The Chinonye Chukwu Emerging Writer Award

The Chinonye Chukwu Emerging Writer Award is given to a feature-length writer who has previously participated in an Athena Film Festival Writers Lab.

The winner receives a $10,000 grant that will assist them in the development of their feature-length script. In addition to the financial grant, the writer receives a year-long intensive writing fellowship and is provided with a creative advisor to serve as a mentor. The award is named for award-winning writer and director Chinonye Chukwu. Her script Clemency appeared on the 2017 Athena List and she is an outstanding example for emerging writers. We are proud to have her as part of the Athena Film Festival family.

The Chinonye Chukwu Emerging Writer Award is sponsored by Christine A. Schantz.

2024 Chinonye Chukwu Emerging Writer Award Winner

The Pepper by Christine Garver
In 1930s Carmel, a brilliant, tenacious immigrant becomes the muse and lover of acclaimed photographer Edward Weston, but as she helps his reputation grow she struggles to find the space for her own ambitions in the dark room of a genius. Based on a true story.

Previous Winners 

2023 Chinonye Chukwu Emerging Writer Award Winner

AWE by Kristen A. Golden
No horizon is too far for polar explorer Ann Bancroft, already the first woman to trek to the North Pole. Based on a true story, AWE drops us into Ann’s 1992 quest to lead the first all-women’s expedition across Antarctica. Pulling their sleds 1,700 miles through brutal subzero temperatures and whiteout conditions, Ann and her team must race against time and their critics to complete the trek before the coastal waters freeze, leaving them stranded on the barren continent.

2022 Chinonye Chukwu Emerging Writer Award Winners

Book of Genevieve by Kelsie Mason Ramos
Eager to live a life outside of her Catholic upbringing, a young woman soon realizes in order to find her dream queer community, she will have to leave the only world she’s ever known behind.

Laylayon by Nic Yulo
When a pragmatic retired nurse is forced to relocate her American-born family to her ancestral home in a cursed village buried deep within the Philippine jungle, she discovers that she must face the ghosts of her past or risk losing her children forever.