After Mahindra’s Mumbai Mantra ended their tenure with Sundance, Producer Manish Mundra’s company Drishyam has tied up with them to bring the first edition of Drishyam-Sundance Screenwriters Lab. What Mahindra could not do – convert the scripts into films, hopefully Drishyam will be able to do. Otherwise just selecting the scripts and mentoring them becomes useless if there is no funding for such scripts.
Sundance Institute and Drishyam have announced the 7 scripts selected for this year’s lab which will run from April 12-16. The Lab supports emerging filmmakers in India, as part of the Institute’s sustained commitment to international artists, which in the last 25 years has included programs in Brazil, Mexico, Jordan, Turkey, Japan, Israel and Central Europe.
The projects and fellows selected for the 2015 Drishyam | Sundance Institute Screenwriters Lab are:
Geetu Mohandas / Mulakoya
From the Lakshadweep Islands of the Arabian Sea, a young boy sets off on an adventure to the mainland in order to find his older brother.
Geetu Mohandas’ debut feature Liar’s Dice, premiered in competition at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. Liar’s Dice has currently played 35 film festivals and won 5 international awards for best film and 2 National Awards, the highest honor in India. It was also the official Indian entry for the 2015 Oscars. Mohandas, along with filmmaker Rajeev Ravi, formed the production company Unplugged in 2009, which produced her short film, Kelkkunnundo? The film premiered at Rotterdam International film festival and won 3 International awards for Best International Short Film and the National Award for the Best actor in India.
Raj Rishi More / Pirates
Amidst the economic downturn, a young illustrator struggles to balance supporting his struggling family with his dream of becoming a professional cartoonist.
Raj Rishi More started his film career as an assistant director on RiteshBatra’s Sundance Institute-supported The Lunchbox (winner of Grand Golden Rail, Cannes Film Festival 2013, nominated for BAFTA 2015). He worked as First Assistant Director to RiteshBatra on his short Masterchef, a commission by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. Currently Raj is working with RiteshBatra on the feature film Khoya, while developing Pirates, his first feature as director.
Atanu Mukherjee / Unknown Faces
When eighteen year old Dhruv returns home from boarding school, eager to reunite with his family and friends, he instead finds that his father has disappeared after a bankruptcy scandal. While his mother attempts to protect him from discovering his family’s hardships, Dhruv decides to find his father himself.
Atanu Mukherjee is an alumnus of Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute Kolkata. He has worked as Editor on four feature films: Achal (The Stagnant), Blemished Light, Shortcut Safari and Monsoon Shootout, the last of which premiered at Cannes in 2013. He has directed the documentary My House Is Not So Far, and has also written, directed and edited short films Ekanko (The Monologue), The Gatekeeper and Stray Dogs, which won Best Short Film at the 2014 Cinema City Film Festival in Serbiaand was a part of the 2014International Documentary And Short Film Festival in Kerala. Most recently, he participated in the 2015 Berlinale Talents Program.
Ritu Sarin & Tenzing Sonam / The Sweet Requiem
A young Tibetan woman living in exile in New Delhi unexpectedly sees the man she holds responsible for her father’s murder on a high Himalayan pass. Long-suppressed memories of her traumatic escape from Tibet are reignited and she is propelled on an obsessive search for reconciliation and closure.
Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam have been making films on Tibetan subjects for more than 20 years. Through their work they have attempted to document, question and reflect on the issues of exile and cultural identity that confront the Tibetan diaspora. Working through their film company, White Crane Films, they have produced and directed several documentaries, including: The Reincarnation of Khensur Rinpoche (1991); The Trials of Telo Rinpoche (1993); A Stranger in My Native Land (1997); and The Shadow Circus: The CIA in Tibet (1998). In 2005, they completed a dramatic feature film, Dreaming Lhasa. The Sun Behind the Clouds: Tibet’s Struggle for Freedom. Ritu and Tenzing are married and have two children.
Sandhya Suri / Santosh
When a widow receives a “compassionate assignment” and assumes her husband’s former role as a police investigator, she confronts a brutal case of gang rape of a young woman.
After graduating with a first class honours degree in Mathematics and German, Sandhya Suri received a scholarship to study documentary at The National Film and Television School. Her graduation film “SAFAR” was shown at a number of international film festivals, receiving the Jury’s special mention at Cinema du Reel and the award for Best Short Film at the British Film Institute’s Imagine Asia festival. Currently based in London, she has lived in Germany, India and Japan and worked on documentary projects in Africa, South America and Polynesia. In 2005 she directed I for India, her first feature length documentary, which played at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival and won Best Documentary at the Asian Festival of First Films.
Anay Tarnekar / Untitled Tiger Project
In southwest China, animal trader Jin, struggling to support his family, works in the potentially lucrative but illegal private market of young male tigers. In central India, former poacher Raghav now works at a small reserve where he protects the wildlife. Their two stories converge with the appearance of a new pair of tigers on the reserve.
A mechanical engineer turned filmmaker, AnayTarnekar has worn several hats as a writer, director, producer, editor and director of photography. In 2002 he moved to the US to pursue a Masters degree in Cinema from San Francisco State University. After graduating, he co-produced and edited a documentary calledCachao: Uno Mas that premiered on the multiple Emmy-winning PBS series, American Masters. He is currently producing the TV interview series Hollywood Masters, which examines the careers of filmmakers including Alfonso Cuaron, David O. Russell, Michael Mann, Sean Penn and Clint Eastwood. Anay is also an amateur painter and wildlife photographer.
Dnyanesh Zoting / The Monster
When a young girl’s father goes missing while on a documentary film shoot in a tribal village, she and her mother go to the jungle to find him, relying on clues from the Raakshasfairytale in order to find him.
DnyaneshZoting assisted Satish Manvaron the Marathi film The Damned Rain. He is presently assisting film director Satish Manvar as co-writer for the Hubert Bals funded film projectWhat’s Your Religion?Zoting holds a degree in video-production from the University Of Pune.
– The Lab is a five-day writer’s workshop that gives independent screenwriters the opportunity to work intensively on their feature film scripts in an environment that encourages innovation and creative risk-taking. The Lab is centered around one-on-one story sessions with the creative advisors. Screenwriting fellows engage in an artistically rigorous process that offers lessons in craft, a fresh perspective on their work and a platform to fully realize their material.
– Creative advisors for this year’s Lab represent a diverse mix of Indian and international filmmakers, including: Srdan Golubovic (Circles), Erik Jendresen (Band of Brothers), Rose Troche (The Safety of Objects, The L Word), Habib Faisal (Do Dooni Char), Sriram Raghavan (Badlapur, Ek Haseena Thi), Shridhar Raghavan (YennaiArindaal) and Kasi Lemmons (Eve’s Bayou, Talk To Me).