Sundance Institute Selects 13 Projects for 2013 June Directors and Screenwriters Labs

Posted May 9, 2013

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Los Angeles, CA — Sundance Institute today announced the 13 projects selected for its annual June Directors and Screenwriters Labs, taking place at the Sundance Resort in Utah from May 27 through June 27. Under the leadership of Michelle Satter, Founding Director of the Institute’s Feature Film Program, and the artistic direction of Gyula Gazdag, the Fellows selected for this year's program include emerging filmmakers and projects from the United States, Europe, Mexico, Peru and Somalia.

At the Directors Lab, Fellows work with an accomplished group of Creative Advisors, professional actors and production crews to shoot and edit key scenes from their screenplays. Through this intense, hands-on process, the Fellows workshop their scripts, collaborate with actors and find a visual storytelling language for their films. Directors Lab Fellows join five additional projects for the week-long Screenwriters Lab, where they participate in individualized story sessions under the guidance of established screenwriters.

Projects supported through the Directors and Screenwriters Labs receive continued, customized, year-round support from the Feature Film Program, which can include the following resources: ongoing creative and strategic advice, significant production and postproduction resources, the Screenplay Reading Series, the Work in Progress Screening Initiative and direct financial support through project-specific grants and artist fellowships.

Since its founding in 1981, the Feature Film Program has supported an extensive list of award-winning and ground-breaking independent films. This year alone, four Feature Film Program-supported films have been selected for the 2013 Cannes Film Festival including Ritesh Batra’s The Lunchbox (Critics Week), Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale Station (Un Certain Regard), Amat Escalante’s Heli (Competition) and David Lowery’s Ain't Them Bodies Saints (Critics Week).

“Removed from the pressures of production and with the guidance of an accomplished group of Creative Advisors, the 2013 Lab Fellows will be immersed in an intense, hands-on process to hone their filmmaking skills,” said Keri Putnam, Executive Director, Sundance Institute. “The June Lab is the centerpiece of a year-round system of creative and strategic support which begins with script development and continues all the way through to engaging audiences.”

Michelle Satter, Founding Director of the Feature Film Program, said, “We are very excited to support such a rich selection of projects that reflect the diversity of stories, artistic vision and innovation in narrative form that embraces the next generation of independent filmmakers. The support we provide through the Directors and Screenwriters Labs will allow each artist to develop the tools and confidence to more fully realize the promise of their first and second features.”

Creative Advisors for the Directors and Screenwriters Labs include Sundance Institute President and Founder Robert Redford, Gyula Gazdag (Artistic Director), Michael Almereyda, John August, Walter Bernstein, Kathryn Bigelow, Scott Burns, Steve Chbosky, Joan Darling, Caleb Deschanel, Suzy Elmiger, Deena Goldstone, Keith Gordon, Ed Harris, Michael Hoffman, Azazel Jacobs, Brian Kates, Pablo Larrain, Josh Marston, Doug McGrath, Andrew Mondshein, Walter Mosley, Tim Blake Nelson, Walter Salles, Jennifer Salt, Susan Shilliday, Elena Soarez, Peter Sollett, Oliver Stapleton, Wesley Strick, Chris Terrio, Joan Tewkesbury, Stanley Tucci, Audrey Wells, Tyger Williams, Alfre Woodard, Doug Wright, and Mauricio Zacharias.

The projects and participants selected for the 2013 June Directors Lab (May 27 – June 20) are:

Pamela Romanowsky (writer/director) / The Adderall Diaries (U.S.A.): Writer Stephen Elliott reaches a low point when his estranged father resurfaces, claiming that Stephen has fabricated much of the dark childhood that that fuels his work. Adrift in the precarious grey area of memory, Stephen has to navigate the unstable terrain of truth and identity, led by two sources of inspiration: a new romance, and a murder trial that reminds him more than a little of his own story. Based on the memoir by Stephen Elliott.

