Los Angeles, CA - The Sundance Institute has selected 12 projects for the annual Screenwriters Lab, which takes place January 10-15 at the Sundance Village in Utah. The Lab gives participating writers the opportunity to develop their work-in-progress screenplays in a community of accomplished screenwriters.
The Screenwriters Lab is a five-day writer's workshop that gives emerging artists the opportunity to work intensively on their feature film scripts with the support of established screenwriters. Participating writers have problem-solving story sessions with creative advisors, engaging in individual dialogues that encourage and embrace the vision of the writer/filmmaker and help them get to the most compelling version of the story they want to tell.
Participating writers have the opportunity to work under the guidance of an extraordinary group of screenwriters, including Artistic Director Scott Frank, Alice Arlen, Naomi Foner, Stephen Gaghan, Lawrence Konner, Chris McQuarrie, Ron Nyswaner, Frank Pierson, Tom Rickman, John Ridley, Howard Rodman, Susan Shilliday, Zachary Sklar, Ed Solomon, Camille Thomasson and Tyger Williams.
"This year's selection has grown to become more global in scope. Four international projects representing writer/directors from South Africa, the Middle East and Iran will join the eight American projects at the Lab," said Michelle Satter, Director of the Sundance Institute Feature Film Program. "We are very enthusiastic about supporting this rich and unique mix of signature material. Providing opportunities at the upcoming Lab for cultural exchange and understanding reflect a long-term goal of the Institute's work."
The participants and projects selected for the 2003 January Screenwriters Lab are:
Matthew Friedman (writer), ALL OF CREATION: Matthew Friedman is a filmmaker and graphic designer based in Virginia Beach, VA. He recently completed the independent feature Moving, which he co-wrote and co-produced with his brother Jonathan, who directed the film. Moving has screened at several film festivals, winning the "Best Screenplay" award at the Digital Visions Film Festival in Chicago. Friedman is an EMT with the Ocean Park Volunteer Rescue Squad and a graduate of the University of Virginia. His graphic design work includes the best-selling Conversations with God trilogy. Friedman will be attending the Screenwriters Lab as the recipient of the Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, which supports science and technology content in film. In All of Creation, a brilliant young mathematician on the verge of suicide gives himself one year to discover the meaning of life.
Keith Fulton (writer), AN AWFULLY GOOD ALIBI: Keith Fulton, a native of Boston, holds a BA in art history from Haverford College and an MFA in film production from Temple University. He has worked as a producer, director, and editor of documentary films and has taught classes and workshops in documentary production. His current documentary feature, Lost in La Mancha, is being released in the U.S. by IFC Films and has been nominated for a British Independent Film Award and the European film Academy's Prix Arte. An Awfully Good Alibi is his first feature screenplay. In An Awfully Good Alibi, a mean-spirited old man suffering the onset of Alzheimer's disease finds himself the target of the conflicting agendas of his estranged daughter and a shiftless stranger.
Ernesto Quiñonez (writer), BODEGA DREAMS: A fourth-grade public school teacher for five years, Ernesto Quiñonez was raised in Spanish Harlem and attended the City College Creative Writing Program. In 2000 he was chosen by the Village Voice Literary Supplement as one of their "Writers on the Verge". His debut novel Bodega Dreams was a Los Angeles Times Notable Book of the Year, and his New York Times Magazine essay "Dog Days" is currently in development at the Kennedy Marshall Company. The adaptation of Bodega Dreams is his first screenplay. In Bodega Dreams, a promising young man finds himself drawn into the dangerous world of the idealist local crime lord Willie Bodega, who dreams of taking over Spanish Harlem and reclaiming a lost love.
Caran Hartsfield (writer/director), BURY ME STANDING: Caran Hartsfield is a recent alumnus of NYU's Graduate Film Program. She has won numerous honors and awards for her previous short films Double-Handed and Kiss it up to God, including Second Place at the Cannes Film Festival Cinefoundation, the Directors Guild of America Award, the Martin Scorsese Fellowship, the Spike Lee Fellowship, and the New York Foundation for the Arts Film Fellowship. Her feature screenplay Bury Me Standing was developed at the Cannes Film Festival's Cinefoundation Residency in Paris and later went on to win the IFP's Gordon Parks Screenplay Award and the First Place Richard Vague NYU Alumni Screenwriting Award. Bury Me Standing: After the sudden death of a family member, four bereaved relatives struggle with the effort to memorialize the dead young man and are forced to confront their greatest fears.
