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Sundance Institute

Sundance Institute along with Skywalker Sound announced the composers and directors selected for the Sundance Institute Music and Sound Design Labs, which return to the legendary Skywalker Sound Facilities for the fifth year.

At the Labs, composers, directors and sound designers will collaborate to develop music and sound for documentary and narrative film projects. Workshops and creative exercises, guided by leading film composers and sound designers acting as Creative Advisors, will mentor Fellows to explore sound and music’s crucial role in storytelling. As part of each Lab, a live chamber orchestra will perform each composer/director team’s original scores. The Music and Sound Design Lab for narrative feature films (July 7-20) is a joint initiative of the Institute’s Film Music Program and Feature Film Program. All of the selected feature film directors are currently working on their features in post-production and have been supported by the Feature Film Program at different stages throughout the development of their film. The Music and Sound Design Lab for documentaries (July 22-30) is a joint initiative of the Film Music Program and Documentary Film Program.

“Music is a fundamental element of storytelling and this year’s composers have distinct musical personalities that will capture a filmmaker’s vision and help their story come to life,” said Peter Golub, Director of the Sundance Institute Film Music Program. “Skywalker Sound continues to serve as an inspiring and creative space for composers, filmmakers and sound designers to come together and we are so grateful to call it home for the fifth year in a row.”

“Peter and the Sundance team are like family, we’re delighted to have them back again this year for the Labs,” said Josh Lowden, VP and General Manager of Skywalker Sound. “What we’ve tried to cultivate here is a kind of artists’ colony, where creatives from different disciplines can escape the day to day grind and come to work together. Our goal is to cultivate new relationships between directors, composers and sound designers and encourage collaboration that starts earlier and goes deeper. We hope that together we can continue to break down barriers and push the boundaries of creative storytelling.”

Creative Advisors this year include: composers Christophe Beck, Todd Boekelheide, George S. Clinton, Miriam Cutler, James Newton Howard, Laura Karpman, Thomas Newman, Craig Richey and Harry Gregson-Williams; Skywalker Sound designers Dennis Leonard, Bob Edwards, Pete Horner, Malcolm Fife, Bonnie Wild and David Accord; music editor Adam Smalley; directors Miguel Arteta and Robb Moss; editor Toby Shimin; writer and film historian Jon Burlingame; and Vice President Film, TV & Visual Media Relations at BMI, Doreen Ringer-Ross.

Artists and narrative projects selected for the 2017 Sundance Institute Music and Sound Design Lab: Feature Film (July 7-20) are:


Bijan Olia is a Los Angeles-based composer who has written music for feature films, television, advertisements and the concert hall. In 2017, Bijan composed additional music for Warner Brothers’ Lego DC Superheroes: A Case of the Mondays, the documentary feature Served Like A Girl and the virtual reality video game Resident Evil VII Biohazard. He is currently assisting composer Michael A. Levine as an additional composer and music editor.

Jackson Greenberg is a Los Angeles-based composer. He has written original scores for film and television including the Emmy-winning and Academy Award-nominated film Cartel Land.

Cindy O’Connor began her career as a musical theater composer with All That He Was, is the winner of the Kennedy Center/ACTF Musical Theater Award and is published by Samuel French. She has written scores and songs for a wide variety of film, TV, and theater projects including the films Forgiving the Franklins, Not Forgotten and two seasons of the Starz series Crash. She is currently collaborating with Mark Isham on the ABC series Once Upon a Time.

Camilla Uboldi is an Italian-born, Mexico City-based music composer and animator who has written music for theater, film, animation and TV series. Uboldi has assisted LA composer Laura Karpman on Black Nativity and The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden. She’s one of eight selected composers for the young artist program of the 2017 Mexican Cultural Ministry. Uboldi is currently composing an orchestral piece for the Vatican Stradivarius cello for the presentation by its new owners in Mexico and was invited by composers Andres Sanchez Maher and Gus Reyes to write music for the documentary El Paso de la Tortuga.

Sergei Stern is a film composer with a huge love for arts and music and a deep, classical education, received from three different countries, each with its own rich history and culture. With each film he is scoring, Sergei tries to build a unique sound palette that would serve the story and impact the audience on emotional, intellectual and sometimes even physical levels.

