Meet the 2024 Sundance Institute Directors, Screenwriters, and Native Lab Fellows

Even though we’ve been doing this for over 40 years, a spark of excitement rushes through us whenever we reveal the fellows for this year’s labs. It might be because these fresh fellows are joining the ranks of Paul Thomas Anderson, Lulu Wang, Sterlin Harjo, the Daniels, Ryan Coogler, Taika Watiti, A.V. Rockwell, Quentin Tarantino, Ira Sachs, and so many more iconic storytellers. The rush this year also might be due to the fact that these profound and indescribable forays into the world of the purely creative are happening right now.

The 2024 spring/summer labs season is kicking off this morning in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with the start of the Native Lab. This is directly followed by the Directors Lab at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, and then the Screenwriters Lab in early June online.

Below get a brief introduction to each of the 2024 fellows, click here for more information about this year’s labs including the creative advisors for each, and stay tuned for more stories from the labs this spring and summer.

The 2024 Native Lab fellows

Don Josephus Raphael Eblahan (Writer-Director) with Hum (Philippines, U.S.A.): Haunted by the six-year absence of her missing husband, Esther, a single mother who works as a tour guide for mountaineers, embarks on her own treacherous journey of searching for him in the jungle where he had retreated to live with the beasts.

Don Josephus Raphael Eblahan is a filmmaker from the Philippines. Eblahan’s works explore  themes of trauma, spirituality, and nature, told through the cosmic lens of post-colonial spaces and Indigenous identities. His film The Headhunter’s Daughter was awarded the Short Grand Jury Prize at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival.

Ryland Walker Knight (Writer-Director) with The Lip of the World (U.S.A.): When Cassandra discovers a young Indigenous woman washed ashore with no memory, the pair journey into the violent underworld of the Northern California psychedelic culture to uncover her true identity.

Ryland Walker Knight is a Cherokee writer and a filmmaker, and once upon a time he was called a film critic. An avid basketball and audiobook enthusiast, Knight lives and works in Oakland and Los Angeles, California.

Charine Pilar Gonzales (Writer-Director) with NDN Time (U.S.A.): A Tewa college student must master her new dimension-bending abilities to expose the nuclear secrets threatening her Pueblo.

Charine Pilar Gonzales wrote and directed the short films River Bank (Pō-Kehgeh) and Our Quiyo: Maria Martinez. She co-produced the 2024 Sundance Film Festival short doc Winding Path. A Tewa filmmaker from San Ildefonso Pueblo and Santa Fe, New Mexico, she aims to intertwine memories, dreams, and truths through story.

Lindsay McIntyre (Writer-Director) with The Words We Can’t Speak (Canada): A terrible Arctic accident leaves an Inuk interpreter unwelcome in her community. She is forced to weather impossible conditions and hateful prejudices, yet still care for her daughter, when she embarks on a dangerous 1,000-mile journey by dog sled with an inexperienced RCMP constable who fancies her for his wife.

Lindsay McIntyre (Inuit/settler) is a filmmaker whose works explores themes of portraiture, place, and personal histories. After 40+ experimental/documentary films and many festival awards, her recent leap into narrative with NIGIQTUQ ᓂᒋᖅᑐᖅ (2023) garnered her Best Short at imagineNATIVE and a chance at the Oscars. She teaches film at Emily Carr University of Art + Design.

The 2024 Directors and Screenwriters Labs fellows

Keisha Rae Witherspoon (Co-Writer, Director) and Jason Fitzroy Jeffers (Co-Writer) with Arc (U.S.A.): Ev is an outcast Miami hustler who believes his mother was abducted by aliens when he was a boy. When a mysterious woman descends on his community sermonizing about extraterrestrial salvation, he finds new purpose, which is soon threatened by a disgraced former government agent and a looming hurricane.

Keisha Rae Witherspoon is a Miami-born filmmaker whose short film T won the Golden Bear at the 2020 Berlinale. Keisha was named one of Filmmaker magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film” in 2020 and is a 2022 USA Fellow. She is co-founder of Third Horizon Film Festival.

Jason Fitzroy Jeffers is a Barbadian filmmaker who has produced award-winning shorts such as Papa Machete and T, winner of the Golden Bear at the 2020 Berlinale. He is co-founder and former festival director of Third Horizon Film Festival, a 2023 USA Fellow, and a 2024 Creative Capital awardee. [Screenwriters Lab only]

Jane Casey Modderno (Writer-Director) with Here for the Weekend (U.S.A.): A rom-com about three trans girls questing for love in Palm Springs. It centers Cherry, a type-A hotel worker with dreams of launching a lingerie brand, and her seduction of a guest with the power to change her life… but only by ditching her friends.

Jane Casey Modderno wrote for Facebook’s The Birch and Peacock’s The Girl in the Woods. As director, her shorts have screened at festivals worldwide and are available to watch on Vimeo Staff Picks and Short of the Week.

Sylvia Khoury (Writer-Director) with I’m Heather (U.S.A.): Recently widowed Lebanese housewife Fadia, 60, dares to pursue a life outside the home by serving as a standardized patient for medical students to practice interacting with. Finding that Heather, the white character she plays, commands more respect than she does, Fadia begins to play at being Heather in her everyday life. 

Sylvia Khoury received her MD from the Icahn School of Medicine in 2021 and is a 2022 Pulitzer Finalist in Drama (Selling Kabul). She is the Berlind Playwright-in-Residence at Princeton, commissioned by Lincoln Center and LAMF/Protozoa, and developing original TV shows with Plan B and at FX with the Js. 

Kristine Gerolaga (Writer-Director) with Lamok (Philippines / U.S.A.): A Filipino woman determined to avenge the death of her daughter following a botched abortion finds her worldview dramatically altered after she is cursed to transform nightly into a fetus-eating creature known as the manananggal. [Screenwriters Lab only]

Kristine Gerolaga is a Filipina American filmmaker and actor. She is supported by The Future of Film is Female and Sundance Institute’s Artist Accelerator Program. Mosquito Lady, the proof-of-concept short for Lamok, had its world premiere at Beyond Fest and is now on the festival circuit. 

Diana Peralta (Writer-Director) with No Love Lost (U.S.A.): When a troubled young woman brings her new husband home to meet the family, her devoted but insular sisters reveal the extremes they will go to protect one another.

Diana Peralta is a Dominican American writer, director, and creative producer from New York City. Her debut feature film, De Lo Mio (The Criterion Collection), premiered as the closing night film of BAMcinemaFest in 2019 and was initially distributed by HBO. Peralta was featured in Filmmaker magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film.”

Hanna Gray Organschi (Writer-Director) with Rubber Hut (U.S.A.): Rhode Island, 1992. An entrepreneurial ex–Pan Am stewardess opens a drive-thru condom shop in her Italian Catholic town. Overnight, Emanuella DelVecchio becomes the local lightning rod, a radical hero to the neighborhood teens and an unlikely threat to her tight-knit community.

Hanna Gray Organschi is a New England filmmaker pursuing her MFA at New York University. She received the NYWIFT scholarship, the Wasserman Award, and the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative Accelerator Grant and is on the 2024 Purple List. Her upcoming short F*ck That Guy is executive-produced by Spike Lee and Riva Marker.

Sara Crow (Co-Writer, Co-Director) and David Rafailedes (Co-Writer, Co-Director) with Satoshi (U.S.A.): The potentially true story of a teenage anime-obsessed hacktivist who, after losing her scholarship to Stanford, returns home to Arizona to become the mysterious inventor of a new digital currency called Bitcoin.

Sara Crow is a Brooklyn-based writer-director whose stories center misfits and subcultures. She is currently an MFA candidate at New York University’s Graduate Film Program, where she is a Martin Scorsese Scholar and the recipient of the Sloan Feature Film Award and the Sundance Institute Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship. 

David Rafailedes is a bicoastal (Hudson River/Lake Erie) based writer-director. He attends New York University’s Graduate Film Program. He is also the co-playwright of Cellino v. Barnes and the recipient of the Sloan Feature Film Award and the Sundance Institute Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship. 

Urvashi Pathania (Writer-Director) with Skin (U.S.A.): A horror-thriller about a dark-skinned Indian American woman tempted by an addictive and dangerous experimental skin bleaching machine — and the white woman who invented it. [Screenwriters Lab only]

Urvashi Pathania (she/her) is a writer-director based in Brooklyn. Her films explore gender, sexuality, and cultural bereavement. Pathania was selected for the 2023 Sundance Screenwriters Intensive with her feature Skin. She is also a recipient of the 2023 Sundance Horror Fellowship. 

Claire Fowler (Writer-Director) with Toad (U.K.): After seeing a disturbing accusation online, a woman living far away from home and ostracized from her strikingly successful twin brother begins to piece together memories of the teen theater experience that came between them.

Claire Fowler is a writer and director from North Wales. She is an alum of Oxford University, Columbia University’s Film MFA, the WB Directors’ workshop, and the AFI’s Directing Workshop for Women. Her short Salam premiered at Tribeca and won a BAFTA Cymru, and she recently was a director on Netflix’s Manifest.

Ramzi Bashour (Writer-Director) with Tomahawk Springs (U.S.A.): Tomahawk Springs is a comedy about a Lebanese woman in America on an odyssey with her second-generation teenage son who barely speaks any Arabic. One riding shotgun, the other at the wheel, they journey the open road and rediscover themselves along the way.

Ramzi Bashour is a filmmaker based in New York. He grew up in Beirut and over the years has worked as a cook, baker, journalist, and teacher. He’s written and directed award-winning shorts, including The Trees, and has collaborated as a composer and editor on feature films. 

None of this would be possible without the generous support of our community. Thank you to these supporters of our labs.

The Indigenous Program is supported by Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The 11th Hour Project, a program of the Schmidt Family Foundation, Nia Tero, The Christensen Fund, WBD Access, Indigenous Screen Office, NBCUniversal, SAGindie, and Indigenous Media Initiatives.

The Feature Film Program is supported by, a direct charitable activity of the Annenberg Foundation; Alfred P. Sloan Foundation; The Asian American Foundation (TAAF); Hartbeat; United Airlines; The Walt Disney Company; Maja Kristin; Salman Al-Rashid; K Period Media; Golden Globe Foundation; Ray and Dagmar Dolby Fund; Scott and Jennifer Frank; Steward Family Foundation; National Endowment for the Arts; NHK/NHK Enterprises, Inc.; Levantine Films; Onyx Collective; Directors Guild of America (DGA); SAGIndie; Spotlight on San Francisco; T-Street Productions; ShivHans Pictures; Rosalie Swedlin and Robert Cort; Lam T. Nguyen; and the Deborah Reinisch & Michael Theodore Fund.

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