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1497 Writers Lab has tapped leading filmmakers to mentor another class of underrepresented South Asian screenwriters for its second edition.
Little America director Deepa Mehta, Late Night helmer Nisha Ganatra and Minhal Baig of Hala will help hothouse feature film scripts at the Hollywood talent incubator. Founded by Adeel Ahmed, Kamran Khan, and Lipica Shah, the lab aims to support and lift talent of South Asian descent to reduce their underrepresentation in the U.S. film and TV industry.
“The American film and TV industry must include our voices without limiting us to the stories we are allowed to tell. We are incredibly excited to bring this program back with such a great group of mentors and advisors to help pave a path for new voices from the South Asian community,” the trio of 1497 Writers Lab founders said in a statement. The inaugural Lab had as its mentors Bend It Like Beckham director Gurinder Chadha, Aneesh Chaganty and Iranian-American director Maryam Keshavarz.
Mehta’s drama Water earned an Oscar nomination for best foreign language drama in 2007, and her latest feature, Funny Boy, was acquired by ARRAY Releasing and is available on Netflix. Ganatra won a Golden Globe for her work on the TV show Transparent and has also directed The High Note. Baig has an overall deal at Amazon and is coming off of her Sundance hit Hala that was executive produced by Jada Pinkett-Smith and released by Apple TV+.
The second 1497 talent incubator will return with script development and mentorship via a Features Lab to be held virtually and in-person in New York City in 2022. Veteran script consultant and Sundance filmmaker Adrienne Weiss will initially help develop the screenplays before talent is paired off with a mentor to work one-on-one.
The final step is industry advisors helping create career roadmaps with an eye to getting new South Asian talent into Hollywood’s pipeline for future creators and leaders.
Applications for the 1497 Writers Lab are open until Oct. 31.
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