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By Sundance Film Institute
Jan 3, 2006, 09:35

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Los Angeles, CA -- Sundance Institute has selected 12 projects for the annual Screenwriters Lab, which takes place January 13 through 18 at the Sundance Resort in Utah. The Screenwriters Lab is a five-day writer’s workshop that gives independent screenwriters the opportunity to work intensively on their feature film scripts with the support of established writers in an environment that encourages innovation and creative risk-taking. Individual story sessions bring participating screenwriters together with creative advisors for problem-solving discussions.

Projects invited to participate in the January Lab are:

  • A BREATH AWAY/ Kit Hui (writer/director), U.S.A./China;

  • THE INTELLIGENT DESIGN OF JENNY CHOW / Rolin Jones (writer/director), U.S.A.;

  • LAKE TAHOE / Fernando Eimbcke (co-writer/director) and Paula Markovitch (co-writer), Mexico;

  • MY HABIBI / Kirsten Johnson (writer/director), U.S.A;

  • THE RADIOACTIVE BOY SCOUT / Greg Harrison (writer/director), U.S.A.;

  • SIN NOMBRE / Cary Fukunaga (writer/director), U.S.A.;

  • THE STRENGTH OF WATER / Briar Grace-Smith (writer) and Armagan Ballantyne (director), New Zealand;

  • TREELESS MOUNTAIN / So Yong Kim (writer/director), U.S.A./Korea;

  • UNCLOUDY DAY / Milford Thomas (co-writer/director), U.S.A.;

  • WARM / Carter Smith (co-writer/director), U.S.A.;

  • YELLING TO THE SKY / Victoria Mahoney (writer/director), U.S.A.; and

  • ZION AND HIS BROTHER / Eran Merav (writer/director), Israel.

  • Participating screenwriters will work with an distinguished group of creative advisors, including Artistic Director Todd Graff, Allison Anders, John August, Anthony Drazan, Naomi Foner-Gyllenhaal, John Lee Hancock, Erik Jendresen, Douglas McGrath, Christopher McQuarrie, Walter Mosley, Ron Nyswaner, Frank Pierson, Jeremy Pikser, Daniel Pyne, Howard Rodman, Susan Shilliday and Zachary Sklar.

    “The search for human connection and family are themes explored with humor, pathos, and originality in many of the projects at the January 2006 Screenwriters Lab,” said Michelle Satter, Director of Sundance Institute’s Feature Film Program. “Along with outstanding work from the United States, we are very pleased to be including exciting new independent voices from the Middle East, Asia and Latin America. The January Lab is the first component of Sundance's long-term commitment to these projects, which we have every hope will become distinctive and memorable films.”

    The projects selected for development at this Lab join a growing list of independent films supported in their development by the Institute’s Feature Film Program, including Miranda July’s ME AND YOU AND EVERYONE WE KNOW, Hany Abu-Assad’s PARADISE NOW, Debra Granik’s DOWN TO THE BONE, Ira Sachs’ FORTY SHADES OF BLUE, 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, Tony Bui’s THREE SEASONS, Walter Salles’ CENTRAL STATION, Chris Eyre and Sherman Alexie’s SMOKE SIGNALS, Paul Thomas Anderson’s HARD EIGHT, Tamara Jenkins’ SLUMS OF BEVERLY HILLS, and Quentin Tarantino’s RESERVOIR DOGS, among many others.

    Seven films recently supported by the Feature Film Program will premiere at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival. These include: A GUIDE TO RECOGNIZING YOUR SAINTS (Dramatic Competition), written and directed by Dito Montiel; HALF NELSON (Dramatic Competition), co-written by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck and directed by Ryan Fleck; SHERRYBABY (Dramatic Competition), written and directed by Laurie Collyer; STEPHANIE DALEY (Dramatic Competition), written and directed by Hilary Brougher; WRISTCUTTERS: A LOVE STORY (Dramatic Competition), written and directed by Goran Dukic; WILD TIGERS I HAVE KNOWN (Frontier), written and directed by Cam Archer; and HOUSE OF SAND (World Cinema Competition: Dramatic), written and directed by Andrucha Waddington.

    The participants and projects selected for the 2006 January Screenwriters Lab are:

    Kit Hui (writer/director), U.S.A./China, A BREATH AWAY: As Typhoon Ellen approaches Hong Kong, the residents of a high-rise apartment complex struggle with their individual emotional demons, not realizing they are connected by more than the increasing swarms of flies invading their homes.
    Born and raised in Hong Kong, Kit Hui emigrated to the United States at age 16. She received her MFA from Columbia University’s Graduate Film Program. Her short film MISSING screened at the 2005 Tribeca Film Festival and the 2005 Cannes Film Festival, and her short film A RAINY DAY won the top prize at the China-American Film Festival.

