The South Asian Talent Incubator 1497 has unveiled its mentees for its inaugural writers lab focused on South Asian screenwriters.
1497 chiseled down 382 submissions to 11 finalists before working with a selection committee of 11 established writers and producers to choose the mentees for the organization’s first-ever writers lab. At first, only three mentees and projects were going to be selected, but there was just so much talent they made room for a fourth.
“We are thrilled to support such a dynamic group, all with wonderful projects in hand,” said 1497 Co-Founders in a joint statement. “Ware excited not only to see these projects further develop, but to help launch the careers of these talented filmmakers, whose voices are deeply important and relevant.”
Each writer will be paired with a mento after working with filmmaker and script veteran Adrienne Weiss to further develop their scripts. This year’s mentor include acclaimed filmmakers Gurinder Chadha (Blinded By the Light), Aneesh Chaganty (Searching), and Maryam Keshavarz (Viper Club). The program will also include an advisory group, including Gersh agent Louise Keshaviah, Brillstein Partners manager Ken Lee, and Management 360 manager Priya Satiani.
“Breaking into the film industry can feel impossible, like navigating a vertical maze of constantly moving ladders,” said Chaganty, “add racial disproportion into the mix and an already-impossible maze is now 10 times harder. Programs like 1497 can give a real helping hand to emerging filmmakers. It’s not an end-all-solution, but it is vertical progress, made a little easier by people who’ve been at that spot on the maze before.”
Read the selected mentees and their mentors below.
- Gurinder Chadha
- Kaushik Sampath & Prashanth Vanchy – Qualia — When a 12-year old girl with cerebral palsy discovers that her astrophysicist father had secretly made contact with an extra-terrestrial intelligence, she’s pursued by government agents that lead her to uncover an extraordinary truth, threatening her very existence on earth.
- Aneesh Chaganty
- Sofian Khan – The Ones We Left Behind — An African-American soldier, Cole, struggles to help his friend Shah, an Afghan interpreter who saved Cole’s life, to find safety in the aftermath of war.
- Maryam Keshavarz
- Toby Fell Holden – White Lies – The lies of a charismatic but troubled teenager living in a coastal town beset with civil unrest, finds herself caught between a fractured community and the allure of a new Muslim student.
- Swetha Regunathan – Sundarbans – An adrift young photographer finds an anchor in her father over a sweltering summer in the Sundarbans – a rough-and-tumble delta region in West Bengal, India – after she discovers he’s going blind and battling both human and unhuman forces that threaten to sink paradise forever.