IMDb > Peter Sollett > News
Quicklinks
Top Links
biography by votes awardsNewsDeskmessage board
Filmographies
overviewby type by year by ratings by votes awards by genre by keyword
Biographical
biography other works publicity photo galleryNewsDeskmessage board
External Links
official sites miscellaneous photographs sound clips video clips

Connect with IMDb



2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002

8 items from 2016


Meet the 10 Talented Filmmakers Selected for Sundance Institute's Screenwriters Intensive 2016

28 March 2016 11:03 AM, PDT | Sydney's Buzz | See recent Sydney's Buzz news »

For over 30 years Sundance Institute has been an iconic organization providing opportunities and resources to independent filmmakers and those that want to support them. Their two flagship programs are the renowned Screenwriters Lab and the Directors Lab, which allow up-and-coming artists to interact and receive mentorship from successful and acclaimed members of the film industry. To say that being part of one these programs is a once in a lifetime opportunity is an understatement. The proof is in the undeniable quality of the projects that are shaped during the labs and that eventually become part of the cinematic conversation. 

While fostering talent is what Sundance Institute does best, they are one of the institutions that most diligently reinforces their commitment to provide opportunities for new voices that represent an eclectic array of backgrounds and experiences. In order to cast their net of support even wider, the institute offers numerous exciting programs beyond those that are already well-known in the filmmaking community. As part of Sundance Institute's Diversity Initiative, the Screenwriters Intensive is an invaluable resource that focuses on stories outside of the homogenous fare. 

The program is a 1 1/2 day workshop for writers whose work has been encountered by the institute as part of their outreach for the Labs and which they find especially promising. The writers of 10 projects take part in a program whose elements include a hands-on writing workshop led by creative advisor Joan Tewkesbury (“Nashville”), a screening of a recent Sundance film followed by a candid conversation with the filmmaker, a reception with Sundance staff and the extended Sundance community, and one-on-one meetings with two creative advisors to get feedback on their script. With the Intensive, the Sundance Institute aims to present participants with creative tools that they can take back to their own work, provide a space for dialogue and information sharing about the creative process of making a film (and all of the joys and challenges therein), and foster community among storytellers and an ongoing connection with Sundance.

The screening this year was Andrew Ahn's "Spa Night," which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival back in January and has now been picked up for U.S distribution by Strand Releasing. Centered on the conflicted son of a Korean immigrant couple in Los Angeles, Ahn's subtle yet poignant narrative deals with issues of identity both sexual and cultural. For the second day of the workshop, the fellows had one-on-one meetings with celebrated figures in independent cinema: Miranda JulyJennifer SaltDeena GoldstonePatricia CardosoPete Sollett, Dana StevensTanya HamiltonLigiah VillalobosScott Neustadter, and Kyle Patrick Alvarez

The Screenwriters Intensive fellows come from uniquely different backgrounds, and their projects bring original stories that are sure to showcase new and inventive perspectives on the world. Get to know them and their stories as they are on their way to giving us a great batch of new independent films.

The application for the 2017 January Screenwriters Lab is currently open with a deadline of May 3. Applicants for the Screenwriters Lab are also considered for the Screenwriters Intensive, Sundance Institute Asian American Fellowship, and the Sundance Institute Feature Film Program Latino Fellowship, as eligibility allows. To learn more about the Sundance Institute's programs visit Here. 

Khalik Allah 

Project: "Kareem"    

Khalik Allah is a self taught filmmaker and photographer. His work has been described as visceral, hauntingly beautiful, penetrative and profoundly personal. Photography and filmmaking are two overlapping circles that form a venn diagram in Allah’s mind; the area where they overlap is the space he inhabits as an artist. Allah’s cinematic vignettes document hardscrabble life at the corner of 125th Street and Lexington Avenue in Harlem (New York City), most recently in his award-winning documentary Field Niggas, which screened at festivals worldwide.

Describe your project briefly and at what stage in the creative process it is. Include details about your artistic vision for this project in particular. 

My project is in an incredibly early stage. I'm basically taking the last four years of my life as a photographer on 125th and Lex and adapting it into a fiction narrative. 

Briefly tell us about the most important or rewarding lesson you took from the first day of the Screenwriters Intensive Lab. How will this impact the future development of your project? 

The most important thing was the mutual inspiration we gave each other. The lab advisors helped us dig deeper into ourselves. Their faith in us was tremendous. I took away a new lease on my future. 

Tell me about your experience during day two and your interaction with the advisors. How important was it for you to get feedback from a professional in the field that has gone through some of the same creative challenges as you?

I met with Miranda July on day two of the lab. Wow she was incredible. She read my entire script and gave me many productive notes. I was impressed that she gave me so much time. Plenty of useful information I can implement. 

Now that you've gone through this learning experience, what are some of the next steps you will be taking as you continue to develop your project?

I must keep writing.

Zia Anger

Project: "Despues De" 

Zia Anger is a filmmaker and music video director. Her most recent short, "My Last Film," premiered at the 53rd New York Film Festival. In 2015, her short "I Remember Nothing" had its world premiere at New Directors/New Films and its international premiere at Festival del film Locarno. Other screenings include: AFI Fest, Denver Film Festival, Maryland Film Festival, Ann Arbor Film Festival, Basilica Soundscape, Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art,  and Vienna Independent Shorts. She has made music videos for various independent artists, including Angel Olsen, Julianna Barwick, and Jenny Hval, the latter of whom she also tours with, projecting live video and participating as a performer. Her music videos have been featured in various online publications including: Pitchfork, the Guardian, and NPR. In 2015, Anger was included in Filmmaker Magazine's "25 New Faces of Independent Film" issue. She was a 2015 fellow in film/video from the New York Foundation for the Arts. In 2008, she was the recipient of the Panavision New Filmmaker Grant for her short film "Lover Boy." She holds a BA/Bs from Ithaca College and a Mfa from The School of the Arts Institute of Chicago.

Describe your project briefly and at what stage in the creative process it is. Include details about your artistic vision for this project in particular. 

"Despues De" is about a missing white woman, a mother and daughter who try to find her, and the days leading up to her disappearance on a sorority vacation. It dissects the very particular mythological figures created by our tabloid crazed culture, white women's obsessions with themselves and each other, and the people and places who are alienated in their wake. I would say the project is creatively at the point where it's similar to someone in their late twenties, when you think "wow I know a lot, but fuck there is so much more and I'm open to that," as opposed to "I just turned 21 and I literally know it all." Artistically it calls for a certain amount of precision where high and low brow filmmaking techniques kind of collapse on to each other and end up smooching.

Briefly tell us about the most important or rewarding lesson you took from the first day of the Screenwriters Intensive Lab. How will this impact the future development of your project?

Joan seems to have figured out a really simple way to help even the most stubborn of (non) writers reenter their work at a time when it might seem impossible. What's cool is that once you do it it's really easy to do again. I'm thinking that having this point of access will be crucial to the continued creative development of the piece, beyond writing and moving in to those difficult creative moments onset, in the editing room, all those places you normally forget everything you've already figured out.

Tell me about your experience during day two and your interaction with the advisors. How important was it for you to get feedback from a professional in the field that has gone through some of the same creative challenges as you?

Immediately it's exciting to sit the the same room with someone who speaks the same alien language as you but who has had the experience deal with people who don't. I think it was Bergman or someone who talked about how inadequate a script can be, considering it's just this middle step. I find myself so disillusioned with this middle step and constantly questioning what exactly it's supposed to function as. It's a good exercise to talk through what is important and what should be more developed and also where you can cut the fat.

Now that you've gone through this learning experience, what are some of the next steps you will be taking as you continue to develop your project?

Probably keep learning.

Chris Benson 

Project:  "Death of Innocence"    

Christopher Benson, a journalist and lawyer, is an associate professor of Journalism and African American Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has worked as a city hall reporter in Chicago for Wbmx-fm, as Washington Editor for Ebony magazine, and as a speechwriter for Washington, D.C. politicians, including former Congressman Harold Washington and Eeoc Chair Clarence Thomas.  He also has written for Chicago, Savoy, Jet, and The Crisis magazines, and has contributed to the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, and the Chicago Sun-Times.  Most recently, he has written commentary on justice, race and media for the Chicago Reporter and the Huffington Post.  His Chicago Reporter series on the wrongful murder conviction of Anthony Dansberry contributed to Dansberry’s release from prison (after serving 23 years) and earned Benson a Peter Lisagor Award for exemplary journalism. Benson also was a co-writer and associate producer of the Wttw Channel 11 documentary "Paper Trail: 100 Years of the Chicago Defender," and was named on two of the documentary’s three regional Emmy Awards, as well as another Lisagor Award. Benson is co-author with Mamie Till-Mobley of "Death of Innocence: The Story of the Hate Crime That Changed America," the account of the 1955 lynching of Mrs. Till-Mobley’s son, Emmett Till, and the winner of the 2003 Robert F. Kennedy Book Award Special Recognition. The feature adaptation of the book will be executive produced by Chaz Ebert and Shatterglass Films

Describe your project briefly and at what stage in the creative process it is. Include details about your artistic vision for this project in particular. 

Our project is titled "Death of Innocence" and it is the screen adaptation of a book I co-authored with the late Mamie Till-Mobley about the life and tragic death of her son, Emmett Till.  Through this project that focuses on the brutal 1955 lynching of a 14 year-old kid, we want to help people make connections between the violent enforcement of racial segregation and the shooting deaths of young African American males by people who still are getting away with it in our contemporary moment.  We also want to show how one person—in this case, Mamie Till-Mobley—can make a difference in the struggle for social and legal justice in America.  This clearly is a challenge we still face and we need to learn lessons from some of the unsung heroes of the Civil Rights Movement.  That is what we are trying to show with this picture.

Briefly tell us about the most important or rewarding lesson you took from the first day of the Screenwriters Intensive Lab. How will this impact the future development of your project? 

One of the many things I have taken away from the first day of the Sundance Screenwriters Lab is that I have to take ownership of the characters who populate this story—even this story based on true events and real people.  As a professional journalist, I have spent years trying to keep a distance from the issues I write about and the people who humanize those stories, who breathe life into them.  Despite cynical public opinion, journalists do go after the truth.  In screenwriting, we are going after the essential truth.  What is the meaning of everything that appears on the screen?  So, even in stories based on real events, we are not simply cataloguing a series of facts in a sequence of scenes.  We are supposed to find the story that rises from all those facts.  The essential truth. The true meaning.  That will affect my screenwriting for some time beyond the successful completion of this project.   

Tell me about your experience during day two and your interaction with the advisors. How important was it for you to get feedback from a professional in the field that has gone through some of the same creative challenges as you?

