Actor Laurence Fishburne, monologuist and self-professed “Red Diaper Baby” Josh Kornbluth, novelist Gloria Naylor and director Jan Oxenberg are among the artists chosen by the Sundance Institute for its January Screenwriters Lab.
The eclectic group, including several film school grads and representatives of other media, will gather at the Sundance Resort Jan. 14-19. They will have the opportunity to work one-on-one with more seasoned writers, including Alice Arlen, Walter Bernstein, Richard Friedenberg, James V. Hart, Larry Konner, Ron Nyswaner, Tom Rickman, Lynn Seifert, Roger Simon, Aaron Sorkin and Jeff Stetson.
Alumni of the program include Allison Anders (“Gas, Food, Lodging”); Todd Graff, who penned the upcoming Geena Davis starrer “Angie, I Says”; and Anthony Drazan, who scripted “Zebrahead.”
Said Michelle Satter, director of the institute’s feature film program, “This is a really pure environment, and by working with mentors the newer writers figure out where they need to go when they write the next draft of their script.”
These mentors are responsible for such films as “Philadelphia,””Fail Safe, “”Dracula,””Silkwood” and “A Few Good Men.”
The scribes also are afforded a golden networking opportunity during the film festival itself when reps from studios and talent agencies descend to sign new talent.
The 13 selected include Deborah Swisher and Thomas King. Swisher is a poet, actress and comedian who will adapt her one-woman show about growing up in a cult. King, a part-Cherokee writer of short stories, is the chairman of American Indian studies at the U. of Minnesota.
Also picked were Kyung Ja Lee, an American Film Institute grad whose short film “Korea Town Blues” has nabbed numerous awards and was broadcast on PBS, and Columbia grad Tomislav Novakovic, a Croatian-born filmmaker who grew up in the Bronx.
Other film school grads include Myles Connell (New York U.) — who showed his second film, “Uncle Robert’s Footsteps,” at last year’s Sundance Film Festival — and Columbia U’s Theresa Connelly (“Polish Wedding”).
Some of those chosen already are working in Tinseltown. Jason Katims and Matt Reeves will be working on their script “The Pallbearer.” Reeves has the original screenplay “Dark Territory” in development at Warner Bros., and Katims is a staff writer on the upcoming ABC series “My So Called Life.”
Robert Redford, who founded the Sundance Institute in 1981, described the group as the “men and women who we believe will be developing the cornerstone of independent cinema.”