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March 2021 Online Workshop

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Betsy Tsai

Betsy Tsai is a filmmaker and writer. She most recently produced Confucian Dream (Special Jury Prize, Karlovy Vary 2019) and is a co-producer with Walking Iris Media, known for films such as Our Time Machine (Tribeca 2019). From 2015-2020, she was a staff member of the Documentary Film Program at Sundance Institute, where she provided managerial and curatorial support for the Sundance Labs and the Sundance Documentary Fund, which awards over $1.5 million in grant awards to feature documentary films from around the world. Betsy is a directing alumna from UCLA, where she also studied English Literature and International Conflict Resolution. Prior to Sundance Institute, she worked for an educational nonprofit, The Olive Tree Initiative, which provides an experiential, multi-perspective approach for conflict resolution students studying the regions of Israel & Palestine and the South Caucasus. Betsy often travels between Los Angeles and Belfast, Northern Ireland, where she is developing her first hybrid film.

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Birna Avila

Born in Colombia, Birna has been working in advertising for more than 20 years; as the owner of an agency she works as a copywriter and in creative concepts. Birna has decided to study to develop as a storyteller, learning to write novels and screenplays, and some years ago, she discovered a great love of cinema. Now living in the countryside surrounded by nature, Birna has dabbled as director and producer of one of her first works as a writer, which became a short film: The Answer / The answer (2019) (2020 finalist Florence Film Festival - 2020 Silver Award Winner Short Screen Awards). As a screenwriter, she has worked on several projects:

2015 - The lion by the Altar (awarded in Oaxaca Filmfest - Finalist Cannes Screenplay contest - Finalist Los Angeles Cinefest - Official Selection Scriptapalooza). 2016 - Matilde (named as Finalist Oaxaca Filmfest and Majorca International Filmfest).  2017 - The Answer / The Answer (Oaxaca Filmfest Official Selection)

In 2021, Birna will produce her screenplay for feature film Weekend Meeting.

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Casey Beck

Casey earned her MFA in Cinema from San Francisco State University and is on the faculty at California State University East Bay, where she teaches documentary production. She is currently serving on the screenwriting programming team at Cinequest. Casey was a recent finalist for the KQED Homemade Film Festival and has produced films for FRONTLINE, MTV, FoodMattersTV, and The Documentary Channel (Pivot). Casey premiered her feature documentary directorial debut The Organic Life to sold-out crowds at the 36th Mill Valley Film Festival in 2013. The film won Best Documentary Feature at the Santa Cruz Film Festival and was broadcast on national TV in tandem with a VOD rollout on Hulu and iTunes. She screened Shades, a short film about emoji skin tones, at the Academy-Award qualifying Cinequest in 2019 and Legion, a short about a grieving mother finding solace in Star Wars, at Cinequest 2020. In 2018, she won a Fledgling Fund grant to direct her short documentary Downstream about the catastrophic effects of water contamination on the rivers in Iowa. The film screened at the Wild & Scenic Film Festival, among others, and can be found online at YaleE360.

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Dante Pilkington

Dante Pilkington has worked in television and film production since 2014 when he began his career on the Todd Hayne's film Carol. He has spent the past three years in unscripted television production. The last documentary series he worked on as a producer was Regular Heroes, about essential workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 Pandemic. It is now streaming on Amazon Prime. Dante is spent the last year renovating his late-grandparents’ olive farm in the Marche while contributing to the culinary magazine “Digest” and editing his first novel. His submission to Nostos, “She Said it was Cool” is a feature-length script that explores a University sexual assault and toxic masculinity.

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Lyna Dubarry

Lyna Dubarry is a French Moroccan writer and actress based in East London. In 2019, she completed her MA in Screen Acting at Drama Centre Central St Martins (University of Arts London). Right after graduating, she wrote her first film, 'Métèque', which follows the life of a young Moroccan banker facing the struggles of immigration laws in modern-day London after her visa gets revoked. 'Métèque' received four stars reviews from UK Film Review, Indie Shorts Mag and Heyuguys. The film also won twelve Awards at various festivals around the world, was part of the 2020 Official Selection at the British Urban Film Festival (BAFTA-qualifying) and is now available on Apple TV.In January 2020 Lyna was commissioned to write her first play for Found In Translation Theatre Company. Her work in progress was awarded a residency at the Blue Elephant Theatre in South London in late February for R&D and was then short-listed for the Pulse Festival in Ipswich for the Summer 2020.In December 2020 Lyna wrote her second film, ‘Maysîr’, which explores the relationship between acculturation and identity amongst second-generation immigrants in today's Britain  through the story of a young muslim poker player from East London. Her screenplay has won 5 Awards for Best Script and is currently in pre-production. Lyna is now working with Morgane Ramet on a TV Pilot for an epic historical drama series set in North Africa which have been selected for the 2021 Nostos Screenwriting Retreat.