Hany Abu-Assad (writer/director), IN BETWEEN TWO DAYS: After having worked as an airplane engineer in the Netherlands for several years, Hany Abu-Assad entered the world of film and television as a producer. He formed Aylouo Film Productions in 1990, and produced documentaries including Dar O Dar for Channel 4 and Long Days in Gaza for the BBC. In 1992, Abu-Assad wrote and directed his first short film, Paper House. The film was made for NOS Dutch television and won several international awards at film festivals. A year later, Abu-Assad produced the feature film Curfew, directed by Rashid Masharawi, which won several awards including the Gold Pyramid in Cairo and the Unesco Prize in Cannes. He made his feature directorial debut with The Fourteenth Chick, which opened the Netherlands Film Festival in 1998. Other recent work includes the bittersweet documentary Nazareth 2000,made for Dutch VPRO television; the feature Rana's Wedding, which was selected for the Semaine Internationale de la Critique at Cannes in 2002; and the documentary Ford Transit, which screened at the IDFA Festival in 2002. In Between Two Days follows 24 hours in the lives of two Palestinian friends as they become inexorably entwined in the violence that permeates their world.
Miranda July (writer/director), ME AND YOU AND EVERYONE WE KNOW: Miranda July is a creator of performances, movies, and recordings. Her videos, including The Amateurist, Nest of Tens, and Getting Stronger Every Day, have screened internationally at MoMA, the Guggenheim Museum, and the Rotterdam International Film Festival. July's most recent multi-media performances, Love Diamond and The Swan Tool, have been presented globally at The Kitchen in New York and the Institute of Contemporary Art in London. July has recorded several performance albums and is currently recording an ongoing series of vignettes for the NPR show The Next Big Thing. In 1995 July founded Joanie 4 Jackie, a movie distribution network for independent women moviemakers. More recently she launched a new ongoing web-based collaboration with the public, at learningtoloveyoumore.com with Harrell Fletcher. Me and You and Everyone We Know is a story about children and adults touching and not touching each other in an era when "real" is just an aesthetic choice.
Teboho Mahlatsi (co-writer/director), SCAR: Teboho Mahlatsi is a graduate of the African Culture Centre's film school in Johannesburg. He wrote and directed the award-winning documentary series Ghetto Diaries before teaming up with acclaimed director Angus Gibson to form Laduma Film Factory in 1994. Mahlatsi and Gibson co-created, co-wrote, and co-directed the highly controversial 13-part drama series Yizo Yizo, which won awards for Best Actress, Best Director and Best Drama Series at the 18th Annual AVANTI Awards, South Africa's equivalent of the Emmy Awards. In 1999, Mahlatsi wrote and directed the short film Portrait of a Young Man Drowning, which won the Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival. Mahlatsi went on to develop and co-write the second season of Yizo Yizo, and directed eight of the thirteen episodes. Yizo Yizo 2 won several awards at the Rotterdam Festival as well as the Cinema Tout Ecrand Award in Geneva for Best International Series and has been selected for screening at the New York African Film Festival, the Berlin Film Festival and the Walker Art Museum in Minneapolis. Mahlatsi was recently honored by the ANC Youth League for his directing work and was awarded the coveted Tribute Entertainment Achiever Award by President Thabo Mbeki. In Scar, Sporro, a gifted but impoverished boy on the cusp of fame, reinvents himself in the hardcore image of his friend and protector Paradise, who in turn fights to reclaim his identity.
Dror Shaul (writer/director), SWEET MUD: Dror Shaul is a film and commercial director from Tel Aviv, Israel. In 1999 he wrote and directed the short film Operation Grandma, which won an Israeli Academy Award and was a nominee for the Banff Rockie Award in 2000. Shaul wrote and directed three episodes of the television comedy Seffi, and has worked on several nationally and internationally recognized commercial campaigns. His commercial work has twice won the Cactus Award (Israel's equivalent of the Clio Award) for Best Campaign, and he has also won the New York Festival's Global Award and an Ad Spot Award at the International Festival of Low Budget Commercial Films in Rome. He is currently in post-production on his first feature film Sima Vaknin, Witch, which he wrote and directed. In Sweet Mud, a satirical look at life on a kibbutz, a 13-year-old boy attempts to rescue his mentally unstable mother from the men who use her - until he finally gives in and helps her die.
