The Hamptons

HIFF’s Inaugural MELISSA MATHISON FUND For 16th Annual Screenwriters Lab

theater + film :: The Hamptons International Film Festival

The Hamptons International Film Festival (HIFF) announced the inaugural MELISSA MATHISON FUND for the 16th annual Screenwriters Lab, which will take place April 8-10, 2016, in East Hampton, NY. The Lab, co-presented by this new fund, pairs up-and-coming screenwriters with established screenwriters, directors and producers for a weekend of one-on-one mentoring sessions.

A Hollywood native, Mathison first worked as assistant to Francis Ford Coppola on THE GODFATHER, PART II. From there, she wrote the Oscar®-nominated E.T.: THE EXTRA TERRESTRIAL for Steven Spielberg. Mathison also adapted the classic novel *The Indian in the Cupboard* for Kennedy-Marshall Productions and would go on to write screenplays for THE ESCAPE ARTIST, a segment in THE TWILIGHT ZONE movie as well as Martin Scorsese’s KUNDUN before her death in 2015. The Melissa Mathison Fund will commemorate Melissa’s amazing body of work.

“By choosing emerging female screenwriters to participate through this fund in Melissa’s name, her legacy will endure for generations to come,” said Anne Chaisson, HIFF Executive Director. “We are so proud to be able to honor her dedication to the craft of screenwriting during our annual Screenwriters Lab.”

HIFF also announces a screenwriting Master Class from last year’s mentor and Academy Award Screenplay winner for BIRDMAN: OR THE UNEXPECTED VIRTUE OF IGNORANCE, Alexander Dinelaris*.* For the first time, this year’s Lab will feature a Master Class open to the public. Dinelaris will take participants through all the stages of a critically acclaimed project, from the original writing phase to how a film’s script changes and morphs through to the final edited picture. Dinelaris uses film clips to detail all that goes into writing an Oscar-winning script like BIRDMAN. Don’t miss this special opportunity to hear from one of the most talented writers working in film. The Class will take place at 5:30pm April 9th in East Hampton. For more information on this program check our website or email

“Alex was one of the most exciting parts of last year’s Lab. His passion, insight, and tales of working on the most celebrated film of last year had us all enthralled. We at HIFF wanted our audiences to have the chance to hear from him as well, and our first Master Class will allow that to happen,” stated HIFF Artistic Director David Nugent.

Over fifty screenplays have taken part in the Lab since its inception. Writers of the selected screenplays are brought to East Hampton and spend the weekend in an environment where they share and discuss their projects, as they meet with established screenwriters, directors, and producers who advise them on how to develop their scripts and move their projects closer to production. During evening events, the participants meet with members of the local artistic community, HIFF board members, and friends of the Festival.

Recent mentors at the lab include Alex Dinelaris (BIRDMAN); Nicole Perlman (GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY), Oren Moverman (THE MESSENGER); Michael Cunningham (THE HOURS, EVENING); James Vanderbilt (TRUTH, ZODIAC); Mark Heyman (BLACK SWAN); Rob Siegel (THE WRESTLER); Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (HALF NELSON, SUGAR, MISSISSIPPI GRIND); Hawk Ostby (CHILDREN OF MEN); Billy Frolick (MADAGASCAR); J.D. Zeik (RONIN); J. Robin Baitz (PEOPLE I KNOW, THE SUBSTANCE OF FIRE); Whit Stillman (METROPOLITAN, THE LAST DAYS OF DISCO); Ira Sachs (40 SHADES OF BLUE, LOVE IS STRANGE); Andy Bienen (BOYS DON’T CRY); Jeff Sharp (Producer, YOU CAN COUNT ON ME, YELLOBIRDS); Lawrence Konner (*The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire*); Sabrina Dhawan (MONSOON WEDDING, COSMOPOLITAN); Mark Christopher (54); Maggie Greenwald (SONGCATCHER, BALLAD OF LITTLE JO); Laurie Collyer (SHERRYBABY); and Lawrence Lasker (SNEAKERS, WAR GAMES).

In the last few years, four projects from the Lab have gone on to be produced: Destin Cretton’s SHORT TERM 12*,* which won both the Audience and Grand Jury Prize at the 2013 South by Southwest Film Festival and starred this year’s Best Actress Oscar® winner and HIFF’s 10 to Watch 2013, Brie Larson; Justin Schwartz’s THE DISCOVERERS, which starred Griffin Dunne, had its world premiere at HIFF and was released in 2014; Sara Colangelo’s LITTLE ACCIDENTS*,* which starred Elizabeth Banks, premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and was released earlier this year; and Claudia Myers’ film FORT BLISS*,* which starred Michelle Monaghan and was released in 2014.

Following the Lab, The Melissa Mathison Fund Screenwriter(s) will continue their connection to both important industry contacts and the public by showcasing selected scene readings from their screenplays by established actors at the Festival in October. Past actors that have performed in these readings include Academy Award winner Melissa Leo, Michael Stuhlbarg, Harris Yulin, Richard Kind, and Steve Guttenberg.

Alex Dinelaris is an Academy Award and Golden Globe winner for the screenplay of BIRDMAN (OR THE UNEXPECTED VIRTUE OF IGNORANCE). He was a co-producer on THE REVENANT. He is the show runner, co-creator and executive producer of the upcoming series, *The One Percent*, for the Starz network, starring Ed Helms, Hilary Swank and Ed Harris. His feature film THE YEAR OF THE MONARCHS is currently in development with Mandalay Entertainment. Dinelaris is also the author of the hit Broadway musical *On Your Feet!,* the story of Gloria and Emilio Estefan. Other recent work includes *The Bodyguard *musical for the West End and his plays *Red Dog Howls* (New York Theater Workshop), *Still Life* (Manhattan Class Company), *The Chaos Theories* (Shotgun Theater) and *In This, Our Time*. Dinelaris is a proud member of the Writers Guild and the Dramatists Guild.

The 24th Annual Hamptons International Film Festival takes place October 6th-10th, 2016. Interested filmmakers may visit for more information on how to submit their films.

About Our Local International Festival

The Hamptons International Film Festival (HIFF) is a year-round 501(c)3 non-profit organization with events, screenings, film workshops, comprehensive summer programs and an annual film festival each October. The Festival is the premiere film event on New York State’s east end, and is an intimate showcase of some of the year’s best offerings in contemporary cinema from around the world. With cash and in-kind prizes handed out totaling more than $165,000, HIFF continues to attract some of the best films of the year. Selections from all of our programs continue to play an important role during awards season. 2016
marked 6 years in a row that a film at the Festival has become the eventual Best Picture winner at the Oscars, making HIFF the only Festival on the East Coast with such a distinction (+ hopefully more this upcoming season of 2016-17!)

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March 24th, 2016 Posted by | theater & film | no comments

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