CANNES — Scottish scribe John Milarky has won the 18th annual Hartley-Merrill Prize for Intl. Screenwriting for his script “The Strangest Thing.”
The project is being developed by producer Chris Young (“Festival”) with the backing of Scottish Screen.
“The Strangest Thing” is a magical family drama set in a small Scottish town in the late 19th century, with echoes of “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “A Matter of Life and Death.” When a man who is supposed to die escapes unharmed from a terrible train accident, the Angel of Death comes to find him. But when it turns out that the man is the only person who can save the town from its evil landlord, the angel becomes his unlikely ally.
Second prize this year went to Jamaica’s Mary Wells for “Landscape in Pastels,” and third prize to Poland’s Marcin Wrona and Grazyna Trela for “Tamagotchi.” Canada’s Carleen Kyle got an honorable mention for “Pearl’s Cut ‘n’ Curl.”
The Hartley-Merrill Prize, run by the Foundation for Intl. Film Artists in California, was founded by actress and society scion Dina Merrill and her husband, RKO Picture CEO Ted Hartley, to foster screenwriting outside the United States.
To date, 48 Hartley-Merrill prizewinning scripts have been made into movies.
Hartley said, “Hartley-Merrill honors emerging screenwriters from all corners of the world. Each year these young storytellers are improving their skills and the stories of their lives and their culture becomes more accessible to the rest of us. Some 72% of the Hartley-Merrill winners go on to see their work in feature films from their own countries or in ours.”