The Virginia Film Office has announced the three winners of the 2015 Virginia Screenwriting Competition.  The winners and their screenplays are:  Kristin Swenson (Charlottesville) TELL MISTER LINCOLN, Victoria Ellis Nye (Virginia Beach) FAR FROM HOME, and Via Buksbazen (Arlington) THE RADISH BABY.

The Virginia Screenwriting Competition was created by the Virginia Film Office to celebrate the accomplishments of Virginia writers, as well as to promote the future of filmmaking in Virginia.  It provides screenwriters with a forum for their work and an opportunity to present their scripts to decision makers in the film industry.  This year, the competition opened for the first time to hour-long pilot episode submissions.

Each writer submits a screenplay to be evaluated by a panel of Virginia judges.  Final scripts from the first round of judging are then sent to a second panel comprised of professionals active in the film or television industry.  The winners were presented with their awards during the 2015 Virginia Film Festival in Charlottesville, prior to the screening of The Lady in the Van at the Paramount Theater.

Finalists in the competition were: Perry McGrath (Palmyra), Patrick C. Taylor (Norfolk), J Darin Wales (Virginia Beach), Cara Hanson (Virginia Beach), Rob Raffety (Arlington), Bonnie Eaton (Vienna), Alexander Rafala (Culpeper), Samuel Theodros (Alexandria), and Brenda Rezvan (Rixeyville).

The Virginia Screenwriting Competition is held annually and is open to Virginia residents.  The majority of the script must take place in Virginia or at locations which could reasonably be found in Virginia.  For further information on the competition, contact the Virginia Film Office at (800) 854-6233 or visit the website at


Kristin Swenson (Charlottesville) TELL MISTER LINCOLN

SYNPOPSIS: When an escaped slave discovers there's more to freedom than getting free and family can be wider than blood, her indomitable courage and extraordinary friendships will change the nation forever. TELL MISTER LINCOLN is based on the true story of Harriet Tubman.

BIO: Kristin taught at Virginia Commonwealth University as a professor of Religious Studies, and moved to Charlottesville a few years back, where she now writes full time. She's the author of books and articles including BIBLE BABEL published by Harper and an ecological theology forthcoming. She loves few things more than talking all things story craft over a good glass of Virginia wine.

Victoria Ellis Nye (Virginia Beach) FAR FROM HOME

SYNOPSIS: Harlan was just a young man of 18 when he went to jail for seven years for a DUI manslaughter conviction that killed his girlfriend's sister. He's being released back into the world and coming home to a father in the midst of a mid-life crisis and a mother who is carrying on an illicit affair with one of her under-age patients. FAR FROM HOME tells the story of a man trying to find his place in a world where everything went wrong when it wasn't supposed to.

BIO: Victoria is a previous finalist in the Virginia Screenwriting Competition, a Semi-Finalist in the 2010 Amazon Studios (first) Screenwriting Competition, and a Quarter-Finalist in the 2012 Blue Cat Short Screenplay Competition. Victoria was inspired to write screenplays the day she saw the first Jurassic Park in theaters, knowing immediately she wanted to be part of that magic.

Via Buksbazen (Arlington) THE RADISH BABY

SYNOPSIS: A comedic drama rooted in magical realism, THE RADISH BABY tells the story of a Latino garnish chef who must confront the memory of his cruel father in order to become a loving parent to a radish that has magically come to life.

BIO: Via has recently been developing an original comedy series with Time Warner for their upcoming slate of digital shows made for millennials of color.  She attributes her unique views on language, community, and culture to her Puerto Rican & Jewish ancestry, studies in Anthropology and Linguistics, and time living in Mexico.  More than anything, Via wants her characters to go through journeys that feel universal, unique... and funny.

Finalists in the competition were: Perry McGrath (Palmyra), Patrick C. Taylor (Norfolk), J Darin Wales (Virginia Beach), Cara Hanson (Virginia Beach), Rob Raffety (Arlington), Bonnie Eaton (Vienna), Alexander Rafala (Culpeper), Samuel Theodros (Alexandria), and Brenda Rezvan (Rixeyville).


Jimmy Brooks is an African-American exterminator who lives in the 21st century. One day, on his way to a call at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, he stumbles across a man claiming to be Thomas Jefferson himself, who insists that he has traveled through time from the year 1809 and requires assistance in getting back. With the help of a physics professor, Jimmy plays along with the man’s claims, which eventually leads to the discovery of the true identity of this eloquent stranger.

Patrick C. Taylor  |  COUNTERCLOCKWISE (television pilot)

In the month since his fiancée died, Aaron Sever's life has spiraled out of control, landing him in a mental facility.  On the brink of ending it all, he discovers that every time he saves a life, he wakes up the day before.

J Darin Wales   |   THE WITCH OF PUNGO

The true story of late 17th century Virginia in which a widowed mother of three, doing what she can to run a farm in a man’s world, repeatedly finds herself at the end of pointed fingers, offered as a scapegoat, alleged to be a witch, and put on a trial where innocence means certain death.


Lizzie, an uptight English Lit. professor, will do anything to keep her unemployed brother, Darcy, from moving in with her.  Worlds collide when she’s forced to date Montana, a sports-obsessed rock star who can jump-start Darcy’s music career.  Pride and Prejudice meets Monday Night Football as the unlikely couple goes to extremes to find common ground.

Rob Raffety   |   MUCK (television pilot)

Muck is a show about an ambitious, young podcast journalist from Washington, DC on his first field assignment - a missing person cold case in the foothills of rural Appalachia. He's out of his element, over his head, and deep in the muck. Fargo meets Twin Peaks through the lens of the Serial podcast.

Bonnie Eaton   |   MOTHERSHIP

It’s the turn of the millennium. With shy teenage daughter in tow, Julia, a 40-something advertising professional escapes a bad marriage and returns to the center of her childhood universe on the banks of the Potomac. Reuniting with her estranged mother—a germ-phobic, self-proclaimed New Age prophet answering to Commander Ashtar of the Galactic Federation of Light—she discovers that love often takes on strange, alien forms.

Alex Rafala   |   THE KING

A young man, despite resentment for his profession, uses his gang affiliation to track down and extract revenge on a mysterious other whom he believes drastically altered the course of his life.

Samuel Theodros   |   CAPTAIN JOHN BROWN

John Brown, a passive farmer, evolves to become a radical abolitionist who goes to extreme lengths to hasten the end of slavery

Brenda Rezvan   |   CH4

As a small town man must struggle to put his life together after an accident, he tangles with Big Oil.