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IDA Announces Emerging Filmmaker Mentorship Program

By Ranell Shubert

The IDA and Filmmaker-in-Residence Renee Tajima-Peña are proud to announce a new filmmaker mentorship program. Renee will mentor several emerging filmmakers who are actively working on a documentary. These projects range from those in the development phase to those in the latter stages of post-production. Renee will meet with each filmmaker one-on-one on a regular basis, offering information and advice on their individual projects, as well as on their overall career development in the documentary field.

By the end of the mentorship, mentees should emerge with a broader perspective on their projects and a clearer understanding of their professional goals for their documentary career.

This year's projects are:

Pigeon Kings - Milena Pastreich (director) - Pigeon Kings takes us through the backyards of South Central Los Angeles, where men are devoted to tumbling pigeons. We watch as enthusiasts breed and train their birds for the Birmingham Roller Pigeon World Cup, where birds must fly together and somersault in unison, like a flock of synchronized swimmers in the sky.

The Making of a King - Nicole Miyahara (director), Niccole Osborn (producer) - The Making of a King explores the relatively unknown subculture of drag kings in Los Angeles. As the lesser-known counterpart to drag queens, these female and transgender entertainers are fighting for gender representation and equality within their own drag community. Chest binding, bald caps or wigs, application of facial hair, and detailed cosmetic contouring complete the elaborate pre-show transformation, creating characters from the "boy next door" to fantastical creatures. Through deeply honest interviews and engaging performances, the kings reveal the diverse ways of performing masculinity and identity, share what these performances mean to them, and describe the struggles of what it will take to be part of mainstream pop-culture.

Free Chol Soo Lee - Julie Ha and Eugene Yi (directors) - Free Chol Soo Lee tells the story of a Korean American death row inmate wrongfully convicted of a 1973 Chinatown gangland murder, and the activists who form a historic pan-Asian American movement — the first of its kind — to free him. But, once on the outside, the person these activists saw as hero and political prisoner struggles with drug addiction and criminality, leading many to question, "Who is Chol Soo Lee?" The film explores the complex legacy of this man and the landmark, yet largely forgotten movement he inspired.

Unseen - Set H Rongkilyo (director) - Set is currently working on a documentary that explores the intersection of immigrant rights and disability rights through the story of an undocumented immigrant who is legally blind. The film uses sound and experimental cinematography to portray the point-of-view of a person who is blind, but also to reimagine the accessibility of cinema for audience members that cannot see. More importantly, the film reflects upon the notion of safety and visibility for undocumented immigrants, considering the new political climate ahead.