IF Istanbul Film Festival invites filmmakers to Sundance Labs

IF Istanbul Film Festival invites filmmakers to Sundance Labs

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
IF Istanbul Film Festival invites filmmakers to Sundance Labs

Alesia Walton (R), associate director of the Feature Film Program at the Sundance Institute.

In its second year IF Istanbul Independent Film Festival’s collaboration with the Sundance Institute for screenwriting workshops comes with a more elaborate program under the title of Sundance Labs. 

Alesia Walton, associate director of the Feature Film Program at the Sundance Institute, who is also to give a panel on screenwriting, directors’ labs and future film programs of the institute in the second day of Sundance Labs workshop program, told the Hürriyet Daily News she hoped the program would turn into a self-sustaining body, and therefore they were reinforcing the infrastructure of what they began last year.

“Our first year of this program was wonderful and unique, in that it combined a mini screenwriter’s lab, screenwriting panel, a Film Forward screening series and a case study of a previous lab project: Amreeka. We were fortunate to have a group of diverse, smart advisors and an inaugural class of writing/directing fellows who represented a wide variety of Turkish filmmakers, selected by our partners at IF,” she said, adding although it took a long time to gain a deep understanding of a culture and its history, particularly a place as rich, vibrant and complex as Turkey, she believed the lab offered an unusually insightful and personal point of entry via the projects of the filmmakers and the conversations surrounding their work.

“All of our programs have changed a great deal over time, and with each year we expect that this program will grow and eventually take on an evolving identity and form. This will be determined by the place’s individual culture and the specific needs of the local film world, and we look forward to seeing how this will take shape in subsequent years,” she said. 

‘Write the film in your heart’

The first event of the Sundance Labs will be a screenwriting panel with the participation of renowned independent filmmakers Audrey Wells, Athina Rachel Tsangiri and other Sundance experts. On the third day of the program Sally El Hosaini will attend the Sundance Case Study Lab with her film “My Brother the Devil,” which has also undergone the Sundance Lab process. 

Speaking to the Daily News, El Hosaini said what impressed her most about the Sundance Institute Labs was the way they were structured around individual needs. “The labs are basically a series of one-on-one meetings with creative advisors. But these advisors don’t force their views upon you or hold the answers to making your script better. Screenwriting is too subjective for black and white answers anyway. Instead the sessions were more of an informal discussion. An opportunity for you to go deeper into yourself and to examine the reasons you wrote what you did and a chance for you to hold a mirror up to your script, yourself and your own process. This journey of self examination was incredibly illuminating.”

She added that it was always up to the participant to decide what direction he or she wanted to take things. “It does not matter whether you agree or disagree with a certain creative advisor. The more open you are to this kind of process the more you get out of it. Ultimately, we are each on our own paths; there is no right or wrong route. The labs helped me focus my project and to really understand what story I wanted to tell and why. I was able to get rid of the unnecessary elements and achieve more depth in the areas I wanted to dig deeper into,” she said. 

On being asked what she would suggest to future participants of the filmmaking workshops in Turkey within the scope of If Istanbul, El Hosaini said, “Write the film that’s in your heart. The story that you’re most passionate about and that you need to see brought to life. That’s the only secret.”