Alumnus King Lu '19 Awarded Humanitas Prize's Carol Mendelsohn College Drama Fellowship

BY Gina Hackett, February 6, 2020

Alumnus King Lu ’19 took home the Carol Mendelsohn College Drama Fellowship at the 45th annual Humanitas Prize ceremony last month for his feature screenplay From June to July.


Lu describes From June to July as an intergenerational epic about love and family. 


The story follows the contrasting lives of two generations of Chinese Americans, with the older generation immigrating to America to flee political turmoil in China, while the younger generation must cope with a near deadly boating accident that threatens to tear their community apart decades later.


“Being around so many talented writers at the Humanitas ceremony was absolutely surreal and felt like a dream,” Lu said. “I am so grateful to Humanitas for everything that they do: honoring media that showcases love within the human family and celebrating young filmmakers passionate about bringing people together through storytelling.”


Lu began working on the script during his first semester at Columbia and revised it over the next three years under the guidance of his professors, including faculty members Malia Scotch Marmo, Andy Bienen, Brendan Ward, Ramin Serry, Dan Kleinman and Trey Ellis.


Other films honored at the awards ceremony, which was held at the Beverly Hilton, include Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit, Lulu Wang’s The Farewell, and Ava Duvernay’s When They See Us. Lu will receive $20,000 as part of the award.


Lu’s win represents yet another success for Columbia in the Humanitas Prize’s Carol Mendelsohn College Drama Fellowship category, as alumna Jessica Shields ’18 won the award last year for her pilot, Rue Pigalle.


An Asian American filmmaker from Atlanta, Lu studied philosophy and economics at Duke before completing his MFA in Film at Columbia. 


His short film, Wanda's Grave, recently won Best Short Film at the Golden Door International Film Festival in New Jersey, where his other short, Can You Hear Me? also played. Lu is currently an Armed with a Camera fellow at Visual Communications and is based in Los Angeles.


The Humanitas Prize was developed in 1974 to honor filmmakers “whose work inspires compassion, hope, and understanding in the human family,” according to Deadline


It has awarded “over $4 million to more than 360 TV and motion picture writers whose work examines what it means to be a fully realized human being in a world struggling with racism, terrorism, sexism, ageism, anti-Semitism, political polarization, religious fanaticism, extreme poverty, violence and unemployment.” 


Aside from those honored in select categories, including Lu’s, Humanitas winners designate a nonprofit of their choice to receive their prize money, which totaled $95,000 this year. 

According to the Humanitas website, the Carol Mendelsohn College Drama Fellowship “exists to recognize and reward the talents of young writers with financial support to empower them to tell meaningful stories.”