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By Film Threat Staff | July 28, 2004

The Sundance Institute announced details for the second Sundance Institute Documentary Composers Lab. Five documentary filmmakers and six film music composers have been selected to participate in this year’s Lab, which is a collaboration between the Institute’s Documentary Film Program and its Film Music Program. Based on the success of the Feature Film Composers Lab, the Documentary Composers Lab is an intensive five-day lab, running August 1-5, that focuses on the importance of musical composition in non-fiction filmmaking. This year’s Documentary Composers Lab Filmmaker Fellows are Ra’ed Andoni, Mark Becker, Mercedes Moncada, Hank Rogerson, and Jilann Spitzmiller. The Composing Lab Fellows are Peter Fitazpatrick, Aiko Fuskushima, Joseph Julian Gonzales, Gary Louris, Frank Macchia, and Ras Mesinai. Together, the Documentary filmmaker and composer Fellows will explore and identify scenes to score, and engage in critiques and discussions with Creative Advisors ranging from their work at the Lab to the role of music in independent documentary film.

The Sundance Institute Documentary Composers Laboratory is a component of Sundance Institute’s Documentary Film Program and is an extension of the Institute’s continuing support for documentary filmmakers. The Lab is designed to offer documentary filmmakers and emerging composers the creative opportunity to work together, under the mentorship of veteran composers and documentary filmmakers, on an important and under-developed component of documentary storytelling. The goal for the filmmakers is that they conclude the Lab with a valuable set of tools with which to approach music and their films, and to have enhanced their creative process. For the composers, the lab aims to give them the opportunity to work with documentary filmmakers.

Participants in the Documentary Composers Lab work under the mentorship of a distinguished group of composers and documentary film professionals including: composer John Adams; filmmaker and producer Orlando Bagwell; documentary film director Jon Else; composer and Director of the Sundance Institute Film Music Program, Peter Golub; composer Camara Kambon; and Director of the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program, Diane Weyermann.

“An original score is a powerful and effective element of a nonfiction film, that often gets overlooked and compromised due to a lack of financial resources,” said Diane Weyermann, Director, Sundance Institute Documentary Fund. “This Lab is an opportunity for documentary filmmakers to explore the power of music, and to collaborate with film composers in this aspect of the creative process.”

Filmmakers selected to participate in the 2004 Sundance Institute Documentary Composers Lab are:

Mercedes Moncada, director ^ THE IMMORTAL (Nicaragua/Spain) ^ THE IMMORTAL is a creative exploration of post-civil war Nicaragua and its current environment of religious manipulation, male chauvinism and poverty.

Ra’ed Andoni, director ^ IMPROVISATION (Palestine) ^
IMPROVISATAION explores the conflict of identity faced by different generations of Palestinians, as told through the story of a family of musicians who are divided in their political views, but united by their passion for Oud and Arab classical music.

Mark Becker, director ^ ROMANTICO (USA) ^ ROMANTICO is an intimate portrayal of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. through two Mexican musicians who play romantica music for tips to support their families in Mexico. The film exposes their struggles as they repeatedly cross the border in both directions in hopes of a better future

Hank Rogerson, director, and Jilann Spitzmiller, producer ^ SHAKESPEARE BEHIND BARS (USA) ^ An all-male Shakespeare company at a prison in Kentucky confront their pasts and futures as convicts while they rehearse and perform a full production of The Tempest.

“We have an exciting and eclectic group of composers coming from a wide range of styles and backgrounds,” explained Peter Golub, Director, Sundance Institute Film Music Program. “The composers write and record music, work with the filmmakers, and in general participate in the artistic community at the Sundance Institute. There is much ‘cross-pollination’ and an invigorating flow of ideas.”

Composer Fellows for the 2004 Sundance Institute Documentary Composers Lab are:

Peter Fitzpatrick ^ Peter Fitzpatrick is a singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist. His band, The Pee Wee Fist, recently released The Rusty Bantam LP with the video “Herons”, which he directed. He is also in the band Clem Snide, whose music is featured in the movie BOOK OF LOVE, which premiered at Sundance in 2004. He recently directed and scored a short film called IRIS, starring a robotic hamster.

Aiko Fuskushima ^ Aiko Fukushima studied Filmscoring and Jazz Composition at the Berklee College of Music. She has participated in the BMI Pete Carpenter Fellowship, Henry Mancini Institute and Society of Composers and Lyricist mentor program. She works primarily with jazz and classical music to create a unique blend of styles and vocals. Aiko is currently working as a freelance composer & orchestrater in the Los Angeles area.

Joseph Julian Gonzalez ^ Joseph Julian Gonzalez is a film and television composer with credits that include the features CURDLED, PRICE OF GLORY, the television series RESURRECTION BLVD and the Britney Spears’ music video “Oops, I Did It Again.” His concert music includes commissions for the Kronos Quartet and he has been awarded residencies from Meet The Composer and The American Composers Forum.

Gary Louris ^ Gary Louris is the immensely gifted songwriter, lead guitar player and vocalist for the Jayhawks – arguably the most widely acclaimed band to merge from the alternative country scene.

Frank Macchia ^ Frank Macchia received a National Endowment Grant for the Arts to compose a 90-minute continuous jazz/classical suite for large ensemble. He also won Down Beat magazine’s DB award for original big band composition in 1979. Since 1992 he has worked as an orchestrator on many film projects including: X2-XMEN UNITED, AUSTIN POWERS: GOLDMEMBER, THE CONTENDER, and THE APT PUPIL.

Raz Mesinai ^ Raz Mesinai is a New York-based composer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist who specializes in Middle Eastern percussion and electronics. His music has been performed at The Lincoln Center Festival, Roulette, and The Next, Next Wave Festival, and has been heard in the feature films BLACK HAWK DOWN and THE TRUTH ABOUT CHARLIE, as well as several independent and documentary films. Mesinai also records under the name “Badawi.”

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