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The Ojai Film Festival

The Ojai Film Festival is dedicated to supporting the art of the motion picture through the presentation of an annual multi-day festival in which films submitted by filmmakers throughout the world are publicly exhibited at several venues in and around the City of Ojai, California.

The Ojai Film Festival fulfills its goal of serving the art of film:

  • by providing filmmakers, many of them beginning their careers, with a supportive and enthusiastic audience for their creative efforts and giving them access to film industry professionals who offer guidance and other forms of career assistance.
  • by bringing to its audience of both local residents and visitors from all over southern California, a wide array of distinguished motion pictures otherwise inaccessible to them.

Learn more about the festival at:


2022 Screenplay Competition Finalists Announced

Three scripts went on to Ojai Film Festival Screenplay Competition judges for their final determination of this year’s winner.

  • “Pride and Prudence” by Fran Evelyn Ervin of Los Angeles CA
  • “Prizrack” by Jeff Kaufman of Studio City CA
  • “The Prison Club” by Catherine B. Owens of Hillsborough NC

Award-winning writer and filmmaker Fran Evelyn Ervin’s distinctions include Project Greenlight Finalist, Creative Screenwriting CS Open Winner, Southeast Playwright recipient, and alumni of the Terra Firma Emerging Writer’s Program. Fran received her MFA from Florida State University’s Conservatory for Film and Television Production. Her viral short “Absolute Original” won accolades at the Cannes Lion Festival, and the feature film “Paradox” she wrote and directed has been viewed by millions.

Jeff Kaufman produced, directed, and wrote the Emmy nominated American Masters documentary “Terrence McNally: Every Act Of Life,” the Critic’s Choice nominated “Nasrin,” and many other feature-length and short documentaries. He also contributed cartoons to The New Yorker, illustrations to the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times, wrote/illustrated children’s books, exhibited paintings in Los Angeles galleries, and hosted a daily radio talk show.

Cathy Owens wrote and directed a variety of screenplays, both short and long, in addition to writing all sorts throughout life. She received her MFA from the USC School of Cinematic Arts in Film Production. As a technical writer she worked for places such as Coca-Cola, IBM, and the International Olympic Committee. She also writes poetry, short stories, and a few very embarrassing love letters.

The winning screenwriter not only receives a trophy, and also a table read of their entry. Last year’s Zoom table read is available on the OFF YouTube channel.

Preliminary judges culled the finalist from an extensive list of semifinalists:

  • “The Man Within” by Kymberly Harris
  • “Call Me Thor” by Jamie Campbell
  • “Restoring Noralie” by Julie Dillemuth (Santa Barbara, CA)
  • “Mrs. Strissel and the Dogs” by David Brian Congalton (San Luis Obispo, CA)
  • “Gravel Road” by Arden Teresa Lewis
  • “A Need For Something New” by John T. Frederick (Trabuco Canyon, CA)
  • “Cecil’s Woods” by CJ Hatch and Kevin Renshaw (Bryn Mawr, PA)
  • “Killer Surf ” by Catherine B. Owens (Hillsborough, NC)
  • “Timestop” by John Dowalo and Josh Mable (Westlake Village, CA)
  • “American Homonculus” by Allison Marie Volk (Broomfield, CO)
  • “Brave Faces Fellowship” by Caitlin Amans (Santa Clarita, CA)
  • “Loot” by Jeff Kaufman (Studio City, CA)
  • “The White Chair” by Levi Holiman (Sedona, AZ)

“Very little separated these three from the rest of the semifinalists this year,” Bruce Novotny, the competition’s director, said. “The competition was tight and our judges now have a difficult choice on their hands in choosing a winner. Whichever screenplay earns the honor of a Zoom table read at the festival, our director of that performance, Frieda deLackner, will have a great piece of storytelling as the foundation for that program.”

Frieda de Lackner is best known for “Hold On” (2019), “Hello, My Name Is Doris” (2015) and “By Chance” (2014). OFF will present the Zoom table read on Sunday, November 6.

OFF expects to announce the winning screenplay by the end of August. Final judges include Michael Ewing who’s worked in production since 1990, Patty Reed who serves as a Vice President at Roserock Films where she oversees development and production, and Valerie Levett who worked at Warner Bros for thirty-three years.



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