Writer-director Nijla Mu’min (Jinn) and writer-director Nia DaCosta (Little Woods) have been selected for Sundance Institute Music and Sound Design Labs.

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.  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.

Jinn is Mu’min’s coming of age story about, a 17 year old carefree black girl named Summer whose world is turned upside down when her mother Jade abruptly converts to Islam and becomes a different person which prompts Summer to reevaluate her own life and identity.  The film is loosely based on the filmmaker’s Black and half-Islamic upbringing and serves as a timely, fresh look at identity, Islam, and first love in contemporary Los Angeles.  The film stars Simone Missick (Luke Cage), Zoe Renee (The Quad) as Summer, Hisham Tawfiq (The Blacklist), Kelly Jenrette (Grandfathered, Pitch), Kelvin Harrison , Jr. (Mudbound), and Dorian Missick (Big Words, Monster).

Little Woods marks DaCosta’s directorial debut and is dubbed a modern Western that tells the story of two sisters, Ollie and Deb, who are driven to work outside the law to better their lives. For years, Ollie has illicitly helped the struggling residents of her North Dakota oil boomtown access Canadian health care and medication. When the authorities catch on, she plans to abandon her crusade, only to be dragged in even deeper after a desperate plea for help from her sister. The film stars Tessa Thompson (Dear White People, Creed) and Lily James (Cinderella).

Mu’min, a California Institute of the Arts (Calarts) grad and Sundance Institute Fellow, pitched Jinn at the Film Independent Fast Track Film Market, and was the recipient of a Panavision New Filmmaker Camera Package. Her short films have screened in festivals across the country. She was the winner of a 2014 Best Screenplay Award from BET for her script, Noor.

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.

Congrats to both of these talented women!  We look forward to following their film journey as more information is announced.  More information on the Sundance Institute Music and Sound Design Labs can be found HERE.

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