The Graduate Department of Film and Television at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts today announced the 2016 Purple List selections. Inspired by Franklin Leonard’s “Black List,” the Purple List showcases a selection of production-ready screenplays by students and alumni chosen by a distinguished panel of industry professionals.
The Graduate Department of Film and Television at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts today announced that Kiara C. Jones’s Broker, Jess dela Merced’s Chickenshit, and Cent Erturk’s Noah Tree are the selections for the 2016 Purple List. Inspired by Franklin Leonard’s Black List, the Purple List showcases a selection of production-ready screenplays by students and alums chosen by a distinguished panel of industry professionals.
“The NYU Tisch Grad Film Program - which I think is the best film school on this God’s earth - is proud the Purple List is in its 5th year,” said Spike lee, Creative Director of the Tisch Graduate Film Program. “You can tell what a school does by its students. These three exciting screenplays are a representation of what we do here.”
Since its inception, the Purple List has been notable both in its success highlighting extraordinary screenplays as well as in showcasing diverse storytelling. In five annual editions, 25 screenplays have been selected: 19 screenwriters are women, 15 are ethnically diverse, and two identify as LGBT.
“Diversity on the Purple List isn’t manufactured, it arises organically from the blind read process, and it clearly shows what’s possible when the playing field is leveled,” said Shandor Garrison, who together with fellow Tisch Grad Film student Ash Balla, founded the Purple List in 2012.
“Judges don’t know the screenwriter’s name or have any accompanying information about the screenplay – decisions are based on the writing alone,” said Bhalla. “The Purple List shows that not only are diverse filmmakers out there, but also that they’re out there telling untold stories and making excellent films.”
So far, 12 of the 25 Purple List projects have gone into production, and many have been produced as acclaimed films, including: The Adderall Diaries (2015) – Sundance, releasing theatrically; Songs My Brothers Taught Me (2015) – Sundance, releasing theatrically; Those People (2015) – Tribeca, releasing theatrically; Yosemite (2015) – Slamdance, released theatrically; Appropriate Behavior (2014) – Sundance, released theatrically; Manos Sucias (2014) – Tribeca winner, released theatrically; and Newlyweeds (2013) – Sundance, released theatrically.
“The impressive and important diversity voices found in the Purple List doesn’t come as a surprise to me, as it simply reflects the NYU Tisch Grad Film community, our values, and the mandate we honor to find and give voice to stories from all across our culture,” said Barbara Schock, Chair of the NYU Tisch Grad Film Program. “We admit applicants on the basis of who they are as people and what kinds of stories they have to tell, and are especially attracted to those stories that don’t easily find a place in the film industry. The fact that the Purple List so fully embodies this animating spirit of our program is a source of great pride for all our faculty, our staff, and, most importantly, our students."
The 2016 Purple List projects are:
• Broker, by African-American writer-director-producer Kiara C. Jones, which follows an African-American Wall Street moneyman risking it all to pull his family out of poverty. After garnering interest following a DGA Grand Jury Award and an Independent Spirit Award nomination for producing, Jones was selected for Sony Pictures Television Directing Program. “We are seriously lacking the privilege of perspective in black cinema. We have been severely limited in opportunities to tell our stories. This has created a biased and unjust view of blacks in the world media,” said Jones.
• Chickenshit, by Filipino-American writer-director Jess dela Merced, sees a young African-American girl band with a group of boys to thwart arsonists torching Detroit. She is a Spike Lee Fellow, Lorraine Hansberry Media Award winner, and IFP Emerging Storyteller, and Chickenshit has won support from NYU’s Production Lab and Spike Lee. “The kids I’ve met working in Detroit are much savvier than I was, more in tune with their environment. They have to navigate a darker, more morally ambiguous world. This frightening realization that the world is not simply black and white is what I am most interested in exploring,” said dela Merced.
• Noah Tree, by Turkish writer-director Cenk Erturk, chronicles the trials of a son seeking to fulfill his dying father’s dangerously contentious wish to be buried on land that objectors insist is sacred. The story juxtaposes the volatility of Turkish society and the spirituality of Islam. Noah Tree is partially financed with a grant from the Turkish Ministry of Culture. “95% of Turks are Muslims but the vast majority do not actually practice the religion, and yet 95% of these non-practicing Muslims say they would fight for their religion,” said Erturk, who is festival director of the LA Turkish Film Festival.
“NYU Tisch Grad Film celebrates and cultivates diversity in every sense of the word,” said John Tintori, associate arts professor at Tisch Grad Film and Purple List Faculty Advisor. “Students from around the world learn how to make films that matter to them, and make them well. The Purple List is a perfect embodiment of the training. These are well-crafted screenplays, and stories that you haven't heard before.”
On April 27 Jones, dela Merced, and Erturk will be performing staged readings of excerpts from their screenplays at Tisch School of the Arts. Chair of the Women’s Impact Network and Oscar-nominated producer Lydia Pilcher will deliver the keynote address to NYU filmmakers and industry guests. 2016 Purple List screenplay selections are accessible on the Hollywood Black List’s script database.
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