(L-R) Ben Chuah, Purnima Padmanabhan and LJ Charleston.

Ben Chuah’s Nite X has won the inaugural short film screenwriting competition conducted by Lee Matthews’ Different Films.

The screenplay centres on a casual hook-up between a young and older man in the middle of the night, a window into inter-generational queer relationships and the attraction and dynamics between sexual partners from different worlds.

Chuah will develop the project with Different Films, produced by Daniel Chua, directed by Matthews and released via Different Films’ YouTube channel in 2020.

The company is now looking for experienced crew members who are eager to achieve credits as heads of department on Nite X.

A fan of The Family Law and dramas Lost and The Cry, 33-year-old Chuah has completed an Advanced Diploma of Professional Screenwriting at RMIT.

Matthews initiated the Screenwriter of Distinction Competition to unearth a new voice from Australia’s diverse writing talent pool. By turning the winning entry into a short, the recipient earns his first screen credit.

The competition’s two shortlisted scripts are What’s in a Name by Purnima Padmanabhan and Son of a Bitch by Libby-Jane (LJ) Charleston.

A VCA screenwriting undergraduate, Purnima’s script follows the quest of a primary school girl who wants to be called by her real name, Tayyebeh, not the anglicised ‘Tay’ that everyone uses.

Charleston’s dark comedic tale looks at a mother of two boys who badly wants a daughter and is on a mission to swap one of her sons for another parent’s girl. In doing so, both women get more than they bargained for.

LJ has had a long career as a TV, magazine and newspaper reporter and radio presenter and has written three novels.

There were more than 40 applications, impressing Matthews, who says: “I’ve seen real diversity in outlooks, lived experiences, gender, sexuality and cultural backgrounds within our entrants and within their stories.

“I read compelling tales about disability in the future, reflections on being a mature age student and slices in time that shed so much light into a specific cultural experience. I’ve learnt something from every person who was a part of this.”

He gave special mentions to two submissions. AFTRS screenwriting graduate Andrew Slattery’s Dorsal follows a 15-year-old boy who wakes up one day with a dorsal fin growing from his spine. After initially hiding it he reveals himself to his friends and finds strength in his difference.

Riley Longworth, a recent graduate of VCA’s Masters of Screenwriting, wrote Brutus, set in an apocalyptic world where Jay is a stranger to most, set apart by his looks. Jay discovers that being different is life-threatening to the people around him.

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