Jesi Nelson is a Los Angeles-based composer, raised in Wisconsin, whose music can be heard in a variety of television and film. After receiving her Master’s from Columbia College Chicago, she interned for Danny Elfman and soon after started assisting composer Michael Kramer. She has since written additional music for his shows such as the Emmy-nominated Lego Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures, Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu and other films such as Saving Brinton.


Nia DaCosta / Little Woods (U.S.A.): For years, Ollie has illicitly helped the struggling fellow residents of her North Dakota oil boomtown access Canadian health care and meds. When the authorities catch on, she plans to abandon her crusade, only to be dragged in even deeper by her foster sister’s desperate plea for help.

DaCosta has written and directed projects for stage, film and new media platforms including the playlet Kingdom Come, the game show Sagmeister v Walsh and the documentary Shark Loves the Amazon. She participated in the 2015 Sundance Screenwriters Lab and Sundance Directors Lab and has received support from the San Francisco Film Society and Time Warner Foundation.

Elizabeth Chomko / What They Had (U.S.A.): After her mother wanders out into a snowstorm, Bridget returns home to Chicago to help her brother deal with their mother’s memory loss and their father’s reluctance to let go of their life together.  The trip home and family crisis forces Bridget to face her past and, ultimately, her future.

Chomko is a screenwriter, playwright, actor and director.  She was a 2015 Sundance Screenwriting Fellow and a 2016 Academy Nicholl Fellow. She has appeared as an actress in numerous films, television series and regional theaters across the United States and London and is also a classical pianist, songwriter and visual artist.

Nijla Mu’min / Jinn (U.S.A.): Summer is a carefree, black teenage Instagram celebrity whose world is shaken when her mother abruptly converts to Islam and becomes a different person. At first resistant to the faith, she begins to reevaluate her identity after becoming attracted to a Muslim classmate, crossing the thin line between physical desire and piety.

Mu’min is a writer and filmmaker who tells stories about black girls and women who find themselves between worlds and identities. Her short films have screened at festivals across the country. Her filmmaking and screenwriting have been recognized by the Sundance Institute, IFP, and the Princess Grace Foundation.

Bart Layton / American Animals (U.S.A.): American Animals tells the unbelievable but mostly true story of four young men who mistook their lives for a movie and attempted one of the most audacious art heists in US history. The film will take the thrill of the heist genre and turn it inside out, blurring the line between truth and fiction in a wild story of money, movies and the search for meaning.

Layton is the creative director of leading British production company RAW and is the creator/executive producer of numerous long-running TV series and feature docs. He’s also a multi award-winning writer/director and producer, known for tackling controversial subject matter. His latest film, The Imposter, received huge critical acclaim after premiering at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. Layton participated in Sundance Institute’s 2015 Screenwriters and Directors Labs.

Rodrigo Barriuso / 1989 (Canada): In the wake of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, Malin is separated from his family when he is assigned to work as a translator between Cuban doctors and children arriving from the USSR to receive medical treatment for radiation poisoning. Just as he begins to adapt to his new job and understand his importance, the Berlin Wall falls and Cuba enters a deep economic crisis. Malin is now so entrenched in the lives of the Chernobyl children that he fails to notice how his young family is suffering. He must find his way back to his family through the lessons he learns from the children in the hospital, becoming a better person on the way.

Barriuso is a Cuban-Canadian Toronto-based award-winning film director. His debut short film, For Dorian, was exhibited in over thirty festivals and cultural institutions around the world. In addition to his work as a filmmaker, Rodrigo works as a freelance curator and has collaborated with a number of galleries and art fairs over the past 10 years. Barriuso attended Sundance Institute’s 2015 Havana Screenwriters Workshop and 2017 Editing Intensive.

Christina Choe / Nancy (U.S.A.): When the elaborate lies told by a serial imposter inevitably unravel, she becomes perilously close to losing her entire identity – and the only person who ever truly loved her.

Choe is an award-winning writer/director working in both documentary and narrative film. Her films, The Queen, FLOW and I am John Wayne, have screened at festivals around the world. She was also selected for a year-long HBO/DGA Directing Fellowship and awarded the Roger and Chaz Ebert Directing Fellowship at the 2015 Independent Spirit Awards. Choe was supported at Sundance Institute’s 2017 Editing Intensive.

