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Sundance Institute Announces Projects For Its 2016 Screenwriters Lab, Doc Edit and Story Labs & Theatre-Makers Residency

The programs allow artists to collaborate across different creative practices and focus on experimentation in storytelling.


Sundance Institute has announced the 25 projects that will participate in its Screenwriters Lab, Documentary Edit and Story Labs and new Theatre-Makers Residency. The programs will take place concurrently this summer at the Sundance Resort in Utah and will provide Fellows the opportunity to experience parts of the other Labs, supporting a cross-pollination of creativity and personal expression across different storytelling forms to improve and get support for their projects.

“The unique gathering of independent voices, for the first time in a multi-Lab setting, allows our artists to collaborate across different creative practices and focus on experimentation in storytelling,” said Keri Putnam, Executive Director of Sundance Institute in a statement. “The Labs will recognize the unique talents brought by each discipline as well as the fluidity in form and medium that artists are working in.”

Fellows will work with experienced creative advisors to enhance their scripts and documentaries. Artists with plays not yet ready for actors will have the time and space to reflect on and develop their new work at the Theatre-Makers Residency.

READ MORE: Sundance Institute Chooses Eight First-Time Filmmakers and Projects For Directors Lab

Below are the participants for the programs:

2016 Screenwriters Lab:

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.  

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

READ MORE: Sundance Institute Announces 8 Projects for 2016 MENA Theatre Lab

2016 Doc Edit & Story Labs: 

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, the film 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.

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.

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

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.

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.

Pete Nicks (director), Lawrence Lerew (editor) and Linda Davis (producer) / “The Oakland Police Project” (U.S.A.): The 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.

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?

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?

2016 Theatre-Makers Residency:

“Club Diamond”: Created and written by Nikki Appino and Saori Tsukada
A young woman travels alone from Tokyo to New York City to be a star. This narrative unfolds using old-fashioned storytelling techniques from the East and the West including a silent film, Benshi (live narration) and Kami-shibai (paper-play). Club Diamond is a solo work created by Saori Tsukada, Japanese theater artist and Nikki Appino, American theatre and filmmaker.

“Here We Are Here”: By Jiehae Park, set Design by Tristan Jeffers
“Here We Are Here” is a new work about navigating time, loss, and the internet. A collaboration with set designer Tristan Jeffers.

“The Things We Leave Behind”: Music and lyrics by Jenny Giering, book and lyrics by Sean Barry.
A one-act piece in 13 months, “The Things We Leave Behind” explores the personal landscape of an unexpected health event and its aftermath. The world is painted with metaphors of the season, the ebb and flow of nature, the cycle of the garden. It’s about coming through the toughest winter imaginable and not knowing what has survived when spring arrives.

“Ugly”: By Tracey Scott Wilson
The project is about three women from three different generations who are forced to face harsh truths about themselves and the world around them after a violent incident.

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