Documentary Labs: Finding the Right One for Your Film

In the last several years, foundations and festivals have developed incubator labs to help filmmakers in the development and post production of their documentaries. It is an exceptional opportunity, and the many labs offer a variety of experiences. While these creative bootcamps seek to expand emerging voices and creativity, are they for everyone? What difference can they make in the life of a doc? Join NYWIFT to learn more about labs at UnionDocs, Chicken & Egg,  the Tribeca Film Institute, the Independent Feature Project, and more.


Christopher Allen, Founder/Executive Artistic Director of UnionDocs (UNDO), is a producer/director of documentary media projects and a programmer of multi-disciplinary events. After graduating from Columbia University, he co-founded UnionDocs and has been responsible for the organization’s growth from grassroots as the Executive Artistic Director. The collaborative projects he initiated — including Living Los Sures, Just to Get By, Documenting Mythologies, and Yellow Arrow — unite the creative efforts of hundreds of artists, documentary makers and communities. He directed the early interactive documentary Capitol of Punk, exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art. In 2014 and 2016, Brooklyn Magazine named him one of the most influential people in Brooklyn culture. Allen has served on the juries of film festivals such as RIDM (Montreal) and Doc Lisboa, and on funding panels such as NYSCA and LEF. He collaborates on live media performance projects such as Say Something Bunny! with artist A.S.M. Kobayashi.


Kirsten Johnson is currently grappling with her father’s dementia and the state of the planet by making a comedy about death. Her film Cameraperson premiered at Sundance 2016, was short-listed for an Academy Award, won the National Board of Review “Freedom of Expression” prize, and was named one of the ‘Top Ten Films of 2016’ by The Washington Post and The New York Times. Her short film, The Above premiered at the 2015 New York Film Festival and was nominated for the IDA Best Short of 2016. Johnson’s camerawork has appeared in the Academy Award-winning Citizenfour, Academy Award-nominated The Invisible War, Tribeca Documentary winner, Pray The Devil Back To Hell, and Cannes winner Fahrenheit 9/11. She is curious about the future of image literacy, the nature of subjectivity, and believes in cinema.

Lucila Moctezuma (pictured at right) is the Director of Programs at Chicken & Egg Pictures, Moctezuma oversees the planning and implementation of the organization’s programs in support of women nonfiction filmmakers. Originally from Mexico City, she has collaborated with New York’s independent film community since 1996. Prior to joining Chicken & Egg Pictures, she was Executive Producing Director at the internationally renowned UnionDocs, Center for Documentary Art, in Brooklyn. Formerly, she was Manager of the Production Assistance Program at Women Make Movies, a program that provides support to women filmmakers in the development of their projects. She was Director of the Media Arts Fellowships for the Rockefeller Foundation, a highly prestigious program that supported media artists in the U.S. and Latin America, and she is Founder and was Coordinator of the TFI Latin America Media Arts Fund for the Tribeca Film Institute. Moctezuma is in the documentary selection committee of the Morelia International Film Festival in Mexico, and sits on the founding Executive Board of Cine Qua Non Lab, a residency for international filmmakers based in Michoacán, Mexico; she was Vice President of the Board of Trustees of The Flaherty and was the U.S. Delegate for the Huesca International Film Festival in Spain. Her work as Associate Producer includes the documentary series The New Americans for Kartemquin Films, and Shocking and Awful for Deep Dish TV, which was part of the 2006 Whitney Biennial. Moctezuma holds a degree in Philosophy at Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City, where she taught until 1996.

Monika Navarro recently joined Tribeca Film Institute as the Senior Director of Programs. Navarro comes to TFI from the Independent Television Service (ITVS), where she managed content and funding initiatives. Navarro has more than a decade of experience producing for public media, from directing her debut film Lost Souls (Animas Perdidas) which premiered on Independent Lens, to producing for World Channel, American Documentary and the Peabody-award winning PBS series Latino Americans. At ITVS, Navarro managed development and co-production funding initiatives, overseeing a development portfolio and was a consulting producer on Las Sandinistas (SXSW 2018), Decade of Fire (America ReFramed) and A Woman’s Work (Tribeca Film Festival 2019). She is member of the Brown Girls Doc Mafia, National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP), and an advisory board member for Firelight Media. Navarro has served as a mentor for CAAM, Points North Institute, Big Sky Native Filmmaker Initiative and the 4th World Media Lab. She attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and Tufts University.

Milton Tabbot is the Senior Director of Programming at the Independent Feature Project (IFP) in New York City. His responsibilities include supervising all documentary programs. His documentary program management includes the Spotlight on Documentaries section of the Project Forum of IFP’s annual IFP Film Week, including responsibility for the annual documentary project selection and industry relations, and supervision of the documentary module of the IFP Filmmaker Labs for first-time feature directors. He also manages the nomination process for the annual IFP Gotham Awards. He has been with IFP since 1996. At IFP he previously managed the Anthony Radziwill Documentary Fund (2004-2006), which provided seed grants for documentary features, including such documentaries as Marco Williams’ Banished; Judith Helfand’s Cooked; Annie Sundberg’s and Ricki Stern’s The Trials of Darryl Hunt; Lourdes Portillo’s Al Más Allá, Jay Rosenblatt’s The Darkness of Day, and Sam Green’s Utopia in Four Movements and The Universal Language. Concurrent with IFP, Tabbot served as the U.S. Consultant for the Locarno International Film Festival for the 2006-2009 editions under Artistic Director Frédéric Maire and has served on program review panels for BritDoc Foundation’s Good Pitch, PBS’ P.O.V. series, and Co-Pro, The Israel Documentary Screen Market. He served as a writer, editor and film programmer for first two years of the Tribeca Film Festival (2002-2003) and a contributing writer for the Miami International Film Festival and has also served on juries for the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, Big Sky Film Festival, DOC NYC, Atlanta Film Festival, Ashland Film Festival, and as a “Ringleader” at the True/False Film Festival.

Marcia Rock (Moderator) has produced twelve documentaries since 1984 and received many awards including three local Emmys and several nominations. Her work covers international dilemmas, women’s issues as well as personal perspectives. She recently completed two films on veterans, Warriors Return  and Service: When Women Come Marching Home (NY Emmy). Her recent short, Soldiers Period, produced with Patty Stotter, grew out of their work with women veterans and was distributed via social media. Rock’s other films include Salt Harvesters of Ghana (2007) (Best Short, Newburyport Documentary Film) and Writers’ Rooms: The Making of a Mural (2008). Her documentary Daughters of the Troubles: Belfast Stories (1997) won many awards including the AWRT Grand Documentary Award. Rock has produced several pieces on New York City and writers including McSorley’s New York (1987 Emmy), Village Writers: the Bohemian Legacy (1990), and Reynolds Price: a Writer’s Inheritance (1989). Rock’s films have also gone in more personal directions.  Dancing with My Father (2003), ponders how adult love is shaped by what a child learns at home and Surrender Tango (2006) compares the rules and roles of tango with contemporary relationships. Rock is a professor and Director of News and Documentary at the NYU Arthur Carter Journalism Institute. She is co-author with Marlene Sanders of Waiting for Prime Time: The Women of Television News. Her work has been featured on public and cable television. Her films are currently in distribution with Cinema Guild, Filmmakers Library, and Women Make Movies.

This program is produced by Cheree Dillon, Becky Goldberg, Anita Sugimura Holsapple, Danielle Edde, and Marcia Rock.

Special Thanks
Marcia Rock, Director of News and Documentary at the NYU Arthur Carter Journalism Institute and Chair of NYWIFT’s Documentary Committee

Lucila Moctezuma, Director of Programs, Chicken & Egg Pictures

April 9 @ 6:00pm
6:00 pm — 8:00 pm (2h)

NYU Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute
20 Cooper Square, 7th Floor
New York, N.Y. 10003


$15 for NYWIFT Members
$25 for Nonmembers
Register by prepayment online


Join the conversation on social media:
#nywift | @nywift

NYWIFT programs, screenings and events are supported, in part, by grants from New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature.