You’re Invited: Melissa Mathison Fund Screenplay Reading

On the eve of her 55th birthday, Elaine realizes that she is becoming invisible to her husband, her family, and her town. So she decides to take a radical step to be seen: she takes her clothes off, and she does not put them back on.

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Please join us in New York City on Monday, January 14, for a Staged Reading of selected scenes of Melissa Mathison Fund Recipient Aemilia Scott’s BIRTHDAY SUIT, followed by a reception.

Monday, January 14
7:00-9:00pm (Reading 7pm | Reception to follow)
Foley Gallery | 59 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002

To RSVP, please email (space is limited).

Aemilia Scott was selected to receive support from the 2018 Melissa Mathison Fund, established in 2016 and named for the late Hollywood screenwriter of iconic films such as E.T. THE EXTRA TERRESTRIAL.

The Fund ​supports HIFF’s annual Screenwriters Lab, and in particular, is instrumental in ensuring that female voices are showcased.​ ​This reading is a direct result of receiving this fund, and will take Aemilia one step further in her film’s production.

Aemilia Scott 400Birthday Suit

Screenwriter: Aemilia Scott

It all started with a viewing of L’AVVENTURA in a broom closet in college. Or maybe it began when her brother showed her Stan Douglas’ video art at 13. For Aemilia Scott, it hasn’t always been about filmmaking, but it has always been about film. She didn’t go to film school, but rather studied History and Photography at Columbia University, studying under street photographers Thomas Roma and Dana Hoey. In Chicago she came up as a comedian, training and eventually performing at Second City, iO and Annoyance. After years writing sketch comedy, she began writing longer and sadder things, which turned into her first short films. For Aemilia, filmmaking unites the skills of image-making, writing and performance. Comedy and art are both pursuits of truth, and once she actually made a film of her own, she never looked back. Her first film, BEST IF USED BY, won a number of awards, including a premiere at Clermont Ferrand, a BAFTA award at Aspen Shortsfest, honorable mentions at REGARD Quebec and USA Dallas, and best short of 2013 at Newfilmmakers LA. Her next film, FOR A GOOD TIME, premiered at Aspen Shortsfest. She has two films on the festival world right now: SHOT, which premiered at Chicago International Film Fest and which won Best Short at Minimalen Film Festival Norway, and HOW YOU ARE TO ME, which won best drama at Short Sweet Film Fest.


Janet Ulrich Brook Headshot 400JANET ULRICH BROOKS (ELAINE)

Janet is a Chicago-based actor and teaching artist. Theatre credits include Goodman Theatre: Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (Jeff Award nomination), 2666, and Seagull. Other credits: Plantation! (Lookingglass Theatre); Women Laughing Alone With Salad (Woolly Mammoth Theatre in DC, Helen Hayes nomination); The Lady With All The Answers (Theatre At The Center, Jeff Award Nomination) To Master The Art (Broadway Playhouse); Crazy For You and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Drury Lane Theatre); South of Settling (Steppenwolf). Television credits include: Sense8, Proven Innocent, Chicago Med, Chicago Fire, Chicago Justice, Boss, and The Playboy Club. Film Credits include: DIVERGENT, CONVICTION, POLISH BAR, ONE SMALL HITCH, FOOLS, THE MIDDLE DISTANCE, and MARKET VALUE.

Jeff Still headshotJEFF STILL (FRANK)

Broadway: To Kill a Mockingbird, Oslo (Tony Award, Best Play), Fish in the Dark, Therese Raquin, Lombardi, Bronx Bombers, and August: Osage County. Off-Broadway: Our Town, Tribes, and Orson Welles in Orson’s Shadow. Regional: Harry Brock in Born Yesterday (Guthrie), Mark Rothko in Red (Pittsburgh Public Theatre), The Stage Manager in Our Town (KC Rep), and Salieri in Amadeus (Cardinal Stage), as well as 13 shows with Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company including, most recently, Tracy Letts’ The Minutes. Film and television credits include THE EXPRESS, PUBLIC ENEMIES, THE HUDSUCKER PROXY, THE UNTOUCHABLES, and Law & Order.


