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2016 Sundance Institute Screenwriters Lab Focuses on Works from Frances Bodomo, Eva Vives, Pippa Bianco & Boots Riley

The Sundance Institute folks are taking a more long term and international approach as of late with their Screenwriters Labs. Some of the names revealed today have already visited the mythic lieu to polish off their draft, and now after visiting the Directors Lab, the likes of Frances Bodomo, Eva Vives, Pippa Bianco and Boots Riley are going back to their source material and taking another, more informed stab at what they have on paper, while those participating in Doc Edit & Story Labs will find guidance from the likes of Robert Greene and Laura Poitras. The Sundance Institute has selected 25 projects in all to participate in its Screenwriters Lab, Documentary Edit and Story Labs and new Theatre-Makers Residency. Here is the press release:

2016 Screenwriters Lab (June 25-30):

Creative advisors include Artistic Director Howard Rodman, Karim Ainouz, John August, Andrea Berloff, Joe Robert Cole, Stephen Gaghan, Gyula Gazdag, Douglas McGrath, Deepa Mehta, Walter Mosley, Charles Randolph, Jon Raymond, Jennifer Salt, Susan Shilliday, Joan Tewkesbury, Ligiah Villalobos and Tyger Williams.

Frances Bodomo / Afronauts (Zambia/U.S.A.): Just after Zambian Independence in 1964, an ingenious group of villagers builds a homemade rocket in a wild bid to join the Space Race. 17-year-old astronaut Matha Mwambwa must decide if blasting off in the precarious rocket vindicates her past or just makes her a glorified human sacrifice. Inspired by true events.

Ghanian writer/director Frances Bodomo grew up in Ghana, Norway, and Hong Kong, before moving to New York City to study film at Columbia University (BA) and NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts (MFA). Her short films Boneshaker and Afronauts both premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, and went on to play various festivals including the Berlinale, Telluride, and New Directors/New Films. She recently directed the short segment Everybody Dies! for the omnibus feature Collective:Unconscious, which premiered at the 2016 SXSW Film Festival. Bodomo is a Sundance Institute | Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellow and a 2016 Sundance Institute | Time Warner Fellow

Annie Silverstein (co-writer/director) and Johnny McAllister (co-writer) / Bull (U.S.A.): In a near-abandoned subdivision west of Houston, a wayward teen runs headlong into her equally willful and unforgiving neighbor—an aging bullfighter who’s seen his best days in the arena. It’s a collision that will change them both.

Annie Silverstein is an award-winning filmmaker and youth worker based in Austin, Texas. Her fiction and documentary films have screened at international festivals including Cannes, SXSW, Silverdocs and on PBS Independent Lens. Most recently she wrote and directed Skunk, which won the jury award at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival–Cinéfondation. Silverstein is a recipient of the San Francisco Film Society/Kenneth Rainin Foundation Grant for developing her first fiction feature. She is a 2016 Sundance Institute | Time Warner Fellow.

Johnny McAllister is a filmmaker and writer based in Austin, Texas. Born in Iran to Irish parents, McAllister grew up an itinerant, living and working throughout the Middle East, Europe and the U.S. He’s written for films that played at Cannes and Sundance and co-founded a news and doc startup based in Beirut, Lebanon. Recently, he co-wrote and produced Booger Red with director Berndt Mader and executive producer David Gordon Green, which premiered at The American Film Festival in Poland. He received his MFA from Columbia University.

Andrés Farías (co-writer/director) and Laura Conyedo Barral (co-writer) / Candela (Dominican Republic/Cuba): The lives of three strangers in Santo Domingo—the daughter of a district prosecutor, a lone alcoholic cop, and a drag queen cabaret performer—intertwine on the eve of a hurricane following the murder of a young poet and drug dealer.

Andrés Farías is a filmmaker and video-artist from the Dominican Republic. In 2014 he won the Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Collection Award for his video installation Honey Pot. In 2015, he was selected for the Emerging Leaders of the Americas Program (ELAP) for his research project on the representation of the Caribbean women in film.

