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John Smith, Focus Features
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FILM INDEPENDENT AND LAIKA ANNOUNCE SECOND YEAR OF
LAIKA ANIMATION FELLOWSHIP FOR PROJECT INVOLVE
Fellowship provides $10,000 grant to an animation filmmaker from
diversity mentorship program Project Involve
LOS ANGELES (February 3, 2017) â€” Film Independent, the non-profit arts organization that produces the Spirit Awards and the LA Film Festival, and acclaimed animation studio LAIKA (whose most recent film is Kubo and the Two Strings, nominated for two Academy Awards), have announced a second year of the LAIKA Animation Fellowship in Project Involve.
The LAIKA Animation Fellowship provides a $10,000 grant to an animator in Project Involve, Film Independentâ€™s signature diversity mentorship program which fosters the careers of talented filmmakers from communities traditionally underrepresented in the film industry. Project Involve alumni include Effie T. Brown (Dear White People), Jon M. Chu (G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Step Up 2: The Streets); Cherien Dabis (Amreeka, Empire), Kahlil Joseph (Lemonade), Tina Mabry (Queen Sugar) and Justin Simien (Dear White People).
The LAIKA Animation Fellowship was created in 2016 and was awarded to animator Brandon Omari Lake. The Fellowship underwrote Lakeâ€™s participation in Project Involve and includes a $10,000 unrestricted cash grant for the filmmaker. Inspired at an early age by Caribbean folktales and the works of Disney and Rankin-Bass, Lake graduated in 2013 with an MFA in Animation and the Digital Arts from the University of Southern California. Since then his professional portfolio of work has grown and diversified, including Robot Chicken, Bratz, Buddy Thunderstruck, Verizon, and most recently two Honda Spots (â€œPaperâ€, â€œThe Power of Ridgelineâ€) with animation director, PES. Additionally Lake has produced several short films, two of which have been accepted into festivals including KLIK Animation and the Philadelphia Film Festival.
â€œWeâ€™re living in a golden age of animation right now, and the work done at LAIKA is jaw-droppingly original and unique,â€ said Film Independent President Josh Welsh. â€œWeâ€™re so happy to continue this partnership with them, and to be able to provide critical support to talented animators from under-represented backgrounds.â€
“Film is at its best when it meaningfully reflects, connects with, and fosters insight into the world around us,â€ said Travis Knight, President & CEO of LAIKA, who made his directorial debut in 2016 with the acclaimed animated film Kubo and the Two Strings, recently nominated for two Academy Awards including Best Animated Feature Film. â€œAnd the world around us is a rich tapestry of voices and experiences. Encouraging and mentoring a new generation of bold, diverse voices and visions benefits us all. Which is why LAIKA is thrilled to continue our support of Film Independentâ€™s Project Involve program.Â We look forward seeing how these inspiring artists enrich and expand the art and scope of cinema in the years to come.”
Project Involve is a free nine-month program for writers, directors, producers, editors, cinematographers and entertainment executives from diverse backgrounds. During the program, participants meet one-on-one with film industry mentors, create short films, attend master-workshops taught by top film professionals and industry networking events. Project Involve Fellows receive passes to the Film Independent Forum, Directors Close-Up and LA Film Festival. The 2017 Project Involve participants were selected based on the quality of their projects, their passion, vision, talent, and commitment to pursuing a career in the film industry.
For information on all past Film Independent Fellows, please visit our online Film Independent Talent Guide.
Film Independentâ€™sÂ Project Involve is supported byÂ Artist Development Lead Funder Time Warner Foundation and Project Involve Shorts Lead Funder Kiehlâ€™s Since 1851.Â Principal Sponsors include EFILM | Company 3, HBO, The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, Los Angeles County Arts Commission, Loyola Marymount University School of Film and Television, National Endowment for the Arts and Sony Pictures Entertainment.Â The program is also supported by AbelCine, Amazon Studios, the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, Focus Features, FOX HBCU Media Alliance, LAIKA, Participant Media and The Camera House.
ABOUT FILM INDEPENDENT
Film Independent is a nonprofit arts organization that champions independent 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 Independentâ€™s Board of Directors, filmmakers, staff and constituents are 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.
In addition to producing the Spirit Awards, Film Independent produces the LA Film Festival and Film Independent at LACMA Film Series, a year-round, weekly program that offers unique cinematic experiences for the Los Angeles creative community and the general public.
With over 250 annual screenings and events, Film Independent provides access to a network of like-minded artists who are driving creativity in the film industry. Film Independentâ€™s Artist Development program offers free Labs for selected writers, directors, producers and documentary filmmakers and presents year- round networking opportunities. Project Involve is Film Independentâ€™s signature program dedicated to fostering the careers of talented filmmakers from communities traditionally underrepresented in the film industry.
For more information or to become a Member, visit filmindependent.org.
Fueled by the vision of President & CEO Travis Knight, feature film animation studio LAIKA celebrated its 10th anniversary in December 2015. Located just outside Portland, Oregon, LAIKA was awarded a Science and Technology Oscar plaque in recognition of its innovation in 3D printing in 2016.Â Its three films, Coraline (2009), ParaNorman (2012), and The Boxtrolls (2014) were all nominated for OscarsÂ® and PGA Awards as Outstanding Animated Film. Coraline earned Golden Globe, BAFTA, and Criticsâ€™ Choice nominations, and was named one of the yearâ€™s 10 Best Films by the American Film Institute (AFI). ParaNorman (2012) garnered BAFTA, Criticsâ€™ Choice, and GLAAD Media Award nominations and won two Annie Awards (the animation communityâ€™s Oscars equivalent) and was cited as the yearâ€™s best animated film by 14 critics groups. The Boxtrolls also earned Criticsâ€™ Choice and Golden Globe Award nominations and 13 Annie Award nominations, more than any other film that year. Kubo and the Two Strings, which marks the directorial debut of Travis Knight, was released by Focus Features on August 19, 2016. The critically acclaimed film has been nominated for two Academy Awards in the categories of Best Animated Feature and Best Visual Effects. It was named Best Animated Feature of 2016 by the National Board of Review as well as 18 critics groups. Additionally, it garnered Golden Globe, BAFTA, PGA and Criticsâ€™ Choice nominations, as well as 10 Annie Award nominations and 6 VES Award nominations.