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Sean P. Means
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Sundance picks 12 projects for January Screenwriters Lab

Before the 2014 Sundance Film Festival gets underway in January, a dozen film projects will take steps toward Sundance in 2015 or 2016 — by going through the Sundance Institute’s January Screenwriters Lab.

The institute today announced the 12 projects that will take part in the January lab, set for Jan. 10-15 at the Sundance resort in Provo Canyon.

At a glance

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Screenwriters go into intensive workshops on their scripts, supported by established writers in an environment built for risk-taking and innovation.

Writers for the 12 projects will work with some great creative advisors, led by Artistic Director Howard Rodman. The advisors include: Dustin Lance Black, Naomi Foner, John Gatins, Michael Goldenberg, Erik Jendresen, Patty Jenkins, Kasi Lemmons, Tobias Lindholm, Walter Mosley, Marti Noxon, Jon Raymond, Susan Shilliday, Zach Sklar, Peter Straughan, Quentin Tarantino, and Bill Wheeler.

Here are the 12 projects, with descriptions courtesy of the Sundance Institute:

"The Buried Life" (U.S.A.), Joan Stein Schimke and Averie Storck, co-writers/co-directors » "An archaeologist risks her reputation for the dig of her career, but when her rock ‘n’ roll sister and overbearing father follow her to the excavation, she discovers her biggest challenge is facing what’s above ground. Recipient of the Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, given to a project that explores science and technology themes and characters."

"The Father’s Shadow" (Brazil), Gabriela Amaral Almeida, writer/director » "A nine year-old girl with strange powers and an obsession with horror films attempts to bring her mother back from the dead as a means of connecting with her sick father."

"Lynch "(U.S.A.), Nicole Riegel, writer » "Following her rescue as an American P.O.W. in the Iraq war, Jessica Lynch embarks on a quest to uncover the truth of her captivity; in her fight to reclaim her personal narrative, she discovers a deeper identity."

"Manchild" (U.S.A.), Ryan Koo, writer/director » "A talented basketball player gets nationally ranked and must choose between schools, coaches, and belief systems—all at the age of 13. Recipient of the A3 Foundation Fellowship, given to a filmmaker or project that furthers the Asian American voice in independent film."

"Night Comes On" (U.S.A.), Jordana Spiro, co-writer/director, and Angelica Nwandu, co-writer » "Angel is released from juvenile hall on her 18th birthday with a single focus: shoot the man who killed her mother. As her rebellious past and empty future confront her at every turn, her plans derail and Angel becomes what she wanted and feared." [Note: Spiro is an actress, who starred in the TV series "One of the Boys" and "The Mob Doctor."]

"Park" (Greece), Sofia Exarchou, writer/director » "Nine years have passed, and the Olympic Village in Athens, Greece is in decay. Among the abandoned athletic facilities and new-money tourist resorts nearby, 16-year-old Dimitris and his friends traverse Greece’s ‘glorious’ past with the decadence of today, creating a portrait of a society unprepared for the brutal fall."

"Patti Cake$" (U.S.A.), Geremy Jasper, writer/director » "Patricia Baccio, aka Patti Cake$, is a big girl with a big mouth and big dreams of rap superstardom. Stuck in Lodi, New Jersey, Patti battles an army of haters as she strives to break the mold and take over the game."

"Stranger with a Camera" (U.S.A./Northern Ireland), Oorlagh George, writer/director » "In this dramatic thriller, an American girl is stranded in a remote village in Northern Ireland after her father is arrested on a 20-year-old murder charge tied to the IRA. Compelled by her father’s secrecy, she sets out to uncover the mysterious family history that he has kept hidden from her." [Note: George won an Oscar for her 2012 short, "The Shore."]

"Swiss Army Man" (U.S.A.), Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, co-writers/co-directors » "In this absurdist comedy, a hopeless man stranded in the wilderness befriends a dead body and together they go on a journey to get home."

"Ten Thousand Happiness" (U.S.A./China), Johnny Ma, writer/director » "The sudden divorce of their 80-year-old grandfather causes three generations of a Chinese family to each re-evaluate their relationships in love, life and happiness in modern Beijing."

"We the Animals" (U.S.A.), Jeremiah Zagar, co-writer/director, and Dan Kitrosser, co-writer » "Based on the bestselling novel by Justin Torres, ‘We the Animals’ is about the brutal love of a multi-racial working class family, seen through the eyes of the youngest son, as he discovers his heritage, his sexuality and his madness." [Note: Zagar’s documentary, "Captivated: The Trials of Pamela Smart," is in the U.S. Documentary competition at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.]

"Weather Talk" (Chile), Marcella Said, writer/director » "‘Weather Talk’ tells the story of a 40-year-old married woman who realizes the extreme violence surrounding her once she befriends her horse riding teacher, a former army colonel who was involved in human rights violations in Chile."

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