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Sundance Institute Announces Fellows for the 2024 Directors, Screenwriters, and Native Labs

The Sundance Institute announced today the the fellows selected for its 2024 Directors, Screenwriters, and Native Labs. The Native Lab in New Mexico will support four fellows and two artists in residence, and the Directors Lab in Colorado will support the development of eight projects with nine fellows, with an additional three fellows also joining for the online Screenwriters Lab held immediately after. For the first time the Directors Lab will be held at the Stanley Hotel in Estes, Colorado — Stephen King’s inspiration for The Shining — while the Native Lab will be returning to Santa Fe, New Mexico, while the Screenwriters Lab will take place online.

The Directors Lab is led by Artistic Director Gyula Gazdag, and advisors include Miguel Arteta, Joan Darling, Rick Famuyiwa, Stephen Goldblatt, Keith Gordon, Reinaldo Marcus Green, Andrew Haigh, Randa Haines, Ed Harris, Siân Heder, André Holland, Karyn Kusama, Pam Martin, Estes Tarver, and Dylan Tichenor. The Screenwriters Lab is led by Artistic Director Howard Rodman and advisors include John August, Scott Z. Burns, Reggie Rock Bythewood, Scott Frank, Susannah Grant, Tamara Jenkins, Meg LeFauve, Jenny Lumet, Josh Marston, Kemp Powers, Robin Swicord, and Joan Tewkesbury.

The Native Lab will include two artists in residence — Fox Maxy (Mesa Grande Band of Mission Indians and Payómkawish) and Shea Vassar (Cherokee), who are in script development on their own projects. This year’s Native Lab creative advisors are Patrick Brice, Tai Leclaire (Mohawk and Mi’kmaq), Kishori Rajan, and Jon Raymond.

From the press release:

“Our Indigenous Program team looks forward to returning to Santa Fe to spend a week supporting some of the best and brightest Indigenous artists working today,” said Adam Piron, Director of Indigenous Program. “This group is diverse in the work they are bringing to develop and in how their Indigeneity shapes it — their differences are their strengths. We can’t wait to see what those combined strengths help them add to each other’s projects as they collaborate with each other and with our creative advisors.”

“For over four decades since their conception, the labs remain critical to the vitality of the independent filmmaking community. It has never been more important to invest in the growth of independent storytellers. While our Directors and Screenwriters Labs take place over several weeks, our commitment to these emerging artists and their creative and career journey to making their films is far more enduring and meaningful,” said Michelle Satter, Founding Senior Director of Artist Programs. “We are connected with the fellows year-round, building a robust and supportive community where they can grow as storytellers, hone their craft, and see their vision come to life. We look forward to welcoming this cohort of fellows to the labs and appreciate the time and generous efforts of the staff, advisors, actors, crew, and more who support this essential work of Sundance Institute.”

The Directors and Screenwriters Labs are overseen by Michelle Satter, Founding Senior Director of the Institute’s Artist Programs, and Ilyse McKimmie, Deputy Director of the Feature Film Program. The Native Lab is overseen by Adam Piron, Director of the Institute’s Indigenous Program, and Ianeta Le’i, the program’s Senior Manager.

The 2024 Sundance Institute Native Lab fellows are:

Don Josephus Raphael Eblahan (Writer-Director) with Hum (Philippines, U.S.A.): Haunted by the six-year absence of her missing husband, Esther, a single mother who works as a tour guide for mountaineers, embarks on her own treacherous journey of searching for him in the jungle where he had retreated to live with the beasts. Don Josephus Raphael Eblahan is a filmmaker from the Philippines. Eblahan’s works explore themes of trauma, spirituality, and nature, told through the cosmic lens of post-colonial spaces and Indigenous identities. His film The Headhunter’s Daughter was awarded the Short Grand Jury Prize at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival.

