Report from the Feature Film Program.
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A quarterly update on labs, alumni news and other good stuff.

Spring 2014 Edition

Hi Everyone,

We are thrilled to send you the third edition of our Feature Film Program Newsletter and with our Directors Lab currently underway, we wanted to let you know about an action-packed winter and spring. The 2014 Sundance Film Festival culminated in seven FFP award wins, including the U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Prize and U.S Dramatic Audience Award for Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash, which we supported with a development grant and designated screenwriter advisors.

Earlier this spring, the Labs traveled to India for our third annual Mumbai Mantra ǀ Sundance Institute Screenwriters Lab and have just returned from our fourth !f Sundance Screenwriters Lab in Istanbul, Turkey. Stateside, we are now prepping our fourth New Frontier Story Lab and our inaugural Episodic Story Lab, both of which will take place this fall. Additional 2014 events have included our second Screenwriters Intensive for emerging and diverse writers in Los Angeles (March), our first New Frontier Flash Lab in Miami (February), and the continuation of our renowned Screenplay Reading Series in New York and Los Angeles (May).

We look forward to the rest of the Directors Lab and the subsequent Screenwriters Lab (June 21-26) before heading to Skywalker Sound for the Film Music and Sound Design Lab (July 15-21), and then back to Utah for the Creative Producing Lab (July 28-August 1) and Creative Producing Summit (August 1-4). Finally, I wanted to thank Shira Rockowitz (Manager of the Feature Film Program), who is the editor of our newsletter.

We can’t wait to share stories and photographs from these exciting upcoming events.


New To the FFP

Episodic Story Lab (September 27 – October 2, 2014)
We are thrilled to be launching our inaugural Episodic Story Lab this fall. Over the past five years, we have witnessed an explosion in the opportunities available for writers developing episodic content for cable and online platforms, but there are still few training grounds for writers with independent and diverse voices who want to work in this changing landscape. The Episodic Story Lab will provide independent and underrepresented writers the opportunity to learn how to develop stories and characters that play out over multiple episodes, working in a setting where they can hone their writing skills and gain insight into navigating the business with guidance from accomplished creative and business mentors. We are currently reviewing applications for this new initiative and look forward to sharing more updates in our next newsletter.

A Look Back: Winter 2014

The FFP at SFF (Jan 16-26, 2014)
This year, the Feature Film Program supported 13 projects that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, garnering 7 awards. We hosted or co-hosted 6 events and reconnected with many of our alumni and friends.


FFP Events at the Festival
We kicked off our annual Producers Lunch with an inspiring keynote address from producer and Sundance Creative Advisor Alix Madigan (Laggies, May in the Summer, Winter’s Bone), and followed it with a New Frontier Social Hour that brought out a great crowd of New Frontier neophytes as well as our alumni and creative advisor community. Our “Get With the Program” FFP Alum Reception introduced our new video – check it out!

The Festival continued with a special New Frontier Panel: The Storyworld: Creating Interactive Experiences That Work, which featured alumni artist/director Chris Milk (Sound and Vision, Arcade Fire’s Wilderness Downtown), artist and computer scientist Jonathan Harris (I Love Your Work, I Want You to Want Me, Cowbird), game maker Nick Fortugno (cofounder and CCO, Playmatics), Sep Kamvar (professor, MIT), Nate Mitchell (VP Product, Oculus Rift), and transmedia leader Susan Bonds (CEO, 42 Entertainment).

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Reception honored Mike Cahill’s I Origins with the Feature Film Prize while this year’s NHK Awardee was Mark Elijah Rosenberg’s Ad Inexplorata, which is currently in post production. Finally, our annual Sundance Institute ǀ Mahindra Global Filmmaking Award Reception honored four international filmmakers and their projects: Hong Khaou (Monsoon) from Vietnam/UK; Tobias Lindholm (A War) from Denmark; Ashlee Page (Archive) from Australia; and Neeraj Ghaywan (Fly Away Solo) from India.

FFP SFF Award Winners 
Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash (Grand Jury Prize for U.S. Dramatic, Audience Award for U.S. Dramatic)
Cutter Hodierne’s Fishing Without Nets (Directing Award for U.S. Dramatic)
Malik Vitthal’s Imperial Dreams (Best of NEXT)
David and Nathan Zellner’s Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter (U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Musical Score)
Craig Johnson’s The Skeleton Twins (U.S. Dramatic Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award)
Mike Cahill’s I Origins (Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize)

  Malik Vitthal at the 2014 SFF Awards Ceremony.

FFP-Supported Films
Drunktown’s Finest; Fishing Without Nets;  A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night; Hellion; I Origins; Imperial Dreams; Jamie Marks is Dead; Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter;  Little Accidents;  The Lunchbox; The Skeleton Twins; War Story; Whiplash.

