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The Prize starts like a familiar cliché about two guys in a bar. A bully-turned-priest and his former favorite punching bag, now a successful business tycoon, meet for dinner. The now humbled ruffian, JOHN MURPHY, begs his old victim, SYDNEY SCHUSTER, for a donation to save the school run by his church. Sydney gets the last laugh, end of story.

But, no, wait. What follows is hardly a cliché. This timely screenplay starts where we'd expect the story to end. Intriguing characters quickly draw you in and make you wonder why the reunion. From there, LaCourt takes us on a journey few have imagined: the two think adults can learn from kids who behave as they did. Then, they plot a way to test their radical idea.

 

LaCourt takes us from peer pressure-filled schools to dysfunctional homes and back again. She crafts each complex character carefully so that we not only see the stereotypical, public masks they use to cope, but also their vulnerable natures within. She sets the boys and girls up in a boarding school, gives them a few simple rules to follow, (no sex, no drugs, and no serious violence) and gives them motivation to save themselves from their own bad habits. Thirteen year-old KARTER JOHNSON, the class bully, TASHINA JONES, the young militant feminist and their classmates break all the rules and create turbulence that forces Sydney and John to confront their past and present demons. Who will win The Prize, John, Sydney, the kids, or will they all lose?

The Prize is essentially a window into the lives of bullies and victims, yet it is more than a literal reality show, it's based on an idea that misdirected intelligence lies behind bully-victim behavior patterns. It ponders the question of whether or not bullies pass the behavior on to their children. Finally, it moves our common understanding of victims as objects and examines them as subjects capable of choices, just as the bullies are.

If you know anyone who would be interested in producing this movie, or anyone who knows anyone who would be interested in producing this movie, please contact me.

Contact Marilyn LaCourt

• Want to know how the movie ends? See commandments tablet, paraphrased from rules the kids developed to change patterns of behavior between bullies and victims.

• Richard Dawkins - Evolutionary Biologist "Reciprocal cooperation is the best survival strategy for our species."


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