By Ray Pride







Nantucket, MA (June 28, 2015– The 20th Anniversary Nantucket Film Festival (NFF) today announced the winners of the prestigious Showtime Tony Cox Screenplay Competition, which recognizes the best unproduced screenplays and television pilots by emerging writers. Kristen Dávila’sCOUNTERINTELLIGENCE received the top prize as the winner of the Feature Screenplay Competition. The Television Pilot nods went to Estella Gabriel for ICE and to Jonathan Schwartz for SOLD.


NFF also revealed the winners of this year’s Audience Awards: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL for Best Narrative Feature, Ron Davis’ HARRY & SNOWMAN for Best Documentary Feature, and Eric Rockey’s PINK BOY for Best Short.


The Audience Award Best Film runner up was animated comedy SHAUN THE SHEEP THE MOVIE, written & directed by Richard Starzak & Mark Burton.


Kristen Dávila’s COUNTERINTELLIGENCE, a political satire set in Pakistan involving the CIA, a budding jihadist group, and an indebted gambler who plays the two off one another in an attempt to save his own neck. Dávila receives $5000 cash prize and one of only four coveted spots to participate in partner organization the Screenwriters Colony month-long writing retreat in October.


The Feature Screenplay Competition jury was comprised of
Kyle Patrick Alvarez, Director, The Stanford Prison Experiment; Franklin Leonard, Founder, The Black List; and Nigel M. Smith, Managing Editor,Indiewire.


NFF recognizes the remarkable renaissance on the small screen through two Television Pilot Competitions, one for Hour-Long Pilots and the other for Half-Hour Pilots. Both winners receive a $1000 cash prize, as well as a consultation with a Showtime executive.


The Half-Hour Television Pilot winner is SOLD by Jonathan Schwartz, which is set in a fine-arts auction house.


The Hour-Long Television Pilot winner is ICE by Estella Gabriel, which details the conflicts and violence faced by a border patrol agent.


The Television Pilot Competition jury was comprised of Jacob Fenton, Agent, TV Talent, United Talent Agency; Bob Fisher, Executive Producer/Co-Creator, Sirens; and Cynthia Littleton, Managing Editor, TV,Variety.


The Short Screenplay Competition winner is MORE COW BELL by Andy Nellis, a dark portrait of a farm family. Nellis receives a $500 cash prize.


The winner of the Best Screenwriting in a Short Film Award, given to an exceptional short film featured in this year’s festival, went to writer/director Shaka King and writer Kristan Sprague for MULIGNANS.


The Shorts Competition jury was comprised of New York film critic and author Thelma Adams; Kate Lyn Sheil, Actress, House of Cards & Writer, Men Go to Battle; and Trey Edward Shults, Writer/Director, Krisha.


The Festival’s Teen View Jury Award, selected by a group of Nantucket junior high school students, went toBIRTHDAY, written & directed by Chris King.


“We’re grateful to our juries and to the hugely supportive festival audience for recognizing these talented filmmakers. From our lineup of films to the amazing filmmakers and talent who attended, the 20th anniversary festival exceeded our expectations,” said Basil Tsiokos, Nantucket Film Festival Film Program Director. “We are thrilled to be able to bring a program with such a vast array of entertainment to the Nantucket community, and look forward to the next two decades and beyond!”


Earlier this weekend, the winner of the ninth annual Adrienne Shelly Foundation Excellence in Filmmaking Award was announced, which bestows a cash prize to a female filmmaker in honor of the late director. The award went to director Crystal Moselle for her acclaimed debut documentary, THE WOLFPACK.


Legendary comedian David Steinberg hosted the Screenwriters Tribute Awards, presented by EPIX, from the Siaconset Casino on Saturday, June 27.  Academy®-Award & Golden Globe®– winning screenwriter Robert Towne accepted the Screenwriting Tribute Award, which was given to him by Nantucket Film Festival board member and MSNBC’s Chris Matthews. Managing Editor, TV at Variety Cynthia Littleton introduced actress Robin Wright who presented Beau Willimon with Variety’s Creative Impact in Television Writing award. Academy Award®-nominated and Emmy Award®-winning producer/director Liz Garbus, accepted the A&E Special Achievement in Documentary Storytelling Award, presented to her by NFF co-founder Jonathan Burkhart, while the New Voices in Screenwriting was presented to Leslye Headland by Jill Burkhart of EPIX and a co-founder of the Festival.

Special guests who attended NFF 2015 included Festival co-founders Jill & Jonathan Burkhart, Robin Wright, Theo James, Alex Ross Perry, Donick Cary, Ophira Eisenberg, Lili Taylor, Jacqueline Bisset, Liz Garbus, Leslye Headland, Robert Towne, Beau Willimon, Dave Foley, Tom Cavanagh, EPIX CEO & President Mark Greenberg, and many more.

The Nantucket Film Festival is supported by Showtime, The White Elephant Nantucket Island Resorts, EPIX HD as Major Sponsors; A&E IndieFilms, BrandContent, Variety, Chateau La Paws and Delta Airways as Signature Sponsors; Shady Fruit Vodka, Bulleit Bourbon, Cape Air/Nantucket Airlines, Stella Artois, and Travel+Leisure as Producing Sponsors; and Airbnb, The Beachside on Nantucket, Citibank, Essentia, Final Draft, Inquirer & Mirror, Nantucket Today, Uber, Beacon, Mass Save, Harborview Nantucket, Nantucket Bank and the WGA East as Contributing Sponsors.


The Nantucket Film Festival was founded by brother and sister team Jonathan and Jill Burkhart in 1996 to promote the cultural awareness and appreciation of the fine art of screenwriting in the world of cinema. These days, NFF has become one of the premier destination film festivals in the world. Visitors come from all over to experience the preview screenings, unique signature programs, and stand out hospitality on a magical island rich with history, a friendly atmosphere, and beautiful sandy beaches. In addition to screening over 75 films across six days, NFF presents the Screenwriters Tribute, In Their Shoes… hosted by Chris Matthews, Late Night Storytelling, and our daily Morning Coffee With… series.



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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon