ROUGH CUT RETREAT

A CATAPULT FILM FUND & TRUE/FALSE FILM FEST COLLABORATION

WITH SUPPORT FROM THE CHICAGO MEDIA PROJECT

At the height of summer, when filmmakers are neck-deep in the editing process, our Rough Cut Retreat offers a one-of-a-kind mentorship experience. Launched in 2016 by Catapult Film Fund & the True/False Film Fest, RCR unites nonfiction filmmakers and mentors in a creative, supportive, and engaged atmosphere. The Retreat prioritizes work that displays an ambitious, idiosyncratic approach to nonfiction storytelling with a focus on filmmakers without established feedback networks. Chosen mentors are film professionals with deep knowledge of nonfiction storytelling who embody creativity and generosity of spirit. The seventh annual Rough Cut Retreat is presented in partnership with the Chicago Media Project, who share Catapult and True/False’s passion for supporting bold and creative new nonfiction filmmaking. The retreat will take place July 23-28 at The Carey Institute for Global Good in Rensselaerville, New York. Given the historic campus, some buildings require advanced notice to modify for accessibility.

Applications for the 2022 Rough Cut Retreat have closed. Any questions can be directed to

2022

The Carey Institute for Global Good, Rensselaerville, NY / July 23 – 28

Mentors: Director Rita Baghdadi (Sirens, My Country No More), editor Carla Gutierrez (RBG, Pray Away), film exec Simon Kilmurry (POV, IDA), editor David Teague (Cutie and the Boxer, Life Animated), and editor/producer/director Lynn True (Summer Pasture, In Transit).

BREAK THE GAME

Dir. Jane Wagner, Edit. Stephanie Andreou

Alone in her studio apartment, Narcissa Wright live streams every minute of her quest to be the world’s fastest Legend of Zelda player. But when her isolated digital existence begins to crack, Narcissa must decide her fate: will she embrace love and adventure in the real world, or will she be seduced again by the glow of the computer screen?

HUMMINGBIRDS

Dirs. Estefanía Contreras & Silvia Castaños

In this late-night summer self portrait, Silvia Castaños and Estefanía Contreras make magic of everyday moments coming of age on the Texas-Mexico border.

JOONAM

Dir. Sierra Urich

Joonam follows Sierra, an artist and filmmaker, searching for her family’s unreachable past in Iran. While excavating the formative memories of her mother and grandmother, Sierra unearths the forces behind her fractured Iranian identity and a new quest to define her own version of her heritage.

THE NOBLE HALF

Dir. Khaula Malik, Edit. Hena Ashraf

The Noble Half follows the daily lives of three trans women—Bubbli, Eshaa, and Sharmeeli—in Pakistan, where they are known as khwaja-seras. Creating a mosaic from moments in these women’s lives, the film explores how they must constantly negotiate who they are based on where they are, revealing the tangled nature of gender, wealth, and colonialism. The Noble Half is a prismatic image of Pakistan and the khwaja-sera community few audiences have seen before.

UNTITLED MICHAEL PREMO PROJECT

Dir. Michael Premo, Prod. Rachel Falcone

2021

Bell Valley Retreat, Boonville, CA / August 1 – 5

Mentors: Editor Nels Bangerter (Cameraperson, Dick Johnson is Dead), film exec Jihan Robinson (Casting JonBenet, A Thousand Cuts), editor David Teague (Cutie and the Boxer, Life Animated), and director/editor Malika Zouhali-Worrall (Call Me Kuchu, Through the Night), executive producer Lisa Kleiner Chanoff (Art and Craft, Brimstone & Glory)

COMMUTED

Dir. Nailah Jefferson, Prod. Darcy McKinnon, Edit. Rubin Daniels

Part lyrical memoir and part verité documentary, Commuted is an intimate look at the familial impacts of incarceration and the hope of one mother to regain the family and life that she nearly lost.