I have to say that the coordinators of the Sundance Lab experience clearly put a lot of care and thought into developing a perfect match of advisors and fellows.  The second day discussions with my advisors was phenomenal.  As with the Sundance organizers, they had read the script very carefully and approached my sessions with a devotion to maintaining the integrity of the story, and helping fulfill the purpose we had set out to accomplish.  It was amazing to listen to the comments that reflected a deep appreciation of the characters, the story and even the potential impact of this piece.  I was especially struck by the connection my advisors felt with the main character, Mamie Till-Mobley, and the advice I was given to develop her and her motivation to a level that will result in quite a powerful rendering.  I can't wait to get started on the notes. 

Now that you've gone through this learning experience, what are some of the next steps you will be taking as you continue to develop your project?

My plan is to work with the notes I was given to consider ways to perfect the script.  My advisors have indicated an interest in staying in touch on this, so that ongoing conversation will be great. The first step I am taking after the Sundance Lab is to engage in discussions with the other producers on our project to ensure that we all on the same page.  Next will be to coordinate with the collaborators on the script to talk about the ideas that have emerged from the lab experience.  Finally, I will begin to interpret it all on the page, and I am eager to see where the story takes me.

Shakti Bhagchandani 

Project: "Purdah" 

Shakti Bhagchandani is a screenwriter/director born and raised in the United Arab Emirates. She grew up in Dubai, in a melting pot of religion and culture, and cultivated her writing abilities with the help of her mother. She travelled to London to pursue a BA in English Literature at King's College London and while there she was awarded the prestigious Jelf Medal for her contributions to art and charity. While pursuing her undergraduate degree, she interned at the Vineyard Theatre in New York, the Gate Theatre and National Theatre Studio in London, and the Antenna Theatre in San Francisco. She directed a number of student and semi professional plays, including "Fanny & Faggot" by Jack Thorne and "Pornography" by Simon Stephens. After graduation she moved to New York to pursue an Mfa in Screenwriting & Directing at Columbia University. She is currently in her thesis years, specializing in Screenwriting under advisor Trey Ellis. While at Columbia, she has worked on a number of shorts, and as a writer her last short "Khargosh" screened at Palm Springs International ShortFest and won the Satyajit Ray Award at the London Indian Film Festival. Her first feature screenplay, "Bidoun", was shortlisted for the Sundance Screenwriter's Lab 2015, and her current feature project "Purdah" has been selected for the Sundance Screenwriter's Intensive Lab in La. She recently wrapped production on her short "LostFound" that she wrote and directed, and is currently in preproduction for her next short "Tunisian Jasmine" which is set in the UAE.

Describe your project briefly and at what stage in the creative process it is. Include details about your artistic vision for this project in particular. .

'Purdah' is a coming of age drama that follows a 16-year-old British Pakistani girl as she grapples with her burgeoning womanhood and her precarious sexuality in a world built on segregation and coercion. The project is currently in development.

Briefly tell us about the most important or rewarding lesson you took from the first day of the Screenwriters Intensive Lab. How will this impact the future development of your project?

The first day of the lab included one of the most invigorating writing workshops I've ever been a part of. Joan is a miracle worker! She guided us through a haze of snowploughs, dream sequences and inner monologues, and by the end of it I had somehow come up with about 20 new scene ideas. Characters I had neglected before were suddenly infused with new life and the possibilities for the story feels limitless. Andrew's film and the discussion afterwards was intensely inspiring and the perfect way to round off the day - he helped us believe that the future of our projects is entirely real and attainable.

Tell me about your experience during day two and your interaction with the advisors. How important was it for you to get feedback from a professional in the field that has gone through some of the same creative challenges as you?.

Patricia and Dana are wonderful! It was amazing to sit across from these incredible, passionate women - they were nurturing, encouraging and boundlessly generous with their advice. They talked about their own trajectories and experiences. They motivated me to dig deeper, to fine tune every detail, and to have faith in myself and the project. They came at my script from completely different angles, offering story notes, a ton of production thoughts, and advice on how to move forward with not only the script, but also my career.

Now that you've gone through this learning experience, what are some of the next steps you will be taking as you continue to develop your project?

Revise, revise, revise. And then revise again. The lab helped me see how much potential this story has and how much work it still needs. There is so much left to unearth and I'm excited to get started. 

Reinaldo Marcus Green

Project: "Monsters and Men" 

New York native Reinaldo Marcus Green is a writer, director, and producer. He is currently a thesis student at Nyu Tisch Graduate Film School and writing his first feature narrative, "Monsters and Men." Most recently, he was named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film (2015). His latest short film "Stop," which he wrote, produced, and directed, premiered as an official selection at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2015. His previous short film, "Stone Cars," shot on a micro-budget in South Africa, had its international premiere as an official Cinéfondation selection at the Festival de Cannes 2014.

Describe your project briefly and at what stage in the creative process it is. Include details about your artistic vision for this project in particular. 

At its core, "Monsters and Men" is a story about perspective. 

 The film consists of three interlocking stories, each told through the point-of-view of three protagonists -- Manny, a street hustler, Stacey, a female police officer, and Zyric, a high school athlete.

 When Manny captures an illegal act of police violence on his cellphone, he unwittingly sets off a series of events that will alter the course of each of their lives...

"Monsters and Men's" three chapters connect narratively and thematically, painting a portrait of modern-day Brooklyn -- a community caught in the crosswinds of crime, police corruption, and social instability.

