FilmNorth, a St. Paul-based media arts center, has announced the winner of the FilmNorth Screenwriting Residency, an annual competition for Minnesota screenwriters. Matthew Stenerson, of Minneapolis, MN, has won the $10,000 residency out of a field of 75 applicants. His screenplay, FADUMA & MIKE, is about a widowed Somali-American teacher and a Midwestern plumber who fight against their budding relationship. The St. Paul-based residency is funded by the Knight Foundation’s Knight Arts Challenge with matching funds by FilmNorth, as an annual competition through 2018.

FADUMA & MIKE was selected by a national panel consisting of key influencers in the film industry: Film Independent Spirit Award and Gotham Award-winning producer, Amanda Marshall; Senior Director of Artist Programs at the Tribeca Film Institute, Molly O’Keefe; and Film Independent Senior Manager of Project Involve, Francisco Velasquez.

“A big thank you to the Knight Foundation for funding this competition for the past three years,” said FilmNorth’s Executive Director, Andrew Peterson. “In a few short years, this competition and residency has had a profound impact, providing new and exciting opportunities for not only the winners but each years’ finalists.” Peterson added, “Please join us April 16th for a staged reading of the 2017 winning screenplay THE OTHER MAN and stay tuned for a staged reading of FADUMA & MIKE in 2019.”

In addition to Minneapolis resident Stenerson, the other 2018 finalists are Susan Brightbill Dahlseid of Minnetonka, Patricia Fox of Minneapolis, Casey Giltner of Minneapolis, Michael Gorrie of Eagan, Susan Marks of Minneapolis, Alan Porter of Minneapolis, Ann Prim of St. Paul, John Thavis & Julianne O’Connell of St. Paul and St. Joseph, respectively, and Wenonah Wilms of Minneapolis.

The FilmNorth Screenwriting Residency is a blind competition (all submitted screenplays had no identifying elements, author’s name, bio, awards, etc.). Three sets of panels—two local, and one national—participated in a process that selected 10 finalists and ultimately chose FADUMA & MIKE as the winner. All 10 finalists will receive guided mentorships, services from The Black List, and free classes at FilmNorth to refine and improve their work. Additionally, Stenerson’s screenplay will receive a staged reading in St. Paul (exact date and location TBD).

Stillwater native Matthew Stenerson began working in film with Super 8 shorts. Experimenting in live theater, he co-wrote lip sync musicals set to the songs of Belle & Sebastian and The Magnetic Fields. He won the McKnight Screenwriting Fellowship for his screenplay, DEATH TO PROM and co-produced the resulting feature film. Under the pen name Edward Karlow, he wrote ECHO ISLAND, a novel for young readers. FADUMA & MIKE is his latest screenplay and he’s excited for the possibility to produce it in Minnesota.

Matthew has been a screenwriting resident at the Oberholtzer Foundation, a Jerome Media Arts Grant recipient, and has made it to the second round at the Sundance Screenwriters Lab. He has worked and volunteered for various organizations, including: Walker Art Center, Austin Film Society, South by Southwest Film Festival, and Stanford University. He lives in Minneapolis with his husband and their cat.

THE TEN FINALISTS (listed alphabetically by title)
A young girl suffering from a serious mental disorder escapes from an insane asylum. The Detective searching for her discovers the disorder may be more extraordinary than it initially appeared; that the child’s ‘schizophrenic’ visions are actually events yet to occur.

ANATOMY OF A TOWN by Patricia Fox
The Chief of Police solves the murder of a young woman while confronting the Sheriff, who blocks his every move for jurisdiction, in order to protect himself from the Chief finding out about his ties to the murder victim and the killer.

DEVIL’S FOOD by Susan Marks
The tyranny and deceit of the Cold War had nothing on the kitsch-tastic Polly Pepperdine Kitchens in 1959. The newest member of the Kitchens, ingénue Violet, is poised to dethrone Cora, the diva behind the Polly Pepperdine name, while annihilating anyone else at the cake mix company who gets in her way.

DUST by Wenonah Wilms
A widow must travel to a neighboring town to get medicine for her young son during an Oklahoma dust storm but when she arrives she discovers there’s something else in the dust killing people and needs to race the deadly storm home before it destroys her family.

