Sundance selects film lab participants

Sam Waterston, Sally Field, Morgan Freeman, John Landis, Penny Marshall, Alan Pakula and Arthur Penn are just some of the cinematic talents who will be shepherding 16 independent filmmakers through the Sundance Institute’s 1994 June Filmmakers Lab.

In past years feature films like Quentin Tarantino’s “Reservoir Dogs” and Gregory Nava’s “El Norte” benefited from the four-week program in which aspiring directors work closely with mentors. During the program’s final week, a group of screenwriters join the lab.

“Our overriding criterion is finding talent in that particular moment of a career when Sundance can be an infusion of creative energy and help that writer/director turn a corner in launching their career,” Michelle Sater, director of feature film programs for Sundance said Monday.

In all, eight projects were selected for the directors’ lab, out of an applicant pool of 1,500. A description of some of the participating projects follows.

James Mangold’s “Copland” is described as a suburban “High Noon” story.

Columbia University MFA student Tomislav Novakovic made “Children of the Crown,” about a Croatian-American father and his two sons living in the Bronx.

Shawn Schepps, who wrote “Encino Man,” made the Sundance team with her project “Kat and Allison Are Having a Bad Week,” which depicts a perfect woman whose life takes a turn when she meets a junkie.

Lisa Krueger’s Sundance selection “Manny & Lo” tells of two sisters on the lam — one of whom discovers she is pregnant. Her short “Best Offer” played at last year’s festival.

English immigrant Myles Connell’s “The Opportunists” is a tale of Irish emigres chasing the American Dream in New York City. Theresa Connelly’s “Polish Wedding” deals with women juggling their madonna/whore legacy.

Randy Redroad, the first director to receive support from the Sundance Institute’s newly established Native American Initiative, will be working on “indians and cowboys.”

Seasoned film editor Mia Goldman will also be part of the workshop, fine-tuning her family drama “To Have and to Hold.”

On the scribe side, Claudia Shear, whose “Blown Sideways Through Life” was one of this year’s hottest Off Broadway shows, will be attending the workshop. She will be crafting a script called “Five Very Pretty Girls.”

Joining Shear will be former “Saturday Night Live” talent coordinator Neil Levy, whose period piece “Days of Grace” pits brother against brother.

Former assistant costume designer Eric Mendelsohn will be working in the screenwriter’s lab on “Delia,” the story of a loner in the Big Apple.

While her play “Gramercy Park Is Closed to the Public” is scheduled to be produced later this spring by L.A.’s Fountainhead Theatre Co., Toni Ann Johnson will be in Utah soon to whip the script into shooting-ready shape.

Kyung Ja Lee, who has an MFA from the American Film Institute, will be working on “Koreatown Blues,” about the bond between a father and daughter in L.A.’s Koreatown after the 1992 riot.

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