We’re in the final stage of development, planning to shoot this summer 2016 in Brooklyn, New York. We hope to cast the net wide and far in order to provide opportunities for new undiscovered talent, and new exciting voices. The ideal cast would be a mix of professional and non-professional actors. New York is full of immense diverse talent we can’t wait to work with.

As a filmmaker, my goal is to tell powerful, urgently-needed and authentic stories. I see a unique opportunity to challenge the status quo of independent cinema, to craft entertaining stories with heart and meaning - films which possess social relevance, emotional complexity and thematic resonance. 

Ultimately, its my hope to create a highly-compelling narrative feature, entertaining to watch, but one which will add to the social conversation about law enforcement, violence, and justice in America. We want to share that experience with audiences in other places in the world, by giving rise to growing communities who are often marginalized and whose stories are rarely seen in film.

Briefly tell us about the most important or rewarding lesson you took from the first day of the Screenwriters Intensive Lab. How will this impact the future development of your project? 

First and foremost, I felt very lucky to be a part of such an amazingly talented group of filmmakers, with a broad range of diverse projects, across all genres. It was fascinating to see where my script fits in the larger spectrum, and what I realized is that each and every story at the lab was an outlier. Each writer had a singular voice, a unique take on genre, character, story, and structure. 

The Lesson: “Come in from the side.” 

During Day One at the lab, I felt I threw out any preconceived notions I had about my own script. It allowed me to digress and deconstruct without internally combusting. Joan Tewkesbury, a true master at her craft, went right to the core of who we were as human beings, ultimately going right into the core of who and what our scripts were all about, and what they have the potential to become. I think fear is something that holds most people back, the same fear that the world was once flat and we would sail off the edge. Joan refocused my center of gravity and provided me with tools to “access” that inner child, be playful and to keep digging.

Character is at the core of who we are and what makes us human. The digger we deep, the more we reveal about ourselves. I believe in that if I continue the excavation process, with delicate precision, and a gentle curiosity, it will serve me well in all my writing. I can’t be afraid to find out who I am underneath the surface, although sometime we bury things for a reason — because we don’t want to go there — there’s pain hidden in various forms. In writing, there’s a seemingly impenetrable darkness and then there’s light.

Tell me about your experience during day two and your interaction with the advisors. How important was it for you to get feedback from a professional in the field that has gone through some of the same creative challenges as you?

The opportunity to sit down with Peter Sollett and Tanya Hamilton was truly a special treat for me. Not only did are they both masters of their craft and highly-regarded writers and directors within their own right, I had been a big fan of their work before meeting them. Peter’s short film "Five Feet High and Rising," which he later turned into a feature, "Raising Victor Vargas" are two works that I admire deeply, and they have been a source for inspiration since the genius of the project.

Both Peter and Tanya are so sharp and so astute, it makes for brilliant analysis and conversation. 

They have a slightly different approach to story, but essentially meet somewhere in the middle; Character. With both advisors, we really stepped back from the script — taking a birds eye view of what the film really means to me and how and what the best way to achieve telling it would be moving forward. We talked a lot about character, world, and theme. 

Tanya and Peter both offered many ideas for “problem solving” — helping me hone in on areas in the script that could be refined and strengthened. It’s evident in their own work how much they care about the craft — both offering truly thoughtful insight and perspective into how each scene could advance the story. We discussed ways to deepen characters and how to build a compelling and complex world without compromising my voice, or the story I want to tell.

Now that you've gone through this learning experience, what are some of the next steps you will be taking as you continue to develop your project?

I think the simplest answer is to just keep writing. There’s still a ton of information to digest from the lab but the key is to not get bogged down in semantics, to move beyond the fear and paralysis that we create for ourselves. It’s time to problem solve, lock myself in a room and just write. More coffee please. 

Jessie Kahnweiler

Project: "Meet My Rapist"    

Jessie Kahnweiler has been featured in The New York Times, CNN, TMZ, People, The Hollywood Reporter, New York Magazine, Mashable,  Buzzfeed, Elle, The Daily Beast, Jezebel,  Indiewire, La Weekly, The Huffington Post, and The Independent. At the University of Redlands, Kahnweiler quickly began ditching class in order to make documentaries. For her thesis film, Little America, she hitchhiked across the country to explore the world of America’s truck drivers. After getting dumped, she wrote and co-directed the comedic short "Baby Love," co-starring alongside "Anchorman’s" David Koechner. Kahnweiler was selected for the 6 Points Artist Fellowship which inspired her comedic web series entitled "Dude, Where’s my Chutzpah?" Her short "Meet my Rapist," a dark comedy about running into her rapist at the Farmers’ Market, inspired her live show "The Rape Girl." Kahnweiler confronted her own white privilege in her viral hit "Jessie Gets Arrested." Her latest project, for which she serves as writer, director, and stars, is "The Skinny," a dark comedic series based on her 10 year relationship with bulimia. It premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival and is produced by Refinery29 and Jill Soloway’s Wifey.tv  Kahnweiler lives in La with her plants.

Describe your project briefly and at what stage in the creative process it is.

Include details about your artistic vision for this project in particular.   My project is called "Meet My Rapist" and it is loosely based on a short film I made of the same name a few years ago. After the short had it's 15 minutes online I was moving on to other projects but I felt this gnawing at my gut. I tried to ignore it, popped some advil, and went to yoga but that gnawing just wouldn't stop. That annoying painful gnawing was the beginnings of this script. I've been working on the script on and off for about a year. I'm at the stage where I need to take out most of the flippant jokes and get to the real meat of the matter - the heart, the pain. I need to live and cry this story out. Because the project is so personal it is easy for me to get lost in it. Sometimes I forget where I end and my characters begin.  So being at the Sundance lab is great timing. I feel totes blessed.  

