2020 Screenplay Competition Description

The 12th Annual Screenplay Competition is part of the 44th Annual Atlanta Film Festival.

Now approaching its 44th year, the Atlanta Film Festival (ATLFF)—an Academy Award®-qualifying festival—is the Southeast’s preeminent celebration of cinema and the flagship production of the Atlanta Film Society. One of the largest and longest-running festivals in the country, ATLFF showcases both emerging and established artists’ works. Recent festivals have seen audiences of over 28,000 film-lovers joining over 300 attending filmmakers in support of moving images that push the boundaries of independent cinema.

Every spring, our 11-day festival—recognized as the Best Film Festival by Creative Loafing, Sunday Paper, 10 Best, and Atlanta Magazine, as well as the Best Spring Festival by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution—presents local and international works selected from over 6,500 submissions representing 40+ countries. ATLFF has been named a “Top 50 Festival Worth the Entry Fee” and one of the “25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World” by MovieMaker magazine.

The Atlanta Film Festival has a four decade long history of discovering and nurturing new filmmaking talent, having shown early works by Robert Rodriguez, Spike Lee, and Victor Nunez. The Screenplay Competition was founded in 2008 to expand this tradition by recognizing the foundation of the filmmaking art form.

The 2020 Atlanta Film Festival Screenplay Competition is devoted to finding the best screenplays from around the world and offering their authors an opportunity for a once in a lifetime writing workshop and mentorship with professionals in the film industry.

Three feature film screenplays, one pilot screenplay, and one short film screenplay are chosen from submissions to take part in one-on-one mentorship meetings. Not only do they get notes on their winning screenplay, they also get to build lifelong relationships with industry professionals, and network with the diverse and experienced crowd of filmmakers and industry insiders that attend the Atlanta Film Festival every year.

Winners of the Atlanta Film Festival Screenplay Competition have gone on to be honored by the Black List, selected for the Sundance Directors’ Lab, sign with representation, option their winning scripts, and write/direct critically and commercially successful indie films.

Notable Competition Alumni

James Ponsoldt, 2008 Feature Screenplay Winner, went on to become a successful writer/director, helming projects such as:  The Spectacular Now, The End of the Tour, and Smashed. His most recent film The Circle, starring Tom Hanks, Emma Watson, and Jon Boyega, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2017, followed by theatrical release.  

Stella Meghie, 2011 Feature Screenplay Winner, went on to direct her winning script Jean of the Joneses which played at the Atlanta Film Festival in 2016. Her film Everything, Everything, starring Amandla Stenberg and Nick Robinson, was released in theaters in 2017.

Mike Makowsky, 2016 Pilot Screenplay Winner, went on to become a Blacklist honoree. His feature film I Think We’re Alone Now premiered at Sundance in 2019 under the direction of Reed Morano (Director of Meadowland, Cinematographer for Beyoncé: Lemonade, The Skeleton Twins, Kill Your Darlings) and starring Peter Dinklage and Elle Fanning.

Previous Mentors

Diana Ossana
Oscar Winning Screenwriter (Brokeback Mountain)

Kathryn Dean
Producer (Winter’s Bone, Hell or High Water, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks)

Michael Lucker
Screenwriter/Emory Professor (Vampire in Brooklyn, 101 Dalmatians 2, Mulan 2, Kronk’s New Groove, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron)

Kent Osborne
Head of Story (Adventure Time), Writer (Spongebob Squarepants), Voice Director (Steven Universe, Adventure Time)

Danny Manus
Former Development Executive (Sidney White), Founder No Bullscript Consulting

Diane Drake
Screenwriter, UCLA professor, and former VP of Creative Affairs at Mirage Enterprises (Only You, What Women Want)

Robin M. Henry
Screenwriter (Meet the Browns, House of Payne, East Los High), Producer (East Los High, Kevin Hart's Guide to Black History)

James Ponsoldt
Director (Smashed, The Spectacular Now, End of the Tour, The Circle), Writer (Smashed,  The Circle)


"What sets ATLFF apart is what makes Atlanta itself such a great city -- a sharp sense of humor, a warm sense of hospitality, and a taste for adventure. One of my favorite film festivals."
  -Jonathan Mason, 2019 Atlanta Film Festival Screenplay Competition Pilot Winner

“[The ATLFF Screenplay Competition] gave us the most valuable reward of all. Meetings with three outstanding mentors [...] Atlanta Film Festival provided airfare, lodging and meals for the weekend, so all we had to worry about was taking notes on how to improve our screenplays. We also participated in a table read with SAG/AFTRA actors to hear the words we had written interpreted by professional actors so we could see what was working and what wasn't. The experience was beyond invaluable.”
- Denise Meyers, 2017 Atlanta Film Festival Screenplay Competition Feature Winner

"The screenplay retreat was a unique and immersive experience in that it not only provided specific unbiased insight into the world of my script, but also refreshingly candid knowledge about the world of the industry itself. The festival truly does a commendable job of nurturing diverse talent and offering the rare opportunity to workshop your material in a concentrated, safe, and fun environment with mentors who genuinely want you to put your best foot forward, both with your script and the industry at large."
- Melanie Schiele, 2013 Atlanta Film Festival Screenplay Competition Feature Winner (2013 Slamdance Screenplay Competition Winner and 2017 NYU Purple List Honoree)

"The ATLFF was absolutely a career high. I was so honored to be a part of such a prestigious festival. From day 1, the staff and volunteers were professional, courteous, and encouraging towards my endeavors in screenwriting. The mentors chosen for the screenplay winners were kind, very knowledgeable of their craft, and accessible. I had a blast laughing, creating, and viewing all the wonderful talent throughout the festival. Thank you again ATLFF for such an uplifting experience!"
- Tonya Holloway, 2013 Atlanta Film Festival Screenplay Competition Feature Winner

“This competition offers you what very few can, a personal and relaxed atmosphere to meet with professionals who are willing to take the time to not only get to know your writing but you as a person.”
-Wenonah Wilms, 2008 Atlanta Film Festival Screenplay Competition Feature Winner

Competition Details

Feature, Pilot, and Short Film screenplays must be the original work of the writer(s). Feature screenplays can be within 40-130 pages in length. Television screenplays can be within 10-70 pages in length. Upon submission, the writer must indicate the nature of the television screenplay: webisode, comedy, drama, or any combination of the above. Short Film screenplays can be within 5-40 pages in length. Screenplays must be submitted in English. We accept any and all genres.

Please read all Rules and Terms before submitting. If you have any questions visit our FAQ.