Pride Films and Plays Announces Contest Finalists and Films Included at Gay Film Weekend in Chicago, 10/18-10/21

Five finalists have been named in Pride Films and Plays' Great Gay Screenplay Contest. These five screenplays will be performed as enhanced staged readings (with movement and design elements) by members of the Artistic Ensemble of Pride Films and Plays during Gay Film Weekend, October 18 to 21, at Center on Halsted's Hoover-Leppen Theatre, 3656 N. Halsted, Chicago.

The finalists include Visalia by Dennis Nivens, A Friend of Dorothy's by Jim Piazza, Barrio Boy by Dennis Shinners, Snowmen by Ethan Steers, and Father Frances by Thomas Ziegler. PFP congratulates the finalists and all who entered the contest. Synopses of the screenplays and biographies of the screenwriters are below.

Gay Film Weekend also includes two free panels on LGBT filmmaking and concludes with a Queer Shorts Film Program curated by Chicago's Indie Boots Film Festival.

Tickets for the screenplay readings and Queer Shorts Film Program are each $10. A Gay Play Weekend Pass allowing admission to all events is $45. Tickets for individual events can be purchased at, or 1-800-838-3006. Weekend passes can be purchased at 773-250-3112 or

The Queer Shorts Film Program features:

  • Half (2012 Indie Boots Audience Award Winner), directed and written by Alex Bohs
  • Fluid (2012 Indie Boots Honorable Mention), directed and written by Dara Sklar
  • Skallamann, directed by Maria Bock, written by Lars Jacobsen and Maria Bock
  • Tuesday Night Make-Out, directed and written by Richard Paro, with segment direction and writing by Cyra K. Polizzi and Breahan Eve Pautsch, and additional segment direction by Katie Jones
  • Lee, directed and written by Roland WiryawanReverse Cowgirl, directed and written by April Faith Hirschman
  • Marimacho, directed by Elisha Lim, written by Coco Riot
  • Bedfellows, directed and written by Pierre StefanosLast Kiss, directed and written by Charles Lum
  • Heartland Transport, directed and written by Cody Stokes
  • Make A Mate, directed and written by Jennifer JorDan Day
  • both/and - Trailer, directed by J. Paul Preseault, written by Jamil Khoury

The schedule for the weekend is:

  • Thursday, October 18: 7:00 pm A Friend of Dorothy's, directed by Charles A. Berglund, followed by an opening night reception
  • Friday, October 19: 7:00 pm Barrio Boy, directed by Kyra Morris
  • Saturday, October 20: 3:00 pm Father Frances, director TBA, 5:00 pm Panel Discussion, "The Evolution of LGBT Cinema", 7:00 pm Visalia, directed by John Nasca
  • Sunday, October 21: 2:00 pm Snowmen, directed by Alexander St. John, 4:00 pm Panel Discussion, "Making LGBT Films in a Changing World", 5:00 pm Queer Shorts Film Program, 7:00 pm Closing Night Reception

Each screenplay reading and the Queer Shorts Film Program will be followed by audience discussion with the writers and/or filmmakers.

A complete synopsis of the films can be found at

Barrio Boy by Dennis Shinners, New York, NY


Barrio Boy is the story of a closeted, sexy, young Latino barber who falls hard for a newly arrived, handsome, and charming Irishman during a scorching summer in a tough Brooklyn hood.  These uncontainable desires eventually test the seams of the relationships with his friends, family, and ultimately, the bond between him and the new love in his life. 


Dennis Shinners grew up in New Jersey, attended NYU's film school and is a writer, producer, and director of on-air promos who has done award-winning campaigns for Nickelodeon, Nick at Nite, Spike TV, Discovery Channel, Disney Channel, TV Land, and the Oxygen Network. He recently completed two short films, Area X and Go-Go, which have enjoyed both domestic and international festival runs and distribution deals. He wrote Barrio Boy as his feature directorial debut.


Father Frances by Thomas Ziegler, Christianland, Virgin Island


When a tough Catholic bishop appoints a rookie priest as pastor of a violent, crime-ridden parish, he's sure the young man lacks the cojones to do the job. Turns out he's right. Although the bishop is unaware of it, his rookie pastor is actually a woman passing as a man. After Father Frances succeeds in turning the parish around, the question remains, did she owe her achievement to being a woman or, as people saw her, a man?


Thomas Ziegler was born, raised, and educated in the Chicago area. He holds a B.A. from Lewis University in Lockport, an M.A. from Northern Illinois, and has had two plays produced off-Broadway, including Grace & Glorie, starring Estelle Parsons and Lucie Arnaz. He later co-authored the HallMark Hall of Fame teleplay of the same title which aired on CBS. Other plays of note include Mrs. Kemble's Tempest,  Sundays at Eleven, and Servantissimo. His other screenplays are Say Goodbye to Boris and Subway Series.


A Friend of Dorothy's by Jim Piazza, New York, NY


In the winter of 1967, addled showbiz legend Judy Garland goes missing. Wild

twists and turns have led her to a secret refuge -- the suburban bedroom of a

troubled teenage fan. His family is none the wiser until Judy inevitably misbehaves and chaos ensues.


Jim Piazza's play collaboration with Pulitzer Prize-winner James Kirkwood Jr. launched a writing career that has included best-selling books on film, essays in OUT, The Village Voice, and The New York Times, and a bio of Elvis, "The King."


Snowmen by Ethan Steers, Norwich, NY


Fresh-out-of-high-schooler Logan falls in love with a gruff and outdoorsy man several years his senior, causing him to question his dreams and plans for his life.


Ethan Steers hailsfrom the small town of Norwich, NY, and has been writing films for four years. He currently studies film and television at NYU and is enjoying it tremendously. He is extremely interested in the horror genre, but is starting to become increasingly more focused on drama.  


Visalia by Dennis Nivens, Hermosa Beach, CA


In a 1950s California small town, a high school football coach and a police officer fall in love and face prejudice and harassment. When the coach is falsely accused of being a pedophile, his lover must risk both of their careers and their future together to set the record straight


Dennis Nivens lives in Hermosa Beach, California, where he does boring technical work when the surf isn't pumping.  He has freelanced feature articles on outdoor sports and adventure travel to various publications, and was a contributing editor to a surf culture magazine for a period of four years.  Visalia is his first attempt at a screenplay.

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