The Athena List is an annual script competition that selects exceptional scripts with women leaders at the heart of the story. As the central program in the Athena Film Festival’s Parity Pipeline program, The Athena List’s goal is to raise the profile of the scripts and the writers within the industry with the purpose of getting these movies made and elevating their careers to the next level.
Athena List Successes
- Athena List finalist, Little Pink House, written and directed by Courtney Balaker and starring Catherine Keener, opened the 2017 festival and was released in the spring of 2018.
- Athena List winner, On the Basis of Sex, based on the life of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, written by Daniel Stiepelman and directed by Mimi Leder and starring Felicity Jones as a young RBG, was released on December 25, 2018.
- Athena List winner Clemency written and directed by Chinonye Chukwu starring Alfre Woodard and Aldis Hodge won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.
- Athena List winner The Burning Season written by Jenny Halper will begin shooting in 2019, Naomi Watts and Sophia Lillis will star, and Claire McCarthy is set to direct.
The 2019 Athena List Winners
Hedy by Giovanni Porta
Famed actress and inventor, Hedy Lamarr, escapes her overbearing Austrian husband and travels to the US where she storms Hollywood, all while struggling to convince the U.S. Military that her Secret Communications invention will help them win World War II. Her invention would be the basis for Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and GPS.
Out of My Mind by Daniel Stiepleman
Melody Brooks (11) is inquisitive, intelligent and eager for friends. She also has Cerebral Palsy. Now, for the first time, she’s leaving the dull security of special ed. for a “mainstream” fifth-grade classroom. Though she cannot speak, Melody Brooks will need to find her voice – to demand the respect she deserves. Based on the best selling YA novel by Sharon Draper.
Roe v. Wade by Jennifer Majka
Roe v. Wade charts the extraordinary journey of Sarah Weddington, a 26-year-old, small-town Texas lawyer who, in her first solo court case, ushered through the biggest U.S. Supreme Court decision of the century – legalizing abortion.
The Defining Moment by Margaret Nagle
At a breaking point in their marriage the Governor of New York, Franklin Roosevelt doesn’t tell his wife, Eleanor, he’s going to run for President. When she finds out from the New York Times she files for a divorce. Franklin discovers the only way to bring his wife back is to let her go be with another lover, a woman named Lorena Hickok. When Franklin is elected president all three of them move into the White House. Against the backdrop of the Great Depression and the creation of the New Deal Eleanor is confronted with who she is and who she wants to be in relationship to her husband, the President of the United States.
2019 Athena List Finalists
The Fastest Girl in the World by Katherine Hayes
Moonlight on the Water by J.M.R. Serrato
Collision of Duty by Jermaine Jones
Cleo by Marilyn Fu
2019 Athena List Judges
Julie Ann Armstrong
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, 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.
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 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 by 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 by 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 by 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 by 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
Dickey Chapelle by Margaret Nagle
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) by 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 by 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 by Daniel Stiepleman
The story of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s early years.
Lily (formerly The Good Years) by Rachel Feldman and Adam Prince
The story of Lilly Ledbetter’s life.
The Sky’s the Limit: The Story of the Mercury 13 by 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 by Emily Abt
A contemporary story of an African-American woman running for mayor of Boston.