Spring 2014

NY and LA Screenplay Reading Series
(March 31, May 13 & 20, 2014)

We continued our annual public Screenplay Reading Series with powerful and lively presentations of 2013 Alfred P. Sloan Fellow Nicole Kassell’s Prodigal Summer (New York), which is being directed by Nicole and was co-written by Nicole and the eponymous novel’s author, Barbara Kingsolver, and 2014 Screenwriting and Directing Fellows Jordana Spiro and co-writer Angelica Nwandu’s Night Comes On (New York) and Johnny Ma’s Ten Thousand Happiness (Los Angeles).

  Ten Thousand Happiness reading cast.

New Frontier Update: Inaugural Flash Lab
(February 15-16, 2014)

This winter, in collaboration with the Miami Filmmakers Collective and funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, New Frontier brought the first-ever New Frontier Flash Lab to Miami’s creative community. Seeking to cultivate and encourage the Miami artists community to innovate storytelling at the convergence of art and technology, this Lab highlighted field-defining projects and included conversation with some of today’s pioneering artists about technological and cultural shifts that enabled these projects, and learning about emerging creative practices and tools.

Next up is the fourth annual New Frontier Story Lab, which will take place October 22-27, 2014.

  Creative Advisor Scott Snibbe

New FFP Fellows!
As part of our ongoing efforts to expand the different ways in which we support emerging artists, we are excited to announce the five new members of our family, Feature Film Program Development Fellows Peter Vack (www​.​, MK Asante (Buck), Aurora Guerrero (Los Valientes), Nate Parker (The Birth of a Nation), and Stacie Passon (Strange Things Started Happening) each of whom is the recipient of a development grant as well as two designated screenwriter mentors. Our extraordinary group of Creative Advisors working with these Fellows includes John August, Scott Z. Burns, Katherine Dieckmann, Todd Field, Rodrigo Garcia, Miranda July, Kasi Lemmons, James Mangold, Peter Sollett, Robin Swicord, and Doug Wright.

Screenwriters Intensive: Los Angeles
(March 13-14, 2014)

This past March we hosted our second annual Los Angeles Screenwriters Intensive, at the Sundance Institute LA Office, which included ten participants as part of our Diversity Initiative. Fellow Adelina Anthony, whose short film Forgiving Heart screened last year at Outfest and is now being developed into a feature-length screenplay, shared her 5 screenwriter’s tips following the two-day lab experience.

  2014 Screenwriters Intensive Fellows

International Report: Mumbai Mantra/Sundance Institute Screenwriters Lab (March 16-21, 2014)
This year marked our third Screenwriters Lab in India, commencing on the ancient Hindu Holi festival which signifies the start of spring and the triumph of good over evil–a pretty good open for our filmmaker participants. Check out some incredible field reports from Creative Advisor Naomi Foner and fellow Dylan Mohan Gray.

  2014 Mumbai Mantra Screenwriters Lab Fellows and Advisors

This year’s Screenwriting Fellows, selected from submissions from India and the Indian diaspora around the world, included: Navneet Behal (Experiments with Truth); Ashvin Kumar (Noor); Bornila Chatterjee (Nuclear Hearts); Gaurav Madan (Shaktipur Crude); Deepanjali B Sarkar (Svadharma); Dylan Mohan Gray (The Last Day of Winter); Sanjay Talreja (The River Murder); and Neeraj Ghaywan and Varun Grover (Ud Jayega / Fly Away Solo).

Thank you to our Creative Advisor team: Naomi Foner, Michael Handelman, Dante Harper, James V Hart, Malia Scotch Marmo, Anjum Rajabali, Elena Soarez, Rose Troche, and Sooni Taraporevala.

!F-Sundance Screenwriting Lab
(May 9-14, 2014) 

Now in its fourth year, the !f-Sundance Screenwriters Lab has evolved to include three Turkish screenwriting fellows  joined by two fellows from Greece.  In recent years, we’ve seen bold and compelling filmmaking from both countries, and in the years ahead, we hope to encourage a convergence of creative dialogue between these two neighboring regions.

  !F-Sundance Screenwriters Lab Fellows and Advisors

This year’s screenwriting fellows included Barış Sarhan (Cemil Şov (Cemil Show) – Turkey), Ceyda Aşar (Küçük bir Hata (A Small Mistake) – Turkey), Ülkü Oktay (Kendi Aramızda (A History of Women) – Turkey), Rinio Dragassaki (Cosmic Candy – Greece), and Alexandros Chantzis (What a Silly Boy – Greece).

Special thanks to Creative Advisors  Rose Troche, DV DeVincentis, Constantine Giannaris and Yesim Ustaoglu, and Athina Rachel Tsangari, who has been instrumental in the formation of this new version of our Lab.