Briefly tell us about the most important or rewarding lesson you took from the first day of the Screenwriters Intensive Lab. How will this impact the future development of your project? 

That I can't hide behind my jokes.  After writing in a feeling state all day our amazing teaching Joan looked at me and was like "Your movie is a song and you gotta hit the bass notes." I was like Mic Drop.  I love the challenge of making something that is a comedy based in the tragedy of human reality. That is my north star for this movie. I'm not sure if I will get there but that's where I'll be heading. 

Tell me about your experience during day two and your interaction with the advisors. How important was it for you to get feedback from a professional in the field that has gone through some of the same creative challenges as you? 

It was incredible to take a deep dive into the script with women who so deeply understand screenwriting from the inside out. The feedback was never like "do it My way" it was more about ripping open the guts of the script and getting to that deeper level. Okay this happens but Why? Screenwriting can be so daunting like "I need write the perfect thing so I can get an agent so I can get hired etc. " and the process can be so lonely and daunting . But in both my sessions we just talked about human behavior and what makes people tick and it reminded me that filmmaking is magic and I'm really lucky to be here. Also a woman, it was inspiring to meet with other women who are living my dream. Who are feeling for a living. In both my sessions I laughed, cried, and go to ask as many questions I wanted it. It was basically my ideal Tinder date. 

Now that you've gone through this learning experience, what are some of the next steps you will be taking as you continue to develop your project?

 I'm going to keep working on drafts of the script, keep sharing it with people I trust, keep begging Sundance to let me come over and eat bagels, keep pitching it to anyone who will listen, keep crying, keep feeling, keep making my movie. 

Allison Lee 

Project: "Jawbone"

Born in Washington, D.C. and raised in Los Angeles, Allison Lee studied English Language and Literature at the University of Chicago. She received her Mfa in Film and Television Production from the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. Upon graduation, she worked in development and production at DreamWorks and NBCUniversal. Lee has received grants from the Media Action Network and the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences. She was also named a Project Involve fellow, and her short The Grizzly was produced by Film Independent. In 2015, she was one of five screenwriters who received a residency through the inaugural Hedgebrook Screenwriters Lab, where she was mentored by Jenny Bicks and Jane Anderson.

Describe your project briefly and at what stage in the creative process it is. Include details about your artistic vision for this project in particular.

"Jawbone" is about a Korean woman who undergoes drastic plastic surgery as a means to achieve what she and her peers view as success. After she gives birth to a daughter who looks nothing like her, her life begins to unravel and she’s forced to confront her past.

I am currently grappling with rewrites while meeting with potential producers and crew.

I see "Jawbone" as a hybrid of Korean cinema and American independent film. Korean movies relish the tension in tightly wound familial and social relationships. I think my personal connection to this fabric helps me discern and explore where the similarities and differences to American culture begin and end. I also think the best American independent films underscore the universality of specific personal stories, and I aspire to follow in this tradition.

Briefly tell us about the most important or rewarding lesson you took from the first day of the Screenwriters Intensive Lab. How will this impact the future development of your project?

I felt transformed by the sessions with Joan Tewkesbury. She pushed us to bare our souls and delve into our histories to deliver stories that were truthful and specific. My biggest fear about "Jawbone" is that a few extreme events in the plot would read as absurdist melodrama. Relating these events back to some of my own crises helped me re-center the emotional truth of my characters and their journeys.

Tell me about your experience during day two and your interaction with the advisors. How important was it for you to get feedback from a professional in the field that has gone through some of the same creative challenges as you?

It was crucial to work with filmmakers who knew the Sundance aesthetic and had weathered the challenges before us. I knew the script needed improvement but had a hazy vision of what it required. Tanya Hamilton’s notes were both encouraging and precise about galvanizing and concretizing the protagonist’s journey. Patricia Cardoso, with her directorial and producerial expertise, reminded me that my artistic flights of fancy should still be grounded in reality and be economical and pragmatic. The breadth of their approaches made me feel like I was getting the best of all worlds.

Now that you've gone through this learning experience, what are some of the next steps you will be taking as you continue to develop your project?

I am hustling on a rewrite ready to be seen by producers and representatives. Ultimately, I want to direct "Jawbone," and I am also working on a short film version. 

Eliza Lee

Project: "A Beautiful Lie"

Educated in Canada and the Czech Republic, Eliza Lee began in Asia as a Dp trainee before returning to her first passion: screenwriting. She takes great pride in world building for her complex women characters. Lee’s feature, Maybe Tomorrow, about rock legend Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders, is being produced by Michelle Sy ("Finding Neverland") and Sophia Chang (former artist manager for Wu Tang Clan), with Academy Award nominee Steph Green ("Run & Jump") attached to direct. Lee’s screenplay, "A Beautiful Lie," about crime novelist Patricia Highsmith, was honored at the 2015 Athena Film Festival, and was also selected for the 2015 Outfest Screenwriting Lab. In addition, she was a Cape 2015 Film & Television Fellow and was mentored by various executives from Sony, Paramount, and Fox, among others. Lee has several features and television projects in development. She is the 2016 Sundance Institute Asian American Fellow.

Describe your project briefly and at what stage in the creative process it is. Include details about your artistic vision for this project in particular. 

