Abdullah Alhendyani, a student at Cal State Northridge, has won the The Launch: Million Dollar Screenplay Competition.
The contest, now in its second year, awarded the college student with a production budget of at least $1 million for his winning screenplay “Haram” as well as a prize of $50,000 in educational grants. Alhendyani’s script follows a Muslim woman falling in love with a female tattoo artist despite her parents’ religious demand for an arranged marriage. The story highlights themes of acceptance, tolerance and love. Production for “Haram” will begin during the first quarter of 2020.
Philanthropists Chuck and Marni Bond funded the competition. “The Launch” was co-founded by the two last year along with producers Zachary Green and Jason Shuman.
“There we so many incredible screenplays to read in this years competition and those that made the Top eight were the best of the best. Abdullah’s screenplay “Haram”, with its themes of culture, tolerance and love is a beautiful, yet chilling story we all felt deserved to be told,” said Green in a statement. “’The Launch’ is about discovering diverse, new talent, with strong voices that have something to say and we are lucky to have found Abdullah to continue the mission in 2019.”
The winner of last year’s competition was USC student Stanley Kalu, who wrote “The Obituary of Tunde Johnson.” His film will have its world premiere at Toronto International Film Festival this September.
As part of the prize package, the second and third place winners, along with Alhendyani, will be represented by APA and Valor Entertainment. All remaining seven finalists will receive educational grants. The judges, comprised of ‘The Launch”s board of advisors, partners ScreenCraft and Coverfly and a panel of industry professionals, scored each screenplay based on quality of character development, creativity, voice originality, story and honest emotion.
“Once again, we are looking for original screenplays with captivating stories, unique voices and honest emotion in any genre. The amount of raw talent out there is staggering and we can’t wait to read next year’s screenplay’s” said Green.
Next year’s competition will reconvene with submissions opening on March 1, 2020 and closing on May 31. The worldwide contest is open to college and graduate students enrolled in two-year and four-year universities.