Film Independent selects 30 filmmakers for Project Involve 2022

Feb 25, 2022

Film Independent, the nonprofit arts organisation that produces the Spirit Awards, has selected 30 filmmakers for Project Involve 2022.

Project Involve is a free nine-month program for writers, directors, producers, editors, cinematographers, animators, programmers 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.

Now in its 29th year, Project Involve fosters the careers of talented filmmakers from communities traditionally underrepresented in the film industry. Alumni include Lulu Wang (The Farewell), Linda Yvette Chávez, Marvin Lemus and Aaliyah Williams (Gentefied), Effie T. Brown (Dear White People), Jon M. Chu (In the Heights) and Justin Simien (Dear White People).

“Project Involve continues to be in the vanguard of building year after year a community of immensely talented and inclusive visual storytellers within the industry. We’re thrilled to welcome the 2022 Project Involve Fellows to this community and can’t wait to see what we’ll create together” said Francisco Velasquez, Associate Director, Project Involve.

Film Independent also announced continued support of the program through donor-named fellowships. The fourth LAIKA Animation Fellowship provides a production grant to produce a stop-motion animated short film in Project Involve. This year’s LAIKA Animation Fellow is Javier Barboza.

Additional donor-named fellowships to be awarded at a later date are the sixth annual Amazon Studios Film Fellowship, the sixth annual Participant Fellowship and the 11th annual Sony Pictures Entertainment Fellowship. Each Fellowship provides essential program support to Project Involve and includes a $10,000 unrestricted cash grant for a selected filmmaker participating in the program. In addition, for the fourth year, the Panavision Fellowship will provide an outstanding cinematographer in the program with a camera rental package valued at $60,000 for use on a future project produced in the US.

Past shorts produced in the program include Blackout (2022 NAACCP Image Award Nominee) Black Boy Joy (2020 NAACP Image Award, currently airing on HBO), Lonely Blue Night (2020 AFI Fest Short Film Audience Award, currently airing on HBO), Liberty (2019 SXSW Narrative Short Film Jury Award, 2019 Special Prize of the Generation 14plus International Jury for the Best Short Film at the Berlin International Film Festival, 2019 AFI Special Jury Prize – Live Action) and Emergency (2018 Sundance Special Jury Award, 2018 SXSW Narrative Short Film Jury Award).

Past Project Involve Mentors include Janicza Bravo (Lemon, Zola); Destin Daniel Cretton (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings); Ava DuVernay (Selma, When They See Us); Catherine Hardwicke (Twilight); Alma Har’el (Honey Boy) Barry Jenkins (If Beale Street Could Talk, Moonlight); Mako Kamitsuna (Pariah, Mudbound); Spike Jonze (Adaptation, Being John Malkovich); Charles D. King (Fences, Mudbound); Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight, Memento); Veena Sud (The Killing); Christine Vachon (Carol, Boys Don’t Cry); Forest Whitaker (ArrivalThe Last King of Scotland) and Bradford Young, ASC (A Most Violent Year, Selma).

This year’s Project Involve Fellows by track are: 


Javier Barboza


Gemma Doll-Grossman

Phillip Jackson

Garland McLaurin

Lidia Nikonova

Michael Tanji

Akina Van de Veld


Hannah Bang

Jaime Castañeda

Logan Jackson

San-San Onglatco


Calvin Chin

Marcus Heleker

Christopher Ma

Ziyang “Lucia” Wang

Skylar Zhang


T’Essence Minnitee

Eboni Robinson

Danni Xin


Sarah Al-Qatou

C.A. Barrow

Ebony Elaine Hardin

Trent Nakamura

Jera Wang

Rui Xu


Danielle Ellen

Henry Alexander Kelly

Justin Omori

Tumelo Tladi


Jesus Celaya

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