Darren Aronofsky, ‘Requiem for a Dream’

Sundance alum

Since the Sundance Directors and Screenwriters Labs are usually designated for rookie filmmakers, Aronofsky was surprised when he was asked to bring his adaptation of Hubert Selby Jr.’s seminal drug novel “Requiem for a Dream” to the Screenwriters Lab in 1999. After all, the previous year his debut film, “Pi,” had unspooled at the Sundance Film Festival.

However, he wasn’t about to turn down the offer. “A chance to work with all those legends of screenwriting, to check out from the New York lifestyle for a week and focus on my script — it was an opportunity I couldn’t give up.”

The mentors at the lab, including Robert Redford, helped Aronofsky flesh out the screenplay’s climactic scenes over a five-day period. “Our lead characters weren’t really that connected to each other,” he says. “They encouraged me to find a way to make the male and female leads, Harry and Marion, have a scene. And so I wrote the telephone conversation between (them), which I think is one of the more emotional scenes in the film.”

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