Independent Filmmaker Project Names Producer Jeffrey Sharp as New Executive Director

The Independent Filmmaker Project announced on Wednesday that it has tapped film producer Jeffrey Sharp as the institution’s new executive director.

Sharp, an award-winning producer for “You Can Count on Me,” will bring decades of experience to IFP, including his other work producing films such as “Boys Don’t Cry,” “Evening and The Yellow Birds” and digitally publishing authors such as William Styron, Pat Conroy and Pearl Buck as co-founder and president of Open Road Integrated Media.

“We are delighted to have Jeff join IFP as its leader.  His credentials and background are a perfect fit with our organization,” IFP co-chairs Anthony Bregman and Jim Janowitz said in a statement. “He has developed and produced prestigious independent films. He has extensive non-profit experience as a co-founder and Chair of the Hamptons International Film Festival Advisory Board. He has broad contacts across foundations, arts organizations, and government.”

“I am tremendously honored to be joining the IFP as its new executive director,” Sharp added. “IFP has had an enormous impact on the independent film industry in New York and around the world for the past forty years.  I am excited to begin working with the talented IFP team, IFP members and alumni as we continue to explore new opportunities and expand on Joana Vicente’s remarkable legacy.”

Also Read: Inside Indie Film's Year of Upheaval: Weinstein and Open Road Are Out, Netflix and Searchlight Soar

The IFP connects artists with essential resources at all stages of development and distribution. The organization fosters a vibrant and sustainable independent storytelling community through its year-round programs, which include Independent Film Week, Filmmaker Magazine, the IFP Gotham Awards and the Made in NY Media Center by IFP, a tech and media incubator space developed with the New York Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment.

The IFP represents a growing network of storytellers around the world and plays a key role in developing 350 new feature and documentary works each year. During its 40-year history, the IFP has supported over 10,000+ projects and offered resources to more than 20,000 filmmakers, including Barry Jenkins, Laura Poitras, Debra Granik, Miranda July, Michael Moore, Dee Rees, and Benh Zeitlin.

Also Read: 5 Things Every Indie Film Director Can Learn From Her Art Department (Guest Blog)

Sharp will succeed Joana Vicente who previously served as the executive director of IFP for eight years. The IFP Board of Directors selected Sharp after conducting a nation-wide search.

In 2009, Sharp co-founded the digital publishing and marketing company Open Road Integrated Media with former HarperCollins CEO Jane Friedman and served as the company’s president. In 2013, he co-founded Story Mining and Supply Co. with Jim Kohlberg serving as president and CEO. The company produced the TV show Outlander for Starz, as well as feature films “The Yellow Birds,” “UFO” and Fox Searchlights’s upcoming production of “The Fence.”

He also formed Sharp Independent Pictures in partnership with GEM Pictures in 2016 to develop, finance and produce feature films and TV shows for the U.S. and China co-production market. Sharp Independent productions include: “My Other Home,” the hit TV show “Wonderful Life” and the current $300 million Chinese box office hit “Crazy Alien.” Upcoming projects include “The Great Banquet” and “The Baccarat Queen.”

Also Read: Mark Urman, Veteran Indie Film Distributor, Dies at 66

Sharp is a member of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts and the Producers Guild of America. He won an Independent Spirit Award for best first feature for “You Can Count on Me,” was nominated for a Golden Globe for “Nicholas Nickleby,” and was honored with the Andrew Sarris award in 2005 from the Columbia University School of the Arts for his contribution to independent cinema in 2005.

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Finalists Announced for 2018 ShortList Film Festival

TheWrap is pleased to announce the 12 finalists in the seventh annual ShortList Film Festival, launching today online.

The finalists, hand-picked from the world’s top film festivals over the last year, will stream on the site starting today through August 22, 2018 — allowing visitors to vote on their favorites.

The Audience Prize and The Industry Prize winners will each receive a $5,000 cash prize during a ceremony to take place at the AMC Century City in Los Angeles on Thursday, August 23.

The films in the main competition are a mix of foreign language, drama, comedy and animation created by filmmakers from around the globe.

Also Read: MEET: The 2018 ShortList Film Festival Jurors!

In addition, eight student films from top colleges and universities included in TheWrap’s ranking of film schools have been named finalists in a sidebar competition.

The contenders come from filmmakers who studied at USC, UCLA, University of North Carolina School of the Arts, the American Film Institute, Loyola Marymount University, the University of Texas, Northwestern University and Savannah College of Art and Design.

