The Sundance Institute has selected 12 projects for the annual Screenwriters Lab, which takes place January 10-15 at the Sundance Village in Utah.
The Screenwriters Lab is a five-day writer’s workshop that gives emerging artists the opportunity to work intensively on their feature film scripts with the support of established screenwriters. Participating writers have problem-solving story sessions with creative advisors, engaging in individual dialogues that encourage and embrace the vision of the writer/filmmaker and help them get to the most compelling version of the story they want to tell.
Participating writers have the opportunity to work under the guidance of an extraordinary group of screenwriters, including Artistic Director Scott Frank, Alice Arlen, Naomi Foner, Stephen Gaghan, Lawrence Konner, Chris McQuarrie, Ron Nyswaner, Frank Pierson, Tom Rickman, John Ridley, Howard Rodman, Susan Shilliday, Zachary Sklar, Ed Solomon, Camille Thomasson and Tyger Williams.
“This year’s selection has grown to become more global in scope. Four international projects representing writer/directors from South Africa, the Middle East and Iran will join the eight American projects at the Lab,” said Michelle Satter, Director of the Sundance Institute Feature Film Program. “We are very enthusiastic about supporting this rich and unique mix of signature material. Providing opportunities at the upcoming Lab for cultural exchange and understanding reflect a long-term goal of the Institute’s work.”
The participants and projects selected for the 2003 January Screenwriters Lab are:
Matthew Friedman (writer), “ALL OF CREATION”: Matthew Friedman is a filmmaker and graphic designer based in Virginia Beach, VA. He recently completed the independent feature Moving, which he co-wrote and co-produced with his brother Jonathan, who directed the film. Moving has screened at several film festivals, winning the “Best Screenplay” award at the Digital Visions Film Festival in Chicago. In “ALL OF CREATION,” a brilliant young mathematician on the verge of suicide gives himself one year to discover the meaning of life.
Keith Fulton (writer), “AN AWFULLY GOOD ALIBI”: Keith Fulton, a native of Boston, holds a BA in art history from Haverford College and an MFA in film production from Temple University. He has worked as a producer, director, and editor of documentary films and has taught classes and workshops in documentary production. His current documentary feature, Lost in La Mancha, is being released in the U.S. by IFC Films and has been nominated for a British Independent Film Award and the European film Academy’s Prix Arte. In “AN AWFULLY GOOD ALIBI,” a mean-spirited old man suffering the onset of Alzheimer’s disease finds himself the target of the conflicting agendas of his estranged daughter and a shiftless stranger.
Ernesto Quiñonez (writer), “BODEGA DREAMS”: A fourth-grade public school teacher for five years, Ernesto Quiñonez was raised in Spanish Harlem and attended the City College Creative Writing Program. In 2000, he was chosen by the Village Voice Literary Supplement as one of their “Writers on the Verge”. His debut novel Bodega Dreams was a Los Angeles Times Notable Book of the Year, and his New York Times Magazine essay “Dog Days” is currently in development at the Kennedy Marshall Company. In “BODEGA DREAMS,” a promising young man finds himself drawn into the dangerous world of the idealist local crime lord Willie Bodega, who dreams of taking over Spanish Harlem and reclaiming a lost love.
Caran Hartsfield (writer/director), “BURY ME STANDING”: Caran Hartsfield is a recent alumnus of NYU’s Graduate Film Program. She has won numerous honors and awards for her previous short films “Double-Handed” and “Kiss it up to God,” including Second Place at the Cannes Film Festival Cinefoundation, the Directors Guild of America Award, the Martin Scorsese Fellowship, the Spike Lee Fellowship, and the New York Foundation for the Arts Film Fellowship. “BURY ME STANDING”: After the sudden death of a family member, four bereaved relatives struggle with the effort to memorialize the dead young man and are forced to confront their greatest fears.
Hany Abu-Assad (writer/director), “IN BETWEEN TWO DAYS”: After having worked as an airplane engineer in the Netherlands for several years, Hany Abu-Assad entered the world of film and television as a producer. He formed Aylouo Film Productions in 1990, and produced documentaries including “Dar O Dar” for Channel 4 and “Long Days in Gaza” for the BBC. In 1992, Abu-Assad wrote and directed his first short film, “Paper House.” “IN BETWEEN TWO DAYS” follows 24 hours in the lives of two Palestinian friends as they become inexorably entwined in the violence that permeates their world.
Miranda July (writer/director), “ME AND YOU AND EVERYONE WE KNOW”: Miranda July is a creator of performances, movies, and recordings. Her videos, including “The Amateurist,” “Nest of Tens,” and “Getting Stronger Every Day,” have screened internationally at MoMA, the Guggenheim Museum, and the Rotterdam International Film Festival. July’s most recent multi-media performances, “Love Diamond” and “The Swan Tool,” have been presented globally at The Kitchen in New York and the Institute of Contemporary Art in London. “ME AND YOU AND EVERYONE WE KNOW” is a story about children and adults touching and not touching each other in an era when “real” is just an aesthetic choice.
Teboho Mahlatsi (co-writer/director), “SCAR”: Teboho Mahlatsi is a graduate of the African Culture Centre’s film school in Johannesburg. He wrote and directed the award-winning documentary series “Ghetto Diaries” before teaming up with acclaimed director Angus Gibson to form Laduma Film Factory in 1994. In “SCAR,” Sporro, a gifted but impoverished boy on the cusp of fame, reinvents himself in the hardcore image of his friend and protector Paradise, who in turn fights to reclaim his identity.
Dror Shaul (writer/director), “SWEET MUD”: Dror Shaul is a film and commercial director from Tel Aviv, Israel. In 1999, he wrote and directed the short film “Operation Grandma,” which won an Israeli Academy Award and was a nominee for the Banff Rockie Award in 2000. Shaul wrote and directed three episodes of the television comedy “Seffi,” and has worked on several nationally and internationally recognized commercial campaigns. In “SWEET MUD,” a satirical look at life on a kibbutz, a 13-year-old boy attempts to rescue his mentally unstable mother from the men who use her – until he finally gives in and helps her die.
Rebecca Dreyfus and Aaron Harnick (co-writers/co-directors), “THE FIRST X-RATED KISS”: Rebecca Dreyfus’ first feature film, the documentary “Bye-Bye Babushka,” was named one of the top ten documentaries of 1999 by the New York Daily News. The film won the Joris Ivens Award at the Cinema du Réel Festival in Paris and a Silver Plaque Award from the Chicago International Film Festival, and has been acquired for television in more than 25 countries. Aaron Harnick has written for several television shows and magazines. He also wrote and directed the feature film “30 Days,” which premiered at the 2000 Toronto Film Festival. As an actor, he appeared in Eric Mendelsohn’s Judy Berlin opposite Edie Falco. Currently, he is a producer on Broadway with “Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune,” starring Stanley Tucci and Edie Falco, and off-Broadway with the musical Debbie Does Dallas. In “THE FIRST X-RATED KISS,” a struggling documentary filmmaker and a struggling actor team up to make the first good porno film.
Henry Barrial (writer/director), “TRUE LOVE”: Henry Barrial was born in New York and raised in Miami by exiled Cuban parents. He received a BA in psychology from the University of Montana, where he also minored in theatre. In Los Angeles, he studied acting and directing at Playhouse West. In 1999, Barrial directed his first short film, “The Lonelys,” which was based on his experiences as a mental health caseworker. “TRUE LOVE” is an exploration of love’s many pitfalls and virtues as seen through the experiences of three modern couples.
Elisabeth Subrin (co-writer/director) and Evan Carlson (co-writer), “UP”: Elisabeth Subrin’s award-winning trilogy of experimental biographies have screened widely in the U.S. and abroad at venues including the Rotterdam International Film Festival, the New York Film Festival, the Sundance Channel and the Whitney Biennial. She has received awards from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the USA Film Festival, the New England Film and Video Festival, the Black Maria Film Festival, and the VIPER International Award for Video. In “UP,” an opportunity to join the freeform, fast-paced world of a Boston dotcom has unforeseen repercussions for a young woman when it triggers a spectacular manic-depressive cycle, causing her to “crash” just as the company collapses in the stock market fallout.
Shirin Neshat (writer/director), “WOMEN WITHOUT MEN”: Shirin Neshat is an Iranian-born visual artist and filmmaker living in New York City. Her innovative approach to infuse disciplines to arrive at new forms of expression has brought her international acclaim. Neshat is the winner of numerous awards, including the Grand Prix of the Kwangju Biennial in Korea in 2000 and the Golden Lion Award, the First International Prize at the 48th Venice Biennial in 1999. “WOMEN WITHOUT MEN” is based on five short stories by the Iranian author Shahrnoush Parsipour that parallel the experiences and lives of different women living in distinct socio-political and cultural settings.

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