In 1990, the Feature Film Program (FFP) made a commitment to supporting a vibrant exchange and dialogue across cultures by including the work of international filmmakers as part of its core program. The Labs have all been enriched by developing artists and projects that are deeply rooted in the personal and cultural history of filmmaking voices from all over the world. Through US based Labs for Screenwriters and Directors, International Labs for Screenwriters (Middle East and India), an annual Awards program for international filmmakers, and the Project Support Continuum for Lab fellows, the FFP has supported artists from over fifty countries making their first and second films.
Award-winning films supported by these initiatives include Andrea Arnold’s Red Road, Walter Salles’ Central Station, Lucretia Martel’s La Cienega, Hany Abu-Assad’s Paradise Now, and Cherien Dabis’ Amreeka.
The information below describes the current program, how to apply, and frequently asked questions.
SUNDANCE LABS IN UTAH
International filmmakers continue to receive support and guidance through Sundance Institute’s core programs. Each year, 6-8 filmmakers are selected for the annual Screenwriters Labs held in January and June at the Sundance Resort in Utah. The Lab is a five-day workshop that gives independent screenwriters the opportunity to work on their feature film scripts with the support of established writers in an environment that encourages innovation and creative risk-taking. Through one-on-one story sessions with Creative Advisors, Fellows engage in an artistically rigorous process that offers indispensable lessons in craft, as well as a deep exploration of their material.
For international Lab fellows, Sundance Institute provides airline travel, accommodations, and meals at the Sundance Resort in Utah for one writer/filmmaker per project for the duration of the Lab. Past international Lab projects supported by the Feature Film Program include:
- Lake Tahoe by Fernando Eimbcke (Mexico)
- Paradise Now by Hany Abu-Assad (Palestinian Territories/Palestine)
- Sweet Mud by Dror Shaul (Israel)
- Treeless Mountain by So Yong Kim (Korea)
- Women Without Men by Shirin Neshat (Iran)
- Red Road by Andrea Arnold (UK)
- Click here for a full list of past international projects.
Thomas Vinterberg, Joachim Trier, Atom Egoyan, Ronan Bennett, and Marcos Bernstein are a few of the international Creative Advisors who have participated in the Labs. Click here for a full list of international Creative Advisors.
Project Support Continuum
In an increasingly complex landscape for independent films, we recognize the need for sustained guidance for filmmakers through every phase of the filmmaking process. The Feature Film Program provides targeted creative and strategic support and resources from development through post-production to filmmakers on their lab projects.
If your project is selected for the Screenwriters Lab, participants are asked to give back to Sundance Institute. Click here to learn more about the filmmakers agreement and giving back.
APPLY TO THE SUNDANCE LABS
Eligibility for International Filmmakers
While we do consider filmmakers from other regions, our international outreach for the Screenwriters Lab focuses on select regions that we feel will benefit most from our support. The current regions of focus include:
- Eastern Europe
- Southeast Asia
- Northern Africa
- Central America
If you live outside the regions of focus, please send a letter of inquiry to email@example.com. You will need to include the following information. In addition, please read the eligibility criteria below, as it will also pertain to your submission:
- Biography or CV for the writer and director
- Brief description of the project
- Brief Artistic Statement
Please read these eligibility criteria carefully, as they differ from the eligibility requirements for US applicants.
- The Lab is for either a writer/director or a writer-director team. Participants are selected on the basis of their past work and the submitted script.
- The Lab is for a first or second feature film only.
- Candidates must submit a complete feature-length screenplay (no treatments, and not the first five pages, as with US applications).
- The script must be written in English, or translated into English.
- Filmmakers must submit a DVD of their previous short film or feature film as a sample of his/her work. If the work is not in English, it must be subtitled in English.
- All applications must be accompanied by a letter of recommendation from a film professional, written in English or with an attached English translation.
- Typically the budgets of participating projects have been between US $100,000 and $3 million. We will consider projects outside this range on a project-by-project basis.
International deadline for the January 2014 Screenwriters Lab: September 15, 2013
Before contacting us, please read through the Frequently Asked Questions. They will help you to present a stronger application.
Rawi Middle East Screenwriters Lab (Jordan)
An initiative of the Royal Film Commission of Jordan, The Rawi Middle East Screenwriters Lab was created in conjunction with Sundance Institute's Feature Film Program to support emerging Middle Eastern filmmakers with their first or second feature films. Launched in 2005 and modeled on the Institute's January Screenwriters Lab, Rawi (Storyteller) provides an opportunity for screenwriters from the region to work intensively on their feature film screenplays under the guidance of established writers. The Lab is held annually in Wadi Feynan, Southern Jordan, and has supported filmmakers from Lebanon, Iraq, Palestine, Iran, Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia.
Rawi and Sundance Feature Film Program have supported over fifty Middle Eastern filmmakers in the past seven years alone. Many have gone on to receive critical acclaim for their projects. The two first features to emerge from the Lab premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival: Pomegranates and Myrrh, written and directed by Najwa Najjar (Palestine) and Amreeka, written and directed by Cherien Dabis (Palestine/Jordan/U.S.). Dabis’s second feature film, May in the Summer, premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.
More recently, 2009 Rawi alum Haifaa Al Mansour (Saudi Arabia) premiered her first feature Wadjda at the 2012 Venice Film Festival, where it was acquired for theatrical release in North America by Sony Pictures Classics. Wadjda is the first feature film shot entirely in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the first ever by a Saudi female filmmaker.