FADUMA AND MIKE by Matthew Stenerson (WINNER)
A widowed Somali-American teacher and a Midwestern plumber fight against their budding relationship.

A young transgendered woman seeking to normalize her life takes a day job at a low-rent motel. She quickly learns that a maid’s life at the ‘Aqua City Motel’ is anything but normal.

LAST LAUGH by Susan Brightbill Dahlseid
LAST LAUGH is a dramedy about three siblings who reconnect while trying to stop their father, a stand-up comedian, from marrying a trashy girl they went to high school with.

OPPENHEIMER by Michael Gorrie
Robert Oppenheimer races against the Nazis to develop the first atomic bomb, but his success gives life to a Frankenstein creation that he soon learns isn’t controllable.

A disgraced ex-cop on her first assignment as an insurance investigator looks into the accidental death of a popular small town mayor and encounters a web of racism, betrayal and violence that forces her to reconsider her notions of law and justice.

THE SLEW PUMPER STING by John Thavis and Julianne O’Connell
A mother and daughter move to a small town to rob the local bank, but their plans – and their lives – are thrown off course by friendship, love and a crusade to save the Mississippi River wetlands.

Amanda Marshall is President of Production and Development at Cold Iron Pictures. She produced the 2016 Sundance selection and A24 acquisition SWISS ARMY MAN for which she was nominated for a Film Independent Spirit Award, as well as Mike Birbiglia’s DON’T THINK TWICE. She executive produced the Gotham and Spirit Award-winning THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL, released by SPC. Amanda is an executive producer on Joseph Cedar’s NORMAN, acquired by SPC, as well as Oren Moverman’s TIME OUT OF MIND. Amanda produced Lake Bell’s I DO….UNTIL I DON’T and most recently produced the 2018 SXSW selection YOU CAN CHOOSE YOUR FAMILY.

Molly O’Keefe is the Senior Director, Artist Programs at the Tribeca Film Institute (TFI). Prior to joining TFI, Molly was the Director of Development and Production at Sundance Productions where she developed series for CNN, FX, HBO, Ovation, EPIX, Sony and Paramount.  Before returning to New York, she worked for Ben Stiller’s Los-Angeles-based Red Hour Films and produced Roger Kumble’s critically acclaimed play GIRLS TALK starring Brooke Shields and Constance Zimmer in West Hollywood.  She’s a graduate of Emerson College and happy to be back in her native New York.

Francisco Velasquez is the Senior Manager of Project Involve, Film Independent’s signature mentoring program that fosters the future generations of visual storytellers and aims towards an inclusive industry. Velasquez launched the Project Involve Shorts production component of the program and has executive produced over 30 short films for Film Independent. Francisco received his B.A. in Latin American Literature and Theater Arts from Occidental College and earned his M.F.A in Film Production at UCLA, where his thesis film JACARANDA received the coveted Bud Yorkin Master Film Fellowship and premiered at New Directors/New Films.

Jodie Burke is a writer, director and documentary filmmaker who has worked within the Hollywood studio system as a screenwriter on both feature film and television projects. She adapted India Knight’s novel “Don’t You Want Me?” for Sony Pictures, and was commissioned to write scripts for Universal, Fox, Fox 2000, Colombia Pictures, USA Films, and A & E, among others. She began her career at the Tribeca Film Center in New York, before heading to Los Angeles to run feature development for producer Art Linson on the Warner Bros. and Fox lots.

Valerie Deus is a poet and film curator. Her work has been featured in The Brooklyn Rail, Midway, Why Vandalism, aforementioned productions and the St. Paul Almanac. Her experimental poetry short was screened in the Co-Kisser Poetry-Film Festival and she has read at St Mark’s Poetry Project Annual New Year’s Day reading. She is the co-creator of We/Here a neighborhood art journal that highlights local writers and visual artists. When she’s not writing, she hosts Project 35, a local radio show where she plays music, poetry and talks pop culture. She curates FilmNorth’s Cinema Lounge, Minneapolis’s longest running film series, and teaches at Minneapolis Community and Technical College.

Matthew Dressel is a Duluth-based screenwriter and founder of The Duluth Film Collective: an ever-growing group of filmmakers and film lovers in the Duluth area. Matthew was the recipient of the 2017 FilmNorth Screenwriting Residency award for his thriller script The Other Man, which will have a professionally staged reading April 16th as a part of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival. He currently has three feature screenplays under option, including Killing DanieL by Darius Films in Toronto, Canada.