Rebecca Dreyfus and Aaron Harnick (co-writers/co-directors), THE FIRST X-RATED KISS: Rebecca Dreyfus' first feature film, the documentary Bye-Bye Babushka, was named one of the top ten documentaries of 1999 by the New York Daily News. The film won the Joris Ivens Award at the Cinema du Réel Festival in Paris and a Silver Plaque Award from the Chicago International Film Festival, and has been acquired for television in more than 25 countries. Dreyfus' other awards include the City of Melbourne Award for Best Short Fiction Film and grants from the Jerome Foundation and the New York State Council on the Arts for her current feature length documentary film Stolen: The Search for the Lost Vermeer. Aaron Harnick has written for several television shows and magazines. He also wrote and directed the feature film 30 Days, which premiered at the 2000 Toronto Film Festival. As an actor, he appeared in Eric Mendelsohn's Judy Berlin opposite Edie Falco. Currently he is a producer on Broadway with Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune, starring Stanley Tucci and Edie Falco, and off-Broadway with the musical Debbie Does Dallas. In The First X-Rated Kiss, a struggling documentary filmmaker and a struggling actor team up to make the first good porno film.
Henry Barrial (writer/director), TRUE LOVE: Henry Barrial was born in New York and raised in Miami by exiled Cuban parents. He received a BA in psychology from the University of Montana, where he also minored in theatre. In Los Angeles, he studied acting and directing at Playhouse West. In 1999, Barrial directed his first short film, The Lonelys, which was based on his experiences as a mental health caseworker. The Lonelys won the Golden Spire Award at the 1999 San Francisco International Film Festival and Best Short Narrative Film at the 1999 Cleveland International Film Festival. In 2000, Barrial directed and co-wrote his first feature film, Some Body, which premiered at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival and was subsequently theatrically released by Lot 47 in the spring of 2002. True Love is an exploration of love's many pitfalls and virtues as seen through the experiences of three modern couples.
Elisabeth Subrin (co-writer/director) and Evan Carlson (co-writer), UP: Elisabeth Subrin's award-winning trilogy of experimental biographies have screened widely in the U.S. and abroad at venues including the Rotterdam International Film Festival, the New York Film Festival, the Sundance Channel and the Whitney Biennial. She has received awards from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the USA Film Festival, the New England Film and Video Festival, the Black Maria Film Festival, and the VIPER International Award for Video. Her work has been featured in solo shows at the Museum of Modern Art, the Vienna International Film Festival, Harvard Film Archives, the Film Center at the Art Institute of Chicago and many universities and art centers internationally. A 2002-2003 Guggenheim Fellow, Subrin is a visiting lecturer in the Department of Visual and Environmental Studies at Harvard University. Evan Carlson studied literature and fine arts at the University of Massachusetts/Amherst and received a BFA from Massachusetts College of Art before receiving his MFA from USC's School of Cinema-Television. His original play Quickfire was produced and performed as part of the Institute of Contemporary Art/London's Young Playwright's Festival. In Up, an opportunity to join the freeform, fast-paced world of a Boston dotcom has unforeseen repercussions for a young woman when it triggers a spectacular manic-depressive cycle, causing her to "crash" just as the company collapses in the stock market fallout.
Shirin Neshat (writer/director), WOMEN WITHOUT MEN: Shirin Neshat is an Iranian-born visual artist and filmmaker living in New York City. Her innovative approach to infuse disciplines to arrive at new forms of expression has brought her international acclaim. Neshat is the winner of numerous awards, including the Grand Prix of the Kwangju Biennial in Korea in 2000 and the Golden Lion Award, the First International Prize at the 48th Venice Biennial in 1999. She has exhibited widely in major European and American cities. Among her most recent solo exhibitions are Castello di Rivoli in Turin, Italy; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; the Museum of Contemporary Art in Montreal, Canada; Kunsthalle Wien in Vienna and the Serpentine Gallery in London. She has been included in numerous international exhibitions and festivals, including Documenta 11, Germany; Sau Paulo Biennial, Brazil; the Locarno Film Festival; the Chicago International Film Festival; the San Francisco Film Festival and many others. Her film Passage, made in collaboration with composer Philip Glass, was presented at the Lincoln Center Summer Festival in 2001 and her short film Tooba will premiere at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival. Women Without Men is based on five short stories by the Iranian author Shahrnoush Parsipour that parallel the experiences and lives of different women living in distinct socio-political and cultural settings.