Sundance / Sloan Commissioning Grant & Fellowship
As part of our long-running partnership with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Sundance Institute searches for compelling scripts that have science and/or technology themes woven into their stories. We’re very excited to announce this year’s Sundance/Sloan Commissioning Grantee: screenwriter David Schwab with Francis Turnbull, who will receive a $25,000 grant to support the continued development of his screenplay and research with science advisors. Schwab is working with director Terry George (Hotel Rwanda) and producers Oren Moverman, Wren Arthur, and Steve Buscemi.

Other exciting news includes the March screenplay reading of 2013 Alfred P. Sloan fellow Nicole Kassell’s Prodigal Summer and the spring release of Rob Meyer’s 2010 Sloan project A Birder’s Guide to Everything, starring Sir Ben Kingsley along with a host of young actors including Kodi Smit-McPhee.

Heading into summer, the latest Call for Submissions for the next round of the Sundance/Sloan Commissioning Grant and Fellowship opens June 9th and we encourage you to share the news with any filmmakers that might have something to submit. More information on applying to the Sundance/Sloan Commissioning Grant and Fellowship.

Summer 2014

June Directors and Screenwriters Lab
(May 26- June 26, 2014)

We are thrilled to welcome our June 2014 Directing Fellows:  
We are thrilled to welcome our June 2014 Directing Fellows:
Gabriela Amaral Almeida (The Father’s Shadow), Jordana Spiro (Night Comes On), Sofia Exarchou (Park), Geremy Jasper (Patti Cake$; RT Features Fellow), Oorlagh George (Stranger with a Camera), Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (Swiss Army Man; in augural HP Fellows), Johnny Ma (Ten Thousand Happiness),and Jeremiah Zagar (We the Animals).

  June 2014 Directors Lab Fellows

They will be joined at the Screenwriters Lab by co-writers Dan Kitrosser (We the Animals) and Angelica Nwandu (Night Comes On; 2014 Time Warner Fellow) as well as new fellows Ana Lily Amirpour (The Bad Batch), Vasan Bala (Side Hero), Fernando Frias (I’m No Longer Here), Hong Khaou (Monsoon), and Karrie Crouse and Will Joines (Dust).

Read more about the Fellows and their exciting projects

‘Celebrate Sundance Institute’
(June 4, 2014, New York City)

Sundance Institute hosted its fourth annual ‘Celebrate Sundance Institute’ benefit, chaired by Institute Trustees Jeanne Donovan Fisher and Pat Mitchell, and presented actress and arts advocate Glenn Close with its Vanguard Leadership Award in recognition of her distinguished career in entertainment and advocacy of independent film. She is an Emeritus Trustee of the Institute and has served as a Creative Advisor at the Labs for emerging independent filmmakers. Close was the third recipient of the Vanguard Leadership Award, joining philanthropist and former Institute Trustee George Gund and journalist and film critic Roger Ebert.The evening also honored FFP alum and Sundance Film Festival filmmaker and double award winner Damien Chazelle (Whiplash) with the Vanguard Award.

  Jeremy Irons, Keri Russell and honorees Glenn Close and Damien Chazelle.

Alumni Updates, Festivals and Awards

Berlin Film Festival 2014
The Last Hijack (Co-W/D: Tommy Pallotta, Femke Wolting, P: Bruno Felix, Femke Wolting)
40 Days of Silence (W/D: Saodat Ismailova, P: Jean des Forets)

Rotterdam Film Festival 2014
Casa Grande (W/D: Fellipe Barbosa, P: Iafa Britz) – Tiger Section

Sun Valley Film Festival 2014
Little Accidents  (W/D: Sara Colangelo, P: Jason Michael Berman, Anne Carey, Summer Shelton, Thomas B. Fore) –  Vision Award

Palmarès 2014
Casa Grande (W/D: Fellipe Barbosa, P: Iafa Britz) – French critics, Fipresci and Audience Awards

Tribeca Film Festival 2014
Zero Motivation (W/D: Talya Lavie, P: Eilon Ratzkovsky) – Founders Award for Best Narrative Feature and the Nora Ephron Prize
Gabriel (W/D: Lou Howe, P: Ben Howe, Luca Borghese)
Life Partners (Co-W/D: Susanna Fogel, Co-W: Joni Lefkowitz, P: Jordana Mollick, Brendan Bragg, Joni Lefkowitz, Riva Marker, Daniela Taplin Lundberg)

Sundance London
Fruitvale Station (W/D: Ryan Coogler, P: Nina Yang Bongiovi, Forest Whitaker, Sev Ohavian)
Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter (Co-W/D: David Zellner, Co-W: Nathan Zellner, P: Chris Ohlson)
Drunktown’s Finest (W/D: Sydney Freeland, P: Chad Burris)
Little Accidents (W/D: Sara Colangelo, P: Jason Michael Berman, Anne Carey, Summer Shelton, Thomas B. Fore)
Obvious Child  (W/D: Gillian Robespierre, P: Elisabeth Holm)

