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2018 Screenwriters Intensive

Festival Lab News

2018 Sundance Screenwriters Intensive includes Iyabo Boyd & Roger Ross Williams/David Teague

2018 Sundance Screenwriters Intensive includes Iyabo Boyd & Roger Ross Williams/David Teague

A less than 48 hour wallop where twelve lucky screenwriters get their workshop mojo on, headed by Labs Director Ilyse McKimmie, the Sundance Institute Screenwriters Intensive (aided by former participants passing on the baton and made possible by coin support by Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation) began yesterday with the folks you see above/read below receiving some sound advice. Here is the press release that gives you the 411 on the projects and screenwriters which include the likes of For Ahkeem producer Iyabo Boyd and more docu folk in the Life, Animated team of Roger Ross Williams and David Teague.

Clara Aranovich
Writer/director, Mayacamas
Clara Aranovich is the daughter of two immigrants, an Argentine physicist and a Chilean market researcher/author. She holds a BA from Dartmouth in Literature/Creative Writing and an MFA from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts in Film Production. Her narrative fiction work has competed in festivals around the world, from SXSW to Stockholm Film Festival, and has been featured by curators such as the Flux Screening Series at the Hammer Museum, and Le Cinéma Club. Her original web series, Tantalum, stars Marcus Henderson (Get Out) and will premiere in 2018. Her commercial work has received various awards, including a Bronze Lion and several Clios. When not writing or on set, she can usually be found watching films, on a mountain somewhere, or volunteering at a women’s clinic with LA 4 Choice. She is also a certified Wilderness First Responder.

Mayacamas: Seven years ago, a small haphazard group of strangers got locked into a 2-mile radius enclosure by a mysterious, impenetrable barrier. One day, someone new suddenly appears on the inside and his presence irreversibly divides the group.

Iyabo Boyd
Writer/director, Kayla and Eddie, en Français
Iyabo Boyd is an independent screenwriter, director, and producer. She was a 2016/2017 Sundance Creative Producing Fellow and a 2016 Impact Partners Creative Producers Fellow. Boyd recently produced the feature documentary For Ahkeem, which had its international premiere at the 2017 Berlin International Film Festival, and its US premiere at the 2017 Tribeca International Film Festival. She previously held positions at filmmaker support institutions Chicken & Egg Pictures, Tribeca Film Institute, Hamptons Film Festival, IFP, and Kickstarter. She has served on juries for the Camden International Film Festival, Antenna Documentary Film Festival in Australia, DOC NYC, and others. Boyd is the founder of Feedback Loop, a documentary consulting firm, and started the Brown Girls Doc Mafia, a collective for women filmmakers of color.

Kayla and Eddie, en Français: When aging dad Eddie Williams finds out his estranged filmmaker daughter Kayla will be premiering a film in Paris, he decides to crash her trip as a means to reconnect. But his sudden, rambunctious presence quickly derails Kayla’s professional aspirations, and unearths their longstanding tension around family, addiction, and living in your own shadow.

Emma Dudley
Writer, Eggshells
A native of Berkeley, California, Emma Dudley is a writers’ assistant and script coordinator on an upcoming half hour comedy at DreamWorksTV. She graduated as valedictorian from University of California, Los Angeles’s undergraduate film school in 2017, where she concentrated in screenwriting and minored in English. While at UCLA she was honored with the Peter Stark Memorial Scholarship and the Theater Film & Television Executive Board Scholarship for her accomplishments in screenwriting. Dudley is a contributor at Reductress and has written for sketch teams at iO West and The Second City Hollywood. She has had over a dozen short stories published in literary magazines such as Hanging Loose Press, Stone Soup, Creative Kids, Adolescent, and Matchbox.

Eggshells: When an aspiring writer turns 18, she receives a letter releasing the identity of her sperm donor father. The only problem: she must endure a cross country road trip with her borderline personality disorder mother to meet him.

Melissa Hickey
Writer/director, Panic
After earning her master’s in Directing from the American Film Institute, Melissa Hickey’s short film, Ni-Ni, premiered at Clermont Ferrand, won a number of Jury and Best Short awards, and was recognized by the DGA with a Diversity Award for Female Director. The recipient of the Daniel Petrie Scholarship, the Women in Film Scholarship, and the Richard P. Rogers Spirit of Excellence, Hickey was also the only woman out of five directors from AFI chosen to direct a commercial short for the Sony ‘Be Moved’ Campaign. She is an inaugural member of the Ryan Murphy Television Half Foundation Mentorship Program, and was recently named a fellow in the Sony Pictures Television Diverse Directors Program.

Panic: In late 19th century New England, a mysterious plague threatens a small farming community. When the ensuing panic drives the townspeople to scapegoat a 19-year-old girl, the consequences are far more terrifying than the disease itself.

Tani Ikeda
Co-writer/director, Sealskin Woman
Tani Ikeda is an award-winning director who creates narratives, documentaries, music videos, and commercial films. She was previously selected as a Film Independent Project: Involve Directors Fellow. Her credits include two films in the 2017 Emmy-winning series Wonder Women. Ikeda recently executive produced and directed a documentary series with the co-founder of Black Lives Matter, Patrisse Cullors, about organizers on the frontlines of the resistance to white supremacy in the era of a Trump presidency. Her work has been recognized in The Hollywood Reporter, Teen Vogue, Cosmopolitan magazine and has screened internationally at festivals around the world including the Sundance Film Festival. Ten years ago, at the age of 21, Ikeda co-founded imMEDIAte Justice, a nonprofit that fosters the talents of young women artists working in digital media. She is the current executive director of imMEDIAte Justice and was named one of the “25 Visionaries Who are Changing Your World,” by the Utne Reader.

