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1497, the nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting South Asian filmmakers, has enlisted Mira Nair, Geeta Malik (India Sweets and Spices)and Minhal Baig (Hala) as mentors for its third Features Lab. Baig is returning after having also served as a mentor for last year’s lab, held virtually and in-person in New York.
The 2023 edition will move cross-country to Malibu for the first time, taking place Oct. 18 through 23, wherein a newly structured format each of the three Lab participants will be given a dedicated pod of experts — a filmmaker, a producer, a representative and a Lab alum — to help them with script development and career guidance. In addition, they will receive (along with seven other finalists) the latest version of software from Final Draft, which is returning as Lab sponsor.
1497 has assembled a team of industry figures descended from all eight officially recognized South Asian countries — Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, The Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka — to serve as mentors, Lab advisors and on the selection committee. They include Sharbari Z. Ahmed (Quantico), Mohammed Ali (Authentic), Labid Aziz (POC Studios), Arun Bhattarai (The Next Guardian), Pawo Choyning Dorji (A Yak in the Classroom), Nausheen Dadabhoy (An Act of Worship), Sanjit De Silva (Silvadollar Films), Karma Deki (Kushuthara: Pattern of Love), Chencho Dorji (Bardo: The Intermediate State), Ravee Farooq (Ingili), Mehreen Jabbar (Ramchand Pakistani), Sofian Khan (The Interpreters), Nikki Menon (Family Owned), Fawzia Mirza (Signature Move), Raj Raghavan (ColorCreative), Kishori Rajan (Random Acts of Flyness), Swetha Regunathan (Forever Tonight), Kaushik Sampath (Grooming), Priya Satiani (Entertainment 360), Rabia Sultana (Sultana Films), Iesh Thapar (Alien Kulture), Zamarin Wahdat (Bambirak) and Nani Sahra Walker (Los Angeles Times).
Filmmakers from all South Asian backgrounds, experience levels and geographic regions are welcome to apply, although they must be eligible to be in the United States during the Lab. Applications for the 2023 Features Lab will be accepted from now through May 7 exclusively on Coverfly.
“We are excited to bring back this unique opportunity for emerging filmmakers to work with top-tier talent in the industry,” 1497 co-founders Adeel Ahmed, Kamran Khan and Lipica Shah said in a joint statement. “The Features Lab has evolved tremendously over the past two years. We’re now opening submissions globally. We want to continue empowering our community to write whatever stories speak to their creative souls, unbound by geographical borders, cultural content or anyone else’s expectations. We believe these artists can challenge gatekeepers in the American film and television industry and demonstrate the vibrancy, diversity and richness of our storytelling power.”
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