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NANCY BANNON

Willow

Willow is a magic realism folktale drama about an 8 year old girl who leaves her house in the middle of the night in search of her drug seeking mother only to find herself in a magical forest with a strangely intentional german-shepherd dog, flying feral kids, a commune of tree-sap-drinking dancing women and a giant matriarch creature. Young Willow discovers untapped strength and courage during her adventure and returns home to mom with newfound insight and conviction about ending the trauma in her home and breaking the cycle of addiction.

Nancy Bannon has written/directed five short films. Original feature screenplays have been recognized by festivals, contests, labs including: Nicholl Fellowship (quarterfinalist 2018, 2017), Sundance Screenwriters & Episodic Labs (second round qualifier multiple years), NYWIFT development lab (fs2p), Slamdance Film Festival (grand prize finalist), more. Her short screenplay, Blood was published in The Southampton Review. Original theater work (she conceived, wrote, directed) includes: Cornfield, Puncture, The Pod Project (immersive events, NYC). As movement director: Romeo and Juliet (w/ Orlando Bloom) on Broadway, more. Off-Broadway includes: Occupied Territories, a play (nominated for five Helen Hayes Awards) which she co-wrote and plays a leading role. Nancy is the recipient of three Princess Grace Awards, a New York Dance and Performance (Bessie) Award, multiple prizes and scholarships and is a graduate of The Juilliard School. Faculty: SUNY Purchase, Rutgers University, American University and The Studio Acting Conservatory. Nancy was a professional dancer for over a decade. nancybannon.com

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DAVID BAUGNON

Trip

When a troubled pre-med student persuades his religious, terminally ill mother to try magic mushrooms, they go on a psychedelic romp through New Orleans, reconnecting until a fight exposes a rift in their relationship he’s desperate to heal before he loses his mom forever.

David Baugnon is an award-winning filmmaker and writer, chosen as one of the International Screenwriters' Association Top 25 Writers to Watch in 2018. His feature screenplayTrip finished in the Top 50 of the 2017 Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting. His hour-long TV script, The Messiah Project, won several awards including Showtime's Tony Cox Television Pilot Competition at the Nantucket Film Festival and the Silver Prize at the Page Awards in 20013 and he was named a Fast Track Fellow by the ISA in 2015. His directing credits include the feature documentary Art in the Face of War which won Best Documentary at Lake Havasu Film Festival 2009 and the Special Jury Prize at Newport Beach Film Festival 2007, among other wins. His short documentary Matisyahu screened in more than 50 film festivals worldwide and won the Grand Prize at AOL Moviefone Short Film Festival in 2006. www.davidbaugnon.com

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ROB BELLON

Pariah

In a post-human Earth ruled by an oppressive regime of intelligent androids called "Titans," a lone human girl named Rania (14) has grown up in secret, under the protective custody of a friendly robot family. But when the Titans discover Rania, she will have to flee her only home, face the evil robot empire, discover the frightening truth of her past, and connect with her inner potential to save the last vestiges of humanity.

Rob Bellon is a graduate of the Columbia University MFA film program, where he earned his degree in screenwriting and TV writing. Rob's thesis, Pariah, a dystopian sci-fi pilot about a human girl searching for her family in a world ruled by androids, was selected for the 2020 New York Stage and Film Television Workshop, as well as for the invite-only Imagine Impact Creative Network. Rob has written four TV pilots, two feature screenplays, and he has directed three short films. He is a two-time Telly award winning animator and VFX artist. He interned at independent production company Big Beach, and has a BA in English from Binghamton University, where he studied postcolonial literature. Rob loves history, growing plants, and ice skating with his family. www.robbellon.com

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ANIKA BENKOV

The Bitter Pill

The Bitter Pill is a romantic-comedy-gone-wrong between an internet misogynist and a radical feminist who used to be childhood best friends, and reunite as failed young adults, living in their parents' basements, and working at Whole Foods.