Sally El Hosaini’s My Brother the Devil (Egypt) was developed in the 2008 Rawi Lab and 2009 Sundance Directors Lab and Screenwriters Lab. The film played at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, winning Best Cinematography and the Worldview / Sundance Impact Award. El Hosaini has received recognition around the world, including 2012 Berlinale and 2012 London BFI Film Festival.
From the 2007 Screenwriters Lab, Iraqi project Son of Babylon, co-written by Mohamed Al-Daradji and Jennifer Norridge and directed by Al-Daradji premiered at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival was selected as Iraq’s official entry to the 83rd Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film.
For information on how to apply, click here.
Mumbai Mantra | Sundance Institute Screenwriters Lab (India)
In 2011, Sundance Institute launched a multi-faceted partnership with the Mahindra Group, one of India’s largest and most respected companies. One of the centerpiece initiatives of this collaboration is the Mumbai Mantra | Sundance Institute Screenwriters Lab, which is designed to support new independent voices in Indian cinema. Creative advisors have included Guillermo Arriage, Shekhar Kapur, Audrey Wells, and Joshua Marston.
For information on how to apply, click here.
2013 Mumbai Mantra – Sundance Institute Screenwriters Lab
Sarthak Dasgupta (The Music Teacher)
Pratim D. Gupta (Ink)
Nitin Kakkar (Black Freedom)
Abhijit Mazumdar (Delirium)
Terrie Samudra (Betamax)
Renuka Shahahne (Tribhanga)
Kavanjit Singh (Television)
Neha Sinha (Forgiven)
!F-Sundance Screenwriting Lab (Turkey)
Since 2011, the Feature Film Program has collaborated with the !f Istanbul Independent International Film Festival on a Screenwriters Lab in Istanbul. Twelve artists from Turkey have been supported to date and creative advisors have included Athina Rachel Tsangari (Attenberg) and Jeremy Pikser (Reds, Bulworth).
NHK Workshop (Japan)
A new collaboration with longtime partner NHK, this screenwriting workshop takes place each July in Tokyo. In its inaugural year, screenwriter and veteran advisor at the Directors Lab, Joan Tewkesbury (Nashville), crafted a three-day program for three promising Japanese filmmakers. Erin Cressida Wilson (Secretary, Chloe) will design and run the 2013 edition.
2012 fellows Kentaro Hagiwara and Kyohta Fujimoto went on to receive the annual Sundance/NHK Award for their feature script Spectacled Tiger, announced this past January at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival .
Filmmakers may apply for FFP’s international awards programs during the annual submission period for the January Screenwriters Lab.
Sundance Institute | Mahindra Global Filmmaking Award
In addition to the Lab, Sundance and Mahindra have partnered to create the Sundance Institute | Mahindra Global Filmmaking Award, which recognizes and supports emerging independent filmmakers from four different regions annually. Winning filmmakers each receive a cash award of $10,000 and attendance at the Sundance Film Festival for a specially curated five-day program, which includes targeted creative and industry meetings, screenings and panels.
2013 Recipients of the Sundance Institute | Mahindra Global Filmmaking Award
Jonas Carpignano (Italy-US) / A Chjana
Sarthak Dasgupta (India) / The Music Teacher
Aly Muritiba (Brazil) / The Man Who Killed My Beloved Dead
Vendela Vida & Eva Weber (US – Germany – UK) / Let The Northern Lights Erase Your Name
Following the festival, Feature Film Program staff and creative advisors provide ongoing creative and strategic support, which may also include the opportunity to participate in one of the Sundance Institute Creative Labs in Screenwriting, Directing, Composing, and Producing.
Past award-winners include Bogdan Mustata’s Wolf (Romania), Talya Lavie’s Zero Motivation (Israel), Ariel Kleiman’s Partisan (Australia), and Dominga Sotomayor’s Late To Die Young (Chile).
Press Release - 2013 Sundance Institute | Mahindra Global Filmmaking Awards
In 1996, the Sundance/NHK Award was established by Sundance Institute in partnership with NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) to celebrate 100 years of cinema and to honor and support emerging independent filmmakers whose originality, talent, and vision contributes significantly to the future of world cinema.
One international filmmaker is selected each year and commemorated with an announcement at the Sundance Film Festival in January. The award includes a $10,000 cash prize, attendance at the Sundance Film Festival for creative and strategic meetings at the festival with established filmmakers, and guidance by FFP staff throughout the life of the project.
Most recently, 2010 winner Benh Zeitlin’s Beasts of the Southern Wild was nominated for four Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actress (Quvenzhané Wallis).
2013 Recipients of the Sundance/NHK Award
Kentaro Hagiwara & Kyohta Fujimoto / Spectacled Tiger
Other films which have been supported by the Sundance/NHK Award include: Cherien Dabis’s May in the Summer (Palestine), Andrei Zvyagintsev’s Elena (Russia), Cruz Angeles' Don't Let Me Drown (U.S.), Gyorgi Palfi's Taxidermia (Hungary), Rodrigo Moreno's El Custodio (Argentina), Andrucha, Lucrecia Martel's La Ciénaga (Argentina), Juan Pablo Rebella and Pablo Stoll's Whisky (Uruguay), and Walter Salles' Central Station (Brazil). Made early in these directors' careers, each of these films were instrumental in launching the work of emerging filmmakers in their respective countries.