Five Alumni And Students Selected For Prestigious Sundance Screenwriting Lab 2019

Sush Khadepaun
December 17, 2018

Film Alumni Barbara Cigarroa ‘18Chantel Clark ‘18Mounia Akl ‘17Clara Roquet ‘16 and current student Nehir Tuna have been selected for the extremely competitive Screenwriters Lab at the Sundance Institute.

The Sundance Institute's 2019 Screenwriters Lab is a unique and rigorous program. The initial lab is an immersive five-day writers' workshop that takes place at the Sundance Resort in Utah, January 18-23, 2019. This Lab brings fifteen independent screenwriters together with accomplished writers in an environment that encourages the art and craft of writing and creative risk-taking. Each screenwriter has one-on-one story sessions with Creative Advisors on their feature film scripts during the lab and then receives a year-round continuum of customized creative and tactical support for their project throughout 2019.

Barbara Cigarroa’s El Otro Lado (The Other Side) is a story set in Brownsville, Texas, during the child migration crisis. Lucy, a low-income Mexican American teen, is confronted with her own need for escape when her father decides to sponsor two undocumented minors for money. This project is the recipient of the Sundance Institute Delta Airlines & Aeromexico Latinx Fellowship. Cigarroa’s short film Dios Nunca Muere had its world premiere at the 2018 New York Film Festival, and she was invited to be a member of the 2018 NYFF Artist Academy. El Otro Lado was also invited to IFP’s 2018 No Borders Co-Production Market earlier this year.

Mounia Akl (co-writer, director) and Clara Roquet (co-writer) have come together to develop the feature film Costa Brava Lebanon. The film is about a family that lives an idyllic life of isolation in the Lebanese mountains, far away from a country drowning in garbage and pollution. When the government decides to build a landfill right outside their house, tensions amongst the family members explode, revealing the rot was not only outside their home. Costa Brava Lebanon was selected for the prestigious Torino Film Lab earlier this year as well as Cannes Film Festival’s Cinéfondation Residency 2017. Akl and Roquet previously collaborated on the short film Submarine which was Akl’s thesis film at Columbia. It premiered at Cannes Film Festival’s Cinefondation Competition and played at several festivals worldwide to much acclaim.

Chantel Clark’s Wit Gesigte (Pale Faces) is set in the late 18th century, in the Dutch Cape Colony. The brilliant and rebellious daughter of an exiled Imam hopes to escape her father’s shadow when she is enlisted by a freed slave to teach a mysterious Dutch officer’s children. At his remote estate, the dark secrets underlying the power of the colonial occupation begin to unravel. Clark’s Columbia thesis film Our Albertinia was awarded a 2018 National Board of Review Student Grant, as well as the first Columbia University/Big Sky Edit Visionary Award.

Yurt (Dormitory) by current student, Nehir Tuna, is about an eleven-year-old Ahmet who is forcefully sent to an all-boys religious dormitory where he must navigate familial expectations, his religious obligations, and the childhood to which he so desperately clings. Yurt has been supported by Nipkow Programm in Berlin and !f Sundance Screenwriters Lab.