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Bing Liu Leads Sundance Institute’s 2020 Directors & Screenwriters Lab Fellows

Bing Liu Leads Sundance Institute’s 2020 Directors & Screenwriters Lab Fellows

How will the current situation impact the annual summer edition of the Sundance Directors & Screenwriters Lab? We are about to find out. Among the selected folks we find up and comer filmmakers who we’ve had the chance to feature in the recent past in Laura Moss/Brendan O’Brien, Fanyana Hlabangane, Andrew Thomas Huang, Nehir Tuna (see our video interviews below) and Bing Liu (who we profiled for his award-winning Minding the Gap). Here is the press release with all the folks attending.

Los Angeles – 11 independent filmmakers developing 10 projects have been selected for the 2020 Sundance Institute Directors and Screenwriters Labs, reimagined and expressed digitally this year on Sundance Co//ab. These Labs are at the heart of the nonprofit Institute’s long-standing support for artists, and will connect curated selections of Fellows with Creative Advisors and Industry mentors across multiple disciplines.

At the Directors Lab (June 1-19th), filmmakers will participate in a rigorous schedule of advisor presentations, scene analysis sessions, directing exercises, one-on-one meetings, and — new this year — collaborative conversations across a wide range of industry disciplines, including casting, production design, film scoring, and producing. Immediately following, the Screenwriters Lab (June 22-25th) provides the opportunity to process the insight gained from the Directors Lab through one-on-one story sessions with screenwriter advisors, and find inspiration and guidance for continued development of their screenplays.

Under the leadership of Feature Film Program Founding Director Michelle Satter and Deputy Director Ilyse McKimmie, the Labs are part of a year-round continuum of customized support for Fellows, which can include creative mentorship, granting at critical stages, and tactical advice from program staff and industry professionals.

The group of creative advisors is made up of directors, cinematographers, editors, actors, and screenwriters including Miguel Arteta, Joan Darling, Rick Famuyiwa, Naomi Foner, John Gatins, Gyula Gazdag (Artistic Director, Directors Lab), Lesli Linka Glatter, Stephen Goldblatt, Keith Gordon, Susannah Grant, Randa Haines, Ed Harris, Karyn Kusama, Kasi Lemmons, Malia Scotch Marmo, Walter Mosley, Robert Redford, Nancy Richardson, Howard Rodman (Artistic Director, Screenwriters Lab), Elena Soarez, Joan Tewkesbury, Dylan Tichenor, Lynette Wallworth, Zoë White, Tyger Williams, Erin Cressida Wilson, Doug Wright and Benh Zeitlin.

For the first time, the 2020 Directors Lab will include advisors across other areas of creative collaboration, including casting directors Jodi Angstreich, Eyde Belasco, Maribeth Fox and Richard Hicks, production designers Akin McKenzie, Beth Mickle and Inbal Weinberg, composers Peter Golub, Heather McIntosh and Mervyn Warren, and producers Mollye Asher, Mary Jane Skalski and Nina Yang Bongiovi.

Fellows and projects selected for the 2020 Directors Lab are:

Aftersun (United Kingdom/U.S.A.)
Charlotte Wells, writer/director

A woman reflects on shared joy and private melancholy in the final days she spent with her father, filling in the gaps of banal home-video footage captured on holiday at a Turkish seaside resort twenty years earlier.

Birth/Rebirth (U.S.A.)
Laura Moss, co-writer/director
Brendan O’Brien, co-writer

In this all-female adaptation of the Frankenstein story, a grieving maternity nurse and an obsessive morgue technician are unexpectedly bound together in a quest to re-animate a deceased child.

Chalino (U.S.A.)
Jesus Celaya, writer/director

The true story of Chalino Sanchez, the originator of the narcocorrido, who immigrated from Sinaloa to Los Angeles in the early 1990s and started a musical revolution with his songs about the lives of Mexican outlaws.

Chinks (U.S.A.)
Bing Liu, writer/director

A Chinese American teenager discovers his voice by making skate videos in his rustbelt hometown while navigating a complex family relationship between his mother, stepfather, and half-brother.

Frybread Face and Me (U.S.A.)
Billy Luther, writer/director

Two adolescent Navajo cousins from different worlds bond during a summer herding sheep on their grandmother’s ranch in Arizona while learning more about their family’s past and themselves.

Nanny (U.S.A.)
Nikyatu, writer/director

Aisha is an undocumented nanny caring for a privileged child. As she prepares for the arrival of her own child she left behind in her native country, a violent supernatural presence invades her reality, jeopardizing the American Dream she’s carefully pieced together.

The Spirit Guest (South Africa)
Fanyana Hlabangane, writer/director

Brothers Tito and Kgabane, two men who merely tolerate each other, lead mundane lives on the fringes of Johannesburg. During a mercilessly dry winter, their turbulent childhood pain simmers when their dead mother arrives in the flesh, sending the brothers’ relationship into a tailspin.

Tiger Girl (U.S.A.)
Andrew Thomas Huang, writer/director

Set in 1967 Los Angeles, Tiger Girl is a coming of age fantasy about a repressed Chinese American teenage girl haunted by a tiger lurking in her attic. When pressured by her immigrant mother’s rigid social expectations, the girl must learn that the beast upstairs is the tiger within that will set her free.

These artists will be joined at the Screenwriters Lab by the following fellows:

Sisyphus (China)
Xixi Wang, writer/director

Based on true events, a single mother fights to uncover the truth after her son dies in a subway station in China. Over the course of the investigation, she confronts an impenetrable bureaucracy but also rediscovers herself.

Yurt (Turkey)
Nehir Tuna, writer/director

Forced to leave the comfort of his middle class lifestyle at his father’s behest, eleven-year-old Ahmet is sent to an all-boys religious dormitory where he must navigate familial expectations, his religious obligations, and the childhood to which he so desperately clings.

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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