‘Cinderella Must Die’ wins AiF’s GatewayLA Script Development program

11 April, 2017 by Staff Writer

Melburnians Penelope Chai and Matteo R. Bernardini have won Australians in Film’s script development program, GatewayLA, with their screenplay Cinderella Must Die.


The Gateway LA program aims to develop audience-driven Aussie content for international audiences. A select number of finalists are nominated in a list of screenplays similar to the US’s The Black List and the UK’s Brit List.

The inaugural winner of the prize was Yolanda Ramke for her script, Cargo. It has since been turned into a feature film starring Martin Freeman, now in post-production. In February, Netflix acquired the worldwide rights.

Chai and Bernardini will receive $10,000 as well as industry support to develop the script in LA , including networking opportunities and one-on-one meetings with established screenwriters and producers.

Cinderella Must Die is described as a reimagining of the original fairytale that challenges the ‘princess fantasy’ and its impact on modern female stereotypes.

Chai and Bernardini said they had had a lot of fun working on the script and were excited to see where it would go from here.

“Fairytales are a form of propaganda, so the idea behind Cinderella Must Die was to turn the original story completely on its head,” they said.

“Our script depicts the ugly stepsisters as the innocent victims and Cinderella as the villain in the form of a cunning social-climber who fabricates her own rags-to-riches narrative as a poisonous but highly effective act of propaganda.”

It’s not the first prize Chai and Bernardini have won for the script, having taken out the Script Pipeline Screenwriting Prize last year.

AiF president Simonne Overend said the Gateway LA team had read and considered hundreds of screenplays over the last few months.

“The range of voices we’ve uncovered has been wonderful to see,” she said. “The eight finalists make for a wonderfully diverse list of stories for both film and television, and are such a great representation of their equally diverse writers who hail from all corners on the country and numerous cultural backgrounds.”

“Considering the GatewayLA scripts are assessed under anonymity, this year’s list is further testament to the fact that regardless of your experience or ethos in life, a good story will always resonate.”

‘The Aussie List’ for 2017 is:

Cinderella Must Die (Winner)

Writers: Matteo R. Bernardini & Penelope Chai

Eight years after happily ever after, Anastasia sets out to settle the score with her lying, scheming, social-climbing sister, Cinderella.

Bells Gap (TV)

Writer: Polly Staniford

When a teenage boy mysteriously reappears 15 years after he vanished without a trace, the community of Bells Gap is forced to confront the strange events that are happening beneath the surface of their town before someone else goes missing.

Cured (TV)

Writer: Joe Osborn

In the summer of 1996, a gay southern teenager is sent to a conversion therapy camp where he must figure out how to defy the authorities and be true to himself.


Writer: Philip Tarl Denson

When an introverted dream programmer discovers he is trapped in a client’s dream, he must find a way out and save the woman he secretly loves.

My Fist Your Face (TV)

Writers: Greta Harrison & Matthew C. Vaughan

A deluded ex-stuntwoman runs a low-rent stunt course for wannabe action stars. But her dreams of returning to the film biz are forever foiled by her own ego.


Writer: Maziar Lahooti

A recovering addict suffering from PTSD from dark memories of war is blackmailed by his psychotic brother-in-law with a seemingly impossible task that could threaten his brother, sister, and nephew’s lives.


Writer: Adam Bustin

In the near future, a lonesome street sweeper becomes embroiled in a dangerous conspiracy after mistakenly rescuing a young woman he doesn’t realize is an android – a pleasure model, who isn’t real and isn’t programmed to dispense the type of love he’s looking for.

South of the 10 (TV)

Writer: Davina Willet

An androgynous Olympic hopeful struggles to balance the pressures of her volatile trainer and fractured family and stay true to herself amid the toying temptations to yield to the media’s sexualization of female athletes to gain publicity and money.