Novel Approaches

Writers who tackle screen adaptations from literature are a brave sort. To begin with, you have the difficulties of translating one form to another. And as if that weren’t enough, there are expectations of fidelity to the “original” that must be reconciled with the screenwriter’s need to make it his or her own. Inevitably, the final film will be relentlessly scrutinized, hailed as brilliant, deconstructed, start bar brawls, or worse, discarded with the casually lobbed, “It was ok, but the book was better.” All of which raises questions about how complex characters and themes are created in both. We’ve asked a group of novelists and screenwriters to reflect on the nature of film and literature and unravel the mysteries of adaptation. What is their process? Why do some works enjoy healthy transformations, while others (sometimes masterpieces) falter?

As you use our Online Archives, please understand that the information presented from Festivals, Labs, and other activities is taken directly from official publications from each year. While this information is limited and doesn't necessarily represent the full list of participants (e.g. actors and crew), it is the list given to us by the main film/play/project contact at the time, based on the space restrictions of our publications. Each entry in the Online Archives is meant as a historical record of a particular film, play, or project at the time of its involvement with Sundance Institute. For this reason, we can only amend an entry if a name is misspelled, or if the entry does not correctly reflect the original publication. If you have questions or comments, please email