Laura Conyedo Barral is a Cuban screenwriter who graduated from the International TV and Film School of San Antonio de los Baños. She has published two books of short stories, Drop Fishermen and Dust. Currently she is developing her first feature film as a director, called Nobalí Has Gone and I’ve Returned.

Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer (writer/director) / El Aparato (Mexico/U.S.A.): Mexico, 1985: a bitter math genius with failed dreams of space travel gets a second chance when he is contracted by the Mexican League of Space Discovery. Suspecting they are building a secret machine, he embarks on a dangerous journey to find what they call El Aparato.

Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer was born in Queretaro, Mexico. His short film Contrapelo premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and was shortlisted for an Academy Award in 2015. He holds an MFA in Directing from the American Film Institute.

Nabil Elderkin (director) and Marcus Guillory (writer) / Gully (U.S.A.): This non-linear, slightly dystopian vision of LA follows three disaffected teenagers, Jessie, Calvin, and Nicky—all victims of extreme childhoods, running supreme hedonistic riot as they try to work out a way in life.

Nabil Elderkin is a director and photographer of Iranian and American descent, who was raised in Australia and currently lives in Los Angeles. He has created visuals on a variety of media platforms including documentary photography, global award-winning advertising campaigns, magazine editorials, artist branding, books, music videos, commercials, the short film Captureland, and the award-winning feature-length documentary Bouncing Cats.

Marcus J. Guillory is a Houston-born, novelist/screenwriter based in Los Angeles and Seattle. His short stories have been published in Outcry Magazine, Secret Attic (UK), and Dogmatika Magazine, among others. Guillory has also produced reality television shows for E! Network and written the film Karma, Confessions & Holi. In 2014, Simon & Schuster published his debut novel “Red Now And Laters” to great critical acclaim, including being short-listed for the 2014 Ernest Gaines Award for Literary Excellence and a starred Kirkus Review. He is currently a staff writer on VH1’s new dramatic series The Breaks.

César Cervantes / Hot Clip (U.S.A.): In the aftermath of their best friend’s fatal confrontation with a cop, three Southeast Los Angeles skaters spend 24 hours chasing dreams, making trouble, and trying to survive in a community on the verge of exploding.

César Cervantes is a first-generation Chicano filmmaker from Maywood, California. His skateboarding do-it-yourself background and whatever-it-takes approach to filmmaking got him into the Emerging Filmmakers Showcase at the Cannes Film Festival, led him to create an after-school film program for inner-city youth with the help of CAA, and put him on tour with the Grammy-winning band La Santa Cecilia as their lead videographer. A Vassar College graduate, Cervantes will make his feature debut with Hot Clip. Cervantes is the first recipient of the Feature Film Program Latino Fellowship, and is a Sundance Institute | Academy Nicholl Honoree.

Kibwe Tavares (director) and Daniel Kaluuya (writer) / The Kitchen (United Kingdom): Raised in London’s first favela, housed in an abandoned Council high-rise known as the Kitchen, Izi commits smash-and-grab thefts as a way of redistributing the wealth to the community who took him in. When the inhabitants are threatened with eviction by the police, Izi is tasked with a high-stakes heist that pits him against the Kitchen’s leader and irrevocably alters his definition of family.

Kibwe Tavares graduated from the Bartlett School of Architecture with a thesis called Robots of Brixton, a short film that won the Special Jury Award for Animation at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. With the backing of Film4, he directed his second short film Jonah, which won both the Special Jury prize and Best Short Film at the Commercial Film Producers of Europe and Shots Young Directors Awards. More recently, Tavares has been awarded a TED fellowship, named as one of the top 20 young global directors at the Saatchi & Saatchi New Directors Showcase and has recently finished directing his third short Robot and Scarecrow.

