Mumbai: Six new screenwriters have been selected as winners in the 23rd Don and Gee Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting, presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Each writer or writing team will receive a prestigious $30,000 prize, the first installment of which will be distributed at a gala dinner in Beverly Hills on 13 November, featuring a keynote address by Oscar-nominated screenwriter Scott Frank.
This year’s winners are: Jeremy Bandow, Hive; Ken Kristensen and Colin Marshall, Out of Breath; Jason Micallef, Butter; Eric Nazarian, Giants; and Lee Patterson, Snatched.
For the fourth consecutive year a script written by a team earned its writers a fellowship; collaborative efforts were first allowed into the competition in 2001.
The winners were selected from 5,224 scripts submitted for this year’s competition. The competition is open to any individual who has not sold or optioned a screenplay or teleplay for more than $5,000, or received a fellowship or prize that includes a first look clause, an option, or any other quid pro quo involving the writer’s work.
Final judging of the competition was conducted by the Nicholl Committee, chaired by writer and 1992 Nicholl fellow Susannah Grant and composed of writers Naomi Foner, Dan Petrie, Jr., Tom Rickman and Dana Stevens; actor Eva Marie Saint; cinematographers John Bailey and Steven Poster; executive Bill Mechanic; and producers Gale Anne Hurd, David Nicksay, Peter Samuelson, Robert Shapiro and Buffy Shutt.
Fellowships are awarded with the understanding that the recipients will each complete a feature-length screenplay during their fellowship year. The Academy acquires no rights to the works of Nicholl fellows and does not involve itself commercially in any way with their completed scripts.
Since the program’s inception in 1985, 108 fellowships have been awarded, and a number of recipients have achieved considerable success. Two 1999 fellows saw their works hit the big screen this year: Annmarie Morais wrote How She Move, which premiered at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival and opened in theaters in January; and Rebecca Sonnenshine co-wrote The Haunting of Molly Hartley, which opened on Halloween. Sonnenshine also wrote American Zombie, released earlier this year. Kurt Kuenne, a 2002 fellow, wrote and directed the documentary Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son about His Father, slated for release later this month. This year’s Tribeca Film Festival hosted the premiere of 2003 Fellow James Mottern’s Trucker, which he directed from his Nicholl-winning script.
Susannah Grant wrote the adapted screenplay for The Soloist, scheduled for release in March 2009. She wrote and directed 2007’s Catch and Release, and in 2000 she received an Academy Award nomination for her Erin Brockovich screenplay. She also earned writing credits on Charlotte’s Web, In Her Shoes, 28 Days, Ever After and Pocahontas.