Film Academy Names Winners of $35,000 Nicholl Screenwriting Fellowships

Winners will be featured in YouTube conversations with filmmakers including Olivia Wilde, Destin Daniel Cretton and others


Five writers have been selected as winners of the 2021 Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting competition, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced on Monday.

The fellows will each receive a $35,000 prize as well as mentorship from an Academy throughout the fellowship year.

In addition, from Nov. 8-12, one fellow per day will be featured on the Academy YouTube channel, in content including conversations with filmmakers Destin Daniel Cretton, Phil Lord, Our Lady J, Rawson Marshall Thurber and Olivia Wilde. 

The winners were chosen from a record number of 8,191 scripts from 89 countries.

Here is an alphabetical list of 2021’s winning writers:

Haley Hope Bartels (Los Angeles), “Pumping Black”
After a desperate cyclist takes up a team doctor’s dangerous offer, he seems on course to win the Tour de France.  But as the race progresses and jealous teammates, suspicious authorities, and his own paranoia close in, he must take increasingly dark measures to protect both his secrets and his lead.

Karin delaPeña Collison (West Hollywood), “Coming of Age”
In 1965 Britain, Charlotte, a sheltered, studious schoolgirl, lands on a British Farce tour her mother stage manages, where private tutoring by company members replaces her formal schooling, with surprising success, and she experiences a Lolita-like flirtation in the morally wobbly era of Free Love, which leads both her and her mother to ‘come of age.’

Byron Hamel (Winnipeg, Canada), “Shade of the Grapefruit Tree”
When a severely abused white boy befriends his sci-fi obsessed Black landlady, his fantasy of becoming a robot empowers him to recklessly confront his murderous stepdad.

R. J. Daniel Hanna (Los Angeles), “Shelter Animal”
A fiery, female prison trustee working at the county animal shelter finds purpose rehabilitating an abused pit bull, but her attempts to rally employees and the broader community for shelter reform puts her own freedom at risk.

Laura Kosann (New York City), “The Ideal Woman”
Set in American suburbia during the Cuban Missile Crisis: A 1960’s ex-actress and housewife finds her house-of-cards world begin to tumble as she continues to be pitted against two identities.

The 2021 finalists are:

Adam Everett, “Aurora”
Takeo Hori, “American Infamy”
Michael Ouzas, “Third Man”
Jesse White, “Stronghold”
Aaron C. Wong, “Garamba”

Fellowships are awarded with the understanding that recipients will each complete a feature-length screenplay during their fellowship year.  The Academy acquires no rights to the works of Nicholl fellows.