Daniel Kaluuya began his writing career by working closely with Bryan Elsley on multiple episodes of the BAFTA-winning television drama Skins, in which he also starred. As an actor, he was cited as one of BAFTA’s 2011 Brits to Watch, and his more recent screen credits include Denis Villeneuve’s Sicario, Kick-Ass 2 and Eran Creevy’s Welcome to the Punch. Kaluuya is also a celebrated stage actor, having won the Evening Standard Editor’s Award for Shooting Star and Critics’ Circle Theatre Award for Outstanding Newcomer in 2010 for his performance as a boxer in Sucker Punch at London’s Royal Court Theatre. The Kitchen is his debut screenplay.

Eva Vives / Nina (U.S.A.): Just as Nina Geld’s brilliant and angry stand up kicks her career into high gear, her romantic life gets complicated, forcing her to reckon with what it means to be creative, authentic and a woman in today’s culture.

Eva Vives is a graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. In 2000, she won the Best Short Prize at the Sundance Film Festival and Cannes Film Festival with Five Feet High and Rising, a short she cast, edited and produced. She followed that up with the feature Raising Victor Vargas, which she co-wrote. Vives has been writing numerous projects, including Chrome & Paint, a film she co-wrote with Ice Cube. Vives was one of four writers in the Disney Writers Program from 2010-2012. Most recently, she wrote and directed the short film Join the Club, which premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. She was also a finalist for the 2016 Atlanta Film Festival’s Filmmaker to Watch award. Vives is a Sundance Institute | Academy Nicholl Honoree.

Sandhya Suri / Santosh (India/United Kingdom): In the corrupt hinterlands of Northern India, a young widow, Santosh, inherits her husband’s job as police constable. When a girl’s body is found in a well, she is forced to confront the brutality around her and the violence within.

Sandhya Suri is a British-Indian writer/director based in London. A graduate in pure mathematics, she received a scholarship to study documentary at The National Film and Television School. Her feature documentary I for India premiered in the World Competition section of the Sundance Film Festival, screened at over 20 international festivals and garnered several awards before being released theatrically to critical acclaim in the UK and the U.S. Suri also participated in the 2015 Drishyam | Sundance Screenwriters Lab.

Pippa Bianco / Share (U.S.A.): In this cyber thriller, a disturbing video—leaked from a local high school—throws a Long Island community into chaos and the national spotlight as they try to unravel the story behind it.

Pippa Bianco studied at Yale University, where she received the Lamar Film Studies Prize and Pearson American Studies Prize before moving to New York to make films. In 2015, her short film Share screened at the Telluride Film Festival, won a jury prize at SXSW 2015, and won Cinéfondation’s First Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. Her recent work also includes a commission for LACMA scored by Nico Jaar, and a writing credit on Bleed for This, a forthcoming boxing biopic starring Miles Teller, produced by Bruce Cohen and executive produced by Martin Scorsese.

Brett Weiner (co-writer/director) and Emma Fletcher (co-writer) / Social Justice Warrior (U.S.A.): A privileged white college sophomore clashes with her history professor and throws her university into chaos when she attempts to turn the entire campus into a safe space free from offensive language.

Brett Weiner has directed digital series for ABC, Smosh, AwesomenessTV and Defy Media as well as co-created the Honest Trailer series, which has over one billion online views. His 2014 short film Verbatim premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and went on to play at over a dozen festivals including South By Southwest, Telluride and the Dallas International Film Festival, where it won the audience award. He adapted Verbatim into a digital series for The New York Times, and his follow up short film Verbatim: The Ferguson Case premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. He is a graduate of Tufts University and lives and works in Los Angeles.

Emma Fletcher is a Los Angeles based comedy writer who began her career in feature development. She produced the documentary In Organic We Trust, followed by a short documentary shot in Thailand and Burma about children saved from human trafficking. She then transitioned to writing and worked on the final two seasons of NBC’s Parks and Recreation and the upcoming second season of Amazon’s Red Oaks.

Boots Riley / Sorry to Bother You (U.S.A.): A black telemarketer with self-esteem issues discovers a magical key to business success, propelling him to the upper echelons of the hierarchy just as his activist comrades are rising up against unjust labor practices. When he uncovers the macabre secret of his corporate overlords, he must decide whether to stand up or sell out.

Boots Riley studied film at San Francisco State University before ending his studies in favor of a major label recording deal for his band, The Coup. He directed a music video for The Coup’s “Me And Jesus The Pimp In A ’79 Granada Last Night,” upon which the novel Too Beautiful For Words was based. He has never won an award for artistic achievement, but has decided that being the only musical artist whose surveillance was uncovered via Wikileaks is just as good as an Oscar or a GRAMMY.

Alaa Eddine Aljem (writer/director) / The Unknown Saint (Morocco): Moments before his capture by the police, a thief digs a grave to hide a bag of money. Released from prison years later, he returns to retrieve it, only to find a shrine to an Unknown Saint on top of his loot, and a village resurrected around it.

Alaa Eddine Aljem studied film at the ESAVM and INSAS schools in Brussels. His films have been selected for festivals around the world, winning several awards. His most recent short film, Les Poissons du Désert, won the critics, screenwriting and grand prizes at the Moroccan National Film Festival and has been invited to the Short Film Corner at Cannes. His first feature film script The Unknown Saint, which will be his debut feature, was awarded at the Locarno Film Festival and was selected at La fabrique du cinema du monde at Cannes.

2016 Doc Edit & Story Labs (June 24-July 2 and July 8-16):

Anna Fitch (co-director/producer), Arthur Pratt (co-director/producer), Lansana Mansaray (co-director), Banker White (co-director/producer) / Survivors (Sierra Leone/U.S.A.): Through the eyes of Sierra Leonean filmmakers, Survivors presents a heart-connected portrait of their country during the Ebola outbreak, exposing the complexity of the epidemic and the socio-political turmoil that lies in its wake. The film chronicles the remarkable stories of Sierra Leonean heroes and community members during what is now regarded as the most acute public health crisis of the modern era.

Banker White is the director and producer of award winning documentaries The Genius of Marian and Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars. Banker also founded WeOwnTV, a collaborative filmmaking and storytelling project in Sierra Leone which is supported by Creative Capital, Freedom to Create, The Bertha Foundation and BAVC.

Anna Fitch is an Emmy award-winning director. Anna co-directed with Banker White the award-winning The Genius of Marian (POV 2014). She is also an award-winning producer natural history and science documentaries that have aired on the National Geographic Channel, Channel 4 UK, and PBS.

Arthur Pratt is a Sierra Leonean filmmaker and community leader based in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Arthur is a co-founder and manager of the Freetown Media Center and co-founder of the Sierra Leone Film Council, the country’s first media-makers’ union. He has started and leads multiple community film and theater groups with numerous credits and awards for the films and plays he has produced.

Lansana ‘Barmmy Boy’ Mansaray is a multi-talented director of photography, filmmaker and musician who lives in Freetown Sierra Leone. Barmmy is a founding member and the production manager of the WeOwnTV Freetown Media Center. He has been honored by the British Council on numerous occasions and has been selected to travel abroad representing the creative youth of Sierra Leone to London, Hull, Copenhagen, Abidjan and Accra.

Claudia Abend (co-director) and Adriana Loeff (co-director) / La Flor de la Vida (Uruguay): Aldo never thought that, after 50 years of marriage, he would hear his wife, Gabriella, utter those words: “I want a divorce.” Now 83, he has to fend for himself for the first time, facing hopes and possibilities, loneliness and pain, as he realizes that the end may be near.

Claudia Abend is a director and editor, currently in post-production on her second feature-length documentary, La flor de la vida, together with co-director Adriana Loeff. She also directs for television and currently as a director, editor and post producer in the leading advertising production company in Uruguay, Metropolis Films.

Adriana Loeff is a documentary filmmaker, journalist and teacher based in Montevideo, Uruguay. As a journalist, writer and producer she has contributed to The Associated Press, Al Jazeera, Nat Geo Latino and CNN International, among other news outlets. She also works as an editor at Agence France-Presse.

Damon Davis (co-director), Sabaah Folayan (co-director) l and Christopher McNabb (editor) / Whose Streets? (U.S.A.): Whose Streets? is an intimate portrayal of the Ferguson story told by the people who lived it.

Damon Davis is an interdisciplinary artist based in St. Louis, Missouri. His work includes illustration, painting, music, film, public art and emerging media. He is an Emmy award winning filmmaker. His artwork has been inducted into Smithsonian African American History Museum, as well as collections including the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and the St. Louis Art Museum.

Sabaah Folayan, a Los Angeles native, attended Columbia University as a premedical student and graduated with a degree in biology. Outside the box thinking and passion for social good drew her to community organizing. Most notably she helped lead last year’s Millions March NYC which drew over 50,000 people.

Christopher McNabb is a filmmaker, editor, and writer dedicated to the art of both fiction and nonfiction storytelling. He was the editor and post-production supervisor for The Skin Deep, a startup media company specializing in interactive content. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Film Studies from Wesleyan University, where his thesis film Driven won the NNK Award for Best Screenplay.

Elisa Levine (co-director), Gabriel Miller (co-director), David Redmon (editor) and Ashley Sabin (editor) / Sweetheart Deal (U.S.A.): Seattle’s Aurora Avenue is a mean stretch of an old highway, the ugly underbelly of a gleaming and prosperous city, lined with cheap motels and lost souls. Driven by their addiction to heroin, four women working as prostitutes risk everything, from deadly overdose to rape to HIV infection to murder. Sweetheart Deal is an intimate look inside their world, a harrowing portrait of life without a safety net.

Elisa Levine is a Seattle-based filmmaker and producer. Sweetheart Deal is her directing debut. Previously, Elisa worked on the haunting and controversial film Zoo, Waiting for NESARA, followed a messianic group of excommunicated Mormons, and the radical faith binding them together in the wake of 9/11. It has been part of the curriculum on cults and religions at the Missouri School of Journalism and played numerous festivals around the world.

Gabriel Miller is a cinematographer, director and producer with 20 years of experience in documentary. Miller’s credits include the Oscar-nominated Kings Point, Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines and an upcoming HBO documentary by Liz Garbus. He has worked with such Oscar-winning and Oscar-nominated directors as Barbara Kopple, Cynthia Wade, Heidi Ewing, Rachel Grady and Sari Gilman, as well as with Emmy winners Rory Kennedy and Liz Garbus, and Peabody winner Judith Helfand.

David Redmon and Ashley Sabin produce, direct, edit and photograph documentaries including: Mardi Gras: Made in China, Kamp Katrina, Intimidad, Invisible Girlfriend, Girl Model, Downeast, Kingdom of Animal, Night Labor, Choreography, Herd, Sentient 1 & 2, Neige, and Sanctuary. Their intimate and intricately crafted documentaries have won a variety of film festival awards and their work has aired on television stations throughout the world.

Jennifer Brea (director) and Kim Roberts (editor) / Canary In A Coal Mine (U.S.A.):
Jennifer, a Harvard PhD student, was signing a check at a restaurant when she found she could not write her own name. Months before her wedding, she became progressively more ill, losing the ability even to sit in a wheelchair. When doctors insisted that her condition was psychosomatic, she picked up her camera to document her own story and the stories of four other patients struggling with the world’s most prevalent orphan disease.

Jennifer Brea is a doctoral student in the Department of Government at Harvard University on indefinite medical leave. Prior to that, she was a print journalist in Beijing and East Africa. She earned her BA in Politics from Princeton University and is a TED Fellow. The story of her illness has been featured on ABC and Al Jazeera.

Kim Roberts is an Emmy winning editor of feature documentaries. Her recent work includes The Hunting Ground, Command and Control, Merchants of Doubt, Waiting for Superman, Food, Inc. and Inequality For All. Kim received her Master’s Degree in Documentary Film Production from Stanford University, where she won a Student Academy Award. She is an active member of the Academy of Cinema Editors and the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences

Pete Nicks (director), Lawrence Lerew (editor) and Linda Davis (producer) / The Oakland Police Project (U.S.A.): The Oakland Police Project takes you inside an embattled and understaffed police department struggling to improve community relations after decades of eroding trust in one of America’s most violent yet promising cities.

Pete Nicks is an Oakland-based filmmaker and digital media storyteller known for his feature documentary The Waiting Room. Nicks is also developing his first narrative project Escaping Morgantown, which is loosely based on the year he spent in federal prison in the early 90s, for which he received a SFFS/KRF screenwriting grant. He was recently named a United States Artist Fellow and a Film Independent Fellow.

Lawrence Lerew has edited numerous documentary films and also does production audio. His editing credits include Stanley Nelson’s Wounded Knee, The Most Dangerous Man in America, The Waiting Room and The Kill Team. He most most recently did production audio and story consulting for The Return.

Sasha Friedlander (co-director/co-producer) and Cynthia Wade (co-director/co-producer) / Mudflow (U.S.A.): Mudflow is the story of Indonesian villagers’ fight for justice in the wake of a massive exploding mud volcano blamed on gas drilling gone wrong. The film unfolds against the backdrop of Indonesia’s historic 2014 presidential election as the world’s third largest democracy is put to the test. The election offers hope, but is real change possible?

Cynthia Wade is an Academy Award-winning director whose films include Monday at Racine and Freeheld, which was adapted to a fiction feature starring Julianne Moore and Steve Carrell. Wade has directed documentaries for the Sundance Channel, IFC Channel, and primetime PBS, winning a Prime-Time Emmy for her documentary directing work on the Sesame Street Sunday Night special Growing Hope Against Hunger. She was co-producer and principal cinematographer for the ITVS/PBS documentary Taken In: The Lives of America’s Foster Children, which won a duPont-Columbia Award for Excellence in Journalism.

Sasha Friedlander directed, produced, shot and edited the award-winning feature-documentary Where Heaven Meets Hell. The Alliance of Women Film Journalists awarded Sasha an EDA Award for Documentary Artistry in March 2013. She is fluent in Indonesian and has worked there as a journalist for several years. She holds a BA from UCLA and an MFA in Social Documentary Film from the School of Visual Arts.

Vuslat Karan (co-director), Burcu Melekoğlu (co-director) and Baptiste Gacoin (editor) / Blue I.D. (Turkey): A transgender man struggles with self-realization and acceptance in traditional society of Turkey. Constrained by identification cards color-coded based on gender, will he finally be considered for a Blue ID?

Burcu Melekoğlu works as a director and editor in Istanbul. She directed several short films and documentaries over the years. While getting a BSE in Systems Engineering from University of Pennsylvania, she pursued a film minor and worked for production houses and a public TV station in Philadelphia.

Vuslat Karan is a filmmaker living in Istanbul. Her short films Tangled and Scorpion debuted at !f istanbul film festival. She directed a documentary-narrative hybrid short film Uprooting From the City about the urban transformation and gentrification of the Romani neighborhoods in the first pilot location in Istanbul.

Baptiste Gacoin was brought to cinema by the strength of the experience of watching the films of Jean-Louıis Godard, Chris Marker and Alain Resnais. He’s always been a world citizen, dedicated to both justice and beauty. He has been working since 2010 as a freelance editor and post-production advisor based in Istanbul, Turkey.

Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist and critic at (founded in 2000). Eric is a regular at Sundance, Cannes and TIFF. He has a BFA in Film Studies at the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013 he served as a Narrative Competition Jury Member at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson's This Teacher (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022 he served as a New Flesh Comp for Best First Feature at the 2022 Fantasia Intl. Film Festival. Current top films for 2022 include Tár (Todd Field), All That Breathes (Shaunak Sen), Aftersun (Charlotte Wells).

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