When Strangers on the Train was published in 1950 and with the anticipation for it to be turned into a film by Alfred Hitchcock, Patricia Highsmith was catapulted into the literary spotlight. Here she thought was her opportunity to break free of the crime genre and finally write her Great American novel. Except, it was at the height of McCarthy’s witch hunt, and her Great American novel would become the iconic lesbian tale, The Price of Salt. In the book, Patricia defiantly gave her lesbian main characters a happy ending together, but faced with the real threat of being blacklisted, she is forced to publish it under a pseudonym. This decision would send her down a path of alcoholism, promiscuity and loneliness as she realized she would not have the happy ending she wrote.

With this story, I knew it had to come from the seminal moment in her life. And for me, it is when she braved writing The Price of Salt at a time where being who you are and believing in what you do can land you in jail, exile or financial ruin. She had to deny her nature, and coupled with a growing rage it would breed the infamous “monster” that would come to define her in her later years.

While her male peers have enjoyed forgiving, pedestal descriptors like "troubled", "complex" or the genius "l'enfant terrible", Highsmith was shown no such generosity.

On top of that, I am struck how often pictures of her old age are published displaying her alcohol and anger ravaged face. We made that. Juxtapose those with photos of Highsmith at 21, so full of hope, vitality and ready for all the wonders of love, and it is clear - she was born this way. "A Beautiful Lie" is about a woman’s quest for love when it was a crime.

Briefly tell us about the most important or rewarding lesson you took from the first day of the Screenwriters Intensive Lab. How will this impact the future development of your project?

 Specifically, I learned I hide behind fiction or through my characters and not have to admit the narrative comes from a personal place. Through an incredibly safe and nurturing environment on the first day, Joan Tewksbury led us through a series of spontaneous and revelatory writing exercises that at first seemed random, but without time to allow the self-censor to kick in, the writing showcased how many more complex layers we can apply to our characters through our uninhibited sharing of our personal experiences. As a result, because the stories come from us, they are inherently going to be personal. It was like sleight of hand for the imagination.

Tell me about your experience during day two and your interaction with the advisors. How important was it for you to get feedback from a professional in the field that has gone through some of the same creative challenges as you?

The advisors were there to help us tell the story we want to tell. And the one-on-one sessions were focused solely on the writing, and was intended to be a dialogue. It was humbling to learn the tremendous amount of time they took to burrow deep into our scripts. I was thoroughly empowered by what these writers offered me, and excited that I could challenge such seasoned pros with my perspective and approach to telling a story. Ligiah Villalobos dared me to linger longer in emotional scenes and to take my pursuit for emotional truths for my character even further. While Scott Neustadter and I discussed much about memories as structure, he also pushed me to defy a note i have received that my character is “unlikable” and to allow her to have even more anti-hero moments. i concluded my last day at the Intensive with their voices unifying in the same sentiment: they have a good feeling the film will be made. 

Now that you've gone through this learning experience, what are some of the next steps you will be taking as you continue to develop your project?

Through the Sundance Intensive, I have a clear idea of what is my next step, and that is to apply another layer of shading to my portrait of Patricia Highsmith. I’m anxious to keep the momentum going, and then take it out to talent. I’m going to realize this film. 

Jimmy Mosqueda 

Project: "Valedictorian" 

Jimmy Mosqueda is a lifelong California resident, the son of two Mexican migrant workers, and a graduate of Stanford University. From an early age he showed a fondness for writing, starting his first journal at the age of five, which developed into a passion for writing short stories, poetry and eventually screenplays. While attending Stanford on a full scholarship, Mosqueda saw how social class and race influenced the experiences of his fellow students, which made him realize just how much the American educational system is intimately tied to those pillars. The intersection of race, class, and education remains an ongoing theme in his works. Today, Mosqueda lives in Los Angeles and writes full-time. His screenplays have placed in numerous contests, including as a finalist in the Austin Film Festival, Script Pipeline and TrackingB competitions, and as a semifinalist in the Nicholl Fellowship. He’s represented by Angelina Chen and Brooklyn Weaver of Energy Entertainment, and is actively developing projects for film and television.

Describe your project briefly and at what stage in the creative process it is. Include details about your artistic vision for this project in particular. 

"Valedictorian" is dark teen comedy in the vein of "Election" and "Heathers." It’s about an ambitious teenage girl who do anything to be crowned valedictorian of her high school, including a little bit of murder. So, you know, just like real high school! I started writing this project about three years ago. It was inspired by my own school experiences, where everyone on the Honors track was super competitive and had their sights set on the Ivy League. Readers respond positively to the comedy and the heightened world of the script, which is great, but one thing I felt got buried underneath the multitude of drafts is the emotional core of the main character. So during the Intensive my main goal was to rediscover who she was and, building out from that, the reason why I wanted to tell this story in the first place.

Briefly tell us about the most important or rewarding lesson you took from the first day of the Screenwriters Intensive Lab. How will this impact the future development of your project? 

The most important thing I learned from the workshop with Joan Tewkesbury is that creative development is not about brainstorming characters or story points. All of us have unique, personal experiences and emotions that can form the building blocks of a story. You really have to look inward and tap that raw data, or else run the risk of your story ringing hollow. A lot of artists understand this intuitively, I believe, but Joan’s workshop laid it out in such clear and simple terms. For my next draft of "Valedictorian," I’m going to use these techniques as a stress test, but in all honesty I want to go back and revisit every project I ever worked on using this approach now.

Tell me about your experience during day two and your interaction with the advisors. How important was it for you to get feedback from a professional in the field that has gone through some of the same creative challenges as you?