Cannes International Film Festival
Self-Made (W/D: Shira Geffen, P: Leon Edery, Moshe Edery, David Mandil)
Whiplash (W/D: Damien Chazelle, P: Helen Estabrook, Jason Blum, David Lancaster, Michel Litvak)Delete
A Ciambra (W/D: Jonas Carpignano, P: Paolo Carpignano, Jon Coplon, Zachary Kerschberg, Constance Meyer) - Sony CineAlta Discovery Prize

Films on the Move

Coming Soon:
Obvious Child  – A24/June 6th
Hellion – Sundance Selects/June 13th
I Origins – Fox Searchlight/July 18th 
Skeleton Twins – Roadside Attractions/Sept. 19th
Whiplash – Sony Pictures Classics/Oct 10th
Life Partners – Magnolia Pictures/Date TBC
The Last Hijack – FilmBuff/Date TBC
Little Accidents – Amplify/Date TBC
Zero Motivation – Zeitgeist Films/Date TBC


In Post-Production:
Ad Inexplorata (W/D: Mark Elijah Rosenberg, P: Josh Penn, Matthew Parker, Thomas B. Fore, Jason Michael Berman, Mark Roberts, Jennifer Dana)
Avalanche (co-W/D: Morteza Farshbaf, co-W: Anahita Ghazvinizadeh, P: Javad Nowrouzbeigi)
Diary of a Teenage Girl (W/D: Marielle Heller, P: Anne Carey, Miranda Bailey, Madeline Samit, Bert Hamelinck)
Eyes of a Thief (W/D: Najwa Najjar, P: Ustura Films, Hani E. Kort)
Franny (W/D: Andrew Renzi, P: Jason Michael Berman, Thomas B. Fore, Jay Schuminsky, Kevin Turen)
Free In Deed (W/D: Jake Mahaffy, P: Mike Ryan)
In What City Does It Live (W/D: Seng Tat Liew, P: Sharon Gan – Malaysia)
The Man Who Killed My Beloved Dead (W/D: Aly Muritiba, P: William Biagioli – Brazil)
Land (Co-W/D: Jan-Willem van Ewijk, P: Bero Beyer - Morocco)
Margarita with a Straw (W/D: Shonali Bose, P: Shonali Bose, Nilesh Maniyar– India)
Narrow Frame of Midnight (W/D: Tala Hadid, P: Kat Villiers, Chadomer Kolar, Denis Tanovic, Jocelyn Barnes – Morocco)
Partisan (Co-W/D: Ariel Kleiman, Co-W: Sarah Cyngler, P: Sarah Shaw, Anna McLeish)
Second Coming (W/D: Debbie Tucker Green, P: Polly Leys, Kate Norrish)
Songs My Brother Taught Me (W/D: Chloe Zhao, P: Angela Lee, Mollye Asher, Nina Yang Bongiovi, Forest Whitaker
Stockholm, PA (W/D: Nikole Beckwith, P: Gregg Ammon, Leslie, Urdang,  Dan Halsted)
The Witch (W/D: Robert Eggers, P: Lars Knudsen, Jay Van Hoy, Jodi Redmond, Daniel Bekerman)

In Production
The Adderall Diaries (W/D: Pamela Romanowsky, P: James Franco, Vince Jolivett)
Mediterranea (W/D: Jonas Carpignano, P: Jason Michael Berman, Chris Columbus, Christoph Daniel, Andrew Kortschak, John Lesher, Ryan Lough, Justin Nappi, Gwyn Sannia, Marc Schmidheiny, Victor Shapiro, Ryan Zacarias

In Pre-Production
IO (Co-W/D: Clay Jeter, Co-W: Charles Spano, Co-W: William Basanta, P: Jason Michael Berman)
King Jack (W/D: Felix Thompson, P: Gabrielle Nadig)
One & Two (Co-W/D: Andrew Droz Palermo, Co-W: Neima Shahdadi, P: Kim Sherman)
Zeus (W/D: Miguel Calderon, P: Christian Valdelievre and Fernando Eimbcke)

Important Dates:
June 21-26, 2014: June Screenwriters Lab
July 15-21: Music and Sound Design Lab at Skywalker Sound
July  28-August 1: Creative Producing Lab
August 1-4: Creative Producing Summit
August 4-7: NHK Workshop (Japan)
August 7-10: NEXT Fest in LA
September 27-October 2: Episodic Story Lab
October 23-27: New Frontier Story Lab
October 27-November 3: Rawi Screenwriters Lab (Jordan)
January 16-21, 2015: January Screenwriters Lab
January 22-February 1, 2015: Sundance Film Festival

* Have something to add? Please email [email protected] so we can include your news in our spring newsletter.



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