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Marquee Mentors in New Lab

Mon, 03/25/2024 - 14:09
Chheangkea, left, is one of the screenwriters selected for HamptonsFilm's annual Screenwriters Lab, and Bart Freundlich, a producer, director, and writer is one of the lab's mentors.
Courtesy of HamptonsFilm

HamptonsFilm will hold its annual Screenwriters Lab in East Hampton from Friday, April 5, to April 7, with its standard format of three screenplays matched with three mentors. 

This year's mentors are particularly noteworthy, including Celine Song, the writer and director of the breakout film "Past Lives," which was nominated for best picture and best original screenplay at this year's Academy Awards. An alum of the Hamptons International Film Festival, she was given its Breakthrough Artist Award last year. Other organizations recognizing "Past Lives" this year were the Directors Guild of America, the Independent Spirit Awards, and BAFTA, which nominated it for three different awards.

Another mentor, Bart Freundlich, who has a house in Montauk, is a director, screenwriter, and producer known for "The Myth of Fingerprints," which took Sundance by storm in 1997. His other films include "After the Wedding," "Wolves," and "The Rebound," and he has worked on television series such as "Little Voice," "Mozart in the Jungle," and "Californication."

Michael Covino is both a filmmaker and an actor. "The Climb," from 2019, his directorial debut, earned him a best feature nomination at the Independent Spirit Awards in 2020. His other work includes "Hunter Gatherer," "Kicks," and "80 for Brady," which he executive-produced. Onscreen, he acted with Tom Hanks in Paul Greengrass's "News of the World," among other roles. 

This year's selected screenplays are "Pygmalion" by Agnes Skonare, "Little Phnom Penh" by Chheangkea, and "Diary of a Muslim Cynic" by Sarah Mokh. "Pygmalion" is about a successful New Yorker who has to come to terms with pregnancy in the background of a holiday gathering with her partner's family. "Little Phnom Penh" follows a Cambodian woman in the two decades after the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime who ends up in America as a single mother. "Diary of a Muslim Cynic" examines a teen girl's desired escape from a small Midwestern town to go to college, fall in love, and live in a big city -- dreams that end up being sidetracked by an existential crisis.

One of the screenwriters will be chosen for this year's Melissa Mathison Award. The prize, named after an Oscar-nominated screenwriter who died in 2015, is given to foster development of female writers in the industry. Part of the award includes access to a casting director and a staged reading of a script in New York City.

Previous lab screenplays that have gone on to become well-received feature films include "We Strangers," "Resurrection," "The Sound of Silence," and "Nancy."
    

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