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Sundance announces its June Filmmakers Lab projects

Published May 8, 2012 4:42 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The Sundance Institute has picked the 13 projects that will be workshopped in this year's June Filmmakers Lab, set to run May 28-June 28 at the Sundance resort in Provo Canyon.

Don't be surprised if you see these titles at a future Sundance Film Festival. After all, several movies at the festival this year — "Beasts of the Southern Wild," "Hello I Must Be Going," "Sleepwalk With Me," "Nobody Walks" and "Compliance" — came through the labs. So did "Martha Marcy Marlene," "Pariah," "Sin Nombre," "Half Nelson," "Me and You and Everyone We Know," "Boys Don't Cry," "Requiem for a Dream," "Hedwig and the Angry Inch," "Smoke Signals" and "Reservoir Dogs."

Participants at the Sundance Directors Lab get to workshop scenes from their scripts, with professional crews and actors — and with a faculty of advisors that represent the cream of Hollwyood talent. (This year's advisors — and this is just a sampling — include directors Gregg Araki, Andrea Arnold, Michael Hoffman, Kasi Lemmons, John Cameron Mitchell and Jeff Nichols; actors Joan Darling, Ed Harris and Christine Lahti; writers John August, Scott Z. Burns, Walter Mosley and Wesley Strick; cinematographer Caleb Deschanel and Robert Elswit; and, of course, Robert Redford.)

This year's eight Directors Lab participants and projects are:

Jonas Carpignano (writer/director), "A Chjàna" (U.S.A./Italy) "After leaving his native Burkina Faso in search of a better life, Ayiva makes the perilous journey to Italy; though he finds compatriots along the way, they are unprepared for the intolerance facing immigrants in their newly-claimed home." Carpignano's short film of the same name won the Controcampo Award for Best Short Film at the 68th Venice Film Festival. He's an MFA candidate at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts.

Ioana Uricaru (writer/director), "After the Wedding" (U.S.A./Romania): "Mara, a Romanian immigrant with a young son, discovers her recent marriage to an American resident is not enough to secure their place in the country. As she learns more about the system, an unfamiliar culture, and her husband, she must decide how far she will go to preserve her new family." Uricaru, born in Romania and now living in L.A., co-directed "Tales From the Golden Age" (Cannes 2009), and her short "Stopover" played at Sundance '11.

Carson Mell (writer/director), "Ajax" (U.S.A.): "In this dark comedy, a band of alcoholic astronauts and a young woman adrift in outer space become at odds with one another after discovering the purpose of their mysterious mission." Mell works in film and TV, and his short fiction has been published in McSweeney's.

Jody Lee Lipes (co-writer/director) and Jeff Peixoto (co-writer), "Confederacy" (U.S.A.): "Kentucky Territory, 1858. When Asa Candler joins the religious society of Shakers, uncovering their dark secrets forces him to confront his own buried sin." Lipes' directing credits include the hit HBO series "Girls," and her films as cinematographer include "Tiny Furniture" and "Martha Marcy May Marlene."

Marielle Heller (writer/director), "The Diary of a Teenage Girl" (U.S.A.): "In the haze of 1970's San Francisco, a teenage artist with a brutally honest perspective tries to navigate her way through an affair with her mother's boyfriend. Adapted from the graphic novel by Phoebe Gloeckner." Heller, a New York screenwriter, actor and playwright, produced a theatrical version of this work in 2010.

Chloé Zhao (writer/director), "Lee" (U.S.A.): "As his two best friends plan to leave for college, a Lakota teen wonders if his future on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is pre-ordained when a tragedy forces him to take dangerous action to protect his family." Zhao, who was raised in China and England and now lives in Brooklyn, is an MFA candidate at NYU's Graduate Film Program. Her short film "Daughters" has won awards at several festivals.

Ariel Kleiman (co-writer/director) and Sarah Cyngler (co-writer), "Partisan" (Australia): " 'Partisan' is a provocative fable about 11-year-old Alexander, who, raised to see the world through his parent's eyes, is starting to think for himself." Kleiman's short "Young Love" won an honorable mention for short filmmaking at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival; while her short "Deeper Than Yesterday" won the Jury Prize in International Filmmaking at Sundance '11. Cyngler has collaborated with Kleiman on over 15 productions - as producer, writer, production designer and costume designer.

Karim Bensalah (writer/director), "Red Olive Tree" (Algeria/France): "Plagued by divided loyalties following the French-Algerian war, the recently deceased Ahmed miraculously arises to lead his bickering French family to his homeland, in a mysterious trip where they grapple with the consequences of the choices he made in life and allow him to find peace in death." Bensalah, born in Algeria, has directed several short films, and works as an actor in film and theater.

The projects and participants joining Directors Lab Fellows for the 2012 June Screenwriters Lab (June 23-28) are:

Cutter Hodierne (writer/director), "Fishing Without Nets" (U.S.A.): "A naïve and desperate young Somali man is coerced to join a band of local pirates as they embark upon a hijacking, but instead of the riches he was promised, he finds mayhem and chaos as his reward." Hodierne toured with U2, shooting footage of the band and directing segments of U2: 360° at the Rose Bowl. His short "Fishing Without Nets" won the Grand Jury Prize in Short Filmmaking at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.

Clay Jeter (co-writer/director), Will Basanta (co-writer), and Charles Spano (co-writer), "Io" (U.S.A.): "Sam, a teenaged girl, is one of the last people on a post-cataclysmic Earth. With the final shuttle scheduled to leave the planet, she must decide whether to journey to the launch point and join the rest of humanity, or remain on Earth, a castaway in the only home she has ever known." Jeter and Basanta collaborated on "Jess + Moss," which debuted at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. Spano, who considers himself a student of Werner Herzog's school of "rogue filmmaking," has been around the globe.

Marialy Rivas (co-writer/director) and Camilla Gutierrez (co-writer), "The Princess" (Chile): "In the isolated Chilean countryside, a young girl negotiates the contradictions between her developing sexuality and her family's religious sect." Rivas directed and co-wrote "Young and Wild," which won the World Cinema Screenwriting Award at this year's Sundance Film Festival. Gutierrez, a journalist, co-wrote "Young and Wild."

Debbie Tucker-Green (writer/director), Untitled (U.K.): "A contemporary drama set in London following the dynamics of one family trying to stay together." Tucker-Green is a writer-director who has worked in radio, TV, film and theater.

Eric Flanagan (co-writer/director) and Sam Voutas (co-writer), "White Faced Lies" (U.S.A.): "Set in contemporary China, where local companies hire white (but not necessarily qualified) Americans to lend them credibility, longtime conman Stanley gets a new assistant who may be more than just a colleague – he thinks Stanley is his long-lost father." Flanagan's short film "Teleglobal Dreamin'" won a jury award at SXSW 2010. Voutas wrote and directed the Chinese feature "Red Light Revolution," which played at numerous film festivals.