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Meryl Streep Funds Workshop for Female Screenwriters Over 40

First Posted: Apr 22, 2015 11:09 AM EDT
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The Writers Lab, a project funded by the unequaled American actress and philanthropist Meryl Streep, will mentor eight lucky screenwriters at a retreat on Lake George this September. The catch? Applicants must be women, of any ethnicity or nationality, and born on or before June 1, 1975.

New York Women in Film and Television (NYWIFT) and IRIS, a collective of female filmmakers, will run the Writers Lab as an effort to challenge sexim and support women in an industry that's dominated by men.

The lab and Streep's involvement was announced on April 21, as part of the Tribeca Film Festival. The new campaign was developed to create and increase opportunities for screenwriters over the age of 40.

According to WeWomen, only 7 percent of the best performing films have been directed by women and only 11 percent of the highest grossing films have been written by women. Additionally, only 15 percent of movie protagonists were women in 2013 and just 1 percent of movie composers of top grossing films were women. Also, WeWomen asserts that statistics are worse today than in 1998, which is unfortunate because women make up about half of all film students and movie audiences.

Writer-director Gina Prince-Bythewood ("Beyond the Lights"), producer Caroline Kaplan ("Boyhood"), writers Kirsten Smith ("Legally Blonde") and Jessica Bendinger ("Bring It On") will be mentors at the Writers Lab workshops, and the talented women will help to hone the skills of the next new wave of female screenwriters.

Streep admitted to being a longtime fan of NYWIFT, which is an association that supports female leadership in digital media, television and film. And IRIS was developed by three women who are eager to support the female voice in narrative film.

The submission window is May 1-June 1, and the eight winning writers will be named Aug. 1. For further information about the Writers Lab, including how to enter, can be found on NYWIFT's website.

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