Ryland Walker Knight (Writer-Director) with The Lip of the World (U.S.A.): When Cassandra discovers a young Indigenous woman washed ashore with no memory, the pair journey into the violent underworld of the Northern California psychedelic culture to uncover her true identity. Ryland Walker Knight is a Cherokee writer and a filmmaker, and once upon a time he was called a film critic. An avid basketball and audiobook enthusiast, Knight lives and works in Oakland and Los Angeles, California.

Charine Pilar Gonzales (Writer-Director) with NDN Time (U.S.A.): A Tewa college student must master her new dimension-bending abilities to expose the nuclear secrets threatening her Pueblo. Charine Pilar Gonzales wrote and directed the short films River Bank (Pō-Kehgeh) and Our Quiyo: Maria Martinez. She co-produced the 2024 Sundance Film Festival short doc Winding Path. A Tewa filmmaker from San Ildefonso Pueblo and Santa Fe, New Mexico, she aims to intertwine memories, dreams, and truths through story.

Lindsay McIntyre (Writer-Director) with The Words We Can’t Speak (Canada): A terrible Arctic accident leaves an Inuk interpreter unwelcome in her community. She is forced to weather impossible conditions and hateful prejudices, yet still care for her daughter, when she embarks on a dangerous 1,000-mile journey by dog sled with an inexperienced RCMP constable who fancies her for his wife. Lindsay McIntyre (Inuit/settler) is a filmmaker whose works explores themes of portraiture, place, and personal histories. After 40+ experimental/documentary films and many festival awards, her recent leap into narrative with NIGIQTUQ ᓂᒋᖅᑐᖅ(2023) garnered her Best Short at imagineNATIVE and a chance at the Oscars. She teaches film at Emily Carr University of Art + Design.

The 2024 Sundance Institute Directors and Screenwriters Labs fellows are:

Keisha Rae Witherspoon (Co-Writer, Director) and Jason Fitzroy Jeffers (Co-Writer) with Arc (U.S.A.): Ev is an outcast Miami hustler who believes his mother was abducted by aliens when he was a boy. When a mysterious woman descends on his community sermonizing about extraterrestrial salvation, he finds new purpose, which is soon threatened by a disgraced former government agent and a looming hurricane. Keisha Rae Witherspoon is a Miami-born filmmaker whose short film T won the Golden Bear at the 2020 Berlinale. Keisha was named one of Filmmaker magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film” in 2020 and is a 2022 USA Fellow. She is co-founder of Third Horizon Film Festival. Jason Fitzroy Jeffers is a Barbadian filmmaker who has produced award-winning shorts such as Papa Machete and T, winner of the Golden Bear at the 2020 Berlinale. He is co-founder and former festival director of Third Horizon Film Festival, a 2023 USA Fellow, and a 2024 Creative Capital awardee. [Screenwriters Lab only]

Jane Casey Modderno (Writer-Director) with Here for the Weekend (U.S.A.): A rom-com about three trans girls questing for love in Palm Springs. It centers Cherry, a type-A hotel worker with dreams of launching a lingerie brand, and her seduction of a guest with the power to change her life… but only by ditching her friends Jane Casey Modderno wrote for Facebook’s The Birch and Peacock’s The Girl in the Woods. As director, her shorts have screened at festivals worldwide and are available to watch on Vimeo Staff Picks and Short of the Week.

Sylvia Khoury (Writer-Director) with I’m Heather (U.S.A.): Recently widowed Lebanese housewife Fadia, 60, dares to pursue a life outside the home by serving as a standardized patient for medical students to practice interacting with. Finding that Heather, the white character she plays, commands more respect than she does, Fadia begins to play at being Heather in her everyday life. Sylvia Khoury received her MD from the Icahn School of Medicine in 2021 and is a 2022 Pulitzer Finalist in Drama (Selling Kabul). She is the Berlind Playwright-in-Residence at Princeton, commissioned by Lincoln Center and LAMF/Protozoa, and developing original TV shows with Plan B and at FX with the Js.

