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Beijing Screenplay Winners Unveiled

Nearly 1,000 entries received

The Beijing Municipal Government has unveiled 15 winners in its inaugural international screenwriting contest for U.S.-based scribes of all nationalities.

The feature winners are “The Panjiayuan Diary” by Tim Plaehn; “The Monkey King” by Galen Tong; “Legend of Gong Shun Hui” by Gary Shockley; “Million Dollar Wedding Club” by Johnny M; and “Tusk” by Joshua Banta.

Seven short screenplays were selected for a grand prize: “You and Me” by J.S. Mayank (Loyola Marymount University); “Morning Song” by Pamela K. Johnson (American Film Institute); “701” by Maya Rudolph (Columbia University); “Plight of the Honey Bee” by Anita Gou (New York University/Tisch School of the Arts); “City Music” by Cameron White (Princeton University); “Patchwork Dreams” by Lee Quarrie (Arizona State University); and “You, Me, Beijing?” by Crosby Selander (Carnegie Mellon University).

The three short film first prize winners are “The Final Test” by Ben Li (Harvard University); “Dumplings” by Cody Marion (USC); and “Duck and Cover” by Michael Thai (USC).

Huignang Zhang, who serves as president of the competition, said,  “This is ground-breaking initiative will help foster artistic collaboration and an ongoing creative dialogue between China and the U.S., and will provide an unprecedented opportunity for aspiring and established U.S. writers to obtain international recognition.”

Filmmaker Mark Harris, producer Tracey Trench and Chinese screenwriter Heping Zhang judged the screenplays.

“The quality of screenplays was a cut above what I see every day,” Trench said. “They were very authentic about taking place in Beijing. From what I could tell, no one did a ‘find and replace’ from an existing screenplay.”

Harris, who has been active in a student exchange program between USC and China for documentary filmmakers, said the screenplay contest comes at a time of rising cross-cultural interest in films in both counties.

“Americans want to get into the Chinese market and China wants to get into the American market,” Harris noted. “The themes were universal — loss, discovering one’s voice and finding one’s identity.”

The competition, launched in March, drew nearly 1,000 submissions of  short film and feature film screenplays centered on the “Tale of Beijing” theme.

The winners will receive expense-paid trips to Beijing to attend an awards ceremony June 9 along with $1,000 cash. One of the feature winners will be selected in September for a $15,000 grand prize.

Seven of the short film winners will receive financing for their films of at least $10,000 each.

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