Inspired by Franklin Leonard’s Black List, the Purple List has helped to launch work from Chloe Zhao, Shaka King, Laurel Parmet and many more

A woman lifts her face to the sun as she walks in a crowded marketplace
A scene from Cathy Yan's 'Dead Pigs.'

New York University announces 2023’s Purple List – the best production-ready screenplays from Tisch School of the Arts graduate film students and recent alumni – at a celebration April 19 featuring a keynote from Cathy Yan, a Purple List alum and Emmy nominee for Succession

Modeled after Leonard’s annual survey of Hollywood executives' favorite unproduced screenplays, the Purple List amplifies diverse voices and stories by showcasing NYU Grad Film scripts chosen through a blind read process by industry leaders. 

This year’s winners include a family drama set on a cannabis farm, an historical drama about a Southern mill town, a campus psychological thriller, and an intimate portrait of the lives of four women in the aftermath of the 2020 explosion in Beirut. Staged excerpts of the winning scripts will follow Yan’s talk at the invitation-only event beginning at 6:30 in Room 1027 in the Tisch Building at 721 Broadway in New York City.

Now in its 12th year, the list was founded by alumni Ashim Bhalla and Shandor Garrison and faculty member John Tintori. It has spotlighted 54 scripts from 56 writers; 16 scripts have gone into production, with many receiving critical and audience acclaim at the world’s leading festivals, including Sundance, Tribeca, and Cannes.

Past Purple List winners include Laurel Parmet (The Starling Girl), Imran Khan (Mustache), Ash Mayfair (The Third Wife), Shaka King (Judas and the Black Messiah), Chloe Zhao (Nomadland), and Desiree Akhavan (The Miseducation of Cameron Post).

"Screenwriters make the list by pushing the boundaries of the screenplay art form in some way,” Bhalla said. “The Purple List is a catalyst that propels their unique visions onto the screen. These aren't spec scripts anymore, these are now projects in development actively financing and attaching talent."

The 2023 winners were selected by a panel of producers, agents, managers, screenwriters, and directors representing leading film organizations, including Sundance Labs, Fox Searchlight, Netflix, and A24 Films.

The 2023 winners

Burnout by Swetha Regunathan

Samrat “Sam” Gill returns to his family’s berry farm in Washington state to find it has become a front for an illegal cannabis farm, run by his older brother Jai and his lapsed-Sikh father Anil, who is wearing a turban for the first time in his life. Anil reveals that he wants to retire, setting off a contest of wills between the prodigal son and good son, the brother who left and the one who stayed. As a new group of trimmers arrives for the harvest, Sam hits it off with Cece, a troubled, free-spirited drifter and Jai tries to throw a wrench in their connection. After Jai crosses a boundary and Cece disappears, the Gill brothers quickly unravel, exposing themselves for who they always were.

Fate Moreland’s Widow by Joshua Foster

Based on a 2015 novel by John Lane, Foster’s script is set in 1935 in a Blue Ridge Mountain mill town, where Ben Crocker, the son of mill workers, finds himself defending mill owner George McCane, who is accused of murder.  While he defends McCane, Crocker wrestles with union negotiations, family strife and surprising romantic feelings for the widow of one of the men McCane is accused of killing.

Haazer by Pepi Ginsberg

Caleb Beck is a queer first year wrestler from a working class family who is pledging a wealthy fraternity while dieting to maintain his weight class. Caleb is smitten with a fraternity brother who attends a party with Ana. When Ana goes missing, Caleb becomes the main suspect in her disappearance. Ostracized by the fraternity and his team, he tries to clear his name – and grab a chance at love.

May You Outlive Us by Isabelle Mecattaf

Four women go about their daily lives a year after the 2020 explosion that devastated Beirut. Maya, the matriarch with PTSD, her daughter Dounia, whose husband died in the explosion, Dounia’s daughter, Lelia, who is about to start college, and housekeeper Zara are trying to adjust to their new normal. Through their daily routines, we witness the instabilities and challenges in Lebanon and what it is like to navigate a city with damaged buildings, spotty electricity and lines for gas and groceries.

Purple List partners include Alta Global Media, Hollyshorts Film Festival, Bit Pix, Buffalo 8,  Endless Noise, and Breaking Through the Lens.

About NYU Tisch School of the Arts

For over 50 years, the NYU Tisch School of the Arts has drawn on the vast artistic and cultural resources of New York City and New York University to create an extraordinary training ground for artists, scholars, and innovators. Today, students learn their craft in a spirited, risk-taking environment that combines the professional training of a conservatory with the liberal arts education of a premier global university with campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi, Shanghai and 11 academic centers around the world. Learn more at

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