By The Canadian Press
LOS ANGELES — A Winnipeg screenwriter has won a US$35,000 prize and mentorship opportunity from the organization behind the Oscars.
Byron Hamel is one of five winners of the 2021 Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting competition, a global contest supported by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
The yearlong fellowship includes mentorship from an academy member and a featured spot on the academy’s YouTube channel this week, set to include conversations with heavyweights including director Destin Daniel Cretton, producer Phil Lord and actress Olivia Wilde.
Hamel made the cut for “Shade of the Grapefruit Tree,” about a severely abused white boy who befriends his sci-fi-obsessed Black landlady. The boy’s fantasy of becoming a robot empowers him to recklessly confront his murderous stepdad.
The other winners were: Haley Hope BartelsofLos Angeles; Karin delaPena Collison of West Hollywood, Calif.; R.J. Daniel Hanna of Los Angeles; and Laura Kosann of New York.
Recipients are expected to complete a feature-length screenplay during their fellowship year.