CONCRETE LAND

Dir. Asmahan Bkerat, Prod. Sahar Yousefi, Edit. Kamal El Mallakh

Living in makeshift tents, on land they don’t own, three generations of a Palestinian Bedouin family are forced to make a choice when suburban construction creeps up on them – to continue to be Bedouins with their pet sheep Badrya, or abandon their lifestyle and move to the city. 

LA BONGA

Dirs. Sebastián Pinzón Silva & Canela Reyes, Prod. Gabriella Garcia-Pardo

On April 5th, 2001, the village of La Bonga received a death threat that triggered the entire community to flee, leaving everything behind. Twenty years later, hundreds of people embark on a symbolic journey through the jungles of the Colombian Caribbean to resurrect their town for a night of celebration.

THE TUBA THIEVES

Dir. Alison O’Daniel, Prod. Rachel Nederveld, Edit. Zack Khalil

From 2011-2013 tubas were stolen from Los Angeles high schools. The Tuba Thieves is not about thieves or missing tubas. Instead, it asks what it means to listen.

THE TERRITORY

Dir. Alex Pritz, Edit. Carlos Rojas

When a group of Brazilian farmers take control of a new area of the Amazon rainforest, a conflict erupts at the forest’s edge.

Premiere: Sundance Film Festival 2022

2020

Virtual Retreat / July 25 – 31

Mentors: Bonni Cohen (producer/director, Athlete A, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, Audrie & Daisy), David Teague (editor, Cutie and the Boxer, Freeheld, Spaceship Earth), Don Bernier (editor, Athlete A, Always in Season), Rahdi Taylor (producer, Time), Omar Mullick (director/cinematographer, These Birds Walk)

BITTERBUSH

Dir. Emelie Mahdavian, Prod. Su Kim

A portrait of friendship, life transitions, and hard work, as two young women navigate an isolated and beautiful landscape of the American West.

Premiere: Telluride Film Festival 2021

THE IN BETWEEN

Dir. Robie Flores, Prod. Alejandro Flores/Kellen Quinn

This interwoven coming-of-age story chronicles the ordinary and extraordinary moments of growing up on the U.S./Mexico border.

NORTH BY CURRENT

Dir. Angelo Madsen Minax, Prod. Felix Endara

A deep personal history of the complex relationships shared between mothers and their children, this film creatively reframes narratives about incarceration, addiction, trans embodiment, and ruralness.

Premiere: Berlinale 2021

RAZING LIBERTY SQUARE

Dir. Katja Esson, Prod. Ann Bennett

After years of neglect, residents of Miami’s oldest public housing project learn about an urban revitalization project and brace themselves to fight a new form of racial injustice: climate gentrification. 

ASCENSION

Dir. Jessica Kingdon, Prod. Kira Simon-Kennedy/Nathan Truesdell

This multi-faceted portrait takes us inside the growing behemoth that is the nominally communist yet hyper-capitalist People’s Republic of China – and questions what it actually means to live the so-called “Chinese Dream.”

Premiere: Tribeca Film Festival 2021

2019

Carey Institute for Global Good, Rensselaerville, NY / August 4 – 8

MAYOR

Dir. David Osit

Mayor follows a charismatic leader’s quixotic quest to build the city of the future in a land paralyzed by its past.

Premiere: True/False 2020

SOCKS ON FIRE

Dir. Bo McGuire

Socks on Fire is a transgenerational docudrama couched in the familial battle between a homophobic aunt and drag-queen uncle over an Alabama grandmother’s estate.

Premiere: Tribeca Film Festival 2020

UNAPOLOGETIC

Dir. Ashley O’Shay

During the height of the Movement for Black Lives in Chicago, Unapologetic captures a community of millennial organizers confronting an administration complicit in state violence against its Black residents, through the intimate stories of two Black queer women, Janaé and Bella.

Premiere: Blackstar Film Festival 2020

FEELS GOOD MAN

Dir. Arthur Jones

 Feels Good Man explores the current cultural moment and political climate through the lens of the Internet’s dankest meme.

