a recipient of the inaugural Sundance Launch Grant Fund. Medina has a BFA in Film Directing from the School of Visual Arts in NYC. Her thesis film, NOW THEY KNOW ABOUT MY MADNESS, was an official selection at the 2009 Max Ophüls Preis Film Festival. After SVA, she attended the Sorbonne University’s Masters program for Film Research in Paris and spent four years creating experimental art at the legendary Lyonnais underground art collective, Grrrnd Zero. Medina returned to New York in 2012 and began working as a freelance director and editor for documentary television and branded content. Her work has been featured on CNN, MTV, OWN, Travel Channel, Canal+, Great Big Story, Spotify, Facebook Watch, at the American Museum of Natural History, The Smithsonian Museum, and at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival as an editor on the comedy series “Strangers.”

Lindsey Cordero, Producer
Lindsey Cordero is an award-winning Mexican filmmaker based in Brooklyn. She is director and producer of the documentary I’M LEAVING NOW/YA ME VOY (2018) which had its world premiere at Hot Docs, won the jury award at DocsMx, a special mention from the jury at Morelia International Film Festival, was acquired by Cinema Guild, and distributed in Mexico by Cinestereo. Cordero won the Independent Spirit John Cassavetes Award for her work as producer in Jim McKay’s acclaimed EN EL SÉPTIMO DÍA (2018). She produced the award-winning short narrative CHURROS (2019) directed by Bruce Smolanoff and Emilie McDonald, which was awarded the Hammer to Nail Short Film Contest and the Audience Choice Award at Boulevard Film Festival. She is co-director of the television documentary FIRMES, MEXICANS IN THE BRONX (Nat Geo Latino, 2013). Currently, she’s producing two feature films: TENEBRIS VULNUS directed by Anais Blondet, a Sundance Institute Launch Fund grantee selected for the NALIP Latino Media Market and FEST—New Directors New Films Pitching Forum Lab Award Winner, and STRAIGHTEN UP AND FLY RIGHT, directed by Steven Tanenbaum and Kristen Abate, currently in post-production and a (NYFA) Women’s Film, TV, Theater Fund recipient.

Illari Orccottoma, Producer
Illari Orccottoma is a Peruvian film producer based in Lima. She specializes in the production of independent author film projects. Her journey has taken her through different roles in the production chain, which has strengthened her skills to understand projects’ various needs. She has worked on both fiction and documentary films, which have received national and international awards. Her first film as producer will be DIOGENES by Leonardo Barbuy: a Peruvian Ministry of Culture Fund (DAFO) winner, Bolivia Lab Award winner, BrLab Lab Award winner, and Encuentro de Productores Lab Award winner at the International Film Festival of Cartagena de Indias (FICCI).

Wonderland

• Tiffanie Hsu, Director/Writer/Producer
• Pin-Chun Liu, Producer

Wonderland

• Tiffanie Hsu, Director/Writer/Producer
• Pin-Chun Liu, Producer

Logline
When her mother disappears with the family bankroll during a Christmas trip to Vegas, eleven-year-old Adeline Tang hires a devious street magician to bring her mother home before her father finds out.

Tiffanie Hsu, Director/Writer/Producer
Tiffanie Hsu is a writer and director selected as an HBO Visionary for her short film WONDERLAND, a coming-of-age story about a young girl struggling to reconcile family and fantasy in America’s adult playground: Las Vegas. The feature adaptation recently participated in the Sundance and Film Independent Screenwriters Labs. Her feature documentary WATERSCHOOL, following six young women’s stories of empowerment around sustainability along the major rivers of the world, premiered at Sundance and is available on Netflix. She’s currently writing/directing STRINGS, a musical romantic comedy about a violinist rocking out her senior year, for MXN Entertainment (JUNO, 500 DAYS OF SUMMER) and developing a series based on the SF Spider Man thief.

Hsu is an alumna of AFI’s Directing Workshop for Women. She has a B.A. from Harvard and an M.F.A. in Directing and Screenwriting from UCLA, where she received the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans. She grew up in Wisconsin, Taiwan, and Southern California, and began her career directing stop-motion animation, music videos, and location-specific Shakespeare adaptations, and as the director’s assistant for Ang Lee on LIFE OF PI.

