2017 Winners

Grand Prize winner


Logline: An impoverished Indian orphan from society’s lowest caste overcomes all odds to earn a place on the Indian National Football Team.

About the Writer: Jeff Opdyke is a former journalist who left his career as an investment/economics writer to pursue his dream of writing for TV and movies. This past June he relocated to L.A. to attend UCLA’s Writers Fellowship Prep program.

Prior to pursuing this new life, Jeff spent 17 years as staff writer at The Wall Street Journal, where he was part of the team nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of Hurricane Katrina’s impact on his home state, Louisiana. Along with his duties covering Wall Street and personal finance, he wrote a weekly column, Love & Money – a first-person chronicle of the nexus of personal finance and personal relationships. For seven years, that column ran every Sunday to nearly 10 million readers of more than 100 newspapers in the U.S. and abroad.

After leaving the Journal, he spent seven years as executive editor for a newsletter based near Miami. There, he traveled the world (62 countries so far) writing about investments, real estate, economics and citizenship issues. He’s written 10 books, largely on personal and family finance.

Despite a deep background in journalism (bachelor of arts from Louisiana State University’s Manship School of Journalism) his heart was always calling him to scripts and screenplays. 8 or 9 years ago, he was in northern India on assignment and came across a little slum-girl and two-time runaway who, despite so many obstacles, successfully pursued her dream of playing soccer for India’s national team. He spent a week or so with her and knew her story had to be told as a movie – sort of a Blind Side meets Bend it Like Beckman meets Slumdog Millionaire.

His goal is simple: To find his ikigai – the Japanese term marrying one’s passion with one’s vocation.The Maidservant’s Cap is his first completed screenplay!! He has also written two half-hour pilots and a one-hour drama. The two pilots have won a variety of accolades, with one of them currently a semifinalist in the 2017 ScreenCraft Pilot Launch competition.


Female Category

FIRST RUNNER UP (Female Category) IRON MAIDENS by John Smith

Logline: Mentored by a martial arts master from childhood, a young woman, Siobhan Rick, ends up using her skills to help train a secret society of suffragette bodyguards, eventually becoming the head bodyguard to the movement’s leader. Siobhan is torn between her commitment to the movement and her growing love for Tommy and attaining a peaceful life. There will be blood.

About the Writer: John is a Caribbean, London-based screenwriter specializing in the action genre. All of his screenplays push the envelope of the action genre, finding fresh angles on it while retaining the pace and compelling visuals that have made it so popular. His goal is to move to L.A. and to pursue a sustaining career in professional screenwriting. Screenwriting is a joy. Before turning to writing, John worked with vulnerable families and young people.

Besides his screenplays being accepted in a variety of film festival screenplay competitions this year, within the last twelve months alone his scripts have placed highly in dedicated, international screenplay contests, including, a finalist for the Creative World Awards (CWA) in the action category, 2nd place in the action category for the Cannes Screenplay Contest, semi-finalist in Screencraft’s Action/Thriller contest, a top three placement in the Iron Dragon TV (IDTV) screenplay contest.

SECOND RUNNER UP (Female Category) FREE AS THE WIND by Susan Zimmerman

Logline:   The year was 1910 when a spirited and daring New York journalist began her perilous adventure to be the first American woman to challenge the status quo of the all-male sport of aviation.  (Inspired by True Events)

About the Writer: Susan was raised in the middle of the bread basket of the world, Fresno, CA.  Susan graduated with a BA degree in Speech Arts/Communication from CSU, Fresno.  As someone who could hold a conversation with a brick, teaching was the perfect profession. However, her talkative nature is instantly silenced when watching movies.  One night, while being captivated by a movie, a thought struck her like a lightning bolt –  “I’m going to learn how to write movies.”  That one simple statement led to numerous screenwriting classes, private tutorials, and classes at UCLA’s extension department. 

 FREE AS THE WIND made it to the top 10% of the 2015 Nicholl Fellowship Competition.  FREE AS THE WIND, as well as another script, THE PURPLE RIBBON, have crisscrossed as semifinalists and quarterfinalists in Page, Big Break, Slamdance, Scriptapalooza, and Emerging Screenwriters contests.

Susan’s ultimate goal is to sit in a darkened theater and hear people laugh and cry, and think to herself, “I wrote that.”

Diversity Category

FIRST RUNNER UP (Diversity) OUT THERE by Joe Rechtman

(Story by Christopher Rucinski and Joe Rechtman)

 Logline: When his mother is taken by a Wendigo-a carnivorous monster from Native American myth-a young Reservation teen heads into the wilderness on a solo rescue mission.

About the Writer:  Originally from New York, Joe Rechtman has been writing ever since he can remember. He attended Emerson College, where he earned a B.F.A. in Film Production and minored in Fiction Writing. Now, living in Los Angeles, Joe continues to write and direct. His script, THE ENCAMPMENT (a previous Cynosure Runner-Up) was optioned earlier this year.

