The nonprofit Sundance Institute announced today four independent nonfiction feature film projects and artist teams selected for the 2023 Documentary Edit and Story Lab taking place at the Sundance Resort today through June 24. Designed to encourage experimentation and risk-taking through peer-to-peer engagement, the weeklong convening creates a space for fellows to develop, interrogate, and collaborate on films in the later stages of post-production. Also announced are the 2023 Contributing Editor Fellows, four emerging editors who will kick off their fellowship at the lab as well as the 2023 Sundance Documentary Film Program artists-in-residence.
The lab brings together director and editor teams from around the world with renowned documentary filmmakers who advise on the process of reimagining or reconceiving dramatic structures, exploring character and story development, and recentering their work around original motivations.
Documentary Film Program Deputy Director Kristin Feeley said, “My team and I are humbled by the artists selected for this year’s lab. They are creating work with radical imagination, hope, and a thrilling sense of creative possibility. These essential stories from around the world share a strong sense of community and reflect the universal in the specific.”
The Documentary Edit and Story Lab director advisors are Laura Poitras (All the Beauty and the Bloodshed) and Bhawin Suchak (Outta The Muck), and the editor advisors are Andrea Chignoli (Circumstance), Steven Golliday (King in the Wilderness), Rabab Haj Yahya (Another Body), and Terra Long (Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project).
The four artist teams will also work with four contributing editor fellows, Jessica Jones,Beth Kearsley, Claudia Ramirez, and Emily Yue, who attend the lab as part of a yearlong fellowship spotlighting emerging talents committed to the art and craft of editing nonfiction feature films. Contributing editor fellows receive a stipend, a dedicated mentor, and access to curated workshops and small gatherings through the fellowship year.
In addition to the four selected projects and contributing editor fellows, the lab will include artists-in-residence Damon Davis and Chris McNabb attending with their in-progress project, Chain of Rocks.
Finalists for the 2023 Documentary Edit and Story Lab include the following projects: Run With It (U.S.A.), Slumlord Millionaire (U.S.A.), We Never Left (U.S.A./Lebanon), Worldmakers (tentatively titled) (U.S.A,)
The Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program is made possible by founding support from the Open Society Foundations. Generous additional support is provided by John Templeton Foundation; National Endowment for the Humanities; John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; Luminate; Sandbox Films; The Kendeda Fund; The Asian American Foundation (TAAF); Gucci; CNN Films; Helen Gurley Brown Foundation; The Charles Engelhard Foundation; Genuine Article Pictures; Violet Spitzer-Lucas and the Spitzer Family Foundation; National Endowment for the Arts; Nion McEvoy & Leslie Berriman; Code Blue Foundation; EarthSense Foundation; Adobe; and two anonymous donors.
2023 Documentary Edit and Story Lab Fellows and Projects
Blacked Out Dreams (U.S.A.) – A film about how rapid school closures and a water crisis in Flint, Michigan, force normal kids to live in very abnormal conditions. The film follows two siblings and their best friend over two years as they navigate toward graduating from the last remaining public high school in a city divided by race and plagued by poverty.
Adeleke Omitowoju (Director)Adeleke Omitowoju is a director, entrepreneur, and investor obsessed with finding new pathways for people of color to flourish. Through film, Ade seeks to tell stories that honor the brilliance of Black people. As an investor, he supports entrepreneurs of color building scalable tech that impacts communities and generates generational wealth.
Steven Pargett (Co-Director/Producer):Steve Pargett is a producer, entrepreneur, and creative director with a passion for storytelling and social impact. For the past 10 years his social impact agency, Militia Design, has been helping social justice organizations around the country build their brand, tell their story, and create lasting change. He is committed to creating a better world and shaping the future with creative tools.
Nia Imani Phillips (Editor):Nia Imani is a Grammy Award–winning editor best known for her work onHomecoming : A Film by Beyoncé. She has cut commercials, music videos, short films, and documentaries collaborating with Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Miu Miu, Patta, Sacai, Nike, Olivia Rodrigo, Steve McQueen, Janicza Bravo, Chloe x Halle, and H.E.R.
