Sundance Institute Names 2023 Screenwriters Lab and Screenwriters Intensive Fellows

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PARK CITY, UTAH, January 13, 2023 — Today the nonprofit Sundance Institute announced the 12 projects invited to the 2023 Screenwriters Lab and the 10 projects selected for the Screenwriters Intensive, including filmmakers from the U.S.A. and internationally from the Dominican Republic, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon and Nepal.

Lab and Intensive participants were selected from over 2000 submissions to further develop their scripts with the guidance of accomplished advisors under the leadership of Michelle Satter (Founding Senior Director, Sundance Institute’s Artist Programs) and Ilyse McKimmie (Deputy Director, Feature Film Program).

The January Screenwriters Lab cohort will develop their projects in person at the Sundance Mountain Resort from January 14-18 with the generous support of Artistic Director Jessie Nelson, along with Creative Advisors Ritesh Batra, Linda Yvette Chávez, Scott Frank, Phil Hay, Eliza Hittman, Attica Locke, Walter Mosley, Marti Noxon, Nicole Perlman, Howard Rodman, Dana Stevens, Joan Tewkesbury, Lulu Wang, Bill Wheeler, Tyger Williams, Virgil Williams, and Doug Wright. The Lab will be dedicated to the memory of Sundance’s  generous Creative Advisor Douglas McGrath who passed away several months ago. Douglas was an Advisor to over 200 writers in his twenty years participating in the Lab.

“We’re looking forward to kicking off a new year of the Screenwriters Lab, supporting the bold visions of a stellar group of storytellers. All of their work has the power to impact audiences through their unique voices, personal perspectives and exciting and unheard stories,” said Michelle Satter, Founding Senior Director of Sundance Institute’s Artist Programs. “Over five days, our Advisors and Fellows will be immersed in story meetings, craft workshops, and conversations that will form a foundation of year-round support and the beginning of a creative community that will last throughout the full journey of bringing these films to worldwide audiences”.

The Screenwriters Intensive, a two-day online workshop, will have 12 writers participating on March 2-3 to develop their first fiction features.

“The Screenwriters Intensive allows us to extend the breadth of our support to a wider group of emerging independent artists, and we’re thrilled to include such an extensive range of stories, genres, and essential voices in the cohort,” said Ilyse McKimmie, Deputy Director of the Feature Film Program. “We feel privileged to provide vital creative guidance and meaningful community at a crucial moment in the development of these projects.”

For 40 years, the Feature Film Program (FFP) Labs have supported and championed an exciting and groundbreaking array of independent filmmakers including Charlotte Wells (Aftersun), Nikyatu Jusu (Nanny), Tatiana Huezo (Prayers for the Stolen [Noche de Fuego]), Lyle Corbine Jr. (Wild Indian), Radha Blank (The 40-Year-Old Version), Lulu Wang (The Farewell), Chloe Zhao (Songs My Brother Taught Me), Eliza Hittman (Beach Rats), Marielle Heller (Diary of a Teenage Girl), Fernando Frias de la Parra (I’m No Longer Here), Cary Fukunaga (Sin Nombre), Damien Chazelle (Whiplash), Edson Oda (Nine Days), Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station), Dee Rees (Pariah), Nia DaCosta (Little Woods), Ritesh Batra (The Lunchbox), and Benh Zeitlin and Lucy Alibar (Beasts of the Southern Wild)among many others.

The 2023 Sundance Film Festival will present the world premieres of seven Feature Film Program supported projects that include: birth/rebirth (co-written/directed by Laura Moss, co-written by Brendan O’Brien), Cassandro (co-written/directed by Roger Ross Williams, co-written by David Teague), Fancy Dance (co-written/directed by Erica Tremblay, co-written by Miciana Alise), Mutt (written and directed by Vuk Lungulov-Klotz), The Starling Girl (written and directed by Laurel Parmet), A Thousand and One (written and directed by A.V. Rockwell) and The Pod Generation(written and directed by Sophie Barthes), which is the 2023 recipient of the Institute’s Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize.

The Sundance Institute Feature Film Program is supported by, a direct charitable activity of the Annenberg Foundation; Alfred P. Sloan Foundation; The Asian American Foundation (TAAF); Directors Guild of America (DGA), Will & Jada Smith Family Foundation; Hartbeat; Maja Kristin; NBCUniversal; United Airlines; Amazon Studios; Hollywood Foreign Press Association; Karen Lauder; Ray and Dagmar Dolby Fund; National Endowment for the Arts; NHK/NHK Enterprises, Inc.; Kimberly Steward—K Period Media; SAGindie; Rosalie Swedlin and Robert Cort; Deborah Reinisch and Michael Theodore Fund; Octavia Spencer; Scott and Jennifer Frank.

The projects selected for the 2023 January Screenwriters Lab and the artists participating are:

Sean Wang (Writer/Director) with Dìdi (弟弟) (U.S.A.): Fremont, CA. 2008. In the last month of summer before high school begins, an impressionable 13-year-old Taiwanese American boy learns what his family can’t teach him: how to skate, how to flirt and how to love your mom.

Sean Wang is a filmmaker from Fremont, CA. He is a 2020 Sundance Ignite Fellow, 2021 SFFILM Rainin Grantee, and 2022 Sundance Institute & Asian American Foundation Fellow. His latest short film, H.A.G.S (Have A Good Summer), was acquired by the New York Times Op-Docs.

Gabriela Ortega (Writer/Director) with Huella (Dominican Republic / U.S.A.): Following the death of her family’s matriarch in the Dominican Republic, a disenchanted flamenco dancer living in New York City must rid herself from her ancestor’s curses to pave her own future.

Gabriela Ortega is a multi-disciplinary artist from the Dominican Republic. She is a Sundance Interdisciplinary Program and Academy of Motion Pictures fellow, and is one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film. Her work draws cultural bridges that lead to the Caribbean through intersectionality, duality and ancestral memory.

Bernardo Cubría (Co-writer), John Hibey (Co-writer), & Joshua Penn Soskin (Co-writer, not attending) with Kill Yr Idols  (U.S.A.):  In the Rio Grande Valley, just north of the Mexico/US border, the friendship of two teenage boys is tested as they embark on a whirlwind punk rock odyssey to escape their realities and seize their dreams. Recipient of the Sundance Institute Comedy Fellowship.

Bernardo Cubría is a Mexican award-winning screenwriter and playwright. He is currently in the writers room for Acapulco on Apple TV+. Cubria is the co-writer of Kill Yr Idols, with Carlos López Estrada attached to direct, and the writer of Like It Used To Be, with Gina Rodriguez to direct and star.

John Hibey co-wrote and produced the two-time Sundance award-winning film Fishing Without Nets (short and feature versions.) He is currently working with director Carlos López Estrada on Kill Yr Idols, and is developing a project for Warner Brothers with director Alfonso Gomez Rejon.

Joshua Penn Soskin is an award-winning director, writer and photographer. He developed and co-wrote the border comedy Kill Yr Idols (to be directed by Carlos Lopez Estrada) and is in pre-production on his feature directorial debut, The Rooster Prince, a personal story of losing his brother to bipolar.
Filed under: Sundance, Antigravity Academy, Sean Wang, Gabriela Ortega, Kill Yr Idols