Writing in the Dark,, an apt metaphor for anyone who has ever tried to tap out words on a  backlit screen.  This book, a collection of essays gathered by Max van Manen, shows how "different kinds of human experience may be explored, the methods for investigating phenomena contributing to human experience…the process of inquiry, reflection and writing…a valuable and rich resource".   That is to say, writing is an attempt to reflect what goes on inside us.  Inside us is where "story" occurs.Scott Popjes maintains a busy schedule, writing, producing and editing major theatrical trailers, promos and EPK's and developing and producing TV series and films, such as "The Remarkably 20th Century