Film Academy Sets Five As Winners Of 2021 Nicholl Fellowships

Haley Hope Bartels (Pumping Black), Karin delaPeña Collison (Coming of Age), Byron Hamel (Shade of the Grapefruit Tree), R.J. Daniel Hanna (Shelter Animal) and Laura Kosann (The Ideal Woman) are the screenwriters and scripts chosen as the winners of the 2021 Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting competition, AMPAS announced today.

Each of the five fellows will receive a $35,000 prize, along with mentorship from an Academy member throughout their fellowship year, which will see them complete a feature-length screenplay. (The Academy will acquire no rights to the works of its fellows and does not involve itself commercially in any way with their completed scripts.)

From November 8-12, one fellow per day will be featured on the Academy’s YouTube channel, in conversations with filmmakers Destin Daniel Cretton, Phil Lord, Our Lady J, Rawson Marshall Thurber and Olivia Wilde, and other content.

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Bartels, Collison, Hamel, Hanna and Kosann’s scripts were chosen from a record volume of 8,191, from 89 countries. Finalists for the prestigious fellowship included Adam Everett (Aurora), Takeo Hori (American Infamy), Michael Ouzas (Third Man), Jesse White (Stronghold) and Aaron C. Wong (Garamba).

The Academy’s global competition aiming to identify and bolster upcoming screenwriters has awarded 171 since its inception in 1986. Past fellows include Alfredo Botello (F9), Allison and Nicolas Buckmelter (Epix and Paramount Home Entertainment’s American Refugee), Destin Daniel Cretton (Marvel Studios’ Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings), Anthony Grieco (Screen Media’s Best Sellers), Matt Harris (Netflix’s The Starling), Geeta Malik (India Sweets and Spices), Andrew W. Marlowe and Terri Edda Miller (CBS’ The Equalizer), Stephanie Shannon (Apple TV+’s For All Mankind: Time Capsule) and Rebecca Sonnenshine (Amazon’s The Boys).

The first and quarterfinal rounds of the 2021 competition were judged by industry professionals, including graduates of the Academy’s Diverse Reader Training Workshop, a free referral-only program established to train individuals from underrepresented communities as story analysts. The semifinal round was judged by a diverse assortment of Academy members, with the Academy Nicholl Fellowships Committee reading and judging the 10 scripts selected as finalists and selecting winners.

The Academy Nicholl Fellowships Committee is chaired by Academy Short Films and Feature Animation Branch governor Jennifer Yuh Nelson. The members of the committee are John Bailey and Steven Poster (Cinematographers Branch); William Mechanic (Executives Branch); James Plannette and Stephen Ujlaki (Members-at-Large); Julia Chasman, Peter Samuelson and Robert W. Shapiro (Producers Branch); Bobbi Banks (Sound Branch); and Eric Heisserer, Larry Karaszewski, Dan Petrie Jr., Misan Sagay and Dana Stevens (Writers Branch).

More information on the Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting can be found here. To find out more about the 2021 fellows’ projects, read on.

Haley Hope Bartels (Los Angeles, CA), 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, CA), 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, Manitoba, 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, CA), 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, NY), 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.

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