Five individuals have been selected as winners of the 2020 Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting competition. The fellows will each receive a $35,000 prize and be highlighted at the Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting Awards and Virtual Table Read on Thursday, December 3, where an ensemble of actors will read selected scenes from the winning scripts.
The 2020 winners are (listed alphabetically by author):
James Acker, “SadBoi”
Beth Curry, “Lemon”
Vanar Jaddou, “Goodbye, Iraq”
Kate Marks, “The Cow of Queens”
Jane Therese, “Sins of My Father”
A total of 7,831 scripts were submitted for this year’s competition. Ten individual screenwriters were selected as finalists. Their scripts were then read and judged by the Academy Nicholl Fellowships Committee, who ultimately voted the winners.
The 2020 finalists are (listed alphabetically by author):
Kris A. Holmes, “The Seeds of Truth”
Fred Martenson, “Demons in America”
Robin Rose Singer, “The Lions of Mesopotamia”
David Harrison Turner, “Safe Haven”
Andrew Wankier, “Three Heavens”
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.
The Academy Nicholl Fellowships Committee is chaired by Academy Short Films and Feature Animation Branch governor Jennifer Yuh Nelson. The members of the committee are John Bailey and Steven Poster (Cinematographers Branch); William Mechanic (Executives Branch); James Plannette and Stephen Ujlaki (Members-at-Large); Julie Lynn, Peter Samuelson and Robert W. Shapiro (Producers Branch); Bobbi Banks (Sound Branch); and Eric Heisserer, Larry Karaszewski, Dan Petrie Jr., Misan Sagay, Dana Stevens and Tyger Williams (Writers Branch).
The global competition, which aims to identify and encourage talented new screenwriters, has awarded 166 fellowships since it began in 1986. In 2020, several past Nicholl fellows added to their feature film and television credits:
- Michael Werwie wrote the Netflix movie, “Lost Girls.”
- Alfredo Botello is co-writing “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” with Ryan Coogler producing and Malcolm D. Lee directing.
- Terri Miller and Andrew Marlowe are showrunners for CBS’s “The Equalizer,” starring Queen Latifah.
- Nikole Beckwith wrote and directed “Togetherish,” starring Ed Helms and Patti Harrison.
- James Mottern wrote and is set to direct “Summer Madness,” starring Anna Faris.
- Elizabeth Chomko will direct the film adaptation of Bess Kalb’s memoir, Nobody Will Tell You This but Me.
- Matt Harris’s fellowship year script “The Starling” is in post-production. Netflix recently bought the drama-comedy for ~$20 million based on Matt’s script and a four-minute sizzle reel.
- Melissa Iqbal is adapting the novel The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August to the screen.
- Rebecca Sonnenshine is the co-creator of a new Netflix horror series based on the horror podcast “Archive 81.”
- S.J. Inwards is writing a YA-centric musical Lady Macbeth feature project for Amazon Studios.
For more information about the Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting, visit oscars.org/nicholl.
ABOUT THE ACADEMY
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is a global community of more than 10,000 of the most accomplished artists, filmmakers and executives working in film. In addition to celebrating and recognizing excellence in filmmaking through the Oscars, the Academy supports a wide range of initiatives to promote the art and science of the movies, including public programming, educational outreach and the upcoming Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, opening April 30, 2021.