The 2003 Sundance Film Festival will feature screenings of five films developed at the Sundance Feature Film Program Labs, including the premieres of ALL THE REAL GIRLS, written and directed by David Gordon Green; DOPAMINE, co-written by Mark Decena and Tim Breitbach and directed by Mark Decena; and THE MUDGE BOY, written and directed by Michael Burke. Also screening in American Showcase are Lisa Cholodenko's second feature film LAUREL CANYON and Peter Sollett's feature directorial debut RAISING VICTOR VARGAS. Sundance Labs have launched many signature independent voices; over the years, the program has supported John Cameron Mitchell's HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH, Moisés Kaufman's THE LARAMIE PROJECT, Darren Aronofsky's REQUIEM FOR A DREAM, Kimberly Peirce's BOYS DON'T CRY, Gina Prince Bythewood's LOVE AND BASKETBALL, Tony Bui's THREE SEASONS, Walter Salles' CENTRAL STATION, Chris Eyre and Sherman Alexie's SMOKE SIGNALS, Paul Thomas Anderson's HARD EIGHT, Tamara Jenkins' SLUMS OF BEVERLY HILLS, and Quentin Tarantino's RESERVOIR DOGS.
The January Screenwriters Lab is part of the Sundance Institute’s Feature Film Program, a year-round series of workshops and events. The Featured Film Program also includes the June Filmmakers/Screenwriters Lab. The June Filmmakers Lab is a month-long workshop providing directors an opportunity to explore the boundaries of their work and develop their projects in a collaborative environment removed from the pressures associated with film production. During the Lab, the filmmakers work with creative advisors, professional actors and video crews to rehearse, shoot, and edit their projects. A second Screenwriters Lab, similar to the January Lab, is held during the last week of the Filmmakers Lab. Throughout the year, Sundance staff members offer ongoing creative and business assistance to Lab alumni. In many cases, the Institute has helped filmmakers find a producer, financing and other significant resources, helping to bring these projects into production. The Feature Film Program also features a screenplay reading series of works in progress in Los Angeles and New York.
The Feature Film Program of the Sundance Institute receives major underwriting support for its programs from The Annenberg Foundation, The Charles Engelhard Foundation, Lisabeth Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. The Sundance Institute gratefully acknowledges the generous assistance provided by Alice A. Arlen and The Cissy Patterson Foundation, Alesis, Anton Bauer, Apple Computer, Arriflex Corporation, AT&T, Avid Technology, Inc., BMI, The Coca-Cola Company, Canon Lenses, Clearcom, Digital Projectors, Inc., HBO, Hewlett-Packard Company, H.P. Marketing, International Cinematographers Guild, Hollywood Foreign Press Association, JBL Professional, Kino-Flo, Richard LaGravenese, Leader Instruments, Matthews Studio Equipment, MTV Films, Pacific Title and Arts Studio, Inc., Panavision, The Producers Club of Maryland, Inc., Roland, Rosco Labs, Sachtler Corporation of America, Screen Actors Guild, Sennheiser Electronics, Shure Brothers, Sony Electronics, Inc., Soundcraft, Theophilus Foundation, Tiffen, and U.S. Department of State for their support of the 2003 Feature Film Labs.
Founded by Robert Redford in 1981, the Sundance Institute is dedicated to the development of artists of independent vision and the exhibition of their new work. This year the Institute is celebrating its 20th anniversary. Since its inception, the Institute has grown into an internationally recognized resource for filmmakers and other artists. The Sundance Institute conducts national and international labs for filmmakers, screenwriters, composers, writers, and theatre artists, and presents independent film exhibition programs across the country and around the world, including the Sundance Film Festival, a showcase for independent film. The Institute also maintains The Sundance Collection at UCLA, a unique archive of independent film.