Rising Stars at the Sundance Institute’s Directors Lab

Rising Stars at the Sundance Institute’s Directors Lab
July 19, 2013 Sara Griggs

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It’s every aspiring filmmaker’s dream to work with established filmmakers he or she admires, and at the scenic Sundance Resort in Utah, eight aspiring professionals had the chance to do just that. They were selected to participate in Sundance Institute’s prestigious Directors Lab, which took place between May 27 and June 20. The directing fellows each had the opportunity to shoot scenes from their original independent screenplays with the support of professional advisors, actors and production crews. Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs, Kimberly Peirce’s Boys Don’t Cry and Benh Zeitlin’s Beasts of the Southern Wild are some of the most notable projects to emerge from the program.

This once-in-a-lifetime educational experience includes artistic guidance from some of the industry’s most revered individuals, such as Sundance Institute President and Founder Robert Redford, Kathryn Bigelow, Walter Salles, Pablo Larrain, and Ed Harris, as well as a week-long Screenwriters Lab, where five additional projects are supported by established screenwriters.

At Avid, our long-standing relationship with the Directors Lab and support for aspiring artists remains a source of immense pride and excitement. Avid supplied the budding filmmakers with eight Media Composer 6.5 stations – running on powerful HP Z820 M98 systems – and an ISIS 5000, the benchmark for real-time, media-optimized shared media storage. Media Composer, the top film and video editing technology in the industry, helped these film fellows bring their creative visions to life.

The 2013 Directors Lab projects included:

  • “The Adderall Diaries” (U.S.A.) by writer/director, Pamela Rssomanowsky:

Based on Stephen Elliott’s memoir, the writer’s estranged father returns to his life, claiming that Stephen had invented his dark past. On his journey between truth and identity, Stephen finds a new romance and a murder trial that seems oddly similar to his own life story.

  • “The Incident” (U.S.A.) by writer/director, Jan Kwiecinski:

A young man covers up an accidental murder and sees his life in new ways.

  • “Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name” (UK/Germany/U.S.A.) by co-writer/director, Eva Weber and co-writer, Vendela Vida:

Based on the novel by Vendela Vida, twenty-eight-year-old Clarissa flees San Francisco after her father’s death to the Arctic Circle where she uncovers secrets of her mother, who mysteriously disappeared when she was fourteen.

  • “Love After Love” (U.S.A.) by co-writer/director, Russell Harbaugh and co-writer, Eric Mendelsohn: Love After Love is a chaotic love story about grief, sex, and family separation.
  • “Maanokoobiyo” (Somalia/U.S.A.) by writer/director, K’naan:

In war-torn Somalia, an artistic orphan, Maano, joins the mercenary killing squad of a notorious warlord, only to discover his adoptive father and gang leader is responsible for killing his family.

  • “Mercy Road” (U.S.A.) by co-writers/co-directors, Ian Hendrie and Jyson McLean:

Based on true events, a small town housewife takes a spiritual odyssey as she becomes willing to commit violence and murder in the name of God.

  • “State Like Sleep” (U.S.A.) by writer/director, Meredith Danluck:

Katherine, a young American widow, revisits her past when her mother is hospitalized in Brussels. In coping with her parental loss and her deceased husband’s secret life of underground sex clubs, she finds comfort in a relationship with a stranger.

  • “Zeus” (Mexico) by writer/director, Miguel Calderón:

Joel, mostly unemployed and living at home, finds comfort in falconry outside Mexico City, until an encounter with a down-to-earth secretary forces him to face reality.

Projects can receive continued financial assistance, creative direction and post production tools, among various other resources from Sundance Institute’s Feature Film Program. Avid is proud to support these rising film stars and we look forward to seeing the final films!


Photo Credit: Ryan Johnson


From a public relations and artist relations specialist to marketing manager and business owner for over 10 years, I've held several roles throughout my career in the music and film industry that have given me the chance to connect with customers from all backgrounds, including aspiring musicians and Academy Award winning editors. These days, I oversee Avid’s Corporate Communications team, driving our Public Relations, Social Media and Artists Relations programs to benefit both our customers and the company.