22 Oct 2021
Producers of the Spirit Awards, and non-profit arts organization, Film Independent, announced the five filmmakers and projects selected for their 21st annual producing Lab. The fellows will participate in a program set up to help develop their skills and further their careers by pairing them with a creative advisor who will advise on both the craft and business of independent producing.
The 2021 Producing Lab is supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The Sloan Producers Grant, a $30,000 grant to further develop a project that explores science and technology themes or characters in engaging and innovative ways, was awarded to Cecilia Otero with her project, Upstreamers. Additional support comes from the National Endowment for the Arts.
“We are thrilled to support this year’s talented cohort of Producers who are championing global stories that speak to the universal human experiences of ambition, redemption and connection.” said Angela C. Lee, Associate Director of Artist Development. “This year’s projects span from the US to Bangladesh, Trinidad to Europe and we are excited to help further empower our producing fellows to bring to life these beautiful stories that can and will entertain a worldwide audience.”
“I’m really honored to have been awarded the Sloan Grant,” said Cecilia Otero, recipient of the 2021 Sloan Producing Grant. “As a female producer from Latin America, it’s been really exciting to feel I can step into a field that’s been so dominated by men and tell this story of struggle that is so close to our hearts. Upstreamers explores the limits of art, passion, and tennis through our protagonist’s obsession with success. Having the support of the Sloan Foundation and Film Independent brings us one step closer to realizing this story onscreen. As an independent and international filmmaker these kinds of initiatives are fundamental in making our work possible.”
This year’s mentors and guest speakers include: Mollye Asher, Jason Michael Berman, Karin Chien, Dr. Nicole Friedman, Marissa Frobes, Sheila Hanahan Taylor, Mel Jones, Sarah Kim, Lauren Mann, Amanda Marshall, Paul Mezey, Diego Najera, Julia Nelson, Shrihari Sathe, Lizzie Shapiro, Lena Vurma, Diana Williams, and Rebecca Wyzan.
The 2021 Producing Lab Fellows and their projects are:
Title: Mama D’Lo Producer: Robert Maylor Deep in the Trinidadian jungle, a river is being choked to death by developers, and an old curse must be released in order to stop them.
Title: Moving Bangladesh Producer: Arifur Rahman Sick of being stuck in traffic – and in life – a struggling middle-class Bangladeshi entrepreneur creates a motorcycle-based ridesharing app that may change transport in developing cities, such as Dhaka, forever but must first overcome his family’s skepticism and a hostile political environment.
Title: Upstreamers Producer: Cecilia Otero When 30-year-old professional tennis player Alex gets threatened with losing his scholarship at his academy, his once promising career faces a sudden end. In his despair and obsession with succeeding in the sport he loves, he turns to what he sees as his last option to turn his fate around: doping.
Title: Wild Animal Producer: Lysette Urus A young, transient MMA fighter is forced to choose between court-ordered Equine Therapy and the familiar path of self-destruction, after a traumatic brain injury threatens her promising career.
Title: Zagorohorror Producer: Meaghan “Wilbs” Wilbur Eva thinks her cousin Georgia’s views on motherhood are regressive. Georgia thinks Eva’s feminism is playing with fire. Their grandmother’s remote mountain village in Greece thinks they’re both ripe for the picking.