Five documentary filmmaking teams haven been selected to participate in the Catapult Film Fund and True/False Film Festival‘s ninth annual Rough Cut Retreat.

The immersive mentorship is designed for documentary feature filmmakers who lack strong feedback networks. This year’s retreat will take place at the Whispertree retreat in Boonville, Calif., over four days beginning on July 21.

The 2024 RCR selected doc projects and the attending film teams are: “The Inventory” (director Ilana Coleman and producer Ivonne Villalón), “The Last Nomads” (directors Biljana Tutorov and Petar Glomazić), “Natchez” (director Suzannah Herbert and editor Pablo Proenza), “The Nile Splits” (director Zuff Shoya and sound designer Khaleel Lee), and “Seeds” (director Brittany Shyne and editor Malika Zouhali-Worrall).

“This year, the selected projects represent some of the boldest new voices in nonfiction cinema,” says True/False artistic director Chloé Trayner. “Each of the films has a distinct approach to storytelling, taking risks and expanding how we think about the worlds that we are invited into.”

During RCR, the five selected filmmaking teams will be matched with mentors that have been hand-picked for their editorial insights and ability to aid filmmakers in realizing their vision. This year’s group of mentors are: director Ramona Diaz (“And So It Begins”), editor Amy Foote (“All the Beauty and the Bloodshed”), director Peter Nicks (“Homeroom”), editor David Teague (“Frida”) and film executive Noland Walker (ITVS).

“Rough Cut Retreat plays a special role in the nonfiction landscape,” says Megan Gelstein, Catapult Film Fund co-director and chief program officer. “It was born out of Catapult and True/False’s shared mission of supporting work whose content and aesthetics push boundaries and provoke dynamic discussion.”

In addition to screenings and discussions, mentors will give selected filmmakers critical and supportive feedback, while also helping them move their respective films from rough to fine cut with an eye on winter festival deadlines.

“The retreat is a rare creatively expansive space, put together by people who know how to foster conversations that spark new ideas and new directions for filmmakers,” says editor David Teague, who is returning as a mentor for his seventh year. “It’s also about having fun together, building friendships, and supporting each other, because those are also truly essential ingredients in how we find our way, personally and creatively, as filmmakers.”

Recent RCR projects include 2024 Sundance docus “Agent of Happiness” and “Sugarcane” 2024 True/False filim “There Was, There Was Not.”

2024 Rough Cut Retreat projects:

“The Inventory” (director Ilana Coleman and producer Ivonne Villalón): “The Inventory” is a feature film that juxtaposes the nonfiction testimonials of mothers searching for their sons who were disappeared in Mexico against a bureaucratic committee of linguists searching for a missing word.

“The Last Nomads” (directors Biljana Tutorov and Petar Glomazić): In the pristine mountains of Montenegro, a semi-nomadic mother and daughter defend their herding tradition and their land from becoming a NATO military training ground. A gripping family and environmental drama unfolds, as the story of violence against women echoes that of violence against nature.

“Natchez” (director Suzannah Herbert and editor Pablo Proenza): In a rural Mississippi town subsisting on its antebellum past, a reckoning unfolds. Through a Southern Gothic lens, “Natchez” captures the clash between memory and history, unveiling a panorama of hoop skirts, shackles, drag queens, pilgrimages, and delayed truths.

“The Nile Splits” (director Zuff Shoya and sound designer Khaleel Lee): In the months leading to a civil conflict, a filmmaker reunites with his family in Sudan after 15 years apart. As he uncovers his connection to an ancient tribe that has lived on the Nile for millennia, he probes for answers to a whimsical question: does the Nile split, or does it meet?

“Seeds” (director Brittany Shyne and editor Malika Zouhali-Worrall): “Seeds” is a portrait of centennial farmers in the geographical south. Using lyrical black-and-white imagery, this meditative film examines the decline of generational black farmers and the significance of owning land.

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