Wellcome Trust and BFI launch screenwriting prize to inspire science in films

The Wellcome Trust today launches a major new annual screenwriting prize, in association with the BFI Film Fund. The Wellcome Trust Screenwriting Prize aims to encourage high-quality feature films inspired by biology and medicine, from genetics and infectious diseases to consciousness and mental health.

Judges of the prize will include representatives from the BFI and Film4. As well as receiving a £20,000 cash prize to develop their idea to first draft, the winning screenwriter will receive support from the Wellcome Trust to connect them with world-leading scientists and to help identify commercial partners and producers. The BFI will provide the writer with access to professional development executives to help them develop their screenplay.

Clare Matterson, Director of Medical Humanities and Engagement at the Wellcome Trust, says: "Science and medicine have inspired some of the most memorable, and often challenging, films in the history of cinema, from 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' and 'Inception' to 'Blade Runner' and 'Memento'. These are films that question what it is to be human or even just to be 'normal', that express the hopes and fears of society towards scientific progress.

"At the Wellcome Trust, we work with the brightest minds with the best ideas in medicine. The Wellcome Trust Screenwriting Prize is aimed at identifying and supporting their counterparts in the film world and creating some truly original British films."

Lizzie Francke, Senior Development and Production Executive, BFI Film Fund, says: "Science in film is by no means restricted to science fiction or science-inspired biopics. We want to hear from screenwriters with bold, innovative projects that draw inspiration from science and medicine to tell stories that challenge and entertain audiences."

The Wellcome Trust Screenwriting Prize aims to develop feature-length dramatic films, with both live action and animation projects eligible to apply. First and foremost, the judges will look for great stories with interesting characters and compelling screenplay ideas, which are creative in the way they incorporate biomedicine into the story.

Judges - including experts from the Wellcome Trust, the BFI and Film4 - will shortlist 5-10 entrants. Shortlisted writers will meet the judges and discuss their ideas. They will be invited to an event at the Wellcome Trust in London in the autumn, where they will be introduced to a range of high-profile scientists and given a 'behind the scenes' tour of the Wellcome Trust and Wellcome Collection. The winner will be announced at an awards ceremony at Wellcome Collection.

Eva Yates, Development Editor at Film4, says: "Film4 is delighted to be working with the Wellcome Trust on this significant new opportunity for screenwriters. We'll be looking for ambitious cinematic ideas that explore the realms of science and medicine in original and exciting ways, and wish the best of luck to all the entrants."