Long before the world jumped on #inclusion and #diversity the creative team at Film Independent understood the lack of diverse voices in the film industry and decided to do something about it.  Fast forward to 2021 and they are still rocking this agenda not because it’s trendy but because it’s right. One of the things they got right — again long ago — is  Project Involve  which is Film Independent’s signature program dedicated to fostering the careers of talented filmmakers from communities traditionally underrepresented in the film industry.

Here are the 36 filmmakers and 15 projects that were selected for the 19th Fast Track Film Finance Market that took place online November 15 – 18, 2021. The program is an intensive, four-day film-financing market in which participants are connected with established financiers, production companies, agents, managers, and other film industry professionals who can move their current projects forward.

“Storytelling knows no boundaries, and our support of a global group of filmmakers and stories reflects not only the universality of the human condition, but the tangible importance of fostering connections between filmmakers and industry from international markets to help these projects reach audiences everywhere,” said Lisa Hasko, Director of Artist Development.

Recent Fast Track projects completed include Bing Liu’s 2019 Oscar-nominated documentary Minding the Gap; Hikari’s 2019 Berlinale jury prize and audience award-winning debut 37 Seconds; Kirill Mikhanovsky’s Give Me Liberty which premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival and Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes; Christina Choe’s 2018 Sundance Jury prize-winning fiction feature Nancy; Nijla Mumin’s 2018 SXSW jury prize-winning fiction feature JINN; Dyana Winkler and Tina Brown’s 2018 Tribeca Film Festival Audience Award-winning documentary United Skates and Lana Wilson’s 2018 Spirit Award-nominated documentary The Departure. Additional projects supported through Fast Track include Chloé Zhao’s Spirit Award-nominated debut Songs My Brothers Taught Me, David Osit and Malika Zouhali-Worrall’s Emmy award-winning documentary Thank You for Playing, Robbie Pickering’s Spirit Award-nominated Natural Selection; and Courtney Hunt’s Academy Award and Spirit Award-nominated Frozen River.

A select list of Industry participants include representatives from: 30West, A24, Amazon Studios, Andrew Lauren Productions, Astrakan Film AB, Bankside Films, Big Swing Productions, Black Bear Pictures, CAA, Cinetic Media, Cold Iron Pictures, DECAL, Dogwoof, dragonfly films GmbH, Early Bird Films, Emily Schweber Casting, Endeavor Content, Fit Via Vi, Fork Films, Gersh Agency, The Gotham Film & Media Institute (formerly IFP), Hulu, ICM Partners, Impact Partners, International Documentary Association, Kindred Spirit, Ley Line Entertainment, Lionsgate, Luma Pictures, MACRO, Marginal MediaWorks, Maven Screen Media, Mosaic, MUBI, NEON, Paramount Players, Participant, Pulse Films, Rain Management Group, Redefine Entertainment, Rhino Films, Roadside Attractions, Scythia Films / Stellar Citizens, Searchlight Pictures, Seaview Productions, SFFILM, Seine Pictures, Sight Unseen Pictures, Special Thanks, Storm City Films, Sundance Institute, T-Street, Tango Entertainment, TriStar, Untitled Entertainment, UTA, Utopia, The Venice International Film Festival, Verve Talent & Literary Agency, Visit Films, Warner Bros. Television, and Whitewater Films.

The Sloan Fast Track Grant, a $20,000 grant to support the production of a project that explores science and technology themes or characters in engaging and innovative ways, is awarded to Moving Bangladesh written and directed by Nuhash Humayun and produced by Arifur Rahman and Bijon Imtiaz. “It’s an honour,” says Nuhash Humayun. “Our film tells the true story behind Pathao, a motorcycle based ridesharing app that has changed the face of travel in the developing world. A heartfelt underdog story about a startup that goes from Dhaka’s alleys to Silicon Valley, the film captures how solving a local problem can become a global phenomenon.”

The following filmmakers and their projects were selected to participate in Film Independent’s 2021 Fast Track program:

FICTION TRACK:

Title: Alien Kulture

Writer/Director: Iesh Thapar

Producer: Sarah Seulki Oh

Logline: A British Indian youngster growing up during Margaret Thatcher’s racially divided Britain, battles the conservative trappings of society and his insular-minded older brother, in order to pursue his musical dreams and unlikely punk-rock ambitions.

