Entertainment

AFI Writers’ Room Ready Awards Honors 2020-21 Screenwriting Fellows

The American Film Institute announced the recipients of its Writers’ Room Ready Awards on Thursday.

The annual awards program honors the best pilot scripts written by the AFI Conservatory’s screenwriting fellows. This year’s awards honor the 2021 and 2022 classes, after the prizes were delayed last year due to COVID-19.

“Congratulations to the 2021 and 2022 recipients of the Writers’ Room Ready Award,” AFI Conservatory dean and AFI executive vice president Susan Ruskin said in a statement. “We are incredibly proud of the dedication these writers have shown to their craft, exemplifying the highest standard of excellence and creativity. Together with the mentors, we are committed to supporting this next generation of talented writers as they share their stories with the world.”

Suhana Chander, Gianmarco Maximilian Giacomelli, Christina Kelly Holmes, Lia Wang and Yancey Wang were announced as the winners of the 2021 class. Max Hersh, Adam Rottler, Marley Schneier, Anna Vecellio and Mariana Zavala were the winners for AFI’s 2022 class.

Each class received the support and mentorship from industry professionals, many of whom are themselves AFI graduates, who provide them feedback and advice for developing their scripts. The 2021 mentors were Lindsay Golder (AFI Class of 2014, “Chad,” “In the Dark”), Eli Jorné (Class of 2006, “The Walking Dead,” Son Of Zorn,” “Heels”), Randy McKinnon (Class of 2017, “Chambers,” “The Grand Army”), Andy Siara (Class of 2015, “Lodge 49,” “Palm Springs”) and Christina Strain (Class of 2015, “Finding ‘Ohana,” “Shadow and Bone,” “The Magicians”). The 2022 class was mentored by Vidhya Iyer (Class of 2017, “Mira,” “Royal Detective,” “Little Voice”), Nora Nolan (“Head of the Class,” “Trial & Error”), Amy Pocha and Seth Cohen (“Head of the Class,” “American Vandal”), Munis Rashid (Class of 2016, “S.W.A.T.”), and Dailyn Rodriguez (“Queen of the South,” “Night Shift”).

View a list of the winning projects below.

2020

“Jaani”
Half-Hour Comedy
Written by Suhana Chander
2020 WeScreenplay Diverse Voices Competition, Semifinalist
2020 Screencraft Comedy Contest, Quarterfinalist

After Jaani loses her job, boyfriend and dignity, she moves back to the suburbs where her perfect sister-in-law lands her a job at an active living community teaching Bollywood Dance to a bunch of old white people. The only problem? Jaani doesn’t know anything about Bollywood.

“For Women Only”
One-hour Historical Drama
Written by Christina Kelly Holmes

After being blacklisted in 1980s communist Romania, a classically trained pianist becomes a black market entrepreneur smuggling goods for women into one of the most oppressive regimes in modern history.

“Two Kings”
One-hour Drama
Written by Gianmarco Maximilian Giacomelli

A broken family man with a gambling addiction is coerced into serving his criminal twin brother’s prison sentence in China. Upon his release, he must fight to get his wife and children back from his brother who’s taken everything from him but his life. Modern-day adaptation of “The Man in the Iron Mask” by Alexandre Dumas.

“Model Minority”
One-hour Crime Drama
Written by Lia Wang
2020 Women in Film/The Black List Episodic Lab, Semi-finalist

To pay for his sister’s exorbitant medical bills, an aspiring Chinese American scientist is forced o working for his long-lost father’s drug empire in the midst of the current U.S. opioid epidemic.

“South Sea”
One-hour Historical Adventure
Written by Yancey Wang
Austin Film Festival, 2nd Round

In the 1800s, when China and Britain are on the brink of the Opium War, a swordsman’s daughter falsely accused of murder joins a band of pirates. As romance grows between her and a notorious pirate captain, so does her desire to become the most powerful outlaw in Colonial Asia. Inspired by real events.

2021

“See You Next Tuesday”
Half-hour Comedy
Written by Adam Rottler
Second Round, Austin Film Festival Pilot Competition 2021
Top 10%, PAGE Awards 2021

A broke musical theater actor is embroiled in a double life after taking a lucrative job at a strip club in Brooklyn. But when she finds a community in the last place she expected, she’s forced to reckon with a failing engagement, a sputtering career and the only thing colder and harder than a stripper pole — adulthood.

“Lost Prophet”
One-hour Horror Mystery
Written by Anna Vecellio

A washed-up FBI recruit returns to small-town Georgia to care for her grandmother, only to discover the aged relative is a powerful psychic whose dementia causes vengeful spirits to manifest in the real world.

“Eastshore”
One-hour Crime Drama Written by Mariana Zavala

Set against the backdrop of police violence in the Bay Area, story centers on an Afro Latina P.I. fighting to bring justice to those abandoned by the system. But when her sister disappears into an underground trafficking ring that no one in power believes exists, the fight becomes suddenly much more personal.

“Messiah”
Half-hour Historical Comedy
Written by Marley Schneier

Based on a true story. In the 1700s, Eve Frank and her father converted thousands to a religion that worshipped Eve as the only female messiah in history. But when her father is imprisoned by the empress of Vienna, Eve finds herself on a rescue mission that challenges everything she’s ever known.

“Butterfly”
One-Hour Drama
Written by Max Hersh

A working-class teenager moves from rural Canada to upper-class Boston with dreams of playing in the NHL. Now she must compete to become the starting goaltender for the boys’ hockey team, where she falls in love with her competition and ignites a cultural clash in her new hometown.




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