My advisors were the bee’s knees, if I can be so blunt. My first session was with Scott Neustadter, who along with his writing partner has written a lot of films with teen lead characters. He very clearly understood what the script was, and gave very specific, actionable notes on how to improve what’s already there. I love how he was able to cut through and really get at the core issues of script, which were mostly the same issues I had going in. Scott is killing the screenwriting game right now. His insights were invaluable.

My second session was with Kyle Patrick Alvarez. We spent a lot of time talking about the main character, her motivation, her relationships, and how she “earns” the big moments/twists in the script. We also spent some time talking bigger picture about the industry and how to build a career in Hollywood, which was very much appreciated. Additionally, it was great getting the perspective of another Latino in the industry.

Both men were truly gracious with their time. I left both sessions feeling inspired!

Now that you've gone through this learning experience, what are some of the next steps you will be taking as you continue to develop your project?

After stepping off Cloud 9, it’s back to the computer and working on a new draft of "Valedictorian." In addition, I will also be tackling a new draft of the pilot version. It’s the same world and characters, but with a different engine that is geared towards episodic narrative. Many of the notes I got from Scott and Kyle apply to the pilot version as well, so it’s like getting two for the price of one!

Finally, I just want to thank everyone involved with putting together the Intensive: Ilyse McKimmie, Michelle Satter, Anne Lai, Shira Rockowitz and everyone at the Sundance Institute who made this possible. I am forever grateful for the experience.

Lotfy Nathan

Project:  Untitled Bouazizi Project    

Lotfy Nathan’s first film, the documentary "12 O’Clock Boys," played over 50 film festivals worldwide, including SXSW, Sundance Next Fest, Lincoln Center, Viennale, Hot Docs, London, and Copenhagen in 2013. It was ranked 7 in the BFI list of top 20 documentaries of 2013, and garnered Nathan an HBO Emerging Artist award. "12 O’Clock Boys" was subsequently picked up by Oscilloscope for a North American release in theaters, acquired by Showtime for television, and was optioned for a fiction remake by Will Smith’s Overbrook Entertainment. Nathan is a 2015 grantee of the Creative Capital Foundation, a resident filmmaker at the Cinereach Foundation, and a previous awardee of the Garrett Scott development grant, the Peter Reed Foundation, the Grainger Marburg travel grant, and an Ifp fellowship.

 

Describe your project briefly and at what stage in the creative process it is. Include details about your artistic vision for this project in particular. 

The film is about Mohamed Bouazizi, the young Tunisian fruit vendor whose act of self-immolation sparked the Arab spring. It’s a love story, apolitical (as the subject of our protagonist was); about a young man’s steady undoing, and his final bittersweet act of defiance. The film will be shot on location, with cast selected locally besides the principles, and filmed with an immersive approach. 

Briefly tell us about the most important or rewarding lesson you took from the first day of the Screenwriters Intensive Lab. How will this impact the future development of your project? 

We were encouraged to draw from very specific personal experiences, prompted by Joan It was incredible to learn these tools, which enable you to tap into vast resources from your own life that you can then apply to the writing- and so vividly. I think the writing exercises with Joan actually stirred a very unusual dream for me that night.

Tell me about your experience during day two and your interaction with the advisors. How important was it for you to get feedback from a professional in the field that has gone through some of the same creative challenges as you?

 The advisors were very motivating. I left with pages of notes on my writing, tangible pieces of smart advice that will help inform the next draft.

Now that you've gone through this learning experience, what are some of the next steps you will be taking as you continue to develop your project?

 Before getting back to work on the script I plan to do some other writing on the characters. 

»

- Carlos Aguilar

Permalink | Report a problem


Russia's Arthouse goes to 'War On Everyone'

8 March 2016 3:31 AM, PST | ScreenDaily | See recent ScreenDaily news »

Distributor also acquired Freeheld, starring Julianne Moore and Ellen Page, and Robert Carlyle’s The Legend Of Barney Thomson.

Arthouse, the leading Russian distributor of foreign and independent films that was fully acquired by Us firm Lorem Ipsum Corp earlier this year, has picked up a hat-trick of titles.

The films include John Michael McDonagh’s War on Everyone, starring Alexander Skarsgård and Michael Peña as corrupt cops; Peter Sollett’s Freeheld, starring Julianne Moore and Ellen Page as lesbian partners who fight for equal rights; and Robert Carlyle’s directorial debutThe Legend of Barney Thomson, in which Carlyle stars opposite Emma Thompson and Ray Winstone.

The Freeheld acquisition follows pick-ups of Lgbt title Pride and Oscar-nominated lesbian drama Carol, which Arthouse is set to release on March 10 despite Russia’s apparent laws against “gay propaganda”.

War on Everyone debuted at Berlin and Arthouse MD Evgeny Pivovarov said: “We’re happy to get one of the funniest »

- michael.rosser@screendaily.com (Michael Rosser)

Permalink | Report a problem


Movie Review – Freeheld (2016)

24 February 2016 8:40 AM, PST | Flickeringmyth | See recent Flickeringmyth news »

Freeheld, 2016.

Directed by Peter Sollett.

Starring Julianne Moore, Ellen Page, Michael Shannon, Steve Carell and Josh Charles.

Synopsis:

After New Jersey detective, Laurel Hester gets diagnosed with terminal cancer, her domestic partner, Stacie Andree both fight to allow Stacie to receive Laurel’s pension benefits.

