2014 SFFS / Hearst Screenwriting Finalists

Introducing the six finalists for the sixth annual SFFS / Hearst Screenwriting Grant! The $15,000 grant will be awarded to a screenwriter who has been practicing for at least five years and who has previously written a minimum of one feature screenplay. The winner will be announced in mid-October.

Every great film begins its life on the page, and we are excited to be involved in helping great storytellers work through the screenwriting process
— Michele Turnure-Salleo, director of Filmmaker360


A. Sayeeda Clarke and Micah Shaffer, White

It’s another sweltering 120-degree winter day with five more days to Christmas and hot is the only season left. The best protection from the sun remains the naturally occurring melanin in one’s skin. Like many valuable natural resources, in this future it is coveted, extracted, bought, sold and stolen. Bato enters into a race to save his daughter as he is forced to sell the new currency of this world.


Jed Cowley, Let’s Talk About Slavery

Bill is a white dude from Texas. He walks into Harlem and starts apologizing for slavery. He thinks he will be applauded for being open, honest and upfront about race issues. Why can’t Jamund, a black man Bill just met, simply accept his apology?

Rola Nashef, Nadia’s House

Second-generation Lebanese girlfriends, pursuing love, marriage and individuality under the watchful eye of their immigrant community, discover a secret gateway to a freer life at Nadia’s house.



 Gita Pullapilly and Aron Gaudet, Hinterland

Mike and Grace Mills have seen enough. Tired of living in a fear-driven, surveillance-state, broken-down version of the America they grew up in, they pack up their family and head into the barren hinterlands of Wyoming to build a new life “off the grid.” But when ATF and FBI agents suspect that the Mills might be domestic terrorists, they realize every trace of the life they left behind could lead to their unraveling. 



Tom Putnam, Dark Divide

Dark Divide is the true story of renowned naturalist Dr. Robert Pyle’s month-long trek across the largest undeveloped wilderness in America. Intent on discovering a new species of butterfly, along the way he meets the loggers and environmentalists hotly contesting the unspoiled resource and finds himself confronting first-hand the area’s notorious Bigfoot legends.



Bethany Ashton Wolf, Midnight Juliet

A gothic coming-of-age tale of unrequited love between a beautiful, hauntingly pale girl who will never see the light of day because she has a disease that won't allow her in the sunlight, and a handsome champion swimmer from the wrong side of town who loses his one chance at a better life after sustaining a serious injury that won't allow him to ever swim again. 

The SFFS / Hearst Screenwriting Grant, supported by a gift from William R. Hearst III, is a component of the grants program administered through Filmmaker360, the Film Society’s robust filmmaker services department. 

Previous winners of the SFFS / Hearst Screenwriting Grant are Alistair Banks Griffin for Snow the Jones (2013), Maryam Keshavarz and Paolo Marinou-Blanco for The Last Harem (2012), Ian Olds and Paul Felten for The Western Habit (2011), Eric Escobar for Conveyance (2010) and Mora Stephens for Made in the USA (2009).