About Christopher Rucinski:  Christopher is a member of the Motion Picture Editor’s Guild. His credits include War for the Planet of the Apes, The Wolverine, and Captain America: First Avenger. A graduate of Emerson College, he mentored under Academy Award nominated film editor Michael McCusker. His directorial debut short film Dogs in the Distance won Best Supporting Actor at Downtown Film Fest LA and was Short of the Month at Cinephilia & Beyond. He was awarded Best Music Video at the LA Music Critic Awards in 2017 for Allison Iraheta’s “Band-Aid”. Chris plans to direct a relevant crime-drama he wrote in consultation with the ex-police chief of Seattle. He can be reached at:  christopherrucinski@yahoo.com

SECOND RUNNER UP (Diversity Category) THE REPASS by Rae Shaw

Logline: When a young French-Creole girl loses her brother in Hurricane Katrina, she is tormented by nightmares of that night. To find him she will have to summon the strength of ancestral voodoo spirits and maneuver a world between the living and the dead or lose her brother forever.

About the Writer: Rae is an award-winning director of films and writer of screenplays, poetry, essay and narrative fiction. Her work explores diversity, connection, sexuality and disparity. A graduate of the University of Chicago and University of Miami, Rae also studied directing under noted author and instructor Judith Weston. She has directed productions in both theater and film. Her writing has received recognition from noted screenwriting competitions the Nicholl Fellowship, Austin Film Festival and others; and her films have screened at festivals including BFI, Los Angeles Women’s Film Festival and Brooklyn Reel Sisters of Diaspora Film and Lecture Series. After working in the industry at The Firm, One Race Films and LionsGate, Rae currently teaches producing and screenwriting at the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles and is preparing for her feature debut. She is the recipient of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship, Francis E Williams Artist Fellowship, and Marvin Miller and Guy Hanks Screenwriting Fellowship among others and is the writer-director of the esteemed short, “soap and roses.” Rae is a member of Alliance of Women Directors, Professional Network, and IFP.


Bodey by Ernestina Juarez

Dannemora by Matthew Williams & Andrew Griffiths

No Running by Elizabeth Savage Sullivan

The Game-Changer by Patrick Sherman

The Ghosts of Silver Gulch by Bob Canning


A Gentleman of Good Hope by Christina Hulen

D.I.D. by Ronald Marchand and Rhonda Dee-Ewing

Sister Grimm by Simon Fink and Daniel Tabuena-Frolli

Surviving 14 by Katie Marie Streicher

Under Fire by John Garofolo


A Passionate Man by Martin Blinder

American Myths of Black & White by Aaron Yarber

American Ubuntu by Lenore Norrgard

Arce’s War by Jorge Marcos

Crime Extraordinaire by Howard Fridkin

Dylan Mays by C.R. Night

Green Lanes by James Walker

Insurrection by Simon Bowler

Red Car by Justin Swingle

Sanctuary by Karen L Samuelson

Sunday’s At Eleven by Tom Ziegler

The Big League by Rene Rawls

The Boat by Robert Woolridge

The Boy on the Cover by Elizabeth Savage Sullivan

The Last Adventure of Shay Blaze by Howard Fridkin

The Queen’s Gambit by Brian MacEvilly

The Rival Poet by Arlynda Lee Boyer

‘Til We Meet Again by Russell Chan

Trapped by Martin Blinder

Twice Born by James Watts


African Harvest by Marise Samitier

Aftermath by Nguyen Nguyen

Ascension by Jeff Lewis

Baby Steps by Michelle Bergamo

Bound in Shallows by Joanne Lalli

Cadaver Dog by Judy Soo Hoo & Isaac Ho

Cowboys and Hindus by Tejal Desai

Crossbow Wars by Sojean Peou

Dani’s Inferno by Christopher Suarez

Darkness in Tenement 45 by Nicole Groton

Disruptive by Brad Hennig

Dorrie by C.R. Night

Eyes of Dawn by Sheri Davenport

Flawed by Alma Murray Dunham

Ghost Writer by Don Santiago

If I Could, I Would by Jocelyn Osier

Jewel of Oakland by Carter Stewart

Kokujin by Ronald L Bryan

Mating by Rae Shaw

Nauti Girls by Linda Toussaint

Not Even Past by Jeffrey Howe

Overdue by Barbara McCormick-Thomas

Pink Slips by Brad Hennig

Redbone by Ned Eckhardt

Redcoats on the Hudson by Carole Ryavec

Rock, Pretty Mama by Katie Marie Streicher

Shattered Ceilings by Michael McLeod

Shine Your Eyes by Clint Pearson

Snowstorm by Ronald Marchand

Stir Simmer Repeat by Sallyanne Massimini

The Bite by Elizabeth Savage Sullivan

The Book Club by Noelle Nelson

The Flower Hunter by Danny Sheehy

The Gestapo vs. Granny by Shequeta L. Smith

The Grad List by Tara DeMarco

The Wild Wild Witch by Greg Hill & Walt Griggs

Trial By Error by Susan Cain

Walkins Welcome by Sojean Peou

Industry Supporters

Cynosure gives a huge shout-out to these Industry Supporters who demonstrate a commitment and dedication to our common mission.