Los Angeles, CA — Sundance Institute and Drishyam today announced the artists and creative advisors selected for the inaugural Drishyam | Sundance Institute Screenwriters Lab in Goa, India April 12-16. The Lab supports emerging filmmakers in India, as part of the Institute’s sustained commitment to international artists, which in the last 25 years has included programs in Brazil, Mexico, Jordan, Turkey, Japan, Israel and Central Europe.
The Lab is a five-day writer's workshop that gives independent screenwriters the opportunity to work intensively on their feature film scripts in an environment that encourages innovation and creative risk-taking. The Lab is centered around one-on-one story sessions with the creative advisors. Screenwriting fellows engage in an artistically rigorous process that offers lessons in craft, a fresh perspective on their work and a platform to fully realize their material.
Leading the Lab in India is Srinivasan Narayanan, former director of the Mumbai Film Festival. He said, “Our aim and aspiration is that the seven selected Indian projects, after passing through the intensive one-on-one mentoring by renowned Creative Advisors from India and abroad, will move to the production stage quickly and make their mark globally. The awards and acclaim these projects achieve and the interest and distribution channels they open up for more Indian films will be the fittest tribute for this initiative, driven by passion and pure love for cinema of the team led by Drishyam founder Mr. Manish Mundra.”
Paul Federbush, International Director of the Sundance Institute Feature Film Program, said, “We are thrilled to be collaborating with Manish, Narayan and the Drishyam team, who have a proven interest in supporting an exciting new generation of independent cinema. This partnership allows Sundance Institute to continue developing creative voices and inspired stories in India. We’re also thankful for the opportunity to have such acclaimed Indian and international creative advisors working with us to support these seven promising projects.”
Creative advisors for this year’s Lab represent a diverse mix of Indian and international filmmakers, including: Srdan Golubovic (Circles), Erik Jendresen (Band of Brothers), Rose Troche (The Safety of Objects, The L Word), Habib Faisel (Do Dooni Char), Sriram Raghavan (Badlapur, Ek Haseena Thi), Shridhar Raghavan (Yennai Arindaal) and Kasi Lemmons (Eve's Bayou, Talk To Me).
The Institute’s support of Prashant Nair’s Umrika, winner of the Audience Award: World Cinema Dramatic at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, is an example of the sustained commitment to emerging filmmakers in India. The Institute has enthusiastically supported a new generation of independent cinema in India at all stages of production through its Screenwriters Labs in India and Utah, the Sundance Institute Global Filmmaking Award, as well as targeted post-production grants. Recently completed films supported by the Institute include: Ritesh Batra’s The Lunchbox, winner of the Grand Rail d’Or at its premiere at Cannes, Shonali Bose’s Margarita With A Straw, winner of the NETPAC award at the 2014 Toronto Film Festival and Masaan by writer-director Neeraj Ghaywan. Between the Utah-based and international Labs, the Institute has supported international artists from over 60 countries, including Guillermo del Toro, Walter Salles, Alfonso Cuaron, Lynn Ramsay, Ritesh Batra, Andrea ArnoldandHaifaa Al Mansour.
The projects and fellows selected for the 2015 Drishyam | Sundance Institute Screenwriters Lab are:
Geetu Mohandas / Mulakoya
From the Lakshadweep Islands of the Arabian Sea, a young boy sets off on an adventure to the mainland in order to find his older brother.
Geetu Mohandas’ debut feature Liar’s Dice, premiered in competition at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. Liar’s Dice has currently played 35 film festivals and won 5 international awards for best film and 2 National Awards, the highest honor in India. It was also the official Indian entry for the 2015 Oscars. Mohandas, along with filmmaker Rajeev Ravi, formed the production company Unplugged in 2009, which produced her short film, Kelkkunnundo? The film premiered at Rotterdam International film festival and won 3 International awards for Best International Short Film and the National Award for the Best actor in India.
Raj Rishi More / Pirates
Amidst the economic downturn, a young illustrator struggles to balance supporting his struggling family with his dream of becoming a professional cartoonist.
Raj Rishi More started his film career as an assistant director on Ritesh Batra’s Sundance Institute-supported The Lunchbox (winner of Grand Golden Rail, Cannes Film Festival 2013, nominated for BAFTA 2015). He worked as First Assistant Director to Ritesh Batra on his short Masterchef, a commission by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. Currently Raj is working with Ritesh Batra on the feature film Khoya, while developing Pirates, his first feature as director.
Atanu Mukherjee / Unknown Faces
When eighteen year old Dhruv returns home from boarding school, eager to reunite with his family and friends, he instead finds that his father has disappeared after a bankruptcy scandal. While his mother attempts to protect him from discovering his family's hardships, Dhruv decides to find his father himself.
Atanu Mukherjee is an alumnus of Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute Kolkata. He has worked as Editor on four feature films: Achal (The Stagnant), Blemished Light, Shortcut Safari and Monsoon Shootout, the last of which premiered at Cannes in 2013. He has directed the documentary My House Is Not So Far, and has also written, directed and edited short films Ekanko (The Monologue), The Gatekeeper and Stray Dogs, which won Best Short Film at the 2014 Cinema City Film Festival in Serbiaand was a part of the 2014International Documentary And Short Film Festival in Kerala. Most recently, he participated in the 2015 Berlinale Talents Program.