Anika Benkov is a nonbinary playwright, filmmaker and performer based in NYC. They come to film through documentary, theatre, and creative fiction. Anika has been recently recognized as a quarterfinalist in the Sundance Screenwriting lab for their feature length film, and is now a participant in the Sloan Mentorship program through Columbia University with their pilot. Anika is currently finishing the short film they wrote and directed, The Binding of Itzik and is a screenwriting and television writing MFA candidate at the Columbia School of the Arts. thefilmshop.org/anika-benkov

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YAKIRA CHAMBERS

MysEducation

Two teenagers from the same side of the tracks change their world by battling MysEducation in the Chicago school sector coupled with the harsh realities of the south side of Chicago while becoming the best of friends.

Yakira Chambers is a Los Angeles based actor/writer/producer originally from Chicago. She has an (MBA) Masters of Business Administration and a background in Corporate America. She attended the Joanne D. Baron/D.W. Brown two year Meisner Program as well as received a scholarship to attend the British Academy of Dramatic Arts at Oxford University.  She has placed in competitions like the Austin Film Festival. Sundance Screenwriters and Episodic Lab, and was a finalist for Humanities New Voices. Yakira has developed an original pilot with eONE and is currently developing a feature with State Street picture.

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KIM DEMPSTER

The Watchers

Air Force pilot Major Zoe Osborne's life is turned upside down when she encounters an unidentified flying object and sets out on a journey to try to understand her experience. Along the way she clashes with the military, the government, Evangelicals and alien chasers, eventually finding solace with a group of scientists and ufologists.

Kim Dempster has put her unique signature on numerous projects including commercials, music videos, inter-active and narrative film. As both a writer and director, Kim has always been attracted to projects with a social conscience. Kim’s short films have been recognized at many film festivals. In 2008 Kim directed Marmalade, a feature film produced by Goldheart Pictures. In 2013 she wrote & directed, Stop The Nightmare, a series of short films about human trafficking. In 2014 she brought the atrocity of modern-day slavery to the streets of New York with a series of live performances. Kim spoke at TEDx about the creative community’s ability and responsibility to use their skills to incite change. As well as her theatrical work Kim has enjoyed a successful career as a commercial director. She has spent the past two decades honing her visual skills while directing national and global campaigns. Kim also wrote and created The Gods of Park Avenue, an interactive series for P&G. Kim is an active member of The Directors Guild of America, Women in Film & Television and Film Fatales.

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JENNY HALPER

Ways to Hide in Winter

Based upon Sarah St. Vincent's acclaimed debut novel, this is the story of a woman, long stuck in the small town she grew up in, whose unexpected friendship with a war criminal forces her to reconcile a legacy of trauma and grapple with her own notions of good and evil.

Jenny Halper’s adaptation of Laura Van Den Berg's story "What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us," The Burning Season, was a Sloan Grantee via the Tribeca Film Institute, received a Film Independent Fellowship, placed on the Athena List and the 2016 Black List, and received a 2018 Sloan Grant from Film Independent. Her adaptation of Alice Hoffman’s At Risk received a Film Independent Fellowship and placed on the 2018 Black List. As a fiction writer, she is an Our Stories Emerging Writer Award winner and a Pushcart Prize nominee with stories published and reprinted in places including the Chicago Tribune, Roxane Gay’s Pank, Joyland, and the Southeast Review, and her story collection was a finalist for the 2015 St. Lawrence Book Prize. As EVP of Development and Production at Maven Pictures her credits include The Kindergarten Teacher and Skin. She is a graduate of Northwestern and Emerson, where she received a 2008 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Grant.

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ALESSANDRO KING

King of Swing

Clarinet whiz kid Benny Goodman soars from dire poverty to jazz royalty, only to risk it all to form America's first interracial band.

Alessandro King is a New York-based writer. His stage plays have been produced or developed at Primary Stages, The Cherry Lane Theatre, The Tank (7x7), The Flea (Serials), Trustus Theatre, New Dramatists, Fordham University, and Sarah Lawrence College. He is the winner of the 2011 Trustus Playwrights Festival, a semifinalist for New Dramatists membership, a two-time semifinalist for the O’Neill Conference, and a three-time finalist for the Heideman award. Alessandro’s screenplay and pilot have placed in multiple recent contests, including Cinequest, WeScreenplay, Scriptation, and TrackingB. BA: Sarah Lawrence. MFA: Fordham/Primary Stages. Alessandroking.com

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SAVANAH LEAF

Earth Mother

A young pregnant mother of two struggles to gain custody of her first two children while facing the decision of what to do with her soon to be born third child amidst poverty and drug addiction.

Grammy nominee, Savanah Leaf has transitioned from 2012 Olympian to accomplished director and photographer. Her work weaves art and creativity with a deep humanity and poignant social commentary. In 2019 Savanah was asked to write and direct a new video for Marvin Gaye's 1971 classic 'What's Going On'.  It was the first in Universal Music's ‘Never Made’ series; great songs that never had a music video.  By focusing on current racial and social struggles in the US, from the water crisis of Flint, Michigan to the perennial horror of school shootings, and the chronic depravations of the US Healthcare system, the film highlights the continuing relevance of Marvin’s question nearly 50 years later.  In The Ayes Have It, Savanah visually imagines Tiana Clark’s poem, written in response to the murders of Emmett Till and Trayvon Martin – both very young, African Americans who were murdered almost 60 years apart in similar circumstances. Her filmmaking is genuine, emotional and timeless, traits that can be seen in recent work for Tena through AMV BBDO, and her lockdown animation project #wemattertoo, which studies prison life in America during the Covid-19 Pandemic. Savanah’s experience as part of the GB Volleyball team gives her a unique insight into the work of an athlete competing at the highest level, and she has applied this skillset to successful collaborations with Nike, Adidas, and Fila among others.

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GURU RAMANATHAN

Londoni

After immigrating to Whitechapel, England in 1980, Indian doctor Abhimohan Sushant is pulled into a violent gang war between Bangladeshi gang Anchor Yard Massive and neo-nazi group Brass Monkeys, while trying to carve a life for himself.

Guru Ramanathan graduated from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts as a University Honors Scholar and is the recipient of Dramatic Writing's Award for Excellence in Episodic Writing by an Undergraduate. With ample experience in both the art and business of entertainment, Guru is a versatile storyteller with an intense passion for film, TV, podcasts, journalism, marketing, and publicity. Guru shot, produced, edited, and directed a feature length documentary, Hyper-- and wrote and directed several short films. He produced a short docu-series, Vignettes, for Washington Square News, and created and co-hosts the podcast The Passion Project. Guru was also the Managing Editor for Washington Square News' magazine Under the Arch, served on the Fusion Film Festival's Executive Board as the Editorial Co-Head, wrote for the philanthropic fashion magazine Mission Magazine, and garnered publicity experience at ID-PR. Guru is currently developing an original magazine, editing a short documentary, and collaborating with a group of artists on a non-profit to support artists of color at the collegiate level.

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TRAVEN RICE

Red Rock Falls

When a grieving park ranger starts sleepwalking after a rock climber is murdered in her small mountain town, she begins to doubt her own alibi.

Traven Rice is a New York City-based filmmaker devoted to telling stories about the extraordinary moments that make up our everyday lives. She recently completed the pilot for Division Street, a digital series focused on a withdrawn young girl who is sent to live with her cranky grandmother in a magical neighborhood in NYC. The pilot screened as an official selection at the Slamdance Film Festival, ITVFest and Raindance, among others. It was featured in the FilmShop collective’s Breakthrough Series and screened in competition at SeriesFest 2019, where it won a development award from the Caz Matthews Fund. Rice studied film at FAMU, in Prague, Czech Republic, where her first short film, The Night Tram, was nominated for a Student Academy Award. She has written and directed numerous short films and is currently developing her first feature film, a psychological thriller, based in the small mountain town where she grew up. travenrice.com

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CHARIA ROSE

True Story

After a failed suicide attempt and stay at the hospital, True must return to the mundane suburban life she so desperately wanted to escape.  As she struggles to survive her senior year of high school, she discovers an underground punk collective run by people of color that takes her on a journey of deep self-discovery, mental wellness, and falling in love with the Black woman she is becoming.

