The 2018 Athena List Winners
True North by Katherine Ruppe
True North is an atmospheric, psychological thriller about the haunted survivor of an attempted double murder who has never faced her horrific past — until a parole hearing reveals her attacker may not be guilty, and the real killer could be closer than she thinks.
Throw Like A Girl By Lori Bell Leahy
In order to her inspire her young son, Michelle Green, an African American single mother of two visits a Negro League Baseball shop. To her surprise she meets Mamie Johnson who shares her true life story of her love of baseball as a pitcher, being one of three women who played professionally in the Negro League.
Saving Esperanza by Betty Sullivan
Based on a true story, a woman mourning a miscarriage goes to Mexico on business, where she rescues a dying child after her mother is killed by local thugs. Then she smuggles the girl across the border into the U.S. to save her life.
WHITE by A. Sayeeda Moreno
In a burning hot near future, climate change has both devastated the planet and turned melanin into the world’s most valuable commodity. When Nuyorican beauty LUNA has her newborn ripped from her arms just moments after giving birth, she is thrust into the merciless world of melanin harvesting to save her daughter, her community, and spark a revolution. Here is a link to Moreno’s short film White – It’s another sweltering 120-degree day with 5 more days to Christmas and hot is the only season left. Bato, an expecting father enters into the race against the sun, the birth and his own identity to save his family as he is forced to sell the new currency of this world. The short was produced by ITVS/PBS for futurestates.tv. The short has a male protagonist but the feature has a female protagonist.
Athena List Finalists
Stick With It by Phillip Catherwood
Wingman Lost by Mikayla Daniels
The Sound of Darkness by Melody Cooper
The Title by Sarah Callies
2018 Athena List Judges
Maurício Mota – co-president of Wise Entertainment – Producer of Hulu’s East Los High
Margaret Nagle – screenwriter, TV writer and producer – Boardwalk Empire, Red Band Society
Inkoo Kang – critic and culture writer – Slate, The Atlantic, Wired
Monique Keller – marketing & distribution manager – Amazon Studios
Rebecca McCarthy – partnerships & promotions manager – Amazon Studios
“The Black List— a yearly list of great scripts that are circulating in Hollywood but have not yet become movies — has a new gender-conscious cousin.” ~ Lily Rothman, Time.Com
In 2015, only 33% of all speaking characters in the top 100 grossing films were women, and only 22% were the protagonist of the story. The lack of female-led films is striking — so much so that actress Cate Blanchett used her 2014 Oscar speech to rebuke those “in the industry who are still foolishly clinging to the idea that female films with women at the center are niche experiences.” As Blanchett said, there is a market for female-centric films, and there’s sample evidence that proves these films are profitable.
In an attempt to remedy the dearth of female characters and misconceptions about female-led films, the Athena Film Festival has created the Athena List, an annual slate of between 3-5 screenplays with female leaders or strong female protagonists that have yet to be made into films.
The 2017 Athena List Winners
Claude by Hannah Patterson
Jersey, The Channel Islands, World War II. Vehemently opposed to any form of oppression, Surrealist artists and lovers Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore mount their own resistance movement when the Germans invade. Composing notes encouraging soldiers to rise up against Nazism, they disguise themselves as old women and disseminate them throughout the island. They continue their operation for four years, while the Germans mount a hunt for the perpetrators. They’re eventually caught and sentenced to death. Expecting every day to be taken out and shot, they are miraculously released when the allies liberate the island.
Clemency by Chinonye Chukwu
Years of carrying out executions has taken a toll on prison warden, Bernadine Williams. The emotional wedge in her marriage grows. Memories of a recently botched execution plague her daily. As she prepares to execute death row inmate, Anthony Woods, Bernadine’s contentions with her job exacerbate with public outcries of his innocence. When the courts deny Anthony’s final appeal, he loses hope and ends communication with his family, friends and supporters. In response, Bernadine develops a desire to reconnect him with the people he has cut off. Along the way, she confronts her own isolation and bonds with the man she is sanctioned to kill.
