Sun Valley Film Festival High Scribe winner headshotIn March of 2024, VCFA MFA in Film alumnx Emilie McDonald (F ‘24) was honored with the High Scribe Screenwriting Award at the 2024 Sun Valley Film Festival for her script AMAN AND FLOR AGAINST THE MOTHERFUCKING WORLD. McDonald worked on AMAN AND FLOR as her VCFA MFA in Film thesis project. 

Emilie McDonald and crew at Sun Valley Film Festival

Initially developed in 2012, the Sun Valley Film Festival celebrates cutting-edge film, TV, and screenwriters and “…develops professionals and illuminates the process of filmmaking, propelling emerging voices with grants and education.” As a High Scribe Screenwriting Award-winner, McDonald will receive a residency at the Ernest Hemingway House and one year of mentorship from an esteemed network of award-winning screenwriters and producers.

Here’s what Emilie McDonald had to say about her script, her time working on it at VCFA, and the High Scribe Screenwriting Award: 

“AMAN AND FLOR AGAINST THE MOTHERFUCKING WORLD is a feature dramedy script about Flor, a mouthy teen still grieving the recent loss of her mother, desperately wants to escape the crazy desert town of Truth or Consequences to see her favorite band, The Eyebrows, with her new best friend, the charismatic and beautiful Aman. But when she discovers that Aman has been holding a dark secret, their friendship is on the line. 

One steaming June day in Truth or Consequences, NM I walked the Healing Waters Trail with my husband, and as we headed back into the town via a dusty bridge overlooking the mountains and a few homes, Flor’s voice took hold of me and hasn’t let go since. Letting her voice permeate a novelette and then a script has been an exercise in both freedom and joy. I am a (sometimes too) polite and careful person on the outside, but a potty-mouthed, sarcastic ruffian on the inside, just like Flor. I too moved to New Mexico as a teenager and had to find my people and my place. I’m excited to share this story of friendship and “eyes that see and ears that hear” through this film.

I worked on this project with advisors Nina Davenport, Joan Darling, and Dominga Sotomayor. All brought wonderful insights to the project. I had Joan for two semesters and she really helped me to put aside any preconceived notions about the project and break all conventions away and then build the story back up from there. She shared so much wisdom and joy and just a way of approaching the work with an open mind and a sense of mystery and adventure that I value more than I can express. My experience at VCFA meeting advisors, staff, and inspiring fellow students was incredibly valuable. It was one of the best decisions I ever made.

The award was very meaningful—to be recognized for something I’ve worked on for two and a half years, and for people to “get” my work, touched me deeply. I’m looking forward to the writing retreat later this year at Ernest Hemingway’s house in Sun Valley!”

McDonald hopes to start filming AMAN AND FLOR AGAINST THE MOTHERFUCKING WORLD in late 2024 and is currently in the fundraising stage of the project. You can learn more about the film and how to support McDonald’s work at

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