Artists and documentary projects selected for the 2017 Sundance Institute Music and Sound Design Lab: Documentary (July 22-30) are:


Adam Schoenberg has had works performed and premiere at the Library of Congress, Kennedy Center, New York Philharmonic, The Cleveland Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic and Hollywood Bowl. Reference Recordings recently released an album of his orchestral works featuring the Kansas City Symphony. He is Assistant Professor of Composition at Occidental College.

Ryan Rumery is a musician, composer, and music producer originally from Iowa. His music is featured in the films Awake: A Dream from Standing Rock, How to Let Go of the World, City of Gold, And, Apart, Those People, Gatewood and SynchroNYCity. Rumery is also an accomplished composer for theater and recently received an Obie Award for Sustained Excellence in Sound Design and Composition. Rumery frequently co-produces and records with Nick Luca at Elliott Smith’s former studio, New Monkey Studio in Van Nuys, CA and with Craig Schumacher at WaveLab in Tucson, Arizona.

Recently signed to a major record label, Rebecca Dale is a British composer whose work was described by Gramophone as a ‘masterpiece’. Her latest feature Crossing The Line, about the troubled relationship between olympic athletes and addiction, was nominated for Best Original Composition in Feature Film at the 2017 Music & Sound Awards. An alumna of the ASCAP Film Scoring Workshop, she has worked on various Hollywood films and written for Classical No.1 albums, as well as extensive concert music, with her new Requiem released early 2018.

Darryl Jones began his career performing with Miles Davis and from there went on to perform and/or record with artists including Sting, Herbie Hancock, Peter Gabriel, Eric Clapton and Madonna. As a composer, he has written, co-written or recorded with ESP, Stone Raiders and 3 Braves Souls, Miles Davis and more. Jones has been touring and recording with The Rolling Stones for the last 23 years. He scored the New Line Cinema film Love Jones, winner of the 1996 Sundance Audience award. Darryl is currently the subject of and composer for a documentary about his life and career directed by Eric Hamburg.


Marcus Lindeen / The Acali Experiment: In 1973 five men and six women went on a dramatic raft expedition across the Atlantic Ocean for 101 days to study human aggression and sexuality. This documentary reunites them forty years later to reveal what actually happened during one of history’s strangest group experiments.

Lindeen is a writer and director. His debut documentary feature Regretters, won the prestigious Prix Europa for Best European Documentary, the Swedish Academy Awards (Guldbagge) and the Swedish Emmy for Best Documentary in 2011.

Elizabeth Stopford / Forgiveness: A modern American ghost story and a house that vanished. In the wake of two seemingly inexplicable shooting sprees, can a community forgive the teenage boy at the heart of its tragic past?

Stepford has produced a portfolio of documentaries for BBC about monastic life including The Monastery, The Convent and 40 Days (TLC). Her directing credits include I’m Not Dead Yet and We Need to Talk About Dad.

Dyana Winkler / United Skates: When America’s last standing roller rinks are threatened with closure, a community of thousands battle in a racially charged environment to save an underground subculture– one that has remained undiscovered by the mainstream for generations, yet has given rise to some of the world’s greatest musical talent.

Winkler currently works as a freelance filmmaker where she produces, directs, shoots, edits and writes for hire in Brooklyn, NY. Her most recent fiction project, a feature screenplay, BELL, was awarded the 2016 Sundance Sloan Commissioning Grant and participated in the 2017 Sundance Screenwriter’s Lab.

PJ Raval / Untitled Jennifer Laude Project: Grassroots activists in the Philippines are spurred into action when a local transgender woman is found dead in a motel room with a 19-year-old U.S. marine as the leading suspect. As they demand answers and a just trial, hidden histories of U.S. colonization come bubbling to the surface.

Raval is an award-winning filmmaker and cinematographer whose work explores the overlooked subcultures and identities within the already marginalized LGBTQ+ community. Named one of Out Magazine’s “Out 100” and Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film,” Raval’s film credits include Trinidad (Showtime, LOGO) and Before You Know It.

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