Raised in St. Louis, Missouri, Danny attended Webster Conservatory of Theatre Arts before relocating to Chicago to begin his professional acting career. A company membership at Chicago’s A Red Orchid Theatre. Stage credits also include Broadway: currently appearing in To Kill A Mockingbird, The Iceman Cometh; Off-Broadway: Kill Floor, Antipodes, The Open House. Steppenwolf Theatre: The Minutes, The Flick, Middletown (among others). A Red Orchid Theatre: Megacosm, Abigail’s Party, The Unseen. Film: STRONGER, ELVIS & NIXON, KILLING KENNEDY, THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS. Television: Instinct, Blue Bloods, Boardwalk Empire, Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D., Elementary, Prison Break.

jenny ikeda headshot 400JENNIFER IKEDA (VIOLET)

Jennifer Ikeda is an actress, author and audio book narrator. Recognized as one of the most versatile and accomplished actors working in the American Theatre, Jennifer has worked with such theatrical giants as Edward Albee, Caryl Churchill, Philip Glass, Theresa Rebeck and Alan Rickman. A graduate from The Juilliard School of Drama and San Francisco’s ACT/Young Conservatory. A winner of two Audie Awards for her narration work on dozens of audio books. Her most popular narrated books are The Cure for Dreaming, A Discovery of Witches, Shadow of Night, A Court of Mist and Fury and The Book of Life. Television/Film credits include: Tell Me a Story, Elementary, Madam Secretary, Suits, Maniac, Blindspot Happyish, Person of Interest, Smash, Suits, Lipstick Jungle and Fringe. Broadway credits include Top Girls and Seascape. Other Theatre credits: Linda (Manhattan Theatre Club), Macbeth (The Public Theater), Marie Antoinette (Soho Repertory), Rescue Me (Ma-Yi Theatre), Seminar (Ahmanson Theatre), The Tempest (Shakespeare Theatre of NJ) and Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare Theatre of DC).

Susan Blommaert headshotSUSAN BLOMMAERT (SHIRLEY)

Susan Blommaert lives in New York City and works in film, television and theatre. Some film credits include THE DOUBLE, DOUBT, UNITED 93, KINSEY, THE GOOD HEART, LOSS OF A TEARDROP DIAMOND, GUARDING TESS, MOUSEHUNT, PET SEMATARY, EDWARD SCISSORHANDS, and the upcoming THE KITCHEN. On television, she has appeared in The Blacklist, Bull, One Dollar, Elementary, Louie, Mozart in the Jungle, The Good Wife, Madoff (mini-series), The Big C, Boardwalk Empire, The Sopranos, The X-Files and Law & Order(s). Susan has also done many shows on Broadway, Off-Broadway and in regional theatre.

Brian Miskell headshot 400BRIAN MISKELL (MALE SWING)

Broadway: The Waverly Gallery. Off-Broadway: Peace for Mary Frances (The New Group), The Antipodes (Signature Theatre), The Flick (Barrow Street Theatre), The Undeniable Sound of Right Now, Afghanistan Zimbabwe America Kuwait, The Hill Town Plays (Rattlestick Playwrights Theater). Other recent credits include F*** Marry Kill (Less Than Rent Theatre, New Ohio Theatre), The Aliens (Studio Theatre and San Francisco Playhouse), Eightythree Down (Horse Trade Theater Group; New York Innovative Theatre Nomination). TV: Compliance (FX). A company member of Rising Phoenix Rep, Brian studied at the Lee Strasberg Institute and graduated from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.


Broadway: Network. Off-Broadway: Dance Nation (Playwrights Horizons). Regional: My Jane (Chester Theater). TV: Madam Secretary, Orange Is the New Black. B.F.A: Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University.

TBD Casting logo 500TBD CASTING

Upcoming theatre: Frankie & Johnny (TBD Theatricals, Producer), Public Servant (Theatre Breaking Through Barriers) Passage (Soho Rep); Current/recent theater projects include Thunderbodies and Fairview (Soho Rep), Smart Blonde (59E59), Playing Hot (Pipeline Theatre Co.), Imagining Madoff and Life x3 (New Light Theater Project), Borrowed Cash (A.R.T./Oberon). Current film/TV include Gunmetal Rose (Satyr Entertainment, dir. Daniel Hart Donoghue), GIVE ME LIBERTY (2019 Sundance Selection, dir. Kirill Mikhanovsky), Mordeo (CRYPT TV, YouTube), and ongoing work with the Independent Filmmaker Project. Member of Casting Society of America and Independent Spirit Awards voter.

The HIFF annual Screenwriters Lab, celebrating 19 years, pairs emerging screenwriters with established screenwriters, directors and producers for a collaborative weekend of one-on-one mentoring sessions each spring in the Hamptons. Submissions are now open for the 2019 edition.