David Grant is a Twin Cities-based screenwriter playwright, who has created work for Russell Simmons’ Def Pictures, HBO, Davis Entertainment and the Showtime Network, among others. David has received screenwriting fellowships from the Minnesota State Arts Board and the McKnight Foundation. He and Twin Cities Public Television were awarded the 1990 Regional Emmy, Best Original Dramatic Program, for THE SCREENPLAY PROJECT: FOUR SHORTS. David teaches screenwriting at FilmNorth and has also taught at The Loft Literary Center and the Playwrights’ Center. He is president emeritus of Screenwriters’ Workshop, a core alumnus member of The Playwrights’ Center, and a member of the Writers’ Guild of America, West.

Jane Minton is a film and arts consultant for her company MintyFresh, and her clients include artists, production companies, film festivals and others. She co-produced the feature film THE PUBLIC DOMAIN, written and directed by Minnesota filmmaker Patrick Coyle. Minton is currently in pre-production on a yet-to-be announced feature film. Minton was the founding Executive Director of IFP Minnesota, and led the organization for 25 years. During that time she developed nationally-recognized programs such as the McKnight Fellowships for Filmmakers, Independents in Flight, Cinema Lounge, MNTV, the Fiscal Sponsorship Program, the Youth Media Program, and many more. Prior to IFP Minnesota, Minton worked as Director of Development for Intermedia Arts. She has served as a panelist for several foundations and grantors, including the Jerome Foundation, Minnesota State Arts Board, Metro Regional Arts Council, and has served as a reader for the National Endowment for the Arts Fast Track Challenge Grant.

Elizabeth Pacunas is a director, writer, producer, and distinguished alumna of the American Film Institute’s Directing Workshop for Women. Her credits include History Channel’s MONSTER QUEST, Travel Channel’s BIZARRE FOODS WITH ANDREW ZIMMERN, EXTRAORDINARY ACTS OF COURAGE for OWN, and the Freddie Award winning PBS series, HEALTH DIARY. Her independent film FLUID MOVEMENT was invited to the prestigious AFIDocs and screened at festivals and on PBS. Her latest feature as a writer/producer, CRACKED ICE, is available on Hulu, and she is currently in preproduction on a fictional web series for ’tweens, called “TJ Tech.”

Steven Chester Prince has over 30 years of industry experience as an actor, writer, director and producer. Behind the camera, Steve helped create Cross Creek Pictures. While serving as Vice President of Development, Cross Creek financed and produced BLACK SWAN, THE WOMAN IN BLACK and THE IDES OF MARCH. Following his very successful tenure with Cross Creek Pictures, Steve joined The Traveling Picture Show Company as President of its independent film division. At TPSC Films, Steve produced The QUIET ONES, starring Sam Claflin, co-produced A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES and executive produced JOSIE, starring Sophie Turner. Steve also co-wrote and directed the award-winning feature, DIVINE ACCESS.

Mark Steele is the VP of Production at Werc Werk Works. Wearing many hats at Wercs, he the Co-Produced Lawrence Kasdan’s DARLING COMPANION, Jill Sprecher’s THIN ICE, Rob Epstein & Jeffrey Freidman’s HOWL, and Todd Solondz’s LIFE DURING WARTIME. Mark is an experienced domestic & international business affairs exec, and accomplished Post Producer.  Mark has served as a technical and operations guru for many film festivals (Sundance, Tribeca, Telluride). Mark was a 2013 Trans-Atlantic Partners Producing Fellow and is a member of the Producers Guild of America.

Rhiana Yazzie is a Navajo playwright and filmmaker based in the Twin Cities. She’s the 2017 Sally Award winner for Vision and the Artistic Director of New Native Theatre, She’s been a Playwrights’ Center Fellow (McKnight and Jerome), and has just completed QUEEN CLEOPATRA AND PRINCESS POCAHONTAS a play commissioned by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and the Public Theater for American Revolutions: the United States History Cycle. In January, Rhiana wrapped principal photography on her first feature film, A WINTER LOVE which she wrote and directed, and also stars in.

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