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HamptonsFilm's Screenwriters Lab Returns

Tue, 03/28/2023 - 09:53
Ekwa Msangi, left, is one of the mentors and Tyler Riggs is one of the screenwriters participating in this year's HamptonsFilm Screenwriters Lab, beginning April 14.
Nadia Kist

The HamptonsFilm Screenwriters Lab will return to East Hampton from April 14 to 16 with three writers and screenplays to be polished by three mentors.

The screenplays are "Theory of Colors" by Shehrezad Maher, "Blue Boy" by Tyler Riggs, and "Arc" by Keisha Rae Witherspoon and Jason Jeffers. The mentors are David Hinojosa, a producer known for Halina Reijn's "Bodies Bodies Bodies," Billy Porter's "Anything's Possible," and Celine Song's project "Past Lives"; the director Ekwa Msangi, whose "Farewell Amor" was in competition at the Sundance Film Festival, and Samuel D. Hunter, a playwright and screenwriter of scripts such as "The Whale," directed and released last year by Darren Aronofsky. Mr. Hunter is the recipient of a MacArthur Genius Grant.

The weekend consists of one-on-one mentoring sessions to help shape, polish, or finish the submitted scripts. One of the participating screenwriters, Shehrezad Maher, has received this year's HamptonsFilm Melissa Mathison Fund grant, to help foster female voices in the film industry. She was born in Karachi, Pakistan, and received her M.F.A. from Yale University. Her screenplay involves a father and a daughter at a pivotal time, each confronting the past and memories that may or may not bring them closure. 

Mr. Riggs's "Blue Boy" follows a bodybuilder challenged by his small stature who resorts to using steroids for one last shot at going pro. Ms. Witherspoon's "Arc" is about a hurricane, a disappearance, and "extraterrestrial salvation."

Mr. Riggs trained as an actor at the William Esper Studio, trying acting first in low-budget movies before producing and then directing his own work, some of which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. Ms. Witherspoon is an artist seeking out Black culture and concerned with the environment. Mr. Jeffers is from Barbados. His films examine marginalized Black life in the Caribbean and the American South. His award-winning short films have been included in the Toronto International Film Festival and Sundance. Before he changed his focus to film, he worked as a journalist with The Miami Herald and other South Florida publications. 

A few of the lab's many previous scripts that made it to the screen and were featured in festivals include three that premiered at Sundance: last year's "Resurrection," from Andrew Semans, "The Sound of Silence" by Michael Tyburski and Ben Nabors, which premiered in 2019, and Isold Uggadottir's "And Breathe Normally," which premiered in 2018.

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