Ritu Sarin & Tenzing Sonam / The Sweet Requiem
A young Tibetan woman living in exile in New Delhi unexpectedly sees the man she holds responsible for her father’s murder on a high Himalayan pass. Long-suppressed memories of her traumatic escape from Tibet are reignited and she is propelled on an obsessive search for reconciliation and closure.
Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam have been making films on Tibetan subjects for more than 20 years. Through their work they have attempted to document, question and reflect on the issues of exile and cultural identity that confront the Tibetan diaspora. Working through their film company, White Crane Films, they have produced and directed several documentaries, including: The Reincarnation of Khensur Rinpoche (1991); The Trials of Telo Rinpoche (1993); A Stranger in My Native Land (1997); and The Shadow Circus: The CIA in Tibet (1998). In 2005, they completed a dramatic feature film, Dreaming Lhasa. The Sun Behind the Clouds: Tibet’s Struggle for Freedom. Ritu and Tenzing are married and have two children.
Sandhya Suri / Santosh
When a widow receives a "compassionate assignment" and assumes her husband's former role as a police investigator, she confronts a brutal case of gang rape of a young woman.
After graduating with a first class honours degree in Mathematics and German, Sandhya Suri received a scholarship to study documentary at The National Film and Television School. Her graduation film "SAFAR" was shown at a number of international film festivals, receiving the Jury's special mention at Cinema du Reel and the award for Best Short Film at the British Film Institute's Imagine Asia festival. Currently based in London, she has lived in Germany, India and Japan and worked on documentary projects in Africa, South America and Polynesia. In 2005 she directed I for India, her first feature length documentary, which played at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival and won Best Documentary at the Asian Festival of First Films.
Anay Tarnekar / Untitled Tiger Project
In southwest China, animal trader Jin, struggling to support his family, works in the potentially lucrative but illegal private market of young male tigers. In central India, former poacher Raghav now works at a small reserve where he protects the wildlife. Their two stories converge with the appearance of a new pair of tigers on the reserve.
A mechanical engineer turned filmmaker, Anay Tarnekar has worn several hats as a writer, director, producer, editor and director of photography. In 2002 he moved to the US to pursue a Masters degree in Cinema from San Francisco State University. After graduating, he co-produced and edited a documentary called Cachao: Uno Mas that premiered on the multiple Emmy-winning PBS series, American Masters. He is currently producing the TV interview series Hollywood Masters, which examines the careers of filmmakers including Alfonso Cuaron, David O. Russell, Michael Mann, Sean Penn and Clint Eastwood. Anay is also an amateur painter and wildlife photographer.
Dnyanesh Zoting / The Monster
When a young girl’s father goes missing while on a documentary film shoot in a tribal village, she and her mother go to the jungle to find him, relying on clues from the Raakshas fairytale in order to find him.
Dnyanesh Zoting assisted Satish Manvar on the Marathi film The Damned Rain. He is presently assisting film director Satish Manvar as co-writer for the Hubert Bals funded film project What's Your Religion? Zoting holds a degree in video-production from the University Of Pune.
The Sundance Institute Feature Film Program is supported by The Annenberg Foundation; Alfred P. Sloan Foundation; RT Features; Red Crown Productions; Time Warner Foundation; HP; AJ+; Jeanne Donovan Fisher;
Hollywood Foreign Press Association; National Endowment for the Arts; NHK Enterprises, Inc.; Manish Mundra;
3311 Productions; The Ammon Foundation; Firestone / von Winterfeldt Family Fund; Philip Fung-A3 Foundation;
the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; SAGIndie; Grazka Taylor; The Ray and Dagmar Dolby Family Fund; Naja Pham Lockwood and David Lockwood.
Founded in 1981 by Robert Redford, Sundance Institute is a nonprofit organization that provides and preserves the space for artists in film, theatre, and new media to create and thrive. The Institute's signature Labs, granting, and mentorship programs, dedicated to developing new work, take place throughout the year in the U.S. and internationally. The Sundance Film Festival and other public programs connect audiences to artists in igniting new ideas, discovering original voices, and building a community dedicated to independent storytelling. Sundance Institute has supported such projects as Beasts of the Southern Wild, Fruitvale Station, Sin Nombre, The Invisible War, The Square, Dirty Wars, Spring Awakening, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder and Fun Home. Join Sundance Institute on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.
Drishyam Films, founded and promoted by Manish Mundra, is a company actively working towards building a platform for new and unique voices of Indian independent cinema. The company is focused on creating global content with rich Indian flavours. The journey started with the film Ankhon Dekhi directed by Rajat Kapoor. The film was one of the best-reviewed films in India in 2014 and was critically acclaimed for its simplicity, philosophy, ensemble cast and acting. The success of Ankhon Dekhi was followed by Umrika directed by Prashant Nair, which premiered at Sundance Film Festival 2015 and went on to win the Audience Award in the World Dramatic Competition section. Soon after, Dhanak, directed by Nagesh Kukunoor premiered in the Generation Kplus at Berlinale 2015 and won the Grand Jury prize, as well as, a Special Mention from the Children’s Jury. The upcoming projects include the Indo-French coproduction Masaan directed by Neeraj Ghaywan, Waiting directed by Anu Menon and X-the film, an experimental collaborative feature directed by eleven Indian filmmakers.
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