You can watch, vote and share your favorite festival short film using #Shortlist2018 for your chance to win two tickets to the ShortList Film Festival award ceremony. The ShortList Film Festival is supported by Topic and AMC Theatres.

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Here are the official finalists in the 2018 ShortList Film Festival:

“Agua Viva”
Directed by: Alexa Lim Haas
USA, 7 minutes
A Chinese manicurist in Miami attempts to describe feelings she doesn’t have the words for.

“Debris”
Directed by: Julio O. Ramos
Peru/USA, 14 minutes
After a disastrous event on his construction site, Armando acts quickly to save his crew, but instead stumbles upon an unspeakable truth.

“Devi (Goddess)”
Directed by: Karishma Dev Dube
India, 13 minutes
Set in New Delhi, a closeted lesbian risks family and social boundaries as she pursues her household maid, Devi.

“The Driver Is Red”
Directed by: Randall Christopher
USA, 14 minutes
Set in Argentina 1960, this true crime documentary follows the story of secret agent Zvi Aharoni as he hunted down one of the highest ranking Nazi war criminals on the run.

Also Read: 'The Silence,' 'American Paradise' Take Top Prizes at TheWrap's Shortlist Film Festival 2017

“Fish Story”
Directed by: Charlie Lyne
UK, 13 minutes
Sometime in the 1980s, Caspar Salmon’s grandmother was invited to a gathering on the Welsh island of Anglesey, attended exclusively by people with fish surnames. Or so he says. Thirty years later, filmmaker Charlie Lyne attempts to sort myth from reality as he searches for the truth behind this fishy tale.

“Little Potato”
Directed by: Wes Hurley & Nathan M. MIller
USA, 14 minutes
An autobiographical documentary short about a gay boy growing up in the Soviet Union, his mail-order-bride mom and their adventurous escape to America.

“Magic Alps”
Directed by: Andrea Brusa and Marco Scotuzzi
Italy, 14 minutes
An Afghan refugee arriving in Italy to seek asylum brings the immigration system to a grinding halt when he includes his beloved goat in the application. Based on a true story.

“My Dead Dad’s Porno Tapes”
Directed by: Charlie Tyrell
Canada, 13 minutes
In My Dead Dad’s Porno Tapes director Charlie Tyrell attempts to uncover a deeper understanding of his deceased father by examining his posthumous possessions.

Narrated by David Wain (director of “Wet Hot American Summer”), Tyrell presents a unique lens on family relationships and their challenges.

“Nevada”
Directed by: Emily Ann Hoffman
USA, 12 minutes
A young couple’s romantic weekend getaway is interrupted by a birth control mishap in this stop-motion animated comedy.

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“Night Shift”
Directed by: Marshall Tyler
USA, 16 minutes
A day in the life of a bathroom attendant in a Los Angeles nightclub.

“Wave”
Directed by: Benjamin Cleary and TJ O’Grady Peyton
Ireland, 10 minutes
Gaspar Rubicon wakes from a coma speaking a fully formed but unrecognizable language, baffling linguistic experts from around the globe. Cleary won an Oscar two years ago for his last short, “Stutterer.”

“Weekends”
Directed by: Trevor Jimenez
USA, 15 minutes
“Weekends” is the story of a young boy shuffling between the homes of his recently divorced parents. Surreal, dream-like moments mix with the domestic realities of a broken up family in this hand-animated film set in 1980’s Toronto.

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The finalists in the Student category:

“A Place to Stay” (American Film Institute)
Directed by: Charlie Polinger
USA, 17 minutes
Kansas City, 1959. When Andy’s boyfriend leaves him, he drives across the state to confront him and discovers his lover’s double life.

“The Goodnight Show” (University of Texas)
Directed by: Charlie Schwan
USA, 16 minutes
The year is 1978 and an unstoppable asteroid is soaring directly for earth. As a family eats their last meal, a news program playing in the background confirms their inevitable and impending doom. For most, there isn’t much to do except sit and wait for the end. In paltry hero Samuel’s case, however, this is his last chance to prove to himself — and everyone else — that he’s not a loser.

“Labor” (University of California, Los Angeles)
Directed by: Cecilia Albertini
USA/Italy, 12 minutes
Two mothers. One baby. A harrowing decision.

“Oglesby Park” (Northwestern University)
Directed by: Troy Lewis
USA, 9 minutes
After a confusing encounter at the park, a young boy struggles to reconcile the ache of empathy with the desire to push the pain away, leading to devastating results.

