MSU’s Film Studies program announced the 2021 winners of the Laurence Allen Tate Film Writing Awards. Mary Telly, junior Film Studies major with minors in Fiction Filmmaking and Graphic Design, took first place, while honorable mention awards went to Morgan Hollemans, senior Art History and Visual Culture major with minors in Film Studies and Spanish, and Devin Martin, senior Film Studies major.
“To have the Laurence Allen Tate Film Writing Award available for students to submit work to is an incredible privilege and it is an honor to have been selected this year,” Telly said. “The ability to write about, discuss, and celebrate LGBTQ+ themes in cinema is a freedom I’m incredibly fortunate to have.”
This is the third year this endowed award has been presented, which is open to majors and minors in Film Studies and minors in Fiction Filmmaking and in Documentary Production.
“We were amazed by the incredible quality of the submissions this year and look forward to seeing how the awardees carry their own commitments forward,” said Professor Josh Yumibe, Director of the Film Studies program.
Telly won first place for her short script, “Ho’omau,” and received a $1,000 prize.
The ability to write about, discuss, and celebrate LGBTQ+ themes in cinema is a freedom I’m incredibly fortunate to have.Mary Telly
“I started writing with specific themes in mind. Micro-aggressions, the concept of gender as a colonial construct, and the fact that hate is a learned behavior are issues that are often glossed over,” Telly said. “The screenplay I submitted may be fictional, but the issues it addresses are not. The story is already a reality for countless LGBTQ+ individuals dealing with these struggles every day; all I had to do was put it in writing.”
Both honorable mention awardees graduated this spring and received a $500 prize for their winning entries.
Hollemans’ honorable mention was for her essay, “Politicization of the Gaze: How Bell Hooks Paved the Way for Rafiki.”
“I found writing this piece to be really integral to my development as a writer over the course of this semester,” Hollemans said, “so to have it recognized by a group of professors that I admire so much means the world to me.”
Martin’s honorable mention was for the excerpt from his script, “Wither.”
“It’s an honor, a privilege, and a rewarding feeling to be recognized for using my experiences with post-traumatic stress and other mental illnesses to paint a picture of lives so similar and yet so fundamentally different from my own,” Heard said. “Writing this was a form of cognitive empathy for me, of envisioning the way that members of the LGBTQ community, who are highly susceptible to abuse, neglect, and other forms of trauma, cope with their situations and look for something to believe in, especially when they feel shunned by homophobia.”
We were amazed by the incredible quality of the submissions this year and look forward to seeing how the awardees carry their own commitments forward.Josh Yumibe, Professor and Director of the Film Studies program
The endowed award was established in honor of Laurence Allen Tate (1945–2008), who earned a B.A. in English from Michigan State University and who was the Co-Founder and Assistant Editor for the weekly student publication, The Paper. After graduation, Tate moved to the San Francisco area and was involved in the Gay Men’s Health Collective of the Berkeley Free Clinic and San Francisco’s HIV/AIDs hotline service, Project Inform, from 1989-1993. He later moved to Washington, D.C., to work at the National HIV/AIDS Prevention Program at the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
Known early for his film criticism and anti-war essays, he wrote and spoke primarily about AIDS-related issues and the experience of being gay in American after 1981. A member of the Cherokee Nation, he was a member of Native Americans in Philanthropy and a former member of the board of the National Native American AIDS Prevention Center.
“He continued these commitments to the causes he cared deeply about,” Yumibe said, “particularly with regards to AIDS activism and Native American advocacy, throughout the rest of his life.”