The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honoured five emerging screenwriters the Nicholl Awards for screenwriting on the night of November 7. The five screenwriters received $35,000 fellowships each had their work brought to life through live readings Gibson, Salazar, Amandla Stenberg, and Wes Studi. The event took place at the academy's headquarters in Beverly Hills, California. The five selected screenplays include Aaron Chung’s “Princess Vietnam,” Karen McDermott’s “Lullabies of La Jaula,” Renee Pillai’s “Boy With Kite,” Sean Malcolm’s “Mother” and Walter McKnight’s “Street Rat Allie Punches Her Ticket.”
Pillai managed to put the audience into laughter and she is the first Nicholl fellow from Malaysia and faced a lot of challenges that almost kept her attending the event. Pillai applied for the US visa and was informed about the earliest appointment she could get wouldn’t be until the day after the ceremony. A fellowship official contacted the cultural affairs office at the US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur on behalf of Pillai to arrange a meeting to appeal to the consul general to quicken up her visa request.
Pillai then took two hours long drive to Kuala Lumpur to attend the interview with only the $160 donated by her friends to pay for the visa application fee.
She was finally granted the visa and took 30 hours to travel by air from Malaysia to Los Angeles which included stopovers in China and Seattle. She said that she would not have been attending the event if the academy and her friends would not have helped her. She said that she would have missed not only the ceremony but also the seminars and preparations for the life that she wanted to live. She said its the beginning of her career. The winners will receive guidance from the academy members after they complete their screenplay during their fellowship award ceremony. The winning screenplays were chosen from just over 7,300 submissions.
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