Sundance Film Festival, night street shot

Sundance Institute has selected 12 projects for its next prestigious Screenwriters Lab, which takes place Jan. 10-15 at the Sundance Resort in Utah. The annual workshops give selected films a leg up in the independent film community in terms of financing and representation and make them likely candidates for the institute’s signature film festival, also in January.

Recent fellows include Ryan Coogler ("Fruitvale Station"), Haifaa Al Mansour ("Wadjda"), Andrew Dosunmu ("Mother of George"), David Lowery ("Ain't Them Bodies Saints") and Ritesh Batra ("The Lunchbox").

Keri Putnam, Executive Director of Sundance Institute, said in a statement, "The Sundance Institute Labs provide an environment that fosters innovation and creative risk-taking to allow artists to really take chances and push themselves and their work. The Labs are the first step in support programs that provides critical year-round and ongoing resources for some of the most talented and innovative independent artists working today."

Dustin Lance Black, Naomi Foner, John Gatins, Michael Goldenberg, Erik Jendresen, Patty Jenkins and Quentin Tarantino are among next year's creative advisors.

The projects and Fellows selected for the 2014 January Screenwriters Lab are (info courtesy of the Sundance Institute):

The Buried Life (U.S.A.)
Joan Stein Schimke and Averie Storck (co-writers/co-directors)
An archaeologist risks her reputation for the dig of her career, but when her rock 'n' roll sister and overbearing father follow her to the excavation, she discovers her biggest challenge is facing what's above ground. Recipient of the Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, given to a project that explores science and technology themes and characters.

Joan Stein Schimke was nominated for an Academy Award® for her short film One Day Crossing, which won several other awards including the Directors Guild of America (DGA) Best Woman Student Filmmaker, Best Director, National Board of Review and the Student Academy Award® Gold Medal. Other directing credits include Law and Order and the short film Solidarity, which screened at over a dozen festivals including the New York Film Festival. Stein Schimke is an MFA graduate of Columbia University’s Film Program and is currently an Associate Professor at Adelphi University in New York.

Averie Storck is an MFA graduate of Columbia University’s Film Program. Her award-winning short films include Live at Five , which won the New Line Cinema Development Award and screened at more than 30 international film festivals. Prior to filmmaking, Storck worked for People and Vogue magazines, was a writer for Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, and studied improv at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in NYC. She currently teaches and directs at the Savannah College of Art and Design.

The Father’s Shadow (Brazil)
Gabriela Amaral Almeida (writer/director)
A nine year-old girl with strange powers and an obsession with horror films attempts to bring her mother back from the dead as a means of connecting with her sick father.

Gabriela Amaral Almeida is a Brazilian screenwriter and director. She is the writer/director of six short films, including The Comforting Hand and A Springtime. Almeida holds an M.A. in literature and horror cinema and majored in screenwriting at EICTV, Cuba. She has written for the directors Walter Salles and Cao Hamburger.

Lynch (U.S.A.)
Nicole Riegel (writer)
Following her rescue as an American P.O.W. in the Iraq war, Jessica Lynch embarks on a quest to uncover the truth of her captivity; in her fight to reclaim her personal narrative, she discovers a deeper identity.

Nicole Riegel is originally from Ohio and is now based in Los Angeles. Prior to writing, she served as a soldier in the United States Army. Last year she adapted Robert Boswell’s short story Smoke for James Franco’s company, Rabbit Bandini. She is a 2013 graduate of the UCLA MFA Graduate Film Program.

Manchild (U.S.A.)
Ryan Koo (writer/director)
A talented basketball player gets nationally ranked and must choose between schools, coaches, and belief systems—all at the age of 13. Recipient of the A3 Foundation Fellowship, given to a filmmaker or project that furthers the Asian American voice in independent film.

Ryan Koo's latest short film Amateur can be viewed free online at Amateur is the prequel to the forthcoming feature Manchild, which has been supported by the Tribeca Film Institute, IFP, and the Film Society of Lincoln Center. For his “urban western” web series The West Side, Koo and co-director Zack Lieberman won the Webby Award for Best Drama Series and were named two of Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Film. Koo is also the founder of the website No Film School, which won Total Film’s Best Creative Blog award.

Night Comes On (U.S.A.)
Jordana Spiro (co-writer/director) and Angelica Nwandu (co-writer)
Angel is released from juvenile hall on her 18th birthday with a single focus: shoot the man who killed her mother. As her rebellious past and empty future confront her at every turn, her plans derail and Angel becomes what she wanted and feared.

Jordana Spiro is a writer, director, and actress currently finishing her MFA in Film at Columbia University. Her short film Skin won the Women in Film Grant at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, an Honorable Mention Award at SXSW, and was shown at Telluride, Palm Springs, and AFI among others. As an actress, she has starred in numerous films and television shows.

Originally from Nigeria, Angelica Nwandu has traveled around the world as an advocate for foster youth after her own 12 years experience living in foster care. A recent graduate of Loyola Marymount University, she developed a passion for writing with the hope of being a clear voice for children in the system. She currently tours nationwide to perform her Spoken Word Poetry.