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Curtis Matzke is raising finishing funds for his aptly named doc FIRST FEATURE which follows a young director, Thomas Reilly-King, on his 5-year quest to finish his dream project. Curtis met Thomas when they were both undergraduates at Michigan State University, and even then Thomas had a reputation for being overly ambitious with his kitchen sink production standards. He was already a year into shooting what would become ENDURING DESTINY, and the high stakes drama of that project promised to become more interesting than the movie itself, so Curtis saw the opportunity for a project of his own. Bruised and battle scarred, ENDURING DESTINY eventually crossed the finish line, and premiered in Okemos, Michigan in September 2014. Curtis aims to finish FIRST FEATURE later this fall. To check out Curtis's trailer and reach out to him about those finishing funds, stop by SCREEN's Trailer Park.

Documentary powerhouse Kartemquin Films’ newest release ALMOST THERE scores another win on the festival circuit with the Special Jury Prize at the Sarasota Film Festival after a terrific reception at True/False in March and the Midwest Independent Film Festival earlier this month. As they document their plunge into the life and work of outsider artist Peter Anton, filmmakers Aaron Wickenden and Dan Rybicky unwittingly start a chain of events that have incredibly thorny consequences. The film won an Emerging Filmmaker Award at the Geneva Film Festival, and was also a Jury Award Finalist at the Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival in March. ALMOST THERE heads to the Arizona International Film Festival this weekend. Click here for more about this film.

Tirtza Even’s experimental documentary NATURAL LIFE finishes its run at David Weinberg Gallery in Chicago on May 9 before moving on to the San Francisco Documentary Festival in June. A recipient of the Chicago Digital Media Production Fund and numerous other grants, NATURAL LIFE uses interviews and reenactments to depict stories of five adults who were sentenced to life in prison without parole for crimes they committed as youth. Even, who is currently an Associate Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, distributes the project as a festival-ready single-channel video, a gallery installation with dual screen projection and casts of prison-issue bedding, and an online archive. Festivals, galleries, and prison reform advocates have shown the work widely, and it won the Prisoner Justice Prize at the Social Justice Film Festival in Seattle last October. For more about this Midwest-made film, please visit naturallifefilm.org.

Todd Lillethun is a freelance producer and editor at Flicker Effects and student advisor at Northwestern University's MFA program for Documentary Media.