Purple List 2019: NYU’s Annual Selection of Best Production-Ready Scripts

New York University’s Purple List, the annual selection of best production-ready screenplays from its Tisch School of the Arts graduate film program and recent alumni, has revealed its 2019 picks.

Three Chosen

The three screenplays selected by a panel of industry professionals are:

Dry Summer, The Starling Girl and Two Sisters.

Dry Summer

Lakshmi Simhan’s Dry Summer follows a 17-year-old girl who moves to a small town on the Columbia River Gorge and finds herself torn between her parents as they split. She ultimately befriends a kid from the local, isolated Ukrainian Pentecostal community, exposing her to poverty, racism, religion and violence.

Simhan, who grew up in Kuwait, India, the Philippines, the US and Japan, says it was time spent in Portland, Oregon that inspired the film: “Oregon was founded with the intention of being a whites-only state and Portland, despite its reputation for progressiveness, is one of the nation’s whitest cities. I lived in Portland, Oregon from 2014-2016 and I have never felt more like an outsider. It was this pressing feeling of xenophobia in a place that claimed to be inclusive and enlightened that inspired me.”

The Starling Girl

Laurel Parmet’s The Starling Girl follows a 16-year-old girl who has an affair with her pastor in a patriarchal Christian community in rural Oklahoma. The story explores sexual abuse and power dynamics.

Parmet said of the script, “It’s about a girl who wants to feel love, but needs to find it in herself. Although it’s set in an extreme environment, it’s an incredibly universal story. And with everything in our world today—#MeToo, church abuse scandals, religious extremism wielding huge power—I feel that now is the right time to make this film.”

Two Sisters

David Moragas’ Two Sisters centers on three New York siblings struggling with everyday problems six years after their mother’s death, exploring sexual awakening, claustrophobia and the complications of familial bonds. Moragas, who identifies as queer, said the screenplay emerged from his own sense of self.
“Everyone has personal, unresolved traumas that haunt us at night or manifest in weird and hilarious bursts of irrationality. Some of those traumas we actually confront and solve and feel like superheroes,” he said. “This script is an ode to forgiving ourselves and trying our very best despite the many challenges that life surprises us with.”

This year’s Purple List panel included producers, screenwriters, casting directors, writers and editors from Fox Searchlight, Sony Classics and Sundance Institute.

Purple List Alumni:

Chloe Zhao (Songs My Brothers Taught Me, The Rider);

Desiree Akhavan (Appropriate Behavior, The Miseducation of Cameron Post);

Cathy Yan (Dead Pigs).

Eleven Films Released Theatrically

Thirteen Purple List screenplays have become finished films, 11 of which were released theatrically, including the following titles: The Adderall Diaries, Songs My Brothers Taught Me, Appropriate Behavior, Manos Sucias, Those People, Yosemite and Newlyweeds.

This year’s Purple List selections join a diverse group.

Stats: Two Thirds Are Women (23 of 37)

Over its eight editions, 23 of the 37 Purple List screenwriters are women;

20 are from black, Asian or other minority ethnic backgrounds;

five identify as LGBTQ.

The list was founded in 2012 by classmates Ashim Bhalla and Shandor Garrison.

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