New prize for science-themed scripts

The Wellcome Trust today launched a new annual screenwriting prize in association with the BFI Film Fund to encourage feature films on the theme of biology or medicine. Writers inspired by subjects such as genetics, disease, consciousness or mental health have the chance to win a £20,000 cash prize to help develop their script from its first draft.

Samuel Wigley
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“Science and medicine have inspired some of the most memorable, and often challenging, films in the history of cinema, from One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Inception to Blade Runner and Memento,” says Clare Matterson, the Wellcome Institute’s Director of Medical Humanities and Engagement. “These are films that question what it is to be human or even just to be ‘normal’, that express the hopes and fears of society towards scientific progress.”

The Wellcome Trust is a global charity foundation committed to improvements in human and animal health. “At the Wellcome Trust, we work with the brightest minds with the best ideas in medicine,” continues Matterson. “The Wellcome Trust Screenwriting Prize is aimed at identifying and supporting their counterparts in the film world and creating some truly original British films.”

The judging panel will include experts from Wellcome, the BFI Film Fund and Film4. A shortlist of 5-10 entrants will be invited to an event at the Wellcome Institute in the autumn to discuss their script with leading international scientists. They will also be given a tour of the Wellcome Institute and Collection.

Writers for both live action and animation projects are eligible to apply, with judges looking for compelling stories which incorporate biomedicine in original ways. In addition to the cash prize, the successful screenwriter will receive support with the development of their script from production executives at the BFI Film Fund.

Lizzie Francke, the BFI’s Senior Development and Production Executive, says “Science in film is by no means restricted to science fiction or science-inspired biopics. We want to hear from screenwriters with bold, innovative projects that draw inspiration from science and medicine to tell stories that challenge and entertain audiences.”

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