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The Writers Lab Selects Final Women Screenwriters

New York Women in Film & Television (NYWIFT) and IRIS, a collective of women filmmakers, have announced the selected screenwriters to participate in the inaugural year of The Writers Lab. The program is the only kind in the world devoted to providing script development for women writers over the age of 40 and is fully funded by the legendary icon Meryl Streep. The Writers Lab is presented in collaboration with the Writers Guild of America, East.

The program, which received over 3,500 submissions and overwhelming praise from women writers across the globe, has decided to expand the number of total participants from eight to twelve. Members of the WGAE were active participants in the judging process. Other support for The Lab came from Final Draft.

The twelve chosen participants for the The Writers Lab, 2015 are:

• Sarah Bird, Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen
• Vanessa Carmichael, The American
• Tracy Charlton, Raised Up
• Kellen Hertz, Ashburn
• Anna Hozian, Anchor Baby
• Lyralen Kaye, St. John the Divine in Iowa
• Jan Kimbrough, The Glastonbury Cow Party
• Billie Mason, The Cargo
• Peres Owino, Basketweaver
• Gretchen Somerfeld, Face Value
• Janet Stilson, Jaguar Trail
• Kim Turner, It Goes Like This

The eight mentors attached to the first lab, slated for September 18-20, 2015, will include: Jessica Bendinger (Bring It On, Aquamarine), Caroline Kaplan (Time Out of Mind, Me and You and Everyone We Know), Meg LeFauve (Inside Out), Darnell Martin (Cadillac Records), Lydia Dean Pilcher (Darjeeling Limited, The Talented Mr. Ripley), Gina Prince-Bythewood (Secret Life of Bees, Beyond the Lights?), Mary Jane Skalski (Win Win, The Station Agent) and Kirsten Smith (Legally Blonde, Ten Things I Hate About You).

The founders of IRIS have been hard at work managing submissions while continuing to design and build the Lab, and are deeply gratified by the response: “The amount of talent we’ve seen is simply staggering. We’re honored to provide a platform for these rich and complex voices.”

Terry Lawler, Executive Director of New York Women in Film and Television, has gained an overwhelming amount of endorsement for the new venture: “The Writers Lab created an electrifying jolt of excitement for women writers and we intend to continue supporting and championing the voices of women in film and television.”

Selected screenwriter Gretchen Somerfeld expressed her excitement: “Being selected for an honor like this is one of the most powerful, and democratic, ways to move your project forward in the business. Based solely on merit, it gives credibility and prestige to underserved storytellers, who have amazing films to share with the world.”

The Writers Lab will take place on Lake George in upstate New York at the historic Wiawaka Center, the oldest and longest continuously operating retreat for women in America, created in 1903. The 12 writers and 8 mentors will meet for intensive one-on-one discussions to develop and refine the script. In addition everyone will come together for panel discussions to explore universal themes and concepts in filmmaking.

IRIS is a collective of women filmmakers founded by Kyle Ann Stokes, Elizabeth Kaiden and Nitza Wilon to champion the female voice through fictional narrative film.

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NYWIFT programs, screenings and events are supported, in part, by grants from New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York State Council on the Arts
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