Strayer University and The Blackhouse Foundation Name Donald Dankwa Brooks Winner of Scriptwriter Competition

by cdawkins

Former Baltimore Police Department trainer wins ScriptED Contest, $10k grand prize plus $15k bonus gift during 2020 Sundance Film Festival

During the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, Strayer University, in partnership with The Blackhouse Foundation — a leading voice working to elevate and increase the number of diverse voices in filmmaking — announced the winner of ScriptED, a nationwide competition to discover a talented, up-and-coming scriptwriter who can help bring real perspectives to Strayer’s Criminal Justice program.

Donald Dankwa Brooks was awarded first place for his original script that demonstrated a keen awareness of the complex perspectives surrounding criminal justice. He was one of five finalists — selected from the more than 100 submissions that came from competitors across the country — awarded a trip to the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah to pitch their scripts to a panel of esteemed judges.

To recognize the unexpectedly high caliber of the final scripts, each of the four finalists were given a $10,000 gift from Strayer. In addition to the $10,000 grand prize for winning the contest, Brooks also received an additional $15,000 gift from Strayer. Brooks also won the opportunity to be a writer and to learn how to self publish a book in residence with Strayer Studios — a production team dedicated to infusing course curriculum with cinematic content to better engage students and help them grasp subject matter in more meaningful ways.

“This is an amazing feeling. I can’t wait to join the Strayer Studios team and bring my concept to life. I’m proud to be part this important movement to advance criminal justice learning and spark debate among Strayer students,” said Brooks.

Brooks, from Brooklyn, NY, is a screenwriter and filmmaker who formerly worked to build scenario-based training materials for the Baltimore Police Department. As a writer in residence, Brooks will work with Emmy Award-winning filmmakers to develop a series of educational videos that pair with course curriculum, over a six- month period.

“We were impressed with the authentic story Donald told in his script that we believe will spark a sincere debate and better under- standing of criminal justice among Strayer University students,” said Brickson Diamond, Chairman of The Blackhouse Foundation.“As we work to elevate and champion diverse talent in film, we hope to continue to partner with education institutions, like Strayer University, to advance storytelling for these new important audiences.”

A panel of judges evaluated submissions and participated during the live pitch session at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, including Karl McDonnell; Nicole Cattell, Head of Strayer Studios; Judge Victoria Pratt, former Chief Judge in Newark Municipal Court, current Professor of Professional Practice at Rutgers University’s School of Criminal Justice and nationally acclaimed advocate for criminal justice reform; Aaliyah Williams, Founder and CEO of Just A Rebel; and Brickson Diamond.

“Donald’s script about a rookie cop in training and the ethical dilemmas he faces reflects cases our justice system encounters every day. I believe it will draw students in, help them understand the realities of the criminal justice system, and foster greater compassion for the individuals, families and community members impacted by it,” said Judge Pratt.

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