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Thurs. March. 4

Sundance Institute Announces 2021 Screenwriters Intensive Fellows

The Sundance Institute today announced the eleven screenwriters selected to participate in Sundance Institute’s ninth annual Screenwriters Intensive, taking place digitally on March 4-5, 2021.

The Intensive is a two-day workshop for emerging independent writers and writer/directors developing their first fiction features. This cohort of artists from traditionally underrepresented communities will have the opportunity to interrogate their stories and refine their artistic practice, all under the guidance of established writers and the Institute’s Feature Film Program, led by me and the program’s Founding Director, Michelle Satter.

“We are inspired by this group of dynamic artists, who are each telling indelible stories with specificity, boldness, and their own distinctive style. It’s a privilege to bring them together as part of the Sundance community, and we look forward to embarking on a creative, collaborative journey with them,” said Ilyse McKimmie, Deputy Director, Sundance Institute Feature Film Program.

The generous and experienced advisors for the 2021 Intensive include Andrew Ahn, Susanna Fogel, Tanya Hamilton, Sarah Koskoff, Michael Starrbury, Wesley Strick, Yen Tan, Joan Tewkesbury, Rose Troche, Ligiah Villalobos, and Kevin Willmott. The Sundance Institute Screenwriters Intensive is made possible with leadership support from the Will & Jada Smith Family Foundation.

2021 SUNDANCE SCREENWRITERS INTENSIVE FELLOWS

Brian Robau, co-writer/director

Brian Robau is a Cuban American two-time Student Academy Award-winning director. In 2016, he won a Student Academy Award for his film It’s Just a Gun, which went on to be nominated for a College Television Award and was an Official Selection at the Telluride Film Festival. His recent film Esta Es Tu Cuba won a Student Academy Award in 2018, as well as a Student DGA award, a College Television Award, and a nomination for a Student BAFTA. The film is inspired by his father’s story and the stories of the over 14,000 Cuban refugee children of Operation Pedro Pan. It is currently available on HBOMAX. Robau received an MFA in directing from Chapman University’s Dodge College of Media Arts. Born and raised in Miami, FL, he currently resides in Los Angeles, CA.

Daniel Klein, co-writer

Daniel Klein received his Master of Fine Arts from Chapman University, where he wrote two Student Academy Award-winning short films: It’s Just A Gun (2016) and Esta Es Tu Cuba (2018). Esta Es Tu Cuba has since been awarded the 2019 College Television Award for Best Drama and the HBO Ibero American Short Film Award at the 2019 Miami International Film Festival. Klein previously wrote and directed the short film AB-, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, after which it screened at festivals around the world. Klein has also created and sold original television projects to Twentieth Century Fox and Touchstone Studios.

“91 Miles”

Emilio del Hoyo, a 50-year-old huckster, and his 15-year-old daughter, Consuelo, endure a perilous journey from Cuba to Miami while attempting to reconcile their broken relationship.

William Kwok, writer/director

Raised in the Chinese American enclaves of New York City and San Francisco, William Kwok is a filmmaker and an attorney practicing corporate and entertainment law. His directing and writing credits include the documentary shorts Grandma and The Two Deaths of Los Angeles Chinatown, and the fiction short Nocturne, No. 1: A Very Short Film About Family. His producing credits include the fiction shorts Layover, on the Shore, The Broken Heart of Gnocchi Bolognese, and Jump. He is an alumnus of the Armed with a Camera Fellowship for Emerging Media Artists from Visual Communications, and most recently served as co-producer and production manager of the feature film I Was a Simple Man, which premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. Kwok is a graduate of Columbia University, the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts, and the University of Michigan Law School. Recipient of the Sundance Institute Asian American Fellowship.

“Chinese School”

It takes Jesus Christ, kimchi hot dogs, Cantonese pop music, psychedelics, and meeting the literal girl of his dreams for a shiftless teenage outer-borough New Yorker to finally appreciate the inextinguishable affection of his longtime classmate.