“One Small Step” (University of Southern California)
Directed by:  Aqsa Altaf
USA, 13 minutes
Dasani is a motivated 9-year-old student who dreams of becoming an astronaut. After finding out that her class is going on a field trip to the Science Museum to see the Endeavor Space Shuttle, Dasani starts counting down days to that trip. After her mother doesn’t return from a rally one day, Dasani is forced to choose between going on that field trip or being with her siblings.

“The Peak” (Savannah College of Art and Design)
Directed by: Mark Alex Vogt
USA & Hong Kong, 14 minutes
In this love story, set against the backdrop of Hong Kong’s Hungry Ghost Festival, a young man leads his girlfriend on an elaborate scavenger hunt as they prepare to say goodbye to the city where they first met.

“Supernova” (University of North Carolina School of the Arts)
Directed by: Gavin Lankford and Alexsandre C. Kosinski
USA, 9 minutes
When a little boy’s late-night viewing of his favorite space adventure is cut short by a scolding from his mom, he channels the heroism of his sci-fi fantasy hero and makes it his mission to get it back.

“Z-MAN” (Loyola Marymount University)
Directed by: David Fortune
USA, 12 minutes
Z -MAN follows the journey of a 7-year-old boy pretending to be a superhero in South Central LA. After witnessing a crime in his neighborhood, he goes on a mission to find the man responsible and ensure the safety of his community.

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Indie Movies Aren’t Hiring Women Directors Either, Study Finds

When it comes to the minuscule percentage of women directing films, the numbers are less depressing within the independent film scene.

But a new study shows that little progress was made in 2015, and that a disturbing disparity between men and women directors in the space has continued in the past year.

Women accounted for 28 percent of directors whose films screened at top U.S. film festivals last year, according to the annual study “Women in Independent Film” released on Thursday. While still far from reflecting 50-50 parity, the number is markedly better than the 9 percent of women directors who helmed major-studio films in 2015.

Also Read: 20th Century Fox, Paramount Have No Female Directors Through 2018

Led by Martha Lauzen, executive director of the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University, the study focuses on women’s representation at 23 U.S. festivals, including AFI Fest, SXSW and the Tribeca Film Festival.

“The findings indicate that while women fare better in independent films, particularly documentaries, than in studio features, they are not close to achieving parity in the independent realm,” Lauzen said in a statement.

Indeed, 35 percent of documentary directors working the festival circuit last year were women. Compare that with the mere 19 percent of women directors who worked on narrative features.

Also Read: DGA's List of 80 Best-Directed Films Includes One Female Filmmaker

When crunching the numbers on directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors and cinematographers as a group, women made up 25 percent of those working on U.S. festival circuit films — a figure that has not changed significantly since 2008-09, when Lauzen’s team began its study.

“Women’s representation on independent films is stagnant,” Lauzen said. “In spite of the increasing dialogue about this issue, the numbers have yet to move. We are not seeing year-to-year growth.”

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‘Carol’ Filmmakers Fight for Long-Overdue Awards Recognition

Going into Monday night’s Gotham Awards, “Carol” is the most celebrated, raved-about and nominated independent film of the year.

So why does it still feel like something of an underdog this awards season, particularly when it comes to the Oscars?

You can partly chalk it up to the film’s subtlety and understatement, which are sadly not qualities that register with voters very often. And you can add a sobering and surprising statistic about two of the indie icons who helped make the exquisite, ’50s-set romance: Todd Haynes has never been nominated for an Oscar for directing, and Christine Vachon has never been nominated in any category.

Also Read: 'Carol' Review: Cate Blanchett Radiates Passion in Todd Haynes' Near-Perfect Masterpiece

At a time when independent films routinely dominate the Oscars, when “Birdman” can go from the Gothams to the Spirit Awards to the Oscars and win all three, it’s unfortunate that two of the most respected figures in the indie world could have been shut out by the Academy — and troubling that they shouldn’t be slam-dunk contenders for a film as elegant and moving as “Carol.”

The film is up for three Gothams, including Best Feature, Best Screenplay and Best Actress (Cate Blanchett). It led all films in nominations for the other major independent-film award, the Film Independent Spirit Awards, with six nods that included feature, director and actress for both Blanchett and Rooney Mara.

It is also one of the best-reviewed films of the year, with a score of 94 on Metacritic, topping every narrative film except the animated “Anomalisa.” And in the recent Sight and Sound listing of the year’s 20 best movies, it came in at No. 2, behind only Hou Hsiao-hsien’s “The Assassin.”

