For six years, the !f Istanbul Independent Film Festival has organized a Screenwriters Lab in association with the Sundance Institute and modeled on their pioneering annual Lab. To build on its support of original and innovative storytelling in the broader Middle East region, this year !f has expanded its reach to include three projects from the region, in addition to three Turkish projects.
"We are excited to be supporting such talented filmmakers and projects from the broader region at a time when alternative and innovative storytelling from this part of the world is so needed," said !f Lab co-director Pelin Turgut. The expanded Lab is supported by the Open Society Foundation.
The projects selected are:
Ihab Jadallah (Palestine) – Desert Dogs
Hadas Ben Aroya (Israel) – Nymphie
Omar al Zohairy & Ahmed Amer (Egypt) – Feathers of a Father
Melisa Üneri (Turkey/Finland) – The Only Slut Around
Pınar Yorgancıoğlu (Turkey)– Ghosts of April
Emre Kayiş (Turkey) – Anatolian Leopard
Advisors this year include Dante Harper, Rose Troche, Nadav Lapid, Yesim Ustaoglu and Emin Alper. The Lab runs May 12-16 in Istanbul. Past filmmakers who have been supported by the Istanbul Lab include some of the most exciting contemporary filmmakers working today, such as Deniz Gamze Ergüven, Yiannis Veslemes, Rinio Dragasaki, Jonathan Dekel, Ceylan Özgün, Mehmet Can Mertoğlu, Nehir Tuna, and many more.
!f Screenwriters Lab 2017 – Participants
Holds an MA in filmmaking from the London Film School. His graduation film ‘The Translator’, premiered in the Sarajevo Film Festival and was nominated for the 28th Europe Film Awards as well as competing in 100+ film festivals and winning more than ten awards. Anatolian Leopard is his first feature film project.
Born in Finland in 1985, moved to Turkey in 2013. Completed her MA in dramaturgy at Exeter University, UK. Her first feature documentary “Daddy’s Girl” (2015) was shown at film festivals such as DOK Leipzig & Sheffield Doc/Fest. Her latest short film “No Fries, Please” premiered at the !f Istanbul Independent Film Festival 2017. “The Only Slut Around” is her first feature film project.
Born in Ankara, Turkey in 1988. Her short films have been shown at the Warsaw, Antalya, Adana and Palm Springs Film Festivals. She founded Makarna Film Production. Her latest short “Mrs. Nebile’s Wormhole” won the audience award at the !f İstanbul Independent Film Festival 2017 and a special mention award at the İstanbul Film Festival. She lives in Istanbul and New York and continues her MA at Columbia University. “Ghosts of April” is her first feature film project.
Hadas Ben Aroya
Born in Israel, in 1988. She graduated from the Steve Tisch Film School of Tel Aviv University. She won the Golden Panda in Tel Aviv Film Festival with her first short film “Sex Doll" (2013). Her first feature “People That Are Not Me” (2016) premiered at the Locarno Film Festival and won the top prize at the Mar del Plata Film Festival. “Nymphie” is her second feature film project.
Born in Palestine, in 1980. He studied visual arts at CEU San Pablo, Spain. His shorts trilogy “The Shooter" (2007), “Looking for Zak” (2009), “The Flower Seller” (2010) and his documentaries have been selected to many film festivals around the world. “Desert Dogs” is his debut feature film project and is supported by EICTV Film Lab’s AFAC Development Fund.
Omar Al Zohairy
Born in Cairo, Egypt, in 1988. Studied at the Egyptian Cinema Institute and worked as an assistant director alongside some of Egypt’s most awarded filmmakers, including Yousry Nasrallah. His first short film “Breathe Out” premiered in Dubai Film Festivali and won the Jury Special Mention Prize. His second short was the first Egyptian film to be selected for the Cannes Cinefondation. His first feature film project “Feathers of a Father” was selected for the 32nd Cinefondation Residence, awarded the Baumi Development Award and participated in Torino Film Lab & Script Pitch 2016.
Ahmed Amer lives between Cairo and New York. “Feathers of a Father” (dir. Omar Al Zohairy) is his fourth feature as a screenwriter. Amer has recently finished shooting his first feature as writer/director called “Kiss Me Not”. Ahmed started his film career by working on film sets in NYC in various crew positions, including working with acclaimed editor Juliet Weber. He participated EAVE 2011, Torino Film Lab Interchange 2011, Torino Film Lab Script & Pitch 2016 and Berlin Talent Campus 2013.
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