Pamela Romanowsky is a New York-based writer and director. Her short films Live Girls and Gravity have played at festivals nationwide, including Slamdance, Woodstock, and the Maryland Film Festival. In 2011, Romanowsky won the National Board of Review’s Student Grant Award and NYU’s prestigious Wasserman/King Award for excellence in filmmaking. In 2012, she wrote and directed a piece for Tar (James Franco, Mila Kunis, Jessica Chastain, Zach Braff), a multi-director narrative film based on the life and poetry of CK Williams, which premiered at the Rome International Film Festival and is awaiting a U.S. theatrical release. She studied documentary filmmaking with Barbara Kopple, and narrative filmmaking at New York University’s MFA film program.

Jan Kwiecinski (writer/director) / The Incident (U.S.A.): When a young man decides to cover up an accidental murder, his whole life comes into focus in ways he never expected.

Jan Kwiecinski graduated from the filmmaking departments of the London Film School and the Wajda's Master School of Directing. He also holds an MA degree in Theatre Studies from the Theatre Academy in Warsaw. His award-winning short film, The Incident, screened internationally at many festivals including the Shanghai International Film Festival and the T-Mobile New Horizons Film Festival. Recently, Kwiecinski directed the segment entitled Fawns of the omnibus feature The Fourth Dimension, co-directed by Alexey Fedorchenko and Harmony Korine. The film premiered in the Narrative Competition at the 2012 San Francisco Film Festival.

Eva Weber (co-writer/director) and Vendela Vida (co-writer) / Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name (UK/Germany/U.S.A.): Twenty-eight-year-old Clarissa discovers on the day of her father's funeral that everything she believed about her life was a lie. She flees San Francisco and travels to the Arctic Circle to uncover the secrets of her mother, who mysteriously vanished when Clarissa was fourteen. Based on the novel by Vendela Vida.

Originally from Germany, Eva Weber is a London-based filmmaker working in both documentary and fiction. Her award-winning films have screened at numerous international film festivals, including Sundance, Edinburgh, SXSW, BFI London, and Telluride; and have also been broadcast on UK and international television. Her documentary short film The Solitary Life of Cranes was selected as one of the top five films of the year by critic Nick Bradshaw in Sight & Sound’s annual film review in 2008. Earlier this year, she received the Sundance Institute Mahindra Global Filmmaking Award to further support the development of Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name.

Vendela Vida is the author of four books, including the novels Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name and The Lovers. She is a founding co-editor of the Believer magazine and co-writer of the film Away We Go, which was directed by Sam Mendes.

Russell Harbaugh (co-writer/director) and Eric Mendelsohn (co-writer) / Love After Love (U.S.A.): Love After Love is a messy and desperate love story about grief, sex, and the separation of a family.

Russell Harbaugh's short film Rolling on the Floor Laughing played the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and many other festivals around the world including the FSLC/MoMA co-curated New Directors/New Films, Maryland Film Festival, Sarasota International Film Festival, Milano, Warsaw, and others. Harbaugh received his MFA from Columbia University in 2011 and is originally from Evansville, Indiana. He lives in New York. 

Eric Mendelsohn's feature film Judy Berlin, starring Edie Falco and Madeline Kahn, was an Official Selection of the Cannes Film Festival, won Best Director at Sundance, Best Independent Film at the Hamptons Film Festival and was nominated for three Independent Spirit Awards. His short film, Through An Open Window, premiered at Sundance, was an Official Selection of the Cannes Film Festival and garnered him a guest spot on The Tonight Show. Mendelsohn’s most recent feature, 3 Backyards, premiered in 2010 at Sundance and garnered the Best Director award, making him the only person in the festival's history to have received the award twice.

K’naan (writer/director) / Maanokoobiyo (Somalia/U.S.A.): In war-torn Somalia, an artistic orphan named Maano joins the mercenary killing squad of a notorious warlord, only to discover his adoptive father and gang leader is responsible for wiping out his family.

K'naan is a Somali poet, rapper and singer, songwriter. He spent his childhood in Mogadishu, Somalia and was on one of the last commercial flights out of the country before its collapse. He rose to prominence with the success of his song “Wavin' Flag” after it was chosen as the anthem of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. He lives in New York.

Ian Hendrie (co-writer/co-director) and Jyson McLean (co-writer/co-director) / Mercy Road (U.S.A.): Based on true events, Mercy Road traces the spiritual odyssey of a small town housewife and mother, as she becomes willing to commit violence and murder in the name of God.

