2016 Screenwriters Intensive Fellows
2016 Screenwriters Intensive Fellows

For over 30 years Sundance Institute has been an iconic organization providing opportunities and resources to independent filmmakers and those that want to support them. Their two flagship programs are the renowned Screenwriters Lab and the Directors Lab, which allow up-and-coming artists to interact and receive mentorship from successful and acclaimed members of the film industry. To say that being part of one these programs is a once in a lifetime opportunity is an understatement. The proof is in the undeniable quality of the projects that are shaped during the labs and that eventually become part of the cinematic conversation. 

While fostering talent is what Sundance Institute does best, they are one of the institutions that most diligently reinforces their commitment to provide opportunities for new voices that represent an eclectic array of backgrounds and experiences. In order to cast their net of support even wider, the institute offers numerous exciting programs beyond those that are already well-known in the filmmaking community. As part of Sundance Institute's Diversity Initiative, the Screenwriters Intensive is an invaluable resource that focuses on stories outside of the homogenous fare. 

The program is a 1 1/2 day workshop for writers whose work has been encountered by the institute as part of their outreach for the Labs and which they find especially promising. The writers of 10 projects take part in a program whose elements include a hands-on writing workshop led by creative advisor Joan Tewkesbury (“Nashville”), a screening of a recent Sundance film followed by a candid conversation with the filmmaker, a reception with Sundance staff and the extended Sundance community, and one-on-one meetings with two creative advisors to get feedback on their script. With the Intensive, the Sundance Institute aims to present participants with creative tools that they can take back to their own work, provide a space for dialogue and information sharing about the creative process of making a film (and all of the joys and challenges therein), and foster community among storytellers and an ongoing connection with Sundance.

The screening this year was Andrew Ahn's "Spa Night," which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival back in January and has now been picked up for U.S distribution by Strand Releasing. Centered on the conflicted son of a Korean immigrant couple in Los Angeles, Ahn's subtle yet poignant narrative deals with issues of identity both sexual and cultural. For the second day of the workshop, the fellows had one-on-one meetings with celebrated figures in independent cinema: Miranda July, Jennifer Salt,  Deena Goldstone, Patricia Cardoso, Pete Sollett, Dana Stevens, Tanya Hamilton, Ligiah Villalobos, Scott Neustadter, and Kyle Patrick Alvarez

The Screenwriters Intensive fellows come from uniquely different backgrounds, and their projects bring original stories that are sure to showcase new and inventive perspectives on the world. Get to know them and their stories as they are on their way to giving us a great batch of new independent films.

The application for the 2017 January Screenwriters Lab is currently open with a deadline of May 3. Applicants for the Screenwriters Lab are also considered for the Screenwriters Intensive, Sundance Institute Asian American Fellowship, and the Sundance Institute Feature Film Program Latino Fellowship, as eligibility allows. To learn more about the Sundance Institute's programs visit HERE



Project: "Kareem"    

Khalik Allah
Khalik Allah

Khalik Allah is a self taught filmmaker and photographer. His work has been described as visceral, hauntingly beautiful, penetrative and profoundly personal. Photography and filmmaking are two overlapping circles that form a venn diagram in Allah’s mind; the area where they overlap is the space he inhabits as an artist. Allah’s cinematic vignettes document hardscrabble life at the corner of 125th Street and Lexington Avenue in Harlem (New York City), most recently in his award-winning documentary Field Niggas, which screened at festivals worldwide.

Describe your project briefly and at what stage in the creative process it is. Include details about your artistic vision for this project in particular. 

My project is in an incredibly early stage. I'm basically taking the last four years of my life as a photographer on 125th and Lex and adapting it into a fiction narrative. 

Briefly tell us about the most important or rewarding lesson you took from the first day of the Screenwriters Intensive Lab. How will this impact the future development of your project? 

The most important thing was the mutual inspiration we gave each other. The lab advisors helped us dig deeper into ourselves. Their faith in us was tremendous. I took away a new lease on my future. 

Tell me about your experience during day two and your interaction with the advisors. How important was it for you to get feedback from a professional in the field that has gone through some of the same creative challenges as you?

I met with Miranda July on day two of the lab. Wow she was incredible. She read my entire script and gave me many productive notes. I was impressed that she gave me so much time. Plenty of useful information I can implement. 

Now that you've gone through this learning experience, what are some of the next steps you will be taking as you continue to develop your project?

I must keep writing.


Project: "Despues De" 

Zia Anger
Zia Anger
Zia Anger is a filmmaker and music video director. Her most recent short, "My Last Film," premiered at the 53rd New York Film Festival. In 2015, her short "I Remember Nothing" had its world premiere at New Directors/New Films and its international premiere at Festival del film Locarno. Other screenings include: AFI Fest, Denver Film Festival, Maryland Film Festival, Ann Arbor Film Festival, Basilica Soundscape, Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art,  and Vienna Independent Shorts. She has made music videos for various independent artists, including Angel Olsen, Julianna Barwick, and Jenny Hval, the latter of whom she also tours with, projecting live video and participating as a performer. Her music videos have been featured in various online publications including: Pitchfork, the Guardian, and NPR. In 2015, Anger was included in Filmmaker Magazine's "25 New Faces of Independent Film" issue. She was a 2015 fellow in film/video from the New York Foundation for the Arts. In 2008, she was the recipient of the Panavision New Filmmaker Grant for her short film "Lover Boy." She holds a BA/BS from Ithaca College and a MFA from The School of the Arts Institute of Chicago.

Describe your project briefly and at what stage in the creative process it is. Include details about your artistic vision for this project in particular.