Premiere: Sundance Film Festival 2020

WHAT WE LEAVE BEHIND

Dir. Iliana Sosa

What We Leave Behind follows the director’s 89-year-old grandfather on his monthly 17-hour bus ride from Primo de Verdad (a rural town in northern Mexico) to El Paso, Texas and Albuquerque, New Mexico to reunite with family separated by borders.

Premiere: SXSW Festival 2022

2018

Carey Institute for Global Good, Rensselaerville, NY / July 22 – 26.

Mentors: Erin Casper (editor, Detropia [T/F 2013]), Rachel Grady (co-director, 12th & Delaware), Josh Penn (producer, Beasts Of The Southern Wild, Aaron Wickenden (editor, Won’t You Be My Neighbor? [T/F 2018], and Roger Ross Williams (director, Life Animated [T/F 2015]).

Dir. Mo Scarpelli 

Anbessa explores the rich inner world of a lion-hearted, ten-year-old boy in Ethiopia as he weathers the tides of change that threaten to usurp his community and country.

Premiere: Berlinale 2019

SO LATE SO SOON

Dir. Daniel Hymanson 

Queen of the Battling Butterfly Brigade (its working title at the time of the RCR) is a film about aging, ecstasy, and finding the infinite in the infinitesimal.

Premiere: True/False 2020

SCARS

Dir. Agnieszka Zwiefka

Scars follows a former female fighter and radical ideologue of the Tamil Tigers, in a post-civil war Sri Lanka. When she leaves her quiet countryside life to find her fellow comrades, she faces her own dark past and the trauma of war.  

Premiere: One World Film Festival 2020

STRAY

Dir. Elizabeth Lo

Stray sees the world through the eyes of three street dogs in Turkey, a nation in a profound state of flux. The film finds dignity in both the dogs and the marginalized people around them.

Premiere: Tribeca Film Festival 2020

TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES

Dir. Hannah Jayanti

Truth or Consequences is about the eponymous, small desert town in New Mexico banking on the world’s first commercial spaceport. This dusty no man’s land and its longtime residents are both eager for and weary of big changes.  

Premiere: International Film Festival Rotterdam 2020

2017

Gedney Farm, New Marlborough, MA / July 23 – 27

Mentors: Amanda Branson-Gill (producer, The Unknown Known), David Teague (editor, Life Animated; Cutie & the Boxer), Chris Hegedus (director, The War Room), Mark Becker (Director/Producer, Art & Craft; Pressure Cooker), and Pete Nicks (director, The Force).

Dir. Mohamed Siam
Amal follows an Egyptian teenager, from the age of 14 till the age of 20 while she’s searching for her identity within a constantly changing country.

Premiere: IDFA 2017

Dirs. Chase Whiteside & Erick Stoll
América is about a dreamer who reunites with his brothers to take care of their ninety-three year old grandmother, América in southwest Mexico.

Premiere: True/False 2018

 

Dir. André Hörmann
Ringside (formerly, The Punch) takes us into the heart of a high- stakes family drama playing out in a remote Cuban fishing village

Premiere: Berlinale 2019

Dir. Milena Pastreich
Pigeon Kings tracks a peculiar subculture of pigeon competitions in So. Central LA presided over by the godfather Keith London.

Premiere: Seattle International Film Festival 2019

Dir. Kim Hopkins
Voices of the Sea takes us into the heart of a high- stakes family drama playing out in a remote Cuban fishing village.

Premiere: True/False 2018

2016

Mayacamas Ranch, Calistoga, CA / August 7 – 11

Mentors: Nels Bangerter (editor, Cameraperson), Rachel Boynton (director, Big Men,), Pedro Kos (editor, The Square), Dan Krauss (director, The Kill Team), and Kristine Samuelson (director, Tokyo Waka).

Dir. Vaishali Sinha

Premiere: Hot Docs 2017

Dir. Shevaun Mizrahi

Premiere: Locarno International Film Festival 2017 (WIP at True/False 2017)

Dirs. Jeffrey Levine & Landon Van Soest

Premiere: Berlinale 2017

Dir. Jonathan Olshefski

Premiere: Sundance 2017

Dir. Till Shrauder

Premiere: Tribeca 2017