At the height of summer, when filmmakers are neck-deep in the editing process, Rough Cut Retreat offers a one-of-a-kind mentorship experience. Launched in 2016, RCR unites nonfiction filmmakers and mentors in a creative, supportive, and engaged atmosphere. The retreat acts as a focus group for filmmakers to diagnose what is and isn’t working in their film. After months in an edit suite, filmmakers often lose perspective; this is a key moment for fresh eyes in a safe space. When selecting projects, True/False and Catapult prioritize work that displays an ambitious, idiosyncratic approach to nonfiction storytelling. Chosen mentors are professionals who embody creativity and generosity of spirit. 
The 2019 retreat will convene at the Carey Institute for Global Good’s sprawling, 100-acre campus from August 4 – 8.


  • 5 feature films will be chosen to participate, a maximum of 2 members from each filmmaking team can attend
  • 5 mentors, in addition to T/F and Catapult hosts, will be present at the event
  • Domestic travel, lodging and food will be booked and covered for filmmaking teams, a modest travel stipend will be made available to teams traveling internationally


  • Applications will be accepted from March 8 – April 15, 2019, 6PM central time.
  • For consideration, fill out the application form below in full. Submissions should include two paragraphs describing your film and an online screener link of 5-10 minutes that best represents the project. Longer entries will be considered at the jurors’ discretion. Note that the first 10 minutes of all entries will always be watched.
  • The cover letter should include why you’d would like to be considered for the retreat, what you hope the project will gain from the four days, and where you are in the production of your film.
  • Only projects with a realistic projection of an actual rough cut by August will be considered.
  • Projects will be notified of decision on or by June 1, 2019.
  • If selected, a screener link of the film’s rough cut must be submitted by July 20, 2019 and a digital file (quicktime .mov, .mp4. or equivalent suitable for projection) must be provided by July 31, 2019.


Questions? Email [email protected]


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


Dir. Daniel Hymanson 

Queen of the Battling Butterfly Brigade is a film about aging, ecstasy, and finding the infinite in the infinitesimal.


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.  


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.


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.  


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.

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


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: True/False 2017

Dirs. Jeffrey Levine & Landon Van Soest

Premiere: Berlinale 2017

Dir. Jonathan Olshefski

Premiere: Sundance 2017

Dir. Till Shrauder

Premiere: Tribeca 2017