10 Filmmakers to Watch in 2015

Check out our 7th Annual 10 to Watch list for 2015.

It’s that time again! With 10 to Watch announced every spring, The Independent honors 10 filmmakers who we think are poised to make a notable impact on independent film in the coming year. Whether it is because their work pushes filmmaking in a new direction, tackles a difficult subject matter, or is simply something that we are excited for you see, the creative talent of these men and women caught our attention. And we think it deserves your attention.

With additional photos on our Facebook page, we highlight the collaboration and partnerships that are so essential to great filmmaking. Check them out for stories and insights from actors, producers, and other crew members who have worked with our 10 to Watch filmmakers.

Now in our seventh year, the 10 to Watch team is a great collaboration as well. We sought filmmaker nominations from film leaders, our nominating jury, and most importantly, through our open call—you.

We would like to thank our stellar nominating jury:

Chico Colvard, filmmaker and UMass Boston Film Series curator

Elizabeth Mims, senior film programmer for Austin Film Festival

Kamal Sinclair, senior manager for New Frontier Storylab, Sundance Institute

Kelly Leow, deputy editor for MovieMaker Magazine

And additional acknowledgment for the hard work of Maud Dillingham, special projects editor and writer, and our writers: Anisha Jhaveri, Catherine Epstein, David Pierotti, Rebecca Reynolds, Mike Sullivan, Minhae Shim, and Steven Abrams.

Below is each of the 2015 filmmakers for 10 days in a row, in no particular order. New this year, we will also include a few projects in development that we recommend as “on the pulse.”

The Independent’s 10 Filmmakers to Watch in 2015:

  • DAY ONE: Katie Cokinos starts our list for her film, I Dream Too Much, which premiered at SXSW.
  • EXTRA: We talk with actors Eden Brolin and Danielle Brooks about how Cokinos inspired on set.
  • DAY TWO: Mike Luciano and Phil Matarese is next with for their ready-for-broadcast animated series, Animals.
  • EXTRA: We talk with Katie Tibaldi, Mike Luciano’s friend and colleague (and 10 to Watch filmmaker in 2013!).
  • DAY THREE: Claudia Myers makes our list this year with her film, Fort Bliss, a powerful drama about a female army medic.
  • EXTRA: We talk with Fort Bliss cinematographer, Adam Silver about his collaboration with director Claudia Myers.
  • DAY FOUR: Using cameras from mobile phones with some clever adaptations, cinematographer Radium Cheung is on our list with Tangerine, the story of a transgendered prostitute in Los Angeles, which premiered at Sundance Film Festival.
  • EXTRA: See our Facebook page to read about filmmaker Camille Thoman how will be working with Radium Cheung as producer on her upcoming film, You Were Never Here.
  • DAY FIVE: Next, we have director Ashley Maynor and producer Paul Harrill as they find meaning in the condolence items from the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown, Connecticut in their upcoming interactive documentary, The Story of the Stuff.
  • EXTRA: Sundance Institute’s Anne Lai Talks up Ashley Maynor and Paul Harrill.
  • DAY SIX: Hasan Minhaj is next on our list. He may be best known as one of the newest correspondents for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, but it was his work merging stand-up and storytelling with his solo show, Sakoon, and its film adaption, Paint the Town, that brought him to our attention.
  • EXTRA: We’ve got a mini-album of Hasan Minhaj performing at Sundance’s New Frontier Story Lab on Facebook.
  • DAY SEVEN: Having lived on three continents, Thomas Ikimi brings an international perspective to his films, the latest of which is the short thriller Nostradamus, which revolves around drone warfare. It premiered at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival and senior film critic Kurt Brokaw chose it as one of his favorites.
  • EXTRA: Editor Scott Brock talks about collaborating with Thomas Ikimi. Plus, Ikimi shares the first few pages of his Nostradamus script with The Independent’s Facebook fans.
  • DAY EIGHT: Producer Stephanie Langhoff’s work on The Bronze for Mark and Jay Duplass got her noticed at Sundance, where the film’s much-talked-about sex scene also turned some heads.
  • EXTRA: Read about Stephanie Langhoff’s collaboration with the Duplass brothers on Facebook.
  • DAY NINE: Game developer Navid Khonsari and filmmaker Vassiliki Khonsari join our list with a genre-merging project, 1979 Revolution, a video game that aims to evoke the empathy of film.
  • EXTRA: Check out two behind the scenes video clips, exclusive for The Independent’s 10 to Watch, on our Facebook page. One is from the cast’s read-through of 1979 Revolution. The other is of the cast suited up and ready for video capture.
  • DAY TEN: New Zealand human rights lawyer turned filmmaker, Amelia Evans, follows the lives of pedophiles to find ways to prevent child abuse and understand their taboo attraction to children in her thought-provoking documentary Minor Attraction.
  • EXTRA: Hear from filmmaker, Ross McElwee, Amelia Evans’ mentor and former professor, about her and her film.

Lastly, we have On the Pulse, new this year. This is our group of filmmakers with promising work in development in 2015, but it will premiere after 2015. Keep an eye out for these great projects beyond 2015.

  • Kat Candler – Writer/ director, Kat Candler, based in Austin, Texas, has two narrative features currently in development that, if her past successes are any indication, are sure to generate a buzz: Nikki is a Punk Rocker and Untitled Metal Project, which is a recipient of the San Francisco Film Society/Kenneth Rainin Foundation Grant. Candler’s feature film, Hellion (based on her short of the same name), starring Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) and Juliette Lewis, premiered in the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. Candler is a 2014 Sundance Institute Women’s Initiative Fellow.
  • Jenny Halper – Producer and screenwriter, Jenny Halperin, whose screenplay, What the World Will Look Like When All of the Water Leaves Us, was a winner at the Athena Film Festival in February 2015 in New York City. Halper’s screenplay is based on a short story, by Laura van den Berg, about a female scientist and her teenage daughter’s obsessive quest to save endangered lemurs in Madagascar. The screenplay made the 2015 Athena List, an annual slate of screenplays with female protagonists.



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