Concrete Land (Jordan) – An intimate look into the complex dynamics of a close-knit, three-generational Bedouin family and their beloved pet sheep, as they navigate their life under the increasing hostility they face from their non-nomadic neighbors and the constant threat of gentrification. Now, the life of the still singing family is about to change.
Asmahan Bkerat (Director/Producer):Asmahan Bkerat is a Palestinian-Jordanian documentary filmmaker. She started her career as a photographer and social justice advocate. Bkerat’s first short doc, Badrya‘, won the Jury Prize for Best MiniDoc at the Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival. She is currently directing and producing documentaries on various subjects and lengths.
Ban Maraqa (Editor):
Ban Maraqa is a Palestinian-Jordanian documentary filmmaker with a background in photography and a degree in animation, transitioning from art direction to documentary production. Currently, she’s immersed in Concrete Land, the upcoming feature-length documentary. Maraqa is an alumna of Sundance Institute, Doha Film Institute, and DocEdgeKolkata.
No Other Land(Palestine, Norway) – Basel, a young Palestinian born to activist parents, carries on their fight to save the villages of Masafer Yatta. During the darkest years of his life, as his community is slowly destroyed, he develops an unlikely, intimate friendship.
Yuval Abraham (Director):
Yuval Abraham is an Israeli director and journalist from Jerusalem. He has worked as a video journalist for Social TV and as a writer for +972 Magazine.
Basel Adra (Director):
Basel Adra is a Palestinian journalist, activist, lawyer, and filmmaker from Masafer Yatta. He has been documenting life around him since the age of 15 and is working for numerous media outlets and human rights organizations.
Hamdan Balal (Director):
Hamdan Balal is a photographer and activist based in the village of Susya in the occupied West Bank. He studied photography and business in university and is a human rights activist fighting against Israeli apartheid and forced transfer of his community, Masafer Yatta.
Rachel Szor (Director/Editor):
Rachel Szor is a journalist, cinematographer, and editor. This is her first feature film
Remaining Native (U.S.A.) – Ku Stevens dreams of becoming an elite runner, but he struggles to balance the sport’s glorified individualism and the values of interconnectedness he was raised with on the reservation. When thousands of Native children’s remains are discovered, Ku reckons with his family’s dark past while running toward his future.
Paige Bethmann (Director):
Paige Bethmann is a Haudenosaunee director based in Reno. Paige’s work has been shown across networks such as ESPN, PBS, Vox Media, Youtube Originals, and NBC. Her directorial debut, Remaining Native, is supported by the IDA, Points North + CNN, Perspective Fund, BAVC, Nia Tero, and Running Strong.
Stephanie Khoury (Editor):
Stephanie Khoury began storytelling by documenting life through her drawings. Her work includes Our Turn To Talk, Picturing the Obamas, and Death Metal Grandma. In 2019–2020 she was named a Karen Schmeer Diversity in the Edit Room mentee. She hopes to continue to create stories that inspire empathy and understanding.
Contributing Editor Fellows
Jessica Jones is an Emmy® (CA-regional)–nominated documentary editor. She served as an assistant editor for A Fragile Trust and A New Color and an associate editor for Voices Rising: The Music of Wakanda Forever. She has edited numerous short documentaries and recently edited her first feature, Born For This.
Beth Kearsley is a documentary assistant editor and emerging editor from Salt Lake City, Utah. Beth’s work includes Plan C (Sundance, 2023), What Comes Around (TIFF, 2022), Bitterbrush (Telluride, 2021), and Free Chol Soo Lee (Sundance, 2022). She is currently a 2022–2023 Karen Schmeer film editing fellow.
Claudia Ramirez is a social justice advocate and filmmaker raised in Los Angeles. She is a co-founder of the Undocumented Filmmakers Collective, which promotes equity for undocumented immigrants in the film industry. Most recently, Claudia worked as associate editor on a feature documentary, unseen.
Emily Yue is a Brooklyn-based filmmaker, currently assistant editing on an untitled documentary (dir. Lance Oppenheim). Some of her recent post-production credits include How to Blow Up a Pipeline (NEON) and The Rescue (National Geographic). She is a member of the Asian American Documentary Network, Brown Girls Doc Mafia, and IATSE Local 700.