Sundance Institute Selects 13 Projects for June Directors and Screenwriters Labs, Now thru 6/28


Sundance Institute has announced the 13 projects selected for its annual June Directors and Screenwriters Labs, taking place at the Sundance Resort in Utah from today, May 28 through June 28. Under the leadership of Michelle Satter, Founding Director of the Institute's Feature Film Program, and the artistic direction of Gyula Gazdag, the projects selected for this year's program include emerging filmmakers and projects from the United States, Italy, Romania, Australia, Algeria, France, Chile and the UK.

Directors Lab Fellows work with an accomplished group of Creative Advisors, professional actors and production crews to shoot and edit key scenes from their screenplays. Through this intense, hands-on process, the Fellows workshop their scripts, collaborate with actors and find a visual storytelling language for their films in an environment where experimentation and risk-taking is encouraged. Fellows also join in the week-long Screenwriters Lab with five additional projects to participate in individualized story sessions under the guidance of established screenwriters.

Projects supported through the Directors or Screenwriters Labs receive continued tailored support from the Feature Film Program, which can include ongoing creative and strategic advice, significant production and postproduction resources, a Screenplay Reading Series, a Work in Progress Screening Initiative and direct financial support through project-specific grants and artist fellowships.

Keri Putnam, Executive Director of Sundance Institute, said, "For independent artists in particular, it can be challenging to receive specialized support and encouragement. As our offerings for artists continue to grow our hope is that filmmakers have added incentive to remain true to their visions throughout the creative process."

Gyula Gazdag returns as the Artistic Director for the Directors Lab. This year's Creative Advisors for the Directors and Screenwriters Labs include Gregg Araki, Michael Arndt, Andrea Arnold, John August, Ramin Bahrani, Walter Bernstein, Mark Boal, Scott Z. Burns, Sebastian Cordero, Joan Darling, Caleb Deschanel, Suzy Elmiger, Robert Elswit, Billy Goldenberg, Deena Goldstone, Affonso Gonçalves, Ed Harris, Michael Hoffman, Azazel Jacobs, Christine Lahti, Kasi Lemmons, Peter Medak, John Cameron Mitchell, Walter Mosley, Jessie Nelson, Jeff Nichols, Robert Redford, Jennifer Salt, Susan Shilliday, Stewart Stern, Wesley Strick, Joan Tewkesbury, Athina Rachel Tsangari, Bill Wheeler, Tyger Williams and Doug Wright.

The projects and participants selected for the 2012 June Directors Lab (May 28 – June 22) are:

Jonas Carpignano (writer/director) / A Chjàna (U.S.A./Italy): After leaving his native Burkina Faso in search of a better life, Ayiva makes the perilous journey to Italy; though he finds compatriots along the way, they are unprepared for the intolerance facing immigrants in their newly-claimed home.

Jonas Carpignano is a filmmaker based in New York City and Rome. His short films have been shown in film festivals around the world including Venice, SXSW and New Directors/New Films. His latest short film, A Chjàna, won the Controcampo Award for Best Short Film at the 68th Venice Film Festival and was awarded a Nastro D' Argento Special Mention from the Association of Italian Film Critics (SNGCI). Carpignano is currently an MFA candidate at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts.

Ioana Uricaru (writer/director) / After the Wedding (U.S.A./Romania): Mara, a Romanian immigrant with a young son, discovers her recent marriage to an American resident is not enough to secure their place in the country. As she learns more about the system, an unfamiliar culture, and her husband, she must decide how far she will go to preserve her new family.

Born and raised in Romania, Ioana Uricaru relocated to Los Angeles in 2001. She co-directed and co-edited the omnibus feature Tales From the Golden Age, which was an official selection at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, and her short film Stopover had its world premiere at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. The project After the Wedding has been developed at the Residence de la Cinefondation, a program of the Cannes Film Festival.

Carson Mell (writer/director) / Ajax (U.S.A.): In this dark comedy, a band of alcoholic astronauts and a young woman adrift in outer space become at odds with one another after discovering the purpose of their mysterious mission.

An Arizona native, Carson Mell moved to Los Angeles in 2002 to work in film and television. His short films have screened several times at Sundance and several other festivals, and his short fiction has been published in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern and Electric Literature.

Jody Lee Lipes (co-writer/director) and Jeff Peixoto (co-writer) / Confederacy (U.S.A.): Kentucky Territory, 1858. When Asa Candler joins the religious society of Shakers, uncovering their dark secrets forces him to confront his own buried sin.

Jody Lee Lipes' directing credits include season one of HBO's Girls; NY Export: Opus Jazz, a scripted adaptation of a Jerome Robbins' ballet that aired on PBS and won an Audience Award at SXSW; and verité documentary Brock Enright: Good Times Will Never Be the Same. Lipes is also an Independent Spirit Award-nominated director of photography, chosen as one of Variety's 10 Cinematographers to Watch in 2011. His DP credits include Martha Marcy May Marlene, Tiny Furniture, and Afterschool.

MArielle Heller (writer/director) / The Diary of a Teenage Girl (U.S.A.): In the haze of 1970's San Francisco, a teenage artist with a brutally honest perspective tries to navigate her way through an affair with her mother's boyfriend. Adapted from the graphic novel by Phoebe Gloeckner.

MArielle Heller is a New York based screenwriter, actor and playwright. Her theatrical production of The Diary of a Teenage Girl premiered in New York City in 2010 at 3LD in association with New Georges. Along with writing partner Cailin Goldberg-Meehan, Heller has written a pilot for ABC titled The Big Apple, and is developing a number of features, including one with the Mark Gordon Company. As an actor, she has performed in theatre all over the world, including at Berkeley Rep, The Barbican in London, Birmingham Rep, Soho Rep, San Diego Rep, and Magic Theater.

Chloé Zhao (writer/director) / Lee (U.S.A.): As his two best friends plan to leave for college, a Lakota teen wonders if his future on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is pre-ordained when a tragedy forces him to take dangerous action to protect his family.

Chloé Zhao is an MFA thesis candidate at NYU's Graduate Film Program. Her short film Daughters premiered at the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival and won Best Student Live Action Short at the Palm Springs International ShortFest. She was raised in China and England and currently lives in Brooklyn.

Ariel Kleiman (co-writer/director) and Sarah Cyngler (co-writer) / Partisan (Australia): Partisan is a provocative fable about 11-year-old Alexander, who, raised to see the world through his parent's eyes, is starting to think for himself.

Ariel Kleiman's short film Young Love screened at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, where it won an Honorable Mention in Short Filmmaking. His next short film, Deeper Than Yesterday, had its world premiere at Cannes Film Festival's Critics Week and was awarded the Kodak Discovery Award for Best Short Film and the Petit Rail d'Or. It has since gone on to win over 20 awards at film festivals all over the world, including the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, where it was awarded the Jury Prize in International Filmmaking. Kleiman was also the recipient of the Qantas Spirit of Youth Award for Filmmaking and the Rising Talent Award at the 2010 Inside Film Awards.