The Athena List: Female-Driven Scripts From Rising Stars Top Annual Screenplay Competition

Kate Erbland
·4 min read

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As the Athena Film Festival gears up for its latest edition later this month, the female-centric event has unveiled the winners and finalists of its annual script competition, The Athena List. The competition aims to select “exceptional scripts with women leaders at the heart of the story” and its “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.” “The introduction of the Athena List has made women-driven narratives about female leaders a priority, and we are pleased to present this year’s list of dynamic scripts,” said Athena Film Festival co-founder Melissa Silverstein in an official statement.

The program has already enjoyed big successes over a few short years, and previous winners include Chinonye Chukwu’s “Clemency” (which won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival) and the Mimi Leder-directed “On the Basis of Sex” (written by Daniel Stiepelman, the RBG biopic was released in 2018). Other finalists of note include Courtney Balaker’s “Little Pink House” and Shamim Sarif’s”The Artemis Protocol,” which was turned into a novel and is now being adapted for Television by Village Roadshow Entertainment Group.

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The 10th anniversary of the festival will run Thursday, February 27 – Sunday, March 1 at Barnard College in New York City. As was previously announced, the festival will open with Unjoo Moon’s “I Am Woman,” and close with “Rocks,” written by Theresa Ikoko with Claire Wilson and directed by Sarah Gavron. Additional films include “Lost Girls,” “Military Wives,” “The Perfect Candidate,” and “Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am.” Check out the full list of Athena List winners and finalists below, along with bloglines for each script, as provided by the festival.


“Auto High,” by Nina Kentsis
Needing money to attend her dream college, a high school girl with a knack for mechanics risks everything to enter the underworld of New York street racing.

“Mother-Daughter,” by Tricia Lee
A churchgoing, undocumented Asian woman who has a strained relationship with her daughter forms an unlikely friendship with a transgender teenager who dials the wrong number.

“Noor,” by Nijla Mu’min
Caught in the throes of grief following her brother’s unsolved murder outside of a Brooklyn bodega, a black woman develops an unexpected physical connection to the Arab man who works there. A surrender to lust and a search for truth lead their worlds to collide.

“Over It,” by Joy Goodwin
Sick of the superhero workplace bullshit, two female superheroes — a working mom and her millennial trainee — go rogue to stop a villain, changing their squad forever.

“What the Eyes Don’t See,” by Cherien Dabis
The true story of Iraqi American pediatrician Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, who blew the whistle on local and state government officials for exposing tens of thousands of Flint, Michigan, residents to disastrous levels of toxic lead in the water.


“Bell,” by Dyana Winkler & Darcy Brislin
The untold story of famed inventor Alexander Graham Bell and his deaf wife, Mabel, whose marriage changed history, for better and for much worse.

“Redwood Summer,” by Rangeley Wallace
An environmental lawyer follows her husband to Alabama for his career, abandoning her successful work in Washington, D.C. Once there, she takes on an environmental case that reunites her with a long-lost love.

“Stampede,” by Sontenish Myers
On a southern plantation in the 1800s, a young slave girl has telekinetic powers she cannot control. Circumstances escalate when she’s separated from her mother to be a house girl, in close quarters with the mercurial master’s wife.

You can learn more about The Athena List right here.

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