Rough Cut Retreat: A Catapult Film Fund & True/False Film Fest Collaboration

At the height of summer when filmmakers are neck-deep in the editing process, the Rough Cut Retreat offers a one-of-a-kind mentorship, summer-camp experience. Launched in 2016, RCR unites filmmakers and mentors in a creative, supportive, and engaged atmosphere. The goal is to move projects from a rough cut to fine cut with an eye toward fall festival deadlines. The retreat camp convenes in the beautiful Berkshires deep in the forest and encourages a free-wheeling, thoughtful environment where filmmaker's visions are supported by mentors who are hand-picked for their editorial strength and generosity of spirit rather than marketplace imperatives. Both T/F and Catapult are dedicated to supporting work whose content and aesthetics push boundaries, and that provoke dynamic discussion. Did we mention there is swimming & croquet?


Catapult Film Fund and the True/False Film Fest are presenting the second year of the Rough Cut Retreat, a four-day workshop that unites filmmakers and mentors in a creative and engaged atmosphere.

Rough Cut Retreat was borne out of Catapult's and T/F's shared mission of supporting work whose content and aesthetics push boundaries and that provoke dynamic discussion. Rough Cut Retreat provides filmmakers with dedicated time to focus on post-production and receive invaluable feedback from other filmmakers.

"It was hugely gratifying to see the projects from last year's retreat turn out so beautifully and make their way into festivals," said Lisa Chanoff, co-founder of the Catapult Film Fund. "At Catapult we love helping projects get off the ground. We are thrilled to partner again with True/False to help take films across the finish line."

Each year, five filmmakers with in-progress projects are paired up with invited mentors to take their rough cut to a fine cut with an eye toward fall festival deadlines. Mentors are hand-picked for their editorial strength and generosity of spirit.

Selected projects include:

Amal (dir. Mohamed Siam) 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.

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

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

The Punch (dir. Andre Hörmann) looks at the dangerous, volatile world of Chicago's South Side from the point of view of two promising young boxers and their fathers who train them.

Voices of the Sea: A Cuban Odyssey (dir. Kim Hopkins) takes us into the heart of a high- stakes family drama playing out in a remote Cuban fishing village.

The mentors joining the 2017 retreat are:

  • Director/producer Mark Becker, (Art & Craft, Pressure Cooker, Romantico) also works as an editor (Lost Boys of Sudan, Circo) and as a story consultant.
  • Producer Amanda Branson-Gill, most recently produced Errol Morris' The Unknown Known. She also produced Morris' 2008 film Standard Operating Procedure.
  • Director Chris Hegedus (The War Room,, has been making films as a director, cinematographer, and editor for four decades with her partner D.A. Pennebaker.
  • Director Pete Nicks (The Force, The Waiting Room), is a director/shooter known for his courageous cinema vérité style.
  • Editor/producer David Teague (Life Animated, Cutie and the Boxer, Freeheld) is a noted documentary film editor.

Last year's cohort included five projects that launched at spring festivals:

Ask the Sexpert, dir. Vaishali Sinha (Hot Docs); For Ahkeem, dir. Jeremy Levine & Landon Van Soest (Berlin, Tribeca); Distant Constellation, dir. Shevaun Mizrahi (True/False); Quest, dir. Jonathan Olshefski (Sundance); When God Sleeps, dir. Till Schauder (Tribeca).

We sat down with the five filmmaking teams who brought their projects to Rough Cut Retreat to hear a little bit more about their films, their creative process, and how the retreat impacted their work. Stay tuned, more on the way!

Additional information for reference:

Timeline & Specifics

  • Rough Cut Retreat will take place July 23rd-27th at Gedney Farm in New Marlborough, MA, deep in the Berkshire mountains.
  • 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

Submissions Information

  • The CFE runs from February 15 through March 23, 2017
  • 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.
  • Only projects with a realistic projection of an actual rough cut by July will be considered.
  • Projects will be notified of decision on or by May 25, 2017
  • If selected, a screener link of the film's rough cut must be submitted by July 13 and a digital file (quicktime .mov, .mp4. or equivalent suitable for projection) must be provided by July 20.


For details, please reach out to: