Writers and Creative Advisors Selected for Drishyam | Sundance Institute Screenwriters Lab in Udaipur, India April 4-8

Los Angeles, CA — Sundance Institute and Drishyam Films today announced the artists and creative advisors selected for the second Drishyam | Sundance Institute Screenwriters Lab in Udaipur, India April 4-8. 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, Cuba, Israel and Central Europe.

Now in its second year, the four-day Lab is a creative and strategic partnership between Drishyam Films and Sundance Institute, and 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 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 Drishyam founder, Manish Mundra. He said, “A beautiful heritage city in my hometown of Rajasthan, Udaipur forms an ideal writers retreat, and is the perfect environment for a diverse group of emerging writers and renowned mentors to have a refreshing and productive exchange. Our goal is that the six selected Indian projects, after undergoing a comprehensive mentoring process, will quickly move from script to screen and make their mark globally. All six projects harbor immense potential, and the success they go on to achieve and the distribution channels they open up for more independent Indian films will be the fittest tribute to this joint initiative, driven by passion and pure love for cinema.”

Paul Federbush, International Director of the Sundance Institute Feature Film Program, said, “We are excited to collaborate with Drishyam Films for the second year of the Screenwriters Lab. This partnership allows us to continue discovering and developing new and exciting voices in India. With experimentation and exchange at the core of our work, we hope to inspire an exciting new generation of independent film.”

Creative advisors for this year’s Lab represent a diverse mix of Indian and international filmmakers, including: Thomas Bidegain (A Prophet, Dheepan, Rust and Bone), Pubali Choudhari (Kai Po Che!), Naomi Foner (Running on Empty, Losing Isaiah), Malia Scotch Marmo (Hook, Once Around, Good Morning Karachi), Rose Troche (Go Fish, The Safety of Objects, The L Word), , and Prasanna Vithanage (With You, Without You).

The Institute has enthusiastically supported 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, winner of the FIPRESCI and Promising Debut Feature award in the Un Certain Regard at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.

The Institute’s longstanding international Labs offer targeted support to independent artists in countries around the world. Building on the Institute’s renowned Lab model that encourages creative innovation and incorporates one-on-one project guidance from creative advisors, the Institute aims to work with local and regional partner organizations to identify independent artistic communities and movements to support, actively contributing to local capacity for development or production. After seeding Labs in Brazil, Mexico, Central Europe and around East Africa, the Institute currently hosts Labs in Jordan, Turkey, India, China, Japan and Morocco. The Institute also invites international filmmakers to participate in its signature Labs in the U.S.

The projects and fellows selected for the 2016 Drishyam | Sundance Institute Screenwriters Lab are:

Nandita Das / Manto
The controversial writer Saadat Hasan Manto takes us through the glorious days of 1940s Bombay and Bollywood movie sets, to the partition of the Indian subcontinent, and his downward spiraling life in Lahore.

Nandita Das has acted in more than 40 films in 10 different languages. Her directorial debut,
Firaaq, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2008. She was twice on the jury of Cannes Film Festival among others and was conferred the ‘Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters’ by the French Government. Nandita is a strong advocate of social issues, a columnist and a former Chairperson of Children’s Film Society.

Gaurav Bakshi / Reincarnation
A gun for hire needs to neutralize the threat posed by a delusional old man, hailed as Mahatma Gandhi’s reincarnation, before the common masses enamoured by him rise up in rebellion against the corrupt regime.

After 15 years as a marketing professional, Gaurav Bakshi, an IIM-Bangalore graduate, left the corporate world to pursue his passion. Following a course for filmmaking at NYU, he worked as an Assistant Director with reputed directors including Dibaker Banerji (Oye Lucky, Lucky Oye) and Abhishek Chaubey (Ishqiya) and developed his skills further by making several short films. His short films have been selected and screened at leading film festivals such as the International Film Festival of India, the Indian Film Festivals in Chicago and Boston amongst others, and have garnered close to three million views on YouTube. He is currently in the process of preparing for his first feature-length film.

Batul Mukhtiar & Vivek Shah / Shame, Shame, Puppy Shame
‘Shame, Shame, Puppy Shame’ is the story of a young girl, Seema, whose life unravels after she is forced to urinate in public due to the lack of public facilities. She faces family pressures and social ridicule to fight for women’s right to public toilets.

Batul Mukhtiar (Direction, Film & Television Institute of India, Pune, 1995) has won the National Award for Best Children’s Film 2014 and the Golden Elephant for Best Director at the International Children’s Film Festival of India 2013 for her feature Kaphal-Wild Berries. Some of her other work includes a children’s feature, Lilkee (2007), and a docu-feature, 150 Seconds Ago (2002).

Vivek Shah (Cinematography, Film & Television Institute of India, Pune, 1995) has worked as a Director of Photography on feature films like Bariwali by Rituparno Ghosh, Khargosh and Paresh Kamdar which won the Best Cinematography Award in Imagine India Film Festival, Spain, 2010.

Karan Tejpal, Tiya Tejpal & Gaurav Solanki / Nisar
Deep in the villages of rural India, where patriarchal tradition collides with modern youth, Veer and Parveen must hide their love for each other. When Parveen’s life comes under threat, they are forced to act, and to face the struggle to keep their love alive in the aftermath.

Karan Tejpal has worked on several feature films and commercials as an assistant director since 2005. During this period he simultaneously developed other projects, short films, documentaries and feature length scripts. Nisar is the second feature script written by Karan Tejpal. The first was The Sunset Club, which was selected for the NFDC Screenwriters Lab, 2014. He is also working on a documentary on Kashmir, via a focus on the Amarnath Shrine Pilgrimage.

Gaurav Solanki won the Bharatiya Gyanpeeth’s Navlekhan Award for his first poetry collection ‘Sau Saal Fida’ published in 2012. He is a graduate from IIT Roorkee. In the past, he has worked with Tehelka. He has written the lyrics for ‘Ugly.’ Phantom has bought the rights of his story ‘Hisar mein Hahakar’ to adapt into a feature film.

Tiya Tejpal has worked as an Assistant Director, writer and Production Designer, including on-set experience on projects including Ang Lee’s Life Of Pi, Ferrari Ki Sawaari, Hasee Toh Phasee, Angry Indian Goddesses and Mira Nair’s GodRoom, which led to her first independent feature film Kaash. Most recently she completed Anurag Kashyap’s latest film RR2.0.

Bishnu Dev Halder / Ram Ji ka Ghoda
Struggling to come to terms with the the sudden death of his mother, an emotionally vulnerable 10-year-old Dipu has to fight the demons of his own inner world before he can make peace with the world outside.

An alumnus of SRFTI, Bishnu Dev Halder is a National Award winning filmmaker. Supported/produced/co-produced by institutions like Sundance Institute, Japan Broadcasting Corporation/NHK, British Council, British High Commission, PSBT; and telecast on channels like National Geographic, NHK, YLE, and Doordarshan, Bishnu’s previous works, including Bagher Bachcha, Pratyabartan, I Was Born In Delhi, and The Diary of a Refugee, have won wide acclaim and awards at various international film festivals including National Film Award, Nomination at International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), and Opening Film in Indian Panorama at International Film Festival of India (IFFI). Bishnu has also been the jury member for the National Film Awards and National Student Film Awards.

Neeraj Narkar / Barren Land
In central Maharashtra, a farmer teaches his son to stand up to the oppression and violence that many in their drought stricken village have come to accept.

Neeraj Narkar is an independent writer, filmmaker and theatre artist from the city of Kolhapur. Currently based in Germany, he is a founding member of Motorcycle Films, a group of artists and scholars that produces documentary and short fiction films. His first short film Nana Parit, Pangr‘ was selected for Bengaluru International Short Film Festival, 2015 where it won the ‘First Runner’ Prize in the Indian Competition.

The Sundance Institute Feature Film Program is supported by The Annenberg Foundation; Alfred P. Sloan Foundation; YouTube; RT Features; Time Warner Foundation; Amazon Studios; Jeanne Donovan Fisher; Hollywood Foreign Press Association; National Endowment for the Arts; NHK Enterprises, Inc.; Manish Mundra; The Ammon Foundation; Firestone / von Winterfeldt Family Fund; A3 Foundation; Technicolor; the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; SAGindie; The Ray and Dagmar Dolby Family Fund; and Grazka Taylor.

Sundance Institute
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
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. Their filmmaking journey started with the award-winning film Ankhon Dekhi directed by Rajat Kapoor. The success of Ankhon Dekhi was followed by Umrika directed by Prashant Nair which premiered at Sundance Film Festival 2015 and won the Audience Award in the World Dramatic Competition section. Soon after, Dhanak directed by Nagesh Kukunoor not only premiered in the Generation Kplus at Berlinale 2015, but also won the Grand Jury prize, as well as, a Special Mention from the Children’s Jury. The success at Sundance and Berlin was amplified by Masaan directed by Neeraj Ghaywan, that premiered in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes 2015 and brought home laurels by winning the Un Certain Regard Promising Future Prize and FIPRESCI Award. Drishyam’s forthcoming film Waiting directed by Anu Menon, premiered in the ‘Cinema of the World’ program at the prestigious Dubai International Film Festival and is slated to release across India on April 29. Their upcoming productions include Atanu Mukerjee’s Rukh starring Manoj Bajpayee and Amit Masurkar’s Newton starring Rajkummar Rao.

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