    Rolin Jones (writer/director), U.S.A., THE INTELLIGENT DESIGN OF JENNY CHOW: Jennifer Marcus is just an average girl who re-engineers obsolete missile components for the U.S. Army from her bedroom computer. When she decides to meet her birth mother in China, she uses her technological genius to devise a new form of human contact.

    Rolin Jones’ play THE INTELLIGENT DESIGN OF JENNY CHOW has been produced at South Coast Repertory, Yale Repertory, Old Globe Theatre, and the Atlantic Theater Company in New York. He was the 2005 NEA/TCG playwright-in-residence at Yale Repertory Theatre, and currently writes for the Showtime original series WEEDS.

    Fernando Eimbcke (co-writer/director) and Paula Markovitch (co-writer), Mexico, LAKE TAHOE: Thirteen-year-old Juan is obsessed with repairing the car he has just crashed, his late father’s final gift to him. As he wanders the city searching for parts, Juan transitions from childhood to adulthood in one day.

    After directing numerous music videos, Fernando Eimbcke wrote and directed his first feature film TEMPORADA DE PATOS (DUCK SEASON), which won the FIPRESCI Award and participated at the 43rd Semaine International de la Critique at Cannes (2004). The film is nominated for an Independent Spirit Award (Best Foreign Film) and is slated for a 2006 U.S. release by Warner Independent.

    Originally from Buenos Aires, Paula Markovitch’s has been involved with a number of films including TEMPORADA DE PATOS (DUCK SEASON) (co-writer), SIN REMITENTE (story credit), and ELISA ANTES DEL FIN DEL MUNDO. As a director, Markovitch has written and directed the short films PERRIFERICO and AMULANCE MUSIC.

    Kirsten Johnson (writer/director), U.S.A., MY HABIBI: In post-9/11 New York, a Moroccan immigrant finds his reckless past catching up with him just as he is falling in love with an American photographer, forcing each of them to choose whom they must betray.

    Kirsten Johnson’s most recent film, DEADLINE, (co-directed with Katy Chevigny), premiered at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival, was broadcast on NBC, and is the winner of a Thurgood Marshall Award. Her cinematography is featured in FARENHEIT 9/11, the Academy Award-nominated ASYLUM, and the Sundance Film Festival documentaries AMERICAN STANDOFF, TWO TOWNS OF JASPER, and DERRIDA.

    Greg Harrison (writer/director), U.S.A., THE RADIOACTIVE BOY SCOUT: THE RADIOACTIVE BOY SCOUT is the true story of a 16-year-old boy in Michigan who builds a nuclear reactor in his backyard in an effort to become a famous scientist and to deal with the breakup of his own nuclear family.

    Greg Harrison recently directed NOVEMBER, which premiered at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival, winning the Cinematography Award, and was released by Sony Pictures Classics. His first film, GROOVE, premiered at Sundance in 2000 and was also released by Sony Pictures Classics. THE RADIOACTIVE BOY SCOUT is the first film to be commissioned by the Sundance Institute’s Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Fund for projects that explore themes of science and technology.

    Cary Fukunaga (writer/director), U.S.A., SIN NOMBRE: During a brutal attempt to cross into the United States from Central America, two adolescents learn to survive by discovering their inner strength and the power of redemption.

    Cary Fukunaga received his MFA from NYU’s Graduate Film Program. His most recent short film, VICTORIA PARA CHINO, has won more than 19 international awards, including a Student Academy Award and Honorable Mentions from BAFTA and the Sundance Film Festival. SIN NOMBRE will mark his feature debut as a writer/director.

    Briar Grace-Smith (writer) and Armagan Ballantyne (director), New Zealand, THE STRENGTH OF WATER: Set in a Maori village in rural New Zealand, THE STRENGTH OF WATER tells the magical story of Kimi Kaneha, a fat, fist-throwing, bed-wetting little boy who can’t accept the death of his twin sister and will do anything to keep her spirit alive.

    Briar Grace-Smith, a Maori writer of Ngapuhi descent, was recognized with the Inaugural Laureate Award of the Arts Foundation of New Zealand in 2000. Her 1997 play PURAPURAWHETU won the Chapman Tripp Theatre Award for Best New Zealand Play. She has also received the Premiere Literature Award and the Bruce Mason Playwrights Award. THE STRENGTH OF WATER is her first feature film.

    New Zealander Armagan Ballantyne studied film at FAMU, the film school in Prague, and received her asters in directing at the Australian Film School in Sydney. Her award-winning short films have screened at festivals world wide, including Venice, London and Telluride. In 2004, Ballantyne spent six months at the Binger Institute in Amsterdam developing THE STRENGTH OF WATER.

