Cinequest Screenwriting Competition

"It's a perfect film festival in a glorious place." — Neil Gaiman, Cinequest Maverick Spirit Award Recipient

Submissions for this festival season have closed. SUBMISSIONS BEGIN AGAIN IN MAY 2018. Please sign up so you can be the first to know when submissions are open.

Cinequest voted Best Film Festival by USA Today Readers.

The Cinequest Screenplay Competition empowers global screenwriters through discovery, recognition, and opportunity. Cinequest loves writers, and we welcome you to submit your screenplay or teleplay to our renowned competition. The Top 10 Finalists receive many empowering benefits including: passes to the Cinequest Film & VR Festival and the exclusive Writers Celebration, plus exposure to leading industry players and inspiring luminaries.

Finalists are presented alongside high profile Maverick Spirit awardees like: J.J. Abrams, Lawrence Kasdan, Chuck Palahniuk, Neil Gaiman, Philip Kaufman, Michael Arndt, Diablo Cody, Dennis Lehane, Jason Reitman and more at the highly anticipated Writers Celebration during the Cinequest Film & VR Festival.


Celebrating the Screenplay Competition's Top 10 Finalists, the electrifying Writers Celebration occurs during the Cinequest Film & VR Festival and includes opportunities for writers to connect with producers and enhance their careers, networks and opportunities. Writers Celebration events will include:

  • Business of Writing Forum
  • Writer Meets Producer Mixer to connect with industry leaders
  • Pitch Training with expert pitch coaches
  • Pitch Challenge to a panel of industry powerhouses
  • An inspiring Maverick Spirit luminary event.


Submissions for this festival season have closed. SUBMISSIONS BEGIN AGAIN IN MAY 2018


A $5,000 cash prize will be presented to the winning feature-length script. Finalists will also get their scripts read by industry professionals. Previous industry readers have included: ICM Partners, Lions Gate Films, Happy Madison Productions, Entertainment One, XYZ Films, First Light Films, Lupovitz Productions, Echo Lake Entertainment, Verve, and Popular Films. This year the jury will include executives from Netflix, HBO, CBS, Vimeo, Music Box Films, Film Movement, Bond 360 and Women Make Movies. (Rules and More Information)

“After the Cinequest Writers Celebration, an angel investor has swooped in and offered to finance my film. WorkingMan will begin immediate pre-production and will be shot next winter/early spring.  Thanks so much to everyone at Cinequest for opening doors to filmmakers and artists everywhere!” -- Robert Jury, Feature Finalist, WorkingMan


Our short-film script category continues to attract a diverse international pool with a $1,000 cash prize and a future screening opportunity at Cinequest Film & VR Festival for the winning script. (Rules and More Information)

“We had an incredible time at the festival, and are very much still in complete awe of the amazing response to the film…pretty much everything you’d ever want as a filmmaker. It was a very surreal experience.” -- Travis Neufeld, Shorts Winner, Tinwife (premiered at Cinequest in 2017)

TELEPLAYS (60 Minutes)

A $2,000 cash prize will be presented to the winning 60 minute teleplay and an opportunity to be read by some of today’s top television studios. (Rules and More Information)

"I was thrilled when Cinequest selected my pilot script as a finalist for the teleplay competition. Writers need all the support they can get and Cinequest gave it in abundance. Not only at the festival, with conferences and events for the writers, but long afterwards, when you’re back at the desk and find an email from one of the devoted people at Cinequest in your box. When they get behind you, they stay behind you and continue to do everything they can to help push your project forward." -- Matthew Dixon, Teleplay Finalist, The Glass Hotel (optioned by HBO in 2016)

TELEPLAYS (30 Minutes)

Our 30 minute teleplay category offers writers a chance to showcase what could be the next hit series on TV! $1,000 cash prize to the winner. (Rules and More Information)

“I loved the artist/writer events. It was a pleasure getting to speak with other finalists— writers who are so very creative, talented and diverse in outlook…The importance of Cinequest is that it brings us together, not despite our crazy aspirations as artists, but because of them… and best of all, their encouragement stokes the fire to keep us going.” -- Ada Lee Halofsky, Teleplay Winner, Throwing Shade


Top 50 Notified in December 2017.
Top 10 & Top 3 Announced during Cinequest Media Launch and listed on Website January 22nd, 2018.
Top 10 Finalists notifications sent week of Jan 22nd, 2018.
Winners Announced in March 2018 at Writers Celebration.


Click here for screenplay finalist testimonials.


Please join us in celebrating this year's winners and finalists!


WINNER: Rubbish by John Dilley & Seth Corr

2ND PLACE: WorkingMan by Robert Jury

3RD PLACE: Johnny Ace by Moon Molson

Firefall by Deirdre L. Brenner

Live, From The Milky Way by Joe Borriello

LP by Joey Perotti

Reset by Magnus Aspli & Robert Klecha

The Dancing Dodo by David Hyde

The Sculptor by Kris Lippert

The Things He Sees by Philip Buckley


WINNER: Against the River by Dan Ritter

2ND PLACE: Flop by Nick Coleman

3RD PLACE: It Gets Heavier by Sam Davis

Anamnesis by McKegg Collins

Bug and the Fireflies by Rob Holland & Chi Laughlin

In Shadows by Cooper Justus

Isle by Lyndsay Sarah Doyle

Retirement by Beverly Smith-Dawson

The Give and Take by Anna Hopkins

The Lightkeeper by Zach Bandler


WINNER: Nightingale by AJ Bermudez

2ND PLACE: Company Town by Samantha Levenshus

3RD PLACE: Nevermore by Lilly Slaydon

Clandestine by Geoffrey Campbell

Dick by Jeffrey Hirschfield

Going Reno by Elizabeth Quinn

Portia's Law by Chad Callaghan & Hana Callaghan

Svarga by Chiara Farina

The Quarter by Jenna St. John

Thief Taker by Joanne Lau


WINNER: Throwing Shade by Ada Lee Halofsky

2ND PLACE: Isaac Newton Gifted by Bo Price

3RD PLACE: Department of Ghouls by Jeremy Dorfman

Badventist by Liz Rivera

Bushed by Robert Ramsey & Scott Sturgeon

Fix by Mariah Wilson

Madam Caraveil's Caravan of Curiousities by Amanda Keener

Shitty Millennials by David Koutsouridis

Talk Therapy by Thomas Moore

Wasteland for White Girls by Jake Morgan

What Would Jesus Do? by Samuel Bernstein

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