Recap: 2023 Screenwriters Lab

Our 23rd Annual Screenwriters Lab took place over the weekend, where we were thrilled to welcome our talented fellows Jason Fitzroy Jeffers, Keisha Rae Witherspoon, Shehrezad Maher, and Tyler Riggs, our invaluable mentors David Hinojosa, Ekwa Msangi, and Samuel D. Hunter, and all the guests who celebrated with us this weekend.

David Nugent, David Hinojosa, Samuel D. Hunter, Keisha Rae Witherspoon, Ekwa Msangi, Tyler Riggs, Jason Fitzroy Jeffers, Matthew Jackett, Shehrezad Maher, Anne Chaisson, Judy Licht, Jonathan Canno

Mentors and fellows arrived at the Huntting Inn to gorgeous sunny weather on Friday, getting to know each other over cocktails and snacks before sitting down to a welcome dinner hosted by Board Vice Chair Kim Brizzolara at Nick & Toni’s, attended by industry guest Terry George (Oscar-winning screenwriter of HOTEL RWANDA and IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER).

By Saturday morning, they were ready to dive into a busy day of productive and inspiring one-on-one mentor sessions. That evening, our annual Screenwriters Lab celebratory dinner returned to the home of our generous Board member Judy Licht and her husband Jerry Della Femina, where our fellows were able to mix and mingle with local members of the artistic community of the Hamptons and various board members over a delicious meal.

The Lab wrapped on Sunday afternoon with a lively, thoughtful, and collaborative group session. Kudos and best wishes to the screenwriters and their excellent scripts as they make their way to production.

We are thrilled to announce that this year’s recipient of support from the Melissa Mathison Fund is Shehrezad Maher and her project Theory of Colors, which includes a live screenplay reading of the work. Established in 2016 and ​named for the late, beloved Oscar®-nominated screenwriter, the Fund strives to foster the continued development of female writers in the industry. Previous recipients include Lana Wilson (PRETTY BABY: BROOKE SHIELDS, 2023 Sundance Film Festival), Cathy Yan (DEAD PIGS, 2018 Sundance Film Festival), and Annabelle Attanasio (MICKEY AND THE BEAR, 2019 SXSW Film Festival).

• • Learn more about the Melissa Mathison Fund and find out how you can contribute.

The three screenplays selected for 2023:

  • Theory of Colors, by Shehrezad Maher
  • Blue Boy, by Tyler Riggs
  • Arc, Keisha Rae WitherspoonJason Fitzroy Jeffers

The 2023 mentors:

  • Ekwa Msangi (FAREWELL AMOR)
  • Samuel D. Hunter (THE WHALE) will mentor emerging screenwriters.

• • Full bios of all Lab participants can be found here.

Learn more about the HIFF Screenwriters Lab.