The 2016 Canadian Film Fest/Harold Greenberg Fund



The Canadian Film Fest and The Harold Greenberg Fund proudly partnered on this unique opportunity for screenwriters. Open to Canadian screenwriters who've written a feature-length screenplay, the CFF’s Harold Greenberg Screenwriting competition received over 170 submissions. Patrick Whistler’s “AVA” received $10,000 in financial support as the Grand Prize winner. In addition to the development funding, a Harold Greenberg executive involved in the selection of the winning script will provide feedback on the script as well as guidance throughout one development round. Patrick Whistler and runner-up Kate Hewlett also receive passes to the Toronto Screenwriting Conference taking place in April 2016. Here is the complete Canadian Film Fest/Harold Greenberg Fund 2016 “It List”, which is a list of the best unproduced scripts in Canada - a great resource for producers.





A brooding, understated rhythm develops into great energy and urgency with Whistler’s character journey set against the circus that is the Calgary Stampede. Ava’s wants and needs are deflected or neglected by a cast of imminently relatable but indeliable characters in her way. The writing is crisp, concise and helps create the electric pace of the story. An attractive action thriller, in the mode of Jamie Dagg’s recent, acclaimed hit RIVER.

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2. “The Swearing Jar” by KATE HEWLETT

Hewlett has crafted a memorable, brilliant tragi-comedy, heartwarming and sad at the same time. It’s a bit of a puzzle film too, since it goes back and forth in time for many sequences, effortlessly weaving together a tale of love and loss. Shows the mark of a great writer as incredible human stories come together amidst hilarity and sadness. A true gem and possibly a fantastic romantic tour-de-force film. Brought us to tears.

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3. “Restless River” by MARIE-HÉLÈNE COUSINEAU

The writer impressively creates a lived-in world of its main character Elsa, an Inuk girl who is assaulted by a US soldier resulting in a pregnancy which she is determined to keep, beginning a dramatically sweeping 21-year journey that is detailed and layered. Even though the script is 80 pages, it feels like an authoritative film with scope and gravitas. We admire Cousineau’s ability to create a genuinely honest family drama, not reliant on melodrama or cliché. The final scene is powerful stuff.



4. “The Stride” by RICK WHELAN

Set in 1950s racist Alabama, a young girl, Frances “Frankie” Trumbull, mourns the death of her brother and her mother’s inability to get through grief, which all connects through Frankie’s love of jazz music. She befriends a rough, worldly, black stride jazz piano player James “Honeybear” Powell, causing embarrassment for her mayoral campaigning father. Solid structure, resonating themes and captivating characters are woven into a wonderful story by Whelan, an award-winning playwright and journalist.



5. “Fraternal Politics” by KEVIN CLAYDON, EVAN LANDRY & PHIL MONIZ

A hilarious stoner-buddy-movie which is part HANGOVER and part STATE & MAIN, inept doofus brothers Nathan and Witt get caught in a blackmail scam by a way smarter bartender, Jessica. Great comedic banter doesn’t let up as laughs are rampant and situations get more dire. The threat/action/ jeopardy never lets up and while the characters still need work, especially Jessica’s motivations, it’s clear this is the arrival of fantastically gifted comedy writers.



The rest of the “IT LIST” Top Ten (in alphabetical order):



This could be the new HEAVY METAL by way of BRAZIL built by a DJ. Set in a lively, irreverent world created by Araya and Warrington. The writers found a strong, hilarious female protagonist in Cherry Pop, hellbent in returning to a simplier time in Empire City, which might be impossible given the calamaties and wildly imaginative pitfalls these writers throw her way.



“Inspired” by RYAN M. ANDREWS

Known as a horror filmmaker with a twisted view on everyday, benign events that ultimately escalate into full nightmares, Andrew’s dark tale of an artist’s struggle to find his muse goes to the next level with INSPIRED. Great characters, impeccable structure and unexpected reversals make this thriller enthralling, thematically layered and gripping from start to finish. An interesting, inverted MISERY that becomes so much more than you expect.



“Mirror Lake” by JOEL IRWIN

When a geologist discovers the body of his perfect double floating in Mirror Lake, things take a pendulum swing into the bizarre and fascinatinating other-worldly realms. A wonderful concept realized, Irwin is able to create a wildly original, twisting parallax of captivating characters anchored in loss, redemption and inexplicable what-ifs. A true page-turner and could be a phenomenal, powerful film.



“The Hendersons During The Apocalypse” by FARLEY DUNSMUIR

When the Hendersons throw a dinner party during what turns out to be the apocalypse, insert all-things-go-to-hell jokes here. Superb dialogue and well-crafted suburban characters run through an end-of-times gauntlet that never lets up. Strong points-of-view and surprising thematic relevance given the subject matter, create a comedically intelligent, metaphorical romp with ripe visuals and stunning pace. Relationships are dynamic and jokes are spot-on. THE CELEBRATION by way of THIS IS THE END.



“The WBI (Women’s Bureau of Investigation)” by ANNIE BRADLEY & DANIELA SAIONI

A female-driven HANGOVER with a twistedly delicious revenge plot, its irrevenent, inventive tone and distinctive, absurd and creative characters also highlight the tech-savvy and manipulative world we all live in. Great comedy writing and dialogue shows a veteran writing team that takes risks, drives fast and leaves everything on the page.



“IT LIST” - Honourable Mentions:



A fantastically-written, taught thriller with unique imagery, great characters and an ending you won’t forget, Top-30 Nicholl Fellowship writer Jennifer Condrashoff-Clark is one of our country’s best unproduced writing talents… for now. Her ability to juxtapose good and evil while revealing what’s needed in the middle to believe in is substantial.



“The Listening Post” by ANDREW EDMONDS

A big vision of the future trickles down to very specific, character-driven actions centred around Jane Hawkins, a space-aged air-traffic controller on a remote outpost where she also moonlights as the solar system’s most revered DJ. When a poorly engineered heist goes bad, it’s up to Jane to keep peace not only in the galaxy, but with herself. The script is an expansive canvas, but worth it.  



“Acquainted” by NATTY ZAVITZ

A wickedly funny, heartbreaking and poignant twist to the “meet-cute”, “Acquainted” cues the arrival of a new screenwriting talent in Natty Zavitz’s bang-on dialogue skills and indeliable characters. Take a walk with his DREW and EMMA to see a relatiobship full of enlightenment, hilarity and the inevitable – and keep an eye on Zavitz’s name as you’ll be seeing a lot more from this talented young screenwriter.



“White River” (aka White Blood) by SAM COYLE

Sam Coyle’s “White River” asks one specific question:  If you had nothing, how far would you go for money? – and then shatters it across a stark landscape of small town dreams and desperate families. Making every line of dialogue count, Coyle weaves a kinetic, brooding tale ofbetrayal, disappointment and in the end, revelation for her characters LARLEEN and PEGG that is simultaneously gutwrenching and perfect. This could be a phenomenal indie film – and we hope to see it on screen one day.



HUGE thanks to the fine folks at The Harold Greenberg Fund and the Toronto Screenwriting Conference for making this happen!