Cinequest Screenwriting Competition

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

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 Screenwriting Competition continues to empower global screenwriters through discovery, recognition, opportunity, and cash prizes. 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: VIP All Access passes to the Cinequest Film & VR Festival and exclusive Writers Celebration, plus exposure to leading industry players and inspiring luminaries.

"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, 2015 Teleplay Finalists, THE GLASS HOTEL (optioned by HBO in 2016)

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, 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 (past honorees: J. J. Abrams, Neil Gaiman, Lawrence Kasdan, Dennis Lehane, and more)


Submissions are currently closed. Submissions will open next Spring for Cinequest Film & VR Festival 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, and Popular Films. (Rules and Information)


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 Information)

TELEPLAYS (60 Minutes)

A $1,000 cash prize will be presented to the winning 60 minute teleplay. Finalists will also get their teleplay read by experts from companies like FX Network and PBS. (Rules and Information)

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 Information)


Quarter Finalists notifications sent in December 2016.
Semi-Finalists notifications sent in January 2017.
Top 10 Finalists notifications sent week of January 23, 2017.
Winners announced during Writers Celebration (TBD Date) at the Cinequest Film & VR Festival, February 28 - March 12, 2017.


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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