Title: Angel in Retrograde

Writer/Director: Miguel Angel Caballero

Producer: Ornella Jaramillo

Logline: After being diagnosed with retrograde amnesia, Angel, a husband, and father, struggles to remember who he is. As memories and repressed feelings return, he realizes he’s been living his entire life in the closet, leading to an encounter with Joshua, an estranged high school friend he was once in love with.

Title: The Cow of Queens

Writer/Director: Kate Marks

Producers: Krista Parris, Neda Armian

Logline: A dying dad (think Don Quixote) and his trusty daughter go on one last wild adventure to save a runaway cow from the Butcher, chasing it through the streets of Queens.

Title: Mama DLo
Writer/Director: Lauren Marsden

Producer: Robert Maylor

Logline: 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: The Mesopotamian

Writer/Director: Esra Saydam

Producer: Gerry Kim, Alvaro R. Valente

Logline: Under the moons of Ramadan, a Muslim EMT works the chaotic fringes of NYC with her veteran partner. A chance encounter will spark an affair that will upend her world.

Title: Moving Bangladesh
Writer/Director: Nuhash Humayun

Producers: Arifur Rahman, Bijon Imtiaz

Logline: 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: Our Last Summer

Writer/Co-Director: Gary Jaffe

Co-Director: Katie Ennis

Producer: Emily McCann Lesser

Logline: Westchester, Summer 1991. When his gay uncle Ira returns home dying of complications from HIV/AIDS, closeted teenager Daniel Rosen travels a bumpy road to self-acceptance and first love.

Title: The Plutonians

Writer/Director: Tim Delaney

Producer: Shao Min Chew Chia

Logline: When the redefinition of “planet” threatens to demote Pluto, an insecure Pluto expert dives into a chaotic astronomy conference to save it, fearing irrelevancy without Pluto’s reputation validating his work.

Title: Wild Animal
Writer/Director: Joseph Marconi

Producer: Lysette Urus

Logline: 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
Writer/Director: Cat Papadimitriou

Producer: Meaghan “Wilbs” Wilbur

Logline: 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.

DOCUMENTARY TRACK:

Title: Dusty & Stones
Director: Jesse Rudoy

Producer: Melissa Adeyemo

Logline: Two struggling country music singers from the tiny African Kingdom of Swaziland journey to Texas determined to win big at a battle of the bands and turn their careers around.

Title: Joybubbles

Director/Producer: Rachael Morrison

Producer: Sarah Winshall

Logline: Joybubbles tells the amazing story of Joe Engressia (aka Joybubbles), a blind genius who discovered he could hack into the analogue telephone system by whistling a magic tone.

Title: Nurse Unseen

Director:  Michele Josue

Producers: Carlo Velayo, Jhett Tolentino

Logline: Nurse Unseen explores the little-known history and humanity of the unsung Filipino nurses risking their lives on the frontlines of a pandemic, thousands of miles from home.

Title: Philly on Fire
Director: Ross Rockow

Producers: Shannon Kring, Tommy Walker

Logline: Told by those who lived it, Philly on Fire is the unknown story of May 13, 1985, when Philadelphia—the Birthplace of America and the City of Brotherly Love—became the City that Bombed Itself.

Title: Untitled Sam and Omar Project
Director: Nadav Kurtz

Producer: Diane Quon

Logline: Omar Bader was only eight years old when his father Sam, a film producer, was sentenced to 24 years in prison. Now twenty-three, and struggling under the weight of his father’s long absence, Sam attempts to help Omar summon the courage to pursue his artistic dreams through a creative collaboration.

Film Independent is the nonprofit arts organization that champions creative independence in visual storytelling 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’s Artist Development program offers free labs for selected writers, directors, producers and documentary filmmakers and presents year-round networking opportunities. For more information or to become a Member, visit filmindependent.org.

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is a New York based, philanthropic, not-for-profit institution that makes grants in three areas: research in science, technology, and economics; quality and diversity of scientific institutions; and public engagement with science. Sloan’s program in Public Understanding of Science and Technology, directed by Doron Weber, supports books, radio, film, television, theater, and new media to reach a wide, non-specialized audience and to bridge the two cultures of science and the humanities.

Sloan’s Film Program encourages filmmakers to create more realistic and compelling stories about

For more information about the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, please visit www.sloan.org or follow the Foundation at @SloanPublic on Twitter and Facebook.

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