Pin-Chun Liu, Producer
Pin-Chun Liu was born and raised in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. After earning a degree in Sociology from the National Taiwan University, she began working in production and producing short films. Her first feature, a U.S.-based independent film made in Taiwan, THE TAIWAN OYSTER, premiered at SXSW. Her second feature MAKING THE RULES was distributed by Lionsgate. She received her Master’s degree in Producing at the AFI Conservatory, and her thesis WAY IN RYE was a finalist for the Student Academy Award. Other short films include CONTRAPELO, which premiered at Tribeca and was shortlisted for 2016 Oscar Best Live Action Short Film, and WONDERLAND, which won the HBO APA Visionaries Award and was distributed on HBO. Together, the films she produced have played at more than 50 film festivals, won several ‘best short film’ awards, and received distribution. She’s currently in the festival circuit with her feature films TEST PATTERN, which won the Starz/Lionsgate Producer Award at Blackstar Film Festival and the Jury Award for Best Narrative Feature at the 2019 New Orleans Film Festival, and PAPER TIGER, which will premiere at the 2020 Newport Beach Film Festival. She lives in Los Angeles.

The Young King

• Larin Sullivan, Director/Producer
• Kim Bailey, Producer
• Isabel Marden, Producer

The Young King

• Larin Sullivan, Director/Producer
• Kim Bailey, Producer
• Isabel Marden, Producer

Logline
THE YOUNG KING is the story of Jules, a cocky young drag king on a quest to become her own man. Over a weekend in Vegas, she falls for Ronnie, a stripper, and reconnects with her estranged father Mick, a clown, who delivers a lesson of tough love at the poker table.

Larin Sullivan, Director/Producer
Larin Sullivan is an emerging narrative filmmaker with a decade of experience directing broadcast documentaries, short films, branded, and LGBTQIA+ content. After earning her M.F.A. from Columbia University in the City of New York, School of the Arts, she won a commission to direct the final installment of the award-winning Australian arts documentary series, “Anatomy.” Her film SOUL, produced by Matchbox Pictures, is about a burial garment designer’s first collaboration with a living client, and was nominated for an ATOM Award. Her three short narrative films, DIVE, EXPOSURE, and BIKE JOB, have played BFI Flare, InsideOut, Outfest, Frameline, Mill Valley Film Festival, Nashville Film Festival, and Montreal World Film Festival. Her documentaries have aired on ABC Australia, HGTV, and Showtime Networks, and she has directed advertising campaigns for Lexus, Samsung, OUT, and Nestlé. She has collaborated with musical artists including Romy Hoffman on music videos, and her video art has been exhibited by Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Dirty Looks on Location, and Mardi Gras Festival. She wrote and will direct THE YOUNG KING, which tells one drag king’s journey to come to terms with her own flawed male role model over a weekend in Las Vegas. THE YOUNG KING is the first ever (known of) drag king narrative feature film.

Kim Bailey, Producer
Originally from Hong Kong, Kim Bailey cut her teeth in the independent film space at Paradigm Talent Agency, then as a Creative Executive at e2b Capital, working with prolific producers Cassian Elwes and Robert Barnum. During this time, Bailey worked on such films as the Academy Award-winning DALLAS BUYERS CLUB, BLACK OR WHITE, LEE DANIELS’ THE BUTLER, AIN’T THEM BODIES SAINTS, among others.

Bailey was an Associate Producer on the indie thriller SUBMERGED, directed by Steven C. Miller, starring up-and-comers Rosa Salazar (ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL) and Talulah Riley (“Westworld”), which was distributed through IFC. She worked at Fortitude International as Director of Acquisitions and International, and with Chinese-American financing entity Tang Media Partners before leaving to form Corporate Witchcraft. Bailey is passionate about supporting female creators and diverse voices. Corporate Witchcraft’s debut feature, CLEMENTINE, by writer-director Lara Jean Gallagher, premiered at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival and will be released by Oscilloscope in Spring 2020.

Isabel Marden, Producer
Isabel Marden was born and raised in Hong Kong. She began her career in film in Beijing at Bona Film, a Chinese independent film studio that financed, developed, produced, and distributed 15 local language films and co-productions a year. After three years in China, Marden moved to Los Angeles to pursue a graduate degree in producing at the prestigious Peter Stark Producing program at the University of Southern California. While in the program, Marden produced a short film, FANNY PACK, which had a successful festival run and was picked up for distribution by Vimeo.

Before co-founding Corporate Witchcraft with partner Kim Bailey, Marden worked in the creative development department at Sony/Columbia. During this time, Marden was on the board of the Sony Pictures China Writers Fellowship, an initiative developed by the studio to promote cross-cultural collaborations between U.S.- and China-based film professionals.