Sontenish Myers, a Jamaican American writer and director is among the 15 global storytellers participating in the Sundance Institute’s January Screenwriters Lab. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the lab was scheduled to convene virtually from January 13 to 15, 2021. The 15 individuals named as Fellows, who are emerging storytellers from Chile, India, Kenya, Tunisia and the United States, will work on the further development of 12 original projects, collaborating with a group of experienced Creative Advisors led by Michelle Satter, the founding director of the Institute’s Feature Film Program, and Ilyse McKimmie, deputy director of the program.
Myers, the writer and director of the film “Stampede,” is based in Harlem, New York. Her film is set on a southern plantation in the 19th century and tells the story of Lena, an 11-year-old enslaved girl who has telekinetic abilities she cannot control. When separated from her mother and moved into a close situation with the plantation master’s volatile wife, the girl is forced to address the dangers and powers of her gift.
Myers graduated from the Graduate Film Program at New York University and now serves as an adjunct professor there. Her film “Cross My Heart” was the winner of the Alexis Award for Best Emerging Student Filmmaker at the Palm Springs International Shortfest and the Vimeo Staff Pick Award at Hamptons International Film Festival. Her debut feature film “Stampede” was accepted into the 2019 HIFF Screenwriting Lab, Film Independent Screenwriting Lab and IFP Week 2019 and was also a chosen script on the Black List 2019 and a recipient of SFFILM’s Rainin Grant and Tribeca All Access Grant.
Her work explores racial identity, womanhood, power dynamics, and the heroic journey. She is especially drawn to exploring these issues across genres and from the perspectives of drama, science fiction/fantasy, and dark comedy.
Myers has said that she is inspired by women and people of color and how they survive. She wants to dedicate herself and her work to demonstrating both the ordinary and triumphant survival experiences via any pathway she can find.
The Screenwriter Lab’s Creative Advisors include Scott Frank (Artistic Director), Ritesh Batra, Andrea Berloff, Rodrigo Garcia, Amanda Idoko, Tarell Alvin McCraney, Doug McGrath, Walter Mosley, Jessie Nelson, Nicole Perlman, Howard Rodman, Elena Soarez, Dana Stevens, Robin Swicord, Joan Tewkesbury, Bill Wheeler, and Tyger Williams.
The Sundance Institute was founded in 1981 by Robert Redford and is dedicated to providing and preserving creative space for artists in film, theater, film compositing, and digital media. Its activities include its signature Labs as well as grant and mentor.
“Thank you to every human who has shared this screenwriting journey with me so far. This writing thing ain’t no crystal stair, but I am currently enjoying the surrender.” Myers said on her Instagram page about the selection.