Mrs. Christie by Jamie Dawson
In WWI-era England, young nurse Agatha Christie (years before becoming the best-selling mystery novelist of all time) turns sleuth after one of her patients – a Belgian soldier – winds up murdered. The script is a fictional origin story based on numerous facts from Christie’s life, with references to characters and stories she will eventually become (in) famous for.
Scott by Anna Rose Moore
After her best friend dies, a success-driven lawyer is left with an unwinnable case – a female inmate’s accusations of rape by her prison guards. She soon uncovers a massive systemic scandal of sexual abuse by prison staff and the network used to cover it up.
2017 Athena List Finalists
The Artemis Protocol by Shamim Sarif
Beyond the Painted Line by Theresa Tierney and Eileen Tierney
Magnus by Ayesha Nizhoni
The Third Rule by Sehaj Sethi
Undercurrent by Dee Chilton
2017 Athena List Judges
Patrick Harrison, Director of New York Programs and Membership at the AMPAS
Denise Hewitt, Founder of Scriptd
Rachael Horovitz, Academy-Award nominated Producer Moneyball
Julia Rapaport, Senior Development, Productions and Acquisitions Executive Amazon Studios
The 2016 Athena List
* Featured in ET Weekly
A Noble Affair – Anil Baral and Kathryn Maughan: As Marie Curie is nominated for a Nobel Prize, her affair with a married man creates a scandal that ruins her reputation and becomes the obstacle to the prize that will prove her a scientist in her own right.
In the Land of Fire and Ice – David MacGregor: When a high-powered Kuwaiti CEO is betrayed at the investment bank she founded, it reignites her passion for activism, and her desire to make the world a better place also opens her up to the possibility of a better life.
Ride the Wind – Denise Meyers: The story of Bessie Stringfield, the first African American woman inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame and the only female military dispatch rider in World War II.
Virginia – Bess Wohl: About Virginia Hill, moll to multiple gangsters like Ben “Bugsy” Siegel and the business mastermind behind the mob’s move into marijuana and drug smuggling.
Athena List Finalists
Lonely Hunter by Sarah Schulman
Lucky 13 by Denise Meyers
Muted by Brandi Ford
Oil & Water by Alfred Thomas Catalfo & Morgan Webster Dudley
The 2015 Athena List
* Featured in ET Weekly
Dickey Chapelle – Margaret Nagle: which tells the story of a war photographer known as “The Patron Saint of the Marines” who captured photos from the front lines from Iwo Jima to Vietnam.
A Beautiful Lie (formerly Highsmith) – Eliza Lee: The story of famed crime novelist and Barnard alumna, Patricia Highsmith, and her spiral into alcoholism during the McCarthy era, when she could not put her name to the iconic lesbian novel, The Price of Salt.
The Burning Season – Jenny Halper: Based on a short story by Laura Van Den Berg, this is the story of a female scientist and her teenage daughter’s obsessive quest to save endangered lemurs.
Athena List Finalists
Chisholm by Montserrat Mendez, Armistead Johnson
Little Pink House by Courtney Moorehead Balaker – opened 2017 Athena Film Festival
The Vote (formerly Revolution) by Joanne Parrent
Revolution Now (formerly Victoria of Murray Hill) by Kate Danaher and Kathleen Davison
The 2014 Athena List
On the Basis of Sex – Daniel Stiepleman (The story of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s early years.) — Film to be released this fall
Fair Fight (formerly The Good Years) – Rachel Feldman and Adam Prince: (The story of Lilly Ledbetter’s life.)
The Sky’s the Limit: The Story of the Mercury 13 – Maria Burton, Gabrielle Burton, Ursula Burton and Jennifer Burton: (About the female astronauts who were prepared to go into space but were denied the opportunity because of their gender.)
Audrey’s Run – Emily Abt (A contemporary story of an African-American woman running for mayor of Boston.)