Tulica Singh, writer/director

Tulica Singh began her career writing and directing in between bartending shifts in New York City. While attending USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, her short film Dream Girl screened at festivals including the Academy-qualifying Palm Springs International Film Festival, and also played in 21 theaters across Germany. In 2013, she received the John Huston Scholarship for excellence in directing. Since 2015, her web series Croissant Man has been in 20 festivals, including the New York Television Festival, and has won 13 awards. It has been featured in LA Magazine, IFC’s Comedy Crib, and is one of the first independent web series to be distributed through Amazon Prime. Currently, she works at the mobile gaming company N3twork, writing, directing, and animating videos for the popular game Tetris. Singh is committed to telling stories that blend satire with sincerity. Recipient of the Sundance Institute | Comedy Central Comedy Fellowship.

“Curses!”

In 17th century Colonial America, the daughter of the most noble family in town tries to make a name for herself by bringing witches into the mainstream. But just as she gets close to success, she accidentally provokes the town’s first burning.

Chy Chi, writer/director

Chy Chi is a Korean American director from Seattle. Her most recent film, How to Crack Hard-Boiled Eggs, starring herself and her father, premiered at the Viennale in 2016. Her work primarily focuses on first and second generation Asian-Americans, often pulled from her upbringing as the child of immigrants. She brings the experiences of her childhood working alongside the carnival throughout the Pacific Northwest and speaks to the challenges immigrant families face with assimilation, marginalization and mental health, all within the lower income strata. Chy has her MFA in Film Directing from the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) and is based in Los Angeles and Seattle.

“Eight Mysterious Qualities of the Ocean”

Hae, a 9-year-old Korean American girl, confronts her father’s gambling addiction and deteriorating mental health as they travel the carnival circuit in rural Washington.

Jo Hatcher, writer/director

Jo Hatcher is a 22-year old-filmmaker who will graduate from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in May 2021 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Directing. Born in Jacksonville, FL and raised in North Carolina, Hatcher has been a semi-finalist for the Sundance Film Festival Horizon Award, interned at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival with Voltage Pictures, and has written and directed several short films. One short, Shelter, was recognized by six film festivals, including Cucalorus 25 and receiving the Emerging Grit Award at the 2020 Indie Grits Film Festival. Hatcher’s commitment to activism and her love of culture fuels her passion for telling stories about the plights and triumphs of black women in 21st century America.

“Hard Feelings”

A bright teenage girl living in a car with her ex-boyfriend must make a fateful decision in order to realize her dreams of college.

Jessica Mendez Siqueiros, writer/director

Jessica Mendez Siqueiros is a Chicana writer/director of mixed indigenous Sonoran and European ancestry seeking to normalize complex & authentic narratives about the Southwest Mexican-American community through film. Her short films have screened at over 75 festivals, including Palm Springs, Seattle, Cleveland, Hamptons, and the Los Angeles Latino Film Festival. They have garnered an Audience Pick from Palm Springs ShortFest, the KidsEye Grand Prize for Best Live Action Short from Flickers Rhode Island Film Festival, Best Narrative Short (Comedy) from Cinequest, among other awards. Siqueiros’ latest short The Last of the Chupacabras was produced by Walt Disney Studios as part of the inaugural class of their Launchpad Shorts Incubator. The film will be released on Disney+ May 2021. She will also participate in the second class of Powderkeg Fuse helmed by Paul Feig & Lisa Fischer.

“Reforma”

1967 Tucson: Amidst the tense struggles of a newly-integrated community, a young Mexican American girl with a fantastic view of the world resolves to solve all of the problems through a common love of dance.

Radhika Apte, writer/director

Radhika Apte is a first-time filmmaker. She has appeared in over 45 feature films and series as a lead actress. Apte was nominated for a Best Actor International Emmy for her work in Netflix’s Lust Stories, which she also co-wrote, and won the Best Actress in an International Narrative Feature Award at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival for her work in Madly. Apte studied contemporary dance and Kathak after graduating with a degree in economics and mathematics. She is based out of India and London.

“The Sleepwalkers”

Having found themselves in a delusional state, trying to discover if they are sleepwalking, a couple on the cusp of starting a family, dreaming of the perfect future, are made to face the consequences of their willful blindness.

Joyce Sherrí, writer/director

Virginia native Joyce Sherrí stepped off a Greyhound bus at New York City’s Port Authority bus terminal in August 2010. Armed with her passion for creative writing, she hurled herself into the world’s independent film capital in pursuit of a career as a writer and director. In 2016, Sherrí received her MFA in Filmmaking from New York University. Shortly after that, she was selected for the Project Her Incubator, commissioned by Indigenous Media and Condé Nast Entertainment where she wrote, directed, and produced the short film Beauty. More recently, Sherrí was selected as the grand prize winner of the 2020 Slamdance screenplay competition for her feature script, Sweet Sixteen. She is represented by The Gersh Agency and Untitled Entertainment.

“Sweet Sixteen”

All Sweet Harrison wants is to celebrate her upcoming sixteenth birthday with a perfect party, but the financial challenges in her world force her to face hard truths about her friends, family and even herself as her pursuit of this rite-of-passage sends her on a premature journey towards adulthood.

Timothy Ware-Hill, writer/director

Timothy Ware-Hill is a native of Montgomery, Alabama, where he received a BA in Theater Arts from the HBCU Alabama State University. He later studied at UCLA in the MFA Acting Program. Most of his career has been as an actor in film/tv and Broadway, where he played the role of “Lola” in Kinky Boots. He recently received an MFA in Professional Screenwriting from National University. Ware-Hill wrote and directed a 7 episode web mini-series, The Pride Project, featuring several Broadway actors reciting Ware-Hill’s original poetry focusing on social themes including race, gender, and sexuality. He performed, wrote, directed and produced the Netflix animated short Cops And Robbers, with producers Lawrence Bender and Arnon Manor and executive producer Jada Pinkett Smith.) The short is based on an original poem by Ware-Hill, wrought from the devastating snuff film of Ahmaud Arbery.

“Tyrone and the Looking Glass”

In 1963, during the height of the Civil Rights Movement, a Negro boy in Birmingham, Alabama must overcome several obstacles in his quest to obtain the one treasure that will help him defeat a fire breathing dragon that seeks to destroy him and his loved ones.

Xavier Coleman, writer/director

Xavier Coleman is a Brooklyn-based filmmaker with a focus on the intersection of genre and identity politics. His most recent directorial effort was the short film White Knuckle. The film screened at the Movies Under the Stars series presented by the N.Y.C. Mayor’s Office, and was listed in AMC and Shudder’s Horror Noire syllabus of Black horror. As a nonfiction editor, Coleman has worked with writers and directors including Elliot Page, Ira Glass, and Joe Berlinger. His latest documentary feature film as an editor, There’s Something in the Water, premiered at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival.

“White Knuckle’

When a serial killer begins targeting the gentrifiers of a dwindling, historically Black neighborhood, a young newcomer must determine the murderer’s identity…before she’s next.

MTI Film Grows Remote Data Center as TV Editors Move to Remote Work

MTI Film has more than doubled storage and workstation capacity at the Remote Data Center since it launched last fall. The company expects more than 120 editors and assistant editors to soon be using the site’s resources to edit television shows with more joining every month. The center provides editors with dedicated, remote connections to Avid workstations, integrated access to MTI Film’s CORTEX workflow software and a shared storage environment, allowing them to work from any location while collaborating with others as if they were in the same room.

MTI Film CEO Larry Chernoff says that editors who began working remotely out of necessity are now doing so by choice. “Editors like the practical benefits of being able to work from home or other remote sites,” he observes. “The pandemic was the catalyst, but remote work is quickly becoming the preferred choice for television editing because it improves productivity and flexibility, and it enhances lifestyles. Based on the experience thus far, we believe the future will be a hybrid of remote and on-premises operations supported by universal connectivity.”

Among series currently using the Remote Data Center is Swagger!, a new sports drama created by NBA superstar Kevin Durant for Apple TV+. Co-producer Michael Weiss says the production was seeking a solution that would allow editor David Blackburn and his crew to work from their homes efficiently and reliably. “What has most impressed me about MTI’s Remote Data Center is what it doesn’t do,” Weiss says. “It doesn’t crash, there is no latency in playback and there are no glitches. It functions just as it might if we were working in one office. We haven’t had a hiccup.”

Weiss adds that the resources provided by the facility make it a viable long-term solution. “Storing data offsite is very attractive,” he notes. “Keeping your media at your workspace adds an extra layer of worry. Do we have enough power? Is there air conditioning in the room? Using MTI’s facility is like keeping your money in the bank rather than under a mattress.”

Assistant editor Diana Cruz Hiatt performs her work for the FX series “Pose” from home, including the production and distribution of dailies. “I use CORTEX to transcode files before sending them to the editors and producers,” she explains. “Formatting for each deliverable is preset, so all I have to do it bring in the files. CORTEX creates all the renders simultaneously and automatically. It’s fast.”

Additionally, MTI Film developers are in regular, direct contact with users and draw on their input to create new features that improve efficiency and user-experience. A suggestion from Hiatt recently led to a new CORTEX feature that automates the time-consuming process of producing VFX pulls. The new tool allows assistant editors to automatically add FX names and comments as “burn ins” using Avid EDLs. The user can determine the size and placement of effects and generate reports with related information.

“It saves lots of time,” says Hiatt. “MTI’s development team is very enthusiastic about product improvements. They are anxious to learn about my experience and are always looking for ways to help me do my job better.”

Kaye predicts that many editors who connected to the Remote Data Center during the pandemic will continue to use it after the crisis is over. “Editors who try it, like it,” he says. “We have teams connecting to our infrastructure from across the state and as far away as New York and Idaho.”

MTI Film Executive Producer Barbara Marshall says the success of the Remote Data Center has exceeded the company’s best expectations. “Jeff and Guthrie have assembled an outstanding team,” she states. “They bring an ideal combination of knowledge, innovative thinking and experience. We also benefit from wonderful clients who’ve been incredibly supportive. We are grateful for the enthusiasm with which they’ve embraced this new approach to post-production.”

Entertainment Squad Acquires Rights to ‘Paper Spiders’

Entertainment Squad has acquired the North American rights to the heartfelt comedic drama “Paper Spiders.”

Directed by Inon Shampanier, the film stars Lili Taylor, Stefania LaVie Owen, Ian Nelson and Peyton List and was co-written by Shampanier and Natalie Shampanier.

“Paper Spiders” will be released in select theaters on Mother’s Day weekend and will be available to rent and own on North American digital HD internet, cable, and satellite platforms starting on May 7th.

In the film, a high school senior’s life turns upside down as her mother’s paranoid delusions spiral out of control. It’s a bittersweet story about coming of age in the shadow of mental illness.

Shaked Berenson, Entertainment Squad’s CEO said: “Paper Spiders shines a light on the challenges of coping with mental illness. After a year in isolation, people want to go out and enjoy shared experiences in theaters. Paper Spiders provides both light entertainment, and the forum to discuss these important issues. In perfect timing for Mother’s Day and Mental Health Awareness Month, we are honored to bring this important movie to the big screen, and to audiences everywhere on demand.”

Shampanier, the Director, said: “We are thrilled to share this film, which features outstanding performances from Lili Taylor and Stefania LaVie Owen as a mother-daughter grappling with mental illness. The film was a true labor of love for the entire crew and cast, including the wonderful Peyton List, Ian Nelson, Max Casella, David Rasche, Michael Cyril Creighton and Tom Papa. We are deeply grateful for the continued support of NAMI – the National Alliance on Mental Illness.”

The film was produced by Idiot Savant Pictures’ Anne Clements and Cranium Entertainment’s Ash Christian, the maverick indie producer who passed away last year. Cercamon is selling foreign rights at the current European Film Market.

Wed. March. 3

Byron Allen Acquires Civil Rights-Era Biography ‘From Selma to Sorrow’ For Film

Byron Allen’s Allen Media Group feature film division, Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures, has announced it has acquired global media rights to the critically-acclaimed historic biography “From Selma To Sorrow: The Life And Death Of Viola Liuzzo.”

“From Selma To Sorrow: The Life And Death Of Viola Liuzzo” is written by author and historian Mary Stanton (“Journey Toward Justice”) and traces the life story of Viola Liuzzo — a white housewife, part-time college student, and mother of five children — whose passion for the civil rights movement led to her brutal murder by the Ku Klux Klan immediately following her participation in the Selma to Montgomery civil rights marches of 1965.

Tina Andrews wrote the screenplay, based on the biography “From Selma to Sorrow.” Andrews’ credits include writing and co-executive producing the two acclaimed miniseries “Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis” and “Sally Hemings: An American Scandal.”

Liuzzo’s story will be told through the eyes of her very best friend, Sarah Evans, an African American woman who introduced her to the civil rights movement and raised Viola’s five children after her untimely death.

“Our passion for Viola Liuzzo’s story is unwavering,” said Carolyn Folks, Executive Producer with Allen Media Group. “We at Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures are committed to presenting Liuzzo’s extraordinary acts of courage and her impactful contribution to the civil rights movement and our history. Viola Liuzzo will not be a forgotten hero.”

The global media rights for “From Selma To Sorrow” were acquired by Carolyn Folks, senior executive and Executive Producer of Allen Media Group/Entertainment Studios film and television content. Folks will serve with Allen Media Group Founder/Chairman/CEO Byron Allen as both Producer and Executive Producer of the “From Selma To Sorrow” motion picture.

Casting and production is scheduled to commence in 2021.

(pictured: Carolyn Folks and Tina Andrews)

Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper Comes to Life in Armondo Linus Acosta’s ‘The Last Supper: The Living Tableau’

Director Armondo Linus Acosta has brought together Academy Award-winning cinematographer Vittorio Storaro,  production designer Dante Ferretti and set decorator Francesca Lo Schiavo for “The Living Tableau,” a cinematic experience based on Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper.

“The Living Tableau” was created in the style of a tableau vivant, French for “living picture”, which traditionally is a theatrically lit static scene containing actors in costume, carefully posed with props and scenery.

The nine-minute video tableau vivant is set to be released worldwide timed to Palm Sunday and the week leading up to Easter Sunday on streaming platforms worldwide.

“I have loved and studied Leonardo since I was a small boy and always associated his mind, his genius with the mechanism of a clock, because Leonardo is not in one time, he is for all time,” said Ferretti. “This project was an honor for me, and the first time Francesca and I had the pleasure to work on a film with Vittorio. The result is the most life-like recreation on film I have ever been a part of.”

Atlas Distribution Company Has Distribution Rights to ‘Dark State’

Atlas Distribution Company has acquired the Lucca Films in association with Creative Partners International & Realize Studios thriller “Dark State,” from writer/director Tracy Lucca (“The Finders”) which will open theatrically on March 19.

The film will launch across North America on all TVOD/digital platforms on May 4.

“Dark State” stars Constantine Maroulis, Nicholas Baroudi, Katie Stahl, Melissa Connell, Greg Wood, Antoni Corone, Jared Delaney, Kim Carson, Ariana Ballerini and marks the feature film debut of K. O’ Rourke.

The film is written and directed by Tracy Lucca; produced by Tracy Lucca, Michel Grey, and Mark Riccadonna; executive produced by Dino F. Petrongolo, Tracy Lucca and Lynne Lucca; director of photography Steven Michael; production designer Jay Weber; costume designer Meg Timney; and edited by Justin Aquilar.

Michel Grey of Realize Studios negotiated on behalf of the filmmaking team directly with Harmon Kaslow, on behalf of Atlas Distribution Company.