UCLA fetes screenwriters

Cameron, Taradash honored at ceremony

Five screenplays by UCLA students got their night in the limelight Monday at an event that also honored James Cameron and screenwriter Daniel Taradash.

A panel of industry judges selected the students’ scripts for the “Specs Appeal” showcase at the Geffen Playhouse as part of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television’s Festival ’98, a weeklong celebration of students’ work.

The evening was hosted by UCLA screenwriting alum Mike Werb (“The Mask,” “Face/Off”). Highlight was the presentation of lifetime achievement awards to writer/director James Cameron and writer Daniel Taradash (“From Here to Eternity”).

In addition, there were staged excerpts from the following screenplays:

  • “Sundays,” by Rita Augustine, in which an 11-year-old girl visits her grandmother’s past in order to help the woman heal her mental illness.

  • “Hellfighters From Harlem,” by Robert Davenport, the true story of Henry Johnson, the only black recommended for the Congressional Medal of Honor during World War I.

  • “Pancho Villa,” by Ronald M. Domke, about the rise and fall off the infamous rebel.

  • “Ayla,” by Willie Hagan, in which the female protagonist leaves the male-dominated world of Istanbul, Turkey, for America.

  • “Slow Boat to China,” by Kris Young, a modern-day Noah’s tale in which, instead of saving the whole world, Bob is “instructed by God” to build an ark to save a dying Chinese restaurant.

Two other scripts were awarded honorable mentions: “Soul Catcher,” by Laurie Hutzler, about a voodoo priestess who offers a young man his heart’s desire — at a price; and “Night Blooming Jasmine,” by Lisanne Sartor, in which a reclusive Vermont woman brings together her social worker and his estranged 11-year-old son with her unique blend of innocence and fantasy.