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2019 Atlanta Film Festival Screenplay Competition Winners


The Atlanta Film Festival is proud to announce the winners of the 2019 Atlanta Film Festival Screenplay Competition. Chosen from over 1,200 submissions, these screenplays represent those who will receive mentorship opportunities to help hone their screenplays and plan the next steps in their careers.

Feature Films

“Modern Love” by Francesca Mirabella
In the era of chill, where the goal is to “live your best life” for your followers, two young lovers are torn apart. Twenty year-olds Zoe and Oscar fight for love, sex, and connection in the age of Instagram.

“The Immigration Game” by Asad Farooqui

Majeed, a chef with a family back in Pakistan, is desperately trying to get his restaurant off the ground. But after Majeed’s visa renewal fails and he’s threatened with deportation, his Imam suggests entering a paper-marriage with a Muslim American citizen seeking a pious husband.

“Sundogs” by Elizabeth Chatelain  
When Alex’s family farm slips into debilitating debt, she takes her 12-year-old daughter Jenny west to work on the North Dakota oil fields. But after the oil industry’s decline begins, and Alex loses her job, she must choose: the farm or her fragile relationship with her daughter.


“Heirloom” by Antonia Grilikhes-Lasky
A prickly matriarch’s impending death sends her love-starved family on a search for the truth behind her mysterious past. But as the truth proves elusive, each increasingly obsessed family member must grapple with how the past, real or imagined, colors the present.

Short Film

“Esther in Wonderland” by Stephanie Bollag and Lily Lyor Askenazi
A rebellious, married, young Hasidic redhead named Esther secretly joins a crew of female breakdancers and gets romantically involved with the crew-captain’s younger brother, Sawyer.

ATLFF 2019 Screenplay Mentors


T Cooper is joining ATLFF 2019 as a pilot screenplay mentor

T Cooper is a novelist, filmmaker, journalist, and television writer. He is the author of nine books, including the four-part Young Adult novel series Changers (Akashic), which he and co-author  Allison Glock-Cooper are currently adapting for television (A+E Studios). Cooper’s feature documentary MAN MADE was a recipient of a Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program grant/fellowship, winner of the Fox Inclusion Award, winner of the Best Documentary Jury Prize at the 2018 Atlanta Film Festival, and winner of the Audience Awards at Outfest LA and NewFest NYC.

Cooper’s television writing credits include The Get Down (Netflix) and Copper (BBC America). He is currently Consulting Producer and Writer for The Blacklist (NBC). He has also written original commissioned scripts for Showtime, Lionsgate TV, and YouTube TV. His writing has also appeared in a variety of publications, including The New Yorker and The New York Times. Cooper earned an MFA from Columbia University (Fiction), and a BA from Middlebury College (English).


Steven De Souza is joining ATLFF 2019 as a feature screenplay mentor.

One of the few screenwriters whose films have grossed over two billion dollars, Steven de Souza’s credits include the genre-defining films DIE HARD and 48 HRS., as well as COMMANDO, THE RUNNING MAN, THE FLINTSTONES, RICOCHET, DIE HARD 2, and LARA CROFT TOMB RAIDER: THE CRADLE OF LIFE. In print, Mr. de Souza’s earliest bylines appeared in the legendary rock and roll magazine Crawdaddy, followed by The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and Empire, Premiere, Fade-In and Sight & Sound magazines. Currently, he steers the ongoing adventures of the first female superhero, Sheena, Queen of the Jungle, in his best-selling reinvention of that character for Dynamite Comics.

Mr. de Souza has been nominated twice for the Edgar Allen Poe Award for Best Mystery Screenplay, and the Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Film. A recipient of the Norman Lear Award for Lifetime Achievement in Writing, he is a frequent guest lecturer at the USC Film School and the American Film Institute, and has taught master classes on screenwriting at UCLA, The American Cinematheque, FICCI Frames in Mumbai, India, and the ScreenCraft Residency Program in Treasure Beach, Jamaica.

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Natalie Metzger is joining ATLFF 2019 a short film and feature screenplay mentor.

Natalie Metzger is an award-winning producer whose credits include GREENER GRASS (Sundance Film Festival, SXSW), THUNDER ROAD (Spirit Award nominee, Grand Jury Award at SXSW), ALONE IN THE GAME (AFI Docs, Outfest), THE ROBBERY (Sundance Film Festival), MATPAT’S GAME LAB (Streamy Award), Lil Dicky’s FREAKY FRIDAY (over 433 million views), HYDRANGEA (Vimeo Staff Pick), THE ARRIVAL (Jury Award, Napa Valley Film Festival), THE STOP (Vimeo Staff Pick), TOPLESS WOMEN TALK NFL (Aurora Award), and the virtual reality miniseries GLOBAL GAMER, among numerous others. She is currently producing Jim Cummings’ next feature film. Metzger holds an MFA from CalArts and a BA from Emory University, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Summa Cum Laude.

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Michael Curtis Johnson is joining ATLFF 2019 a feature screenplay mentor.

Johnson’s film SAVAGE YOUTH was selected for the Venice Film Festival’s Biennale College – Cinema program and premiered at the 2018 Slamdance Film Festival. It screened at the Atlanta Film Festival and won the Grand Jury Award at the Florida Film Festival. SAVAGE YOUTH will be released by The Orchard April 9th. His first feature film HUNKY DORY won top awards at Atlanta, Slamdance, Nashville, Naples, BendFilm, SF Indie Fest & the American Film Festival – Wroclaw. He was recently chosen for the 2019 edition of the Berlin International Film Festival ‘s development program Berlinale Talents and is developing his next feature film MURDER BALLADS with Visits Films ‘ independent incubator Pretty Ideas. He is an alumnus of the directing program at the American Film Institute Conservatory and a film professor at the University of North Alabama.


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