Ian Hendrie is a San Francisco–based filmmaker and the co-founder of Fantoma, a production company and independent DVD label which has been releasing premium edition DVDs of films by such famed auteurs as Francis Ford Coppola, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Samuel Fuller, Fritz Lang, Kenneth Anger and Alex Cox, among others, since 1999.

Jyson McLean has been a commercial director for over nine years. His work includes spots for Bud Light, Career Builder, and Quaker Oats. He has won the ITVA PEER award three years in a row, and has worked with numerous award winning advertising agencies including DDB Los Angeles, BBDO London and Fred & Farid, Paris. He is currently signed at Contagious LA and Magali Films, Paris for commercial representation in America and Europe respectively.

Hendrie and McLean are recipients of a Fall 2011 SFFS/KRF Filmmaking Grant and SFFS FilmHouse residents.

Meredith Danluck (writer/director) / State Like Sleep (U.S.A.): Under the surreal cloud cover of northern Europe, a young American widow reluctantly revisits her past when her mother is hospitalized in Brussels. While coping with the bleak reality of parental loss, Katherine explores her deceased husband's secret life of underground sex clubs and finds comfort in a relationship with a stranger as equally broken as she is.

Meredith Danluck is an artist and filmmaker. Her work has screened at major art institutions internationally including MoMA, PS1, Venice Biennale, Liverpool Biennial, and Reina Sofia, as well as various film festivals including SXSW, TIFF, Doc NYC, Margaret Mead and Hamburg International. Her four-screen film installation North of South, West of East recently screened as part of the New Frontier exhibition at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.

Miguel Calderón (writer/director) / Zeus (Mexico): Sporadically employed and still living with his mother, Joel finds his only joy in falconry in the flatlands outside Mexico City, until an encounter with a down-to-earth secretary forces him to face reality.

Miguel Calderón works in various mediums but has focused mostly in photography, video and writing. He was a co-founder of the non-profit art space, “La Panaderia,” which helped promote new tendencies of art in Latin America beginning in 1994. His exhibitions include the Rochester Art Center, the Sao Paolo Biennial, Museo Tamayo, The Yokohama Triennial and Museo Centro de Arte Reina Sofía. His book projects include Thumbs Down (onestar press, 2012), Backstabbing Gemini (Rochester Art Center, 2012), Eden is a Magic World (littlebigman books, 2011), and Miguel Calderón (Turner, 2007). He lives in Mexico City.

The projects and participants joining the Directors Lab Fellows for the 2013 June Screenwriters Lab (June 22-27) are:

Ray Tintori (writer/director) / Untitled Cabal Project (U.S.A.): Young revolutionaries in love take on the world and each other in a kaleidoscopically complicated universe that's coming apart at the seams.

Ray Tintori is an American director, screenwriter, and founding member of the Court 13 filmmaking collective. His directorial credits include Death to the Tinman and the music videos off MGMT's first record. Besides directing, he's worked in various capacities on Court 13 productions, including production designer and story co-writer on Glory at Sea, and Aurochs and Special Effects Unit Director on Beasts of the Southern Wild.

Bart Layton (writer/director) / The Heist (U.K.): This fiction/documentary hybrid tells the unlikely but very true story of four privileged Kentucky students who, seeking an escape from mundane middle America, hatch a plan to steal millions of dollars of rare books from their university library. 

Bart Layton is a multi-award winning director and producer. His most recent documentary film, The Imposter, received almost unanimous critical acclaim after premiering at Sundance, won the Grand Jury Prize at Miami, the Golden Eye in Zurich and the Filmmakers' award at Hotdocs before winning a BAFTA and being shortlisted for the Oscars. Layton lives in London and is the Creative Director of leading British production company, RAW.

Andrew Ahn (writer/director) / Spa Night (U.S.A.): Struggling to escape his crumbling family life, a closeted Korean-American teenager follows his desires and finds more than he bargains for at the Korean spa. 