The term ‘Made for TV movie’ is often used to describe a specific type of drama. The plot centering around similar themes and having the “based on true events stamp. Many will perhaps refer to Freeheld as ‘Made for TV’ and although not wholly incorrect, (in its presentation, not production) it does do a disservice to the story. My concern going in was that the story would have such heft that the script and direction would never really have any wiggle room. Sadly, I found this to be the case this time around.

Stars such as Michael Shannon, Steve Carell and Josh Charles make the »

- Gary McCurry

Permalink | Report a problem


Freeheld review – a full-scale attack on the tear ducts

21 February 2016 12:00 AM, PST | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

Julianne Moore and Ellen Page star in the true story of lovers who fought for the same rights as straight married couples

Freeheld is a film about co-opting the political zeitgeist in the search for justice which itself co-opts the political zeitgeist in the search for justice. Set in the mid-2000s when same-sex marriage in the Us was suppressed by revolting Republican ogres, it tells the Capra-esque saga of long-serving cop Laurel Hester (Julianne Moore) and her live-in lover, Stacie Andree (Ellen Page). They feel the hot prongs of the conservative pitchfork when Laurel is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and is told she can’t have her pension payments roll over to Stacie – a standard perk for heterosexual couples. Director Peter Sollett mounts a full-scale attack on the tear ducts as he rolls out scene after scene of inspiring oratory, heart-rending illness and full-on liberal do-gooding. And it works like gangbusters, »

- David Jenkins

Permalink | Report a problem


Freeheld movie review: lovers *and* fighters

19 February 2016 8:59 AM, PST | www.flickfilosopher.com | See recent FlickFilosopher news »

May be a familiar David-versus-Goliath tale, but it is also an inspiring and hugely emotional experience, due in large part to the powerful performances. I’m “biast” (pro): always eager for stories about women

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

In early 2006, the freeholders — the board of local government officials — in Ocean County, New Jersey, finally gave in and agreed, after numerous denials, to let decorated police office Laurel Hester, who was dying of cancer, pass on her pension to her registered domestic partner, Stacie Andree, in the same way that a heterosexual cop would be able to pass on his or her pension to a spouse. The 2007 film of the same name about Hester and Andree, by Cynthia Wade, won the Oscar for Best Documentary Short, and this Freeheld — the first feature from director Peter Sollett since his charming »

- MaryAnn Johanson

Permalink | Report a problem


Movie Review – Freeheld (2016)

18 February 2016 1:00 PM, PST | Flickeringmyth | See recent Flickeringmyth news »

Freeheld, 2016.

Directed by Peter Sollett.

Starring Julianne Moore, Ellen Page, Michael Shannon and Steve Carrell.

Synopsis:

Based on a true story, Freeheld tells us of Laurel Hester, a veteran police officer who has cancer and only wishes for her state pension to be passed to her civil-partner, Stacie.

Freeheld, and the gay rights it supports isn’t set in the empowering 1980’s era of Pride, or the revolutionary 1969 of Stonewall and Harvey Milk in the late seventies. This is ten years ago and many attitudes remain with issues of inequality still relevant today. Homosexuals achieved civil partnerships and many people felt that was enough; Freeheld proves it was not. Starring Julianne Moore, Ellen Page, Michael Shannon and Steve Carrell, Freeheld has a cast any filmmaker would dream of. Combined with a story of personal tragedy with political ramifications, you’ll crumble by the time credits roll. The power of Freeheld »

- Simon Columb

Permalink | Report a problem


Why 'Freeheld' Star Julianne Moore Thinks Her New Drama Reflects a Changing Culture

18 February 2016 6:56 AM, PST | Indiewire | See recent Indiewire news »

[Editor's Note: This post is presented in partnership with Time Warner Cable Movies On Demand in support of Indie Film Month. Today's pick, "Freeheld," is available now On Demand. Need help finding a movie to watch? Let TWC find the best fit for your mood here.]  Read More: The Great Gay Hope of Ellen Page and Julianne Moore's 'Freeheld' Peter Sollett's fact-based "Freeheld" offers recent Oscar winner Julianne Moore another juicy -- and emotionally wrenching -- role to bite into, hot off her Best Actress win for "Still Alice." In the film, Moore plays tough-as-nails police lieutenant Laurel Hester, whose life is upended when she falls in love with Stacie Andree (Ellen Page). Although she is compelled to keep her personal life a secret, Laurel and Stacie embark on a love affair that they intend to last a lifetime, going so far as to purchase a home together as registered domestic partners. But when Laurel »

- Kate Erbland

Permalink | Report a problem


Freeheld Review

18 February 2016 5:00 AM, PST | HeyUGuys.co.uk | See recent HeyUGuys news »

A film that explores issues of equality for any one group, in any shape or form, always starts out along the right path. It’s just how it proceeds that matters – does it have the required impact to further the cause? That’s the initial question regarding Raising Victor Vargas director Peter Sollett’s new feature Freeheld,

The post Freeheld Review appeared first on HeyUGuys. »

- Lisa Giles-Keddie

Permalink | Report a problem


2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002

8 items from 2016


IMDb.com, Inc. takes no responsibility for the content or accuracy of the above news articles, Tweets, or blog posts. This content is published for the entertainment of our users only. The news articles, Tweets, and blog posts do not represent IMDb's opinions nor can we guarantee that the reporting therein is completely factual. Please visit the source responsible for the item in question to report any concerns you may have regarding content or accuracy.

See our NewsDesk partners