The raves have been steady since the Weinstein Company film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival — but in a year with a surprising abundance of films built around female protagonists (“Brooklyn,” “Joy,” “Room”), the quietest and subtlest film of the batch is also a quiet voice during awards season, with fellow indies “Spotlight” and “Room” landing higher in most pundits’ predictions.

See video: Cate Blanchett Flips Lips, Sings Creepy Duet With Jimmy Fallon (Video)

“It’s not going to be for every filmgoer — especially today, when people’s attentions are easily diverted,” Haynes admitted to TheWrap in a recent interview. “And when there is consensus around something, people want to take it down a peg. That’ll happen, if it hasn’t already.”

The Weinstein Company

Still, “Carol” has done well under the Weinstein Company’s quiet rollout strategy, which is similar to the way the company launched Oscar winners “The King’s Speech” and “The Artist.” It opened on Nov. 20 in four theaters to a strong $63,378 per-screen average, and dropped less than 20 percent in its second weekend. It will not expand to additional theaters until Dec. 11.

The film is likely to figure in critics’ awards, which will begin to be announced this week with the New York Film Critics Circle on Wednesday and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, among others, on Sunday. (The National Board of Review, which is not a critics’ group, will make its announcement on Tuesday.)

Also Read: 'Carol,' 'Beasts of No Nation' Lead Indie Spirit Awards Nominations

But first come the New York-based Gotham Awards, where “Spotlight” is a formidable competitor and “The Diary of a Teenage Girl” led all films in nominations with four in the seven competitive categories.

Haynes has never received an award at the Gothams, and “I’m Not There” is the only one of his films to get a nomination.

To be fair, though the Gothams concentrated on breakthrough performances and films for most of its 24 years, so Haynes was too established to be in the running for many of those years. This year he will be the recipient of a Gothams tribute to his entire career.

He has also won the Sundance jury prize for “Poison,” a Cannes jury award for “Velvet Goldmine,” an Oscar screenplay nomination for “Far From Heaven,” three Emmy nominations for “Mildred Pierce” and Spirit Award directing nominations for every film he’s ever released — as well as a reputation as one of the true auteurs of the indie movement, which has drawn actresses like Blanchett to work with him.

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“[‘Carol’] was made on a shoestring, with no artistic compromises made,” said the Oscar-winning actress, who previously worked with Haynes on “I’m Not There.” “Somehow Todd makes these extraordinary beasts of films, unusual and particular. I marvel at how he does that.”

Vachon, meanwhile, has produced all of Haynes’ films, as well as “Boys Don’t Cry,” “Still Alice,” “Kids,” “I Shot Andy Warhol,” “Happiness” and “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” — and she’s received honors from the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Board of Review, as well as a special Gotham Award in 1999.

Both she and Haynes should end up at the Dolby Theatre on Feb. 28. But first they have to navigate the rocky roads of awards season, starting with the Gothams tonight and the critics’ awards later in the week.

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Sundance Selects Picks Up Alexandre Moors’ ‘Blue Caprice’

Sundance Selects has acquired the North American and Latin American rights to Alexandre Moors’ "Blue Caprice," the company announced on Tuesday.

Moors' directorial debut investigates the 2002 Beltway sniper attacks from the point of view of the two killers, John Allen Muhammad and 17-year-old Lee Boyd Malvo.

Isaiah Washington stars as Muhammad; Tequan Richmond plays Malvo.

Also read: Beltway Sniper Film ‘Blue Caprice’ at Sundance: ‘Killers Aren’t Born, They’re Made’

The drama, set to open Film Society of Lincoln Center and MOMA’s 2013 New Directors/New Films Festival later this month, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January.

April Yvette Thompson, who has a brief part as Malvo’s mother, summarized the film's hypothesis by telling the audience at Sundance that "killers aren’t born, they’re made."

R.F.I. Porto wrote the screenplay for the film; it was produced by Isen Robbins, Aimee Schoof, Ron Simons, Stephen Tedeschi, Brian O’Carroll, Kim Jackson and Will Rowbotham.

"Alexandre Moors has made one of the most distinct and haunting American independent films of the year featuring unforgettable performances by Isaiah Washington and Tequan Richmond," Jonathan Sehring, president of Sundance Selects/IFC Films, said in a statement. "We're thrilled to be able to release this and look forward to working with the producers and Cinetic to make this a big success.”

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