Northern Cross

Melody Cooper

Screenplay Synopsis:

When a Black war vet witnesses vigilantes kill an unarmed immigrant at the border, she takes matters into her own hands, and goes on the run with the immigrant's wife and child, throwing the country into turmoil as the trio is both celebrated and hunted.

Writer's Bio:

Writer/Director Melody Cooper is the recent recipient of fellowships from AMC Networks, NY Stage & Film, Stowe Story Labs and the Writer’s Lab. She’s placed in and won several international competitions. Her supernatural thriller THE SOUND OF DARKNESS is a 2018 Athena List Finalist. Also a Semi-Finalist for 2018 Sundance Episodic Lab with her TV pilot SUNDOWN, Melody is currently developing projects with producer Adi Shankar (LONE SURVIVOR, Castlevania) and award-winning director Sebastian Silva (TYREL).

BEST SCREENPLAY – Northern Cross

Written by Melody Cooper (Presented by BET Networks – $10,000 Prize)

Honorable Mention – Johnny Ace

Written by Moon Molson

Johnny Ace

Moon Molson

Screenplay Synopsis:

On the night of Christmas Day in 1954, two Houston Homicide Detectives are called to the City Auditorium to investigate the accidental suicide of R&B singer Johnny Ace and discover that the death of the legendary crooner is anything but an "open and shut" case of drunken Russian Roulette.

Writer's Bio:

Moon Molson’s short films POP FOUL (2007), CRAZY BEATS STRONG EVERY TIME (2011), and THE BRAVEST, THE BOLDEST (2014), all premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, have screened at over 250 international film festivals, and won over 100 awards worldwide, including Grand Jury Prizes at Palm Springs, SXSW, and the Student Academy Award. He is an Assistant Professor of Visual Arts at Princeton University and Filmmaker in Residence at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA).

The Mujahid's Bride


Screenplay Synopsis:

When Najib, a young medical resident at a Lahore hospital, returns to London for his father’s funeral, he’s shocked to learn that Tasnim, his teenage sweetheart, has gone to Syria to become a jihadi bride. Najib promises her parents that he will go to Syria and bring her back.

Writer's Bio:

Rafa Russo is a screenwriter/director born in Madrid to Argentinean parents. Winner of the Best Screenplay at the Montreal Festival for “The Man With Rain In His Shoes”, Rafa has several produced features under his belt, his most recent being “Remember Me”, starring Bruce Dern and Brian Cox. As a director, he has helmed three shorts and one feature. Rafa has also published a book of short stories and four albums as a singer-songwriter.



A Precise Understanding of Darkness

Robin Shanea Williams

Screenplay Synopsis:

Marlowe unexpectedly loses her job at a design firm and her chronic pain soon becomes unbearable. When Marlowe seeks out her neighbor, Reva, a mysterious healer, disturbing events emerge as Marlowe’s pain fades away. Soon the bizarre occurrences cause tension in her marriage to her husband Daniel. When Marlowe’s mental state starts to decline, she begins to question her perception of reality as terrifying visions start to unravel her and a strange, dominating voice takes over.

Writer's Bio:

R. Shanea Williams became an award-winning filmmaker with her short films “Contamination”, a thriller and “Paralysis”, a psychological horror, which were official selections in film festivals around the country. She recently co-wrote the vampire horror short “Suicide by Sunlight” with acclaimed filmmaker Nikyatu Jusu”, which won the grand-prize production grant in Tribeca’s 2017 Through Her Lens program. Williams currently resides in Queens, New York.

Urbanworld Screenplay Competition Team


Screenplay Finalist Mentor

Writer's Guild of America, East

Adding to a long career working in feature films and theater, Louis Venosta recently made his network television directing debut with Grey’s Anatomy, Season 13 — ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’.  He’s written screenplays for all the major Hollywood studios including “Bird on a Wire” starring Mel Gibson and Goldie Hawn, and “The Last Dragon.”  Venosta began his career in the theater and dance world, appearing with the Joffrey Ballet, Maurice Bejart, Puerto Rican Dance Theater, and the Louis Falco Dance Company which led to his role as a principal dancer in Alan Parker’s ‘Fame”.  He directed a workshop of his own play, ‘Better’ as part of the Atlantic Theater Director’s Program in Summer, 2016. Venosta’s film directing debut, ‘The Coriolis Effect’ premiered at Sundance before winning the Silver Lion for best short at the Venice Film Festival in 1994.  Currently developing multiple original projects for film, television and theater, Venosta splits his time living/working in New York City and Mexico.

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Live Screenplay Readings Director

Tracey Moore arrived in New York from San Francisco thirty-five years ago with two hundred dollars, a one-way ticket, and a trunk, ready to pursue her passion of directing. Her career began as a casting director in film, television, and commercials. She has worked with directors such as Spike Lee, Nick Gomez, and Leslie Harris. Tracey has discovered talents from Dave Chappelle to Jon Stewart. After casting the film New Jersey Drive, she became a celebrity acting coach, helping musical artists, hosts, and athletes transition to acting. Her clients include Busta Rhymes, Eve, Terrence J, and Lala Anthony, to name a few. Tracey is currently working on a new show with award-winning veteran actor Joe Morton. 

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Screenplay Competition & Live Readings Producer

Samantha Debicki is a longtime producer for Urbanworld and earlier this year she produced the inaugural New York City Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment “Made in NY” Screenwriters Showcase, a collaboration with Urbanworld, the WGAE, and the Black List.  In addition to her extensive event producing experience, Sam is an acting company member of off-Broadway’s TBTB and directs the teacher training program at Sacred Sounds Yoga.