Fall 2018 Writers

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Christine Castillo

Born and raised in the Philippines, Christine Del Castillo is a writer who lives in Boston, Massachusetts. She earned a Master of Arts in Cultural Production from Brandeis University, and is a writer and software designer at a financial services company. By night, she writes poetry, short stories, and short films.

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Lara Mrkoci

Lara Mrkoci is an actor, writer and video editor living in Toronto. Lara has recently appeared in The Handmaid’s Tale, Suits and Designated Survivor and has a long list of commercial credits including national campaigns for Haribo Gummy Bears and Fallsview Casino. As an editor, Lara has worked on award-winning short films like Static (starring Yannick Bisson and Eric Peterson) and has edited several factual series including History Canada’s Curse of the Frozen Gold and TLC’s Nate & Jeremiah by Design. In the theatre world, Lara has directed and produced plays Georgia & Leona and Man Moves Into House/Four Person Two Pairs by writer Misha Bower. Lara’s own short play Care Giver was produced at the Grand Theatre in London, Ontario.  Lara has also written and produced multiple short films and is currently writing a webseries called Maybe Baby. For more info on Lara, you can visit laramrkoci.com.

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Laura Sampson Hemingway

Laura Sampson Hemingway is an American filmmaker and actor based in New York City. Laura is an alum of legendary performing arts schools The American Academy of Dramatic Arts and T. Schreiber Studios. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing from The New School and is an MFA-candidate in screenwriting at Brooklyn College. Laura’s protagonists explore aberrance, isolation, and malice against a backdrop of pre-digital suburban and rural America. She writes on themes of legacy, ritual, and destiny while examining the confinements of routine and the allure of secrecy. CROSSROADS OF AMERICA (2020) is the debut feature film from her production company 29 Libran Films.

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Devi Snively

Devi’s unique approach to the horror genre has been likened to everything from the silent classics of Buster Keaton to EC Comics to Tim Burton and beyond. In 2007, Devi was selected as one of only 8 participants in the American Film Institute’s (AFI) prestigious Directing Workshop for Women where she directed “Death in Charge” in which she continues to explore themes of life and death with playful irony. When she’s not making her own, Devi teaches a course on horror films at the University of Notre Dame. She is a featured director in author Greg Lamberson’s “Cheap Scares”, a Bram Stoker award-nominated book about the next wave of horror auteurs.

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Preeti Gupta

Preeti Gupta is a Mumbai and New York based actor and director. Her work in the American independent film Unfreedom as the lead actress has won her a lot of acclaim, and has been a part of various prestigious film festivals in India, and internationally in America and Australia such as the IFFK and the Melbourne Film Festival. Preeti was nominated for the best actress award in San Francisco global film festival. She has also been a major part of very popular prime time TV shows in India, playing lead roles in Kahani ghar ghar ki and Kasturi. She has conducted workshops on acting in Mumbai and Delhi.The film was the opening film at the Chelsea Film Festival in 2015. The film released in AMC theaters in the summer of 2015. In addition, Preeti has acted in many plays such as Kids Strike in New York and The price, Karna the Warrior and Objects in the Mirror in India.She also worked with the Kutumb Foundation in Delhi using theater as an empowering device, and feels strongly about drama being a powerful medium in the teaching of homeless and underprivileged children as an educational tool. Preeti is also the artistic director of Pehelwan Inc. The owl and the pussycat was her directorial debut in Mumbai and her second piece Tales of phur phur the titli, which she also wrote, opened in Prithvi Summertime 2016, in Mumbai.She had a brief stint with TV again with kawach a top rated show on Colors (Viacom) in the summer of 2016. She has taught workshops with theater professionals in India. Her latest corporate project was leading a gender diversity workshop using theater as a medium for the top management of Citibank, Mumbai.

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Kartik Singh

Kartik Singh loves telling stories of underdogs and unlikely heroes. His body of work comprises fourteen narrative films. He brings to his work the perspective of a triple culture. Born in the United States to Indian Sikh parents, he has spent half his life in Paris, where he earned an MFA from the Sorbonne.

He has shot on location in the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Japan, and India. His films have received more than twenty awards and hundreds of festival selections. Television screenings of his films include NDTV (India), SBS (Australia), Arte, France 3 & Canal+ (France), and Kultura (Poland). His upcoming feature film, developed at Nostos in 2018, begins shooting in Spring 2021 in India.

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Faye Yuan

Born in Shanghai, China, Faye is a Brooklyn-based bilingual director, producer, and editor. Her mobile documentary launched at POV Hackathon 9 and was a finalist at Sundance New Frontier. Her last documentary was a Made in New York selection at DOCNYC, after appearing in Food & Wine, Gothamist, and the New York Times. She is currently editing and producing a feature-length documentary about a 70-year-old Chinese animal rights activist – an official selection at the Tribeca N.O.W. Creators Marketplace.

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Julia Penner

Julia Penner comes from a political background. After graduating from the prestigous acting school „Ernst Busch“ in 2006, she worked as an actress in different theatres such as Stadttheater Konstanz und Schauspiel Frankfurt. She worked internationally in Paris, Armenia and Israel. After writing her first theatre play „Lev Shalem“ in Israel in 2012, she started studying „screenwriting“ at the dffb. Her short films have be shown at festivals such as Hof and Cannes. Currently she is developing her first feature with director Christian Schwochow. The agency players represent her.

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Nora Berman

Nora Berman graduated from McGill University in 2010, where she first began writing screenplays. As a student, she co-wrote a play Uphill Both Ways, which had a successful run and was later reprised upon request of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). Nora trained in improvisation at The Peoples Improv Theatre and the Upright Citizens Brigade. She has been working in film in New York for the last seven years as an independent director and a freelance 1st Assistant Director. Nora adapted her short film Pick A Color from her feature-length script that made the semi-final round of the 2013 Sundance Screenwriters Lab. Her feature script Bashert was a finalist in two categories at the 2019 Oaxaca Film Fest, placed in the 2nd Round at the 2019 Austin Film Festival, and was named one of Top 50 Scripts by the 2020 Launch Pad Tracking Board Feature Competition. Bashert also advanced to the semi-final round of the 2020 Sundance Development Track. Nora was awarded a full scholarship by the Nostos Screenwriting Retreat to workshop Bashert in 2018, and Bashert was selected by the New York Women in Film and Television (NYWIFT) for their 2019 From Script to Pre-Production Lab.

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Akiva Penaloza

Akiva Penaloza is a writer/director from Queens, New York. She attended the American Film Institute as a Screenwriting Fellow where she studied under the tutelage of Anna Thomas (“Frida,” “El Norte.”) At AFI, she won the coveted Target Foundation Award personally selected by Academy Award Winner Diane Keaton. In 2006, she won $10,000 in funding to direct her short film, “La Chiva,” from the National Association of Latino Independent Producers. “La Chiva” went on to win Best Short at the Long Island International Film Festival and was featured on Channel 13’s shorts program. She also won Best Screenplay in ScriptShark’s annual contest with her feature Western, “Brazen.” She is also the recipient of the Urban Artist Initiative/New York City fellowship and a selectee of Tribeca Film Festival’s All Access program, where she represented her award-winning romantic comedy script, “Hannah Henri.” “Hannah Henri” also received Best Screenplay honors at the Newfest Film Festival in New York City. In 2012, Akiva completed the short film version of “Hannah Henri.” She has begun pre-production on her feature, “The Vanquished.”