Kristine Gerolaga (Writer-Director) with Lamok (Philippines / U.S.A.): A Filipino woman determined to avenge the death of her daughter following a botched abortion finds her worldview dramatically altered after she is cursed to transform nightly into a fetus-eating creature known as the manananggal. [Screenwriters Lab only]. Kristine Gerolaga is a Filipina American filmmaker and actor. She is supported by The Future of Film is Female and Sundance Institute’s Artist Accelerator Program. Mosquito Lady, the proof-of-concept short for Lamok, had its world premiere at Beyond Fest and is now on the festival circuit.

Diana Peralta (Writer-Director) with No Love Lost (U.S.A.): When a troubled young woman brings her new husband home to meet the family, her devoted but insular sisters reveal the extremes they will go to protect one another. Diana Peralta is a Dominican American writer, director, and creative producer from New York City. Her debut feature film, De Lo Mio (The Criterion Collection), premiered as the closing night film of BAMcinemaFest in 2019 and was initially distributed by HBO. Peralta was featured in Filmmaker magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film.”

Hanna Gray Organschi (Writer-Director) with Rubber Hut (U.S.A.): Rhode Island, 1992. An entrepreneurial ex–Pan Am stewardess opens a drive-thru condom shop in her Italian Catholic town. Overnight, Emanuella DelVecchio becomes the local lightning rod, a radical hero to the neighborhood teens and an unlikely threat to her tight-knit community. Hanna Gray Organschi is a New England filmmaker pursuing her MFA at New York University. She received the NYWIFT scholarship, the Wasserman Award, and the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative Accelerator Grant and is on the 2024 Purple List. Her upcoming short F*ck That Guy is executive-produced by Spike Lee and Riva Marker.

Sara Crow (Co-Writer, Co-Director) and David Rafailedes (Co-Writer, Co-Director) withSatoshi (U.S.A.): The potentially true story of a teenage anime-obsessed hacktivist who, after losing her scholarship to Stanford, returns home to Arizona to become the mysterious inventor of a new digital currency called Bitcoin. Sara Crow is a Brooklyn-based writer-director whose stories center misfits and subcultures. She is currently an MFA candidate at New York University’s Graduate Film Program, where she is a Martin Scorsese Scholar and the recipient of the Sloan Feature Film Award and the Sundance Institute Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship. David Rafailedes is a bicoastal (Hudson River/Lake Erie) based writer-director. He attends New York University’s Graduate Film Program. He is also the co-playwright of Cellino v. Barnes and the recipient of the Sloan Feature Film Award and the Sundance Institute Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship.

Urvashi Pathania (Writer-Director) with Skin (U.S.A.): A horror-thriller about a dark-skinned Indian American woman tempted by an addictive and dangerous experimental skin bleaching machine — and the white woman who invented it. [Screenwriters Lab only] Urvashi Pathania (she/her) is a writer-director based in Brooklyn. Her films explore gender, sexuality, and cultural bereavement. Pathania was selected for the 2023 Sundance Screenwriters Intensive with her feature Skin. She is also a recipient of the 2023 Sundance Horror Fellowship.

Claire Fowler (Writer-Director) with Toad (U.K.): After seeing a disturbing accusation online, a woman living far away from home and ostracized from her strikingly successful twin brother begins to piece together memories of the teen theater experience that came between them. Claire Fowler is a writer and director from North Wales. She is an alum of Oxford University, Columbia University’s Film MFA, the WB Directors’ workshop, and the AFI’s Directing Workshop for Women. Her short Salam premiered at Tribeca and won a BAFTA Cymru, and she recently was a director on Netflix’s Manifest.

Ramzi Bashour (Writer-Director) with Tomahawk Springs (U.S.A.): Tomahawk Springs is a comedy about a Lebanese woman in America on an odyssey with her second-generation teenage son who barely speaks any Arabic. One riding shotgun, the other at the wheel, they journey the open road and rediscover themselves along the way. Ramzi Bashour is a filmmaker based in New York. He grew up in Beirut and over the years has worked as a cook, baker, journalist, and teacher. He’s written and directed award-winning shorts, including The Trees, and has collaborated as a composer and editor on feature films.

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