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Morgane Ramet

Morgane Ramet is a French writer and producer based in London.She grew up in Guadeloupe (Caribbean) and worked for 5 years in Paris as an investment banker. Always fond of films and theatre, she moved to London in 2019 to start a career in the film industry. That same year, Morgane joined her first project as co-producer: Métèque is an independent short film written by Lyna Dubarry and has won awards at various festivals and is part of the official selection at the British Urban Film Festival (now BAFTA-qualifying). After this first experience, she attended classes at Raindance Film School in London (Producer’s Foundation Certificate) to extend her knowledge of the film industry. Morgane recently produced Sections, a TV pilot, written by Darren Rapier, whose credits include Doctors and EastEnders and The Catch Up, an uplifting short film about first love. Morgane is now working with Lyna Dubarry on a TV Pilot for an epic historical drama series set in North Africa which have been selected for the 2021 Nostos Screenwriting Retreat.

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Shelagh Carter

Shelagh Carter is a Lifetime Member of The Actors Studio as an Actress and Director, and a graduate of the Canadian Film Centre’s Directors Lab in Toronto. As a writer/director, Shelagh has created work for over twenty years. Night Travellers, her third short film, was a National Screen Institute Drama Prize winner in 2007. Her award winning 35 mm short, One Night, filmed as part of the Canadian Film Centre’s Short Dramatic Film 2009 series, screened at several international film festivals. She has also won world festival recognition with her experimental narrative short films Canoe, Rifting/Blue, and Is It My Turn.
Shelagh’s first feature film called Passionflower, the story of Sarah, an 11-year-old girl, forcing her family to come to terms with her mother’s increasing mental instability, has earned film festival attention and honors. Her indie feature, Before Anything You Say, an innovative drama based on a true story, has won international nominations and awards, most recently Best Manitoba Director 2018 by the DGC. Her third feature film, Into Invisible Light, has been honoured with several awards and nominations, including most recently winning the Directors’ Choice Independent Spirit Award at the Sedona International Film Festival 2020, and Best Ladies Illuminate Feature at the Lady Filmmakers Film Festival Los Angeles, October 2020.
Shelagh’s next feature, a New York City romantic comedy titled Love, Repeat, was completed in the fall of 2019. The Woman Who Swallowed West Hawk Lake, a psychological horror, and Canadian author, David Bergen’s The Time in Between, a moving mediation on love and loss, a drama, are currently in development.
Shelagh is an alumna of Women in The Director’s Chair, and a member of the Director’s Guild of Canada. She holds dual Citizenship for the US and Canada.
Filmography: The Darkling Plain (short, 1999), Rifting/Blue (short, 2005), Night Travellers (short, 2007), One Night (short, 2009), Resolve (short, 2009), Canoe (short, 2010), Passionflower (feature, 2011), Is It My Turn (short, 2013), Before Anything You Say (feature, 2016), Into Invisible Light (feature, 2018), Love, Repeat (feature, 2020).


Gert Van Den Heule

Gert has to admit to himself and the world that he has no writing experience at all. He is actually glad to confess this because that in fact means he made it to two sentences on a blank page. A page he has been staring at for the last hour or so. What does someone write in a biographical blurb anyway? Someone lived and at a certain moment in time that person died… At least this is what Gert wrote down about a Dutch speaking author for a school assignment. He may have tried to sell it as a rebuke of the overwhelming tabloidesque interest in bios and how fascinating (or should I say boring?) it is to read into detail about the lives of Dutch speaking authors. However, the truth is Gert just forgot about the school assignment. Surprisingly, the most predictable plot twist in a long and complicated history of  predictable plot twists then occurred when the teacher was on to him. In other words, just another glorious day in the fascinating life of a born procrastinator.
So Gert lives in the country that invented surrealism, he -kind of- works for the government and he still hasn’t died yet (famous last words). He has lost and he has found but he still has his dreams (even if he tries to keep them secret) and he is quite honored that he has been chosen to be part of this screenwriting retreat.  As a longtime admirer of Italian culture and language, he is looking forward to spending three weeks on the beautiful Isle of Elba… No worries, he realizes he is participating in a virtual retreat but hey, only four sentences ago he wrote he still has dreams. So let him.

Suzanne Gundersen

Thank you Suzanne Gundersen for hosting a Destress & Get Focused Fast Workshop, to help clear writer's block and develop your formula to your writing flow, with us this month!

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