    So Yong Kim (writer/director), U.S.A./Korea, TREELESS MOUNTAIN: Left by her mother in the care of their unsympathetic aunt, 5-year-old Ling must take care of her younger sister as they adjust to a harsher life in the rural countryside of South Korea.

    So Yong Kim was born and raised in Pusan, Korea, then immigrated to the United States when she was 12. She studied painting, performance, and video art at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago where she earned her MFA. Her directorial debut IN BETWEEN DAYS will premiere in the Dramatic Competition at the Sundance Film Festival and will screen at the Berlin Film Festival's International Forum in 2006.

    Milford Thomas (co-writer/director), U.S.A., UNCLOUDY DAY: (from a script co-written with Kristin Gorell): Told in the style of an early “talkie”, UNCLOUDY DAY is the story of a dangerous animal spirit who wreaks havoc on the life of a simple Alabama man before she finds final peace through his handicapped daughter’s magical vocal talent.

    Milford Thomas was raised in the North Alabama foothills of the Appalachians and worked as a production coordinator for Japanese television in Atlanta and Japan. His award-winning first film, CLAIRE, is a silent featurette shot entirely on an antique 35 mm hand-crank camera which has opened several major international festivals.

    Carter Smith (co-writer/director), U.S.A., WARM: (from a script co-written with Dennis Cooper): WARM is the twisted love story of Mack and Dave, two L.A. youths that are drowning in a world of abusive boyfriends, sleazy porn, witchcraft and Mexican vacation contests.

    Maine native Carter Smith began his career in the world of fashion photography. His fashion work and celebrity portraits have been featured in The New York Times Magazine, Vogue, GQ, and W. His first short film, BUGCRUSH, will premiere at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival, and WARM will be his feature film debut.

    Victoria Mahoney (writer/director), U.S.A., YELLING TO THE SKY: In a depraved New York neighborhood, the youngest of three mixed-race sisters navigates an identity between the known, a violent life of crime, and the unknown, a life of purpose and meaning.

    Victoria Mahoney began her career working with Shelley Winters at The Actors Studio New York. She produced JESSE BORR, a short film directed by Don Cheadle, and he returned the favor by starring in her short film GRADUATION. She is currently directing RARE BIRDS, a documentary about Amanda De Cadenet’s photography. YELLING TO THE SKY marks her feature debut as a writer/director.

    Eran Merav (writer/director), Israel, ZION AND HIS BROTHER: After his complicity in the tragic death of a classmate, 14-year-old Zion must choose between his domineering older brother and the possibility of a better life without him.

    Eran Merav was born in Haifa, Israel, and graduated from the Sam Spiegel Film and Television School in Jerusalem. His graduate short film UNDERDOG won First Prize at the 2002 Lodz International Film Festival, Best Short at the Jerusalem Film Festival, and a Special Mention at the Berlin Film Festival (Panorama).

    Several projects of the Feature Film Program’s Screenwriters and Filmmaker Labs are currently in various stages of production. They include two international films in production: RED ROAD (England), the debut feature from Andrea Arnold, who won the Academy Award for her short film WASP, and EAGLE VS. SHARK (New Zealand), the debut feature from Academy Award-nominated Maori filmmaker Taika Waititi; as well as an American project, Salvatore Stabile’s sophomore feature WHERE GOD LEFT HIS SHOES, starring John Leguizamo. Films currently in post-production include David Kaplan’s animated take on the Cinderella story set in Chinatown, THE YEAR OF THE FISH, as well as two Sundance/NHK Award-winners, Rodrigo Moreno’s THE MINDER (Argentina) and Gyorgi Palfi’s TAXIDERMIA (Hungary).

    Sundance Institute Feature Film Program
    The January Screenwriters Lab is part of the Sundance Institute Feature Film Program, a year-round program dedicated to supporting artist development and the advancement of distinctive, singular independent projects. Each year, 20-25 emerging filmmakers from the U.S. and abroad participate in the program which includes the Screenwriters and Filmmakers Labs, ongoing creative and practical advice, the post-production initiative, and financial support through fellowship opportunities. In many cases, the Institute has helped filmmakers find a producer, financing and other significant resources, helping to bring these projects into production. The Feature Film Program also presents the Screenplay Reading Series, in Los Angeles and New York, which provides a valuable opportunity for writers to hear their scripts read aloud by professional actors.

    Sundance Institute
    Dedicated year-round to the development of artists of independent vision and to the exhibition of their new work, Sundance Institute celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2006. Since its inception, the Institute has grown into an internationally recognized resource for thousands of independent artists through its Sundance Film Festival and artistic development programs which provide a range of concentrated creative and financial support for directors, screenwriters, documentary filmmakers, composers, playwrights and theatre artists. The original values of independence, creative risk-taking, and discovery continue to define and guide the work of Sundance Institute, both with US artists and, increasingly, with artists from other regions of the world.

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