Andrew Ahn is a Korean-American filmmaker born and raised in Los Angeles. His short film Dol (First Birthday) premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and received the Outfest Grand Jury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Short Film. He graduated from Brown University with a degree in English and received an MFA in Film Directing from the California Institute of the Arts.

Nikole Beckwith (writer/director) / Stockholm, Pennsylvania (U.S.A.): When a young kidnapping victim is reunited with her family after 19 years, her mother discovers she has to work harder than ever to find her daughter, at any cost.

Nikole Beckwith is from Newburyport, Massachusetts. Her plays have been developed with The Public Theater, Playwrights Horizons and The National Theatre of London among others. Stockholm, Pennsylvania (2012 Nicholl Fellowship, 2012 Black List) is her first screenplay, adapted from her stage play of the same name.

Alvaro Delgado-Aparicio (writer/director) / Story Box of Dreams (Peru): In a rural community outside Lima, a young boy escapes from home to become a story box artisan, a sophisticated craft practiced only by a select group of families who have passed their skills down over generations.

Alvaro Delgado-Aparicio is an organizational psychologist and filmmaker from Peru. He received his BSC and MSC from the London School of Economics and Political Science and attended film directing workshops at the London Film Academy. He wrote and directed the award-winning short film El Acompañante (The Companion), which played at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and many other festivals around the world including Rotterdam International Film Festival, La Habana, Palm Springs, Miami, Cork, Leeds, Atlanta, Indie Lisboa, Nashville, and Maryland, among others.

The 2013 Sundance Institute June Directors and Screenwriters Labs are made possible by generous support from The Annenberg Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Cinereach, DCM Productions, Mumbai Mantra Media, LTD., National Endowment for the Arts, Philip Fung – A3 Foundation, RT Features, Indian Paintbrush Productions, Time Warner Foundation, NHK Enterprises 21, Inc., SAGIndie, Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the Ray and Dagmar Dolby Family Fund, Sundial Pictures, LLC, and the Zygmunt & Audrey Wilf Foundation.

Sundance Institute Feature Film Program
Since its founding in 1981, the Sundance Institute Feature Film Program has supported an extensive list of leading-edge independent films. FFP films making their theatrical premieres this year include Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale Station (winner of the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival), David Lowery’s Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, Haifaa Al Mansour’s Wadjda, and Andrew Dosunmu and Darci Picoult’s Mother of George. Additional notable films supported over the program’s history include Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin’s Beasts of the Southern Wild, Andrei Zyvagintsev’s Elena, Craig Zobel’s Compliance, Sally El Hosaini’s My Brother the Devil, Sean Durkin’s Martha Marcy May Marlene, Dee Rees’ Pariah, Maryam Keshavarz’s Circumstance, Cary Fukunaga's Sin Nombre, Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden’s Half Nelson, Andrea Arnold's Red Road, Miranda July’s Me and You and Everyone We Know, Hany Abu-Assad’s Paradise Now, Debra Granik’s Down to the Bone, Josh Marston’s Maria Full of Grace, Peter Sollett’s Raising Victor Vargas, John Cameron Mitchell’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream, Kimberly Peirce’s Boys Don't Cry, Lucrecia Martel’s La Cienaga, Walter Salles’ Central Station, Chris Eyre and Sherman Alexie’s Smoke Signals, Nicole Holofcener’s Walking and Talking, Allison Anders' Mi Vida Loca, Paul Thomas Anderson’s Hard Eight, Tamara Jenkins’ Slums of Beverly Hills, and Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs. www.sundance.org/featurefilm

Sundance Institute
Founded by Robert Redford in 1981, Sundance Institute is a global, nonprofit cultural organization dedicated to nurturing artistic expression in film and theater, and to supporting intercultural dialogue between artists and audiences. The Institute promotes independent storytelling to unite, inform and inspire, regardless of geo-political, social, religious or cultural differences. Internationally recognized for its annual Sundance Film Festival and its artistic development programs for directors, screenwriters, producers, film composers, playwrights and theatre artists, Sundance Institute has nurtured such projects as Born into Brothels, Trouble the Water, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Amreeka, An Inconvenient Truth, Spring Awakening, Light in the Piazza and Angels in America. Join Sundance Institute on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

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