2021 Columbia University Film Festival (CUFF) Script Competition Winners

April 26, 2021

The 33rd Columbia University Film Festival (CUFF) began on April 23 with Screenwriting Night, an annual event to honor the screen and TV writers of the program. More than 40 screenplays and teleplays were submitted to the festival’s Screen and TV Writing Competition this year by graduating students and recent alumni. Screenwriting Night highlights the achievements of these writers with staged table readings and an awards ceremony. 


Also during the event, alumna Cherien Dabis ‘04 accepted the 20th annual Andrew Sarris Award. Named for the world-renowned critic, theorist and film program professor, the Andrew Sarris Award was created by film students to honor outstanding artistic achievement of distinguished alumni.


Screenwriting Night took place virtually this year via the online platform Filmocracy. Those who purchase a festival pass can view a recording of the event on the CUFF Filmocracy website


Below, you will find a list of this year’s winning scripts and screenwriters.


The Ezra Litwak Award for Distinction in Screenwriting

Alies Sluiter '20

Boy on Fire


Barb (40s), is a drifter who takes a teaching position at the juvenile state prison, where she’s tasked with rehabilitating CAIN, a 17-year-old who murdered a female classmate when he was twelve. An unlikely bond develops that causes both of them to question how they came to be who they are and seek redemption for their actions.


Zaki Gordon Memorial Award for Excellence in Screenwriting 

Patrick Clement '20

New Hampshire Boy


With a cross country trip less than a week away, two homeless punk rockers come to a crossroads when sexual exploration and street violence test their complicated friendship.


Columbia Teleplay Award (Comedy)

Lia Nies '19

Heaven Forbid


When a narcissistic billionaire unexpectedly dies, he talks himself out of Hell and into Purgatory, where he must complete Earthly missions answering trivial prayers deemed “God’s spam mail” as punishment. 


Columbia Teleplay Award (Drama)

Minka Bleakley '20



In a desperate bid to continue her research and effectively change the world, a young scientist escapes with a billion-dollar seed patent to the commune where she was raised, unwittingly entering into a dangerous world fraught with power politics, eco-terrorism, and new-age ritual.


Lewis Cole Memorial Award for Excellence 

Gabrielė Urbonaitė '21


Gabrielė Urbonaitė (born in Vilnius, Lithuania) is a writer, director and editor currently based in Lithuania and the U.S. She is a recipient of National Lithuanian Film Award Silver Crane for The Swimmer, Princess Grace Film Award for Back, and NY Women's Fund Award for Solastalgia. She is an alumna of Berlinale Talents, Odense Talent Camp, and EKRAN+ training program. Urbonaitė earned her BFA in Film from Emerson College and her MFA in Screenwriting / Directing from Columbia University.


Jesse Thompkins III Screenwriting Award 

current student Danielle Dougé


Danielle Dougé is a Haitian American filmmaker from Chicago, IL. Her work most often centers on an exploration of Black womanhood/feminisms, queerness, ancestral knowledge and intergenerational trauma via the genres of magical realism, thriller, and drama. Dougé’s recent work includes the experimental video Dissemblance (2018), the video essay And Then There Was Hair (2018), a short film entitled Everything’s Fine (Sorem-Smikle, 2019), and the narrative short She Came Back (2020). She holds a BA in Radio/TV/Film from Northwestern University and is an MFA candidate at Columbia University's Film Program, concentrating in Screenwriting. Dougé is set to produce a short film entitled, Wolf, written by current student Angeline Dimambro and directed by Wes Goodrich. In addition she will be a co-producer on Lunise Cerin’s short film, 25 Frames.  


Faculty Selects Scripts

Boy on Fire (Feature) by Alies Sluiter ‘20

Cicada (Feature) by Jade Edwards

Heaven Forbid (Teleplay) by Lia Nies ‘19

Between Heaven and Here (Feature) by Jon Lazar ‘20

New Hampshire Boy (Feature) by Patrick Clement ‘20

Not Our People (Teleplay) by Jon Lazar ‘20

Riversong (Teleplay) by Minka Bleakley ‘20

Sunday Money (Teleplay) by Cole Smith


Faculty Honors Scripts

Forestera (Feature) by Lucia Alenar Iglesias

Gadsen (Teleplay) by Glenn Brown ‘20

Lacuna (Feature) by Selman Nacar

The Last Electrician (Feature) by Harry Bartle

Massacre (Teleplay) by Lyle Parsons ‘21

Regurgitate (Teleplay) by Kristin Curtis ‘20


Congratulations to all of this year’s winners!