Charia Rose is a writer and director. An artist from Detroit, Michigan, she firmly believes in art as a means for deep reflection and strives to use it for social change. A self-proclaimed "Midwestern Baddie", she is dedicated to showing the world that, contrary to popular belief, there ARE black and brown people in the Midwest AND they have amazing, interesting, and multifaceted stories to tell. Recently, she directed the short film With(out) You, which is making rounds on the festival circuit. You can find her shouting about Mariah Carey and how to end systemic racism on Instagram @charia.

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MINNIE SCHEDEEN

The Ark

Set in a future where humanity has been rendered infertile and artificially reproduced children (ARCs) are allocated through a Lottery system, The Ark follows a group of women from disparate backgrounds whose lives collide when one of their city’s only children goes missing.

Minnie Schedeen is a writer-director originally from Los Angeles, California who grew up writing stories in the Pacific Northwest. A graduate of USC School of Cinematic Arts, Minnie was a Sundance Ignite Fellow in 2017, a Sundance Creative Producing Fellow in 2018, a former directing shadow on CW’s Jane the Virgin and a finalist for Ryan Murphy’s HALF Initiative. Her feature film screenplay Farmhouse has been supported by the Sundance Feature Film Program in 2017 and most recently featured on the 2019 Hit List. Farmhouse will continue to be supported by the Sundance Institute Talent Forum in 2020. Ultimately, Minnie is fascinated by science-fiction as a means to explore human nature and hopes to pioneer a firm place for women’s stories in genre storytelling. minnieschedeen.com

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SHAWN SNYDER & JASON BEGUE

Sannyasa

A retiree in suburban South Florida fixates on Hindu notions of non-attachment and fancies he might spend his final chapters as a wandering Western monk.

After receiving a BA in Religion from Harvard, Shawn Snyder spent his twenties as an itinerant singer/songwriter. In 2015, he completed studies at NYU’s Graduate Film Program and, in 2016, was named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film.” To Dust, his first feature, co-written by Jason Begue and starring Matthew Broderick and Géza Röhrig, premiered at Tribeca in 2018, winning both the “Narrative Audience Award” and “Best New Director” for Shawn. The film was released theatrically in 2019 and went on to be nominated for “Best Screenplay” at the 2020 Independent Spirit Awards. www.shawnsnyderfilm.com

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SHAWN SNYDER & JASON BEGUE

Sannyasa

Jason Begue: Born in Los Angeles, CA to Colombian and Argentinian immigrants, Jason’s passion for filmmaking began at an early age when he won the 1999 CineVegas Youth in Film competition. In 2010, he graduated from The School of Visual Art's Directing Program in New York. In 2015, Jason co-wrote the screenplay To Dust with NYU alum Shawn Snyder. The script went on to receive both the NYU and Tribeca Sloan Student Grand Jury Prizes and was selected as one of the participants of IFP’s 2015 Emerging Storytellers. Jason would go on to co-produce To Dust along with Emily Mortimer, Alessandro Nivola, and Ron Perlman. In 2018, the film, starring Son of Saul's Geza Rohrig and actor Matthew Broderick, premiered at The Tribeca Film Festival where it received the Audience Award for Narrative Feature. In 2019, Jason Begue and Shawn Snyder were nominated in the Best Screenplay category by the Independent Spirit Awards for To Dust. Jason is currently enrolled in NYU’s Graduate Film Program.