A-Ian Holt
Co-writer, Sealskin Woman
A-lan Holt’s poetic and intimately charged practice transcends boundaries as a playwright, filmmaker and Stanford University educator. She is the youngest playwright to receive a two-year residency at the Public Theater in New York where her play, The Bottom of Heaven, was developed starring Lupita Nyong’o. Holt serves as Associate Director at Stanford University’s Institute for Diversity in the Arts where she teaches and supports interventions in art practice, spiritual practice and social change. Her debut artist book Moonwork was shortlisted for the Cornish Family Prize at the Melbourne Art Book Fair. As a filmmaker, Holt’s work has been viewed across the country. She is the writer and director of Inamorata.

Sealskin Woman: After her mother dies, a young girl goes to live with her grandparents in Japan and discovers that the people who are supposed to protect her can’t; she must rely on her own magic to save herself.

Tory Kamen
Writer, Eleanor, Invisible
Tory Kamen was born and raised in New York City. She graduated from NYU Gallatin and recently received her MFA in Writing for Screen and Television from USC School of Cinematic Arts. Kamen currently works as an assistant on the FOX comedy, The Mick. She splits her time between Los Angeles and the Internet.

Eleanor, Invisible: After the death of her last living friend, 90-year-old Eleanor moves from Florida to New York City in search of companionship, only to find herself more alone than before. In one final and desperate attempt to connect, Eleanor takes on her best friend’s life story: she pretends to be a Holocaust survivor.

Gabriella Moses
Writer/director, Leche
Gabriella Moses is an award-winning director, writer, and production designer based in Brooklyn, NY. She is a graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Her latest short films Sticky Fingers and Leche are currently playing the festival circuit. Her award-winning thesis film Las Mañanitas has played at numerous international film festivals winning Best Ensemble Cast, Production Design and Score at NYU’s First Run Film Festival and Best Film at the Katra Film Fest Series. Her production design work has been featured across top film festivals across the globe including Sundance, Toronto, Tribeca and SXSW. Moses was selected by the Hispanic Coalition of NY as one of their 2015 Rising Latino Stars. She also served as a Shadow Director for the 2015 ABC Diversity Showcase. Her directorial debut feature, Leche, which has received support from the Sundance Institute’s 2016 Creative Producing Lab and the 2017 NYWIFT “From Script to Pre-Production” Workshop.

Leche: A coming of age story infused with moments of magical realism, Leche tells the story of Nina, a ten-year-old Dominican American girl who believes she can perform miracles after seemingly resurrecting an albino deer. She discovers that what sets her apart may be more of a blessing than a curse.

Alicia D. Ortega
Writer, Righteous Acts
Alicia D. Ortega graduated from Stanford University, and is pursuing an MFA in fiction at LSU. In addition to screenwriting, she is working on a novel about a Mexican-American family, fractured by grief, that stubbornly insists on the myth of the American Dream. Ortega lives in Dallas, Texas, but she’s most inspired by her hometown of San Antonio.

Righteous Acts: Homeschooled teenager Judith yearns for a community of faith. When her parents finally allow her to join the cast of a megachurch hell house, she believes she’s finally found her people—until she fails to nab the role of the Abortion Girl, and understands it’s her holy duty to steal the show.

Meedo Taha
Writer/director, Other People
Meedo Taha is a filmmaker born into a family of video bootleggers during the Lebanese civil war. In a creative free-fall, he received a scholarship to the University of Tokyo, wrote a PhD dissertation about the love affair between cinema and architecture, earned an MFA in Directing from UCLA, taught college-level filmmaking in Dubai, got his first novel published, and is adapting it into a film. His work has received support from the Samuel Goldwyn Foundation, Directors Guild of America, and Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and son, a budding photographer at three years old.

Other People: A family of refugees in Beirut clean apartments by day and pickpocket weddings by night. But as the boyish middle daughter falls in love with the final bride of the summer, she must choose between freedom for her family and freedom for herself.

Roger Ross Williams
Co-writer/director, The Life and Death of Cassandro
The first film that Roger Ross Williams directed, Music by Prudence, won the 2010 Academy Award® for documentary short subject. He is the first African American director to win an Academy Award. Williams’ latest film, Life, Animated, premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival to enormous critical acclaim, and has received countless accolades including DGA and PGA nominations and a 2017 Academy Award nomination. Williams serves on the board of the Tribeca Film Festival, the advisory boards of both the Full Frame and Sundance Film Festivals, and the Board of Governors for the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.

David Teague
Co-writer, The Life and Death of Cassandro
David Teague is a writer and documentary film editor. He has edited five Oscar-nominated documentaries, including one winner. His work includes Life, Animated, Cutie and the Boxer, The Departure, E-TEAM, Mondays at Racine, and Freeheld.

The Life and Death of Cassandro: Saúl, a gay lucha libre wrestler, creates a powerful alter ego named Cassandro to both fight in the ring and fight his own demons. But this superhero story gets turned on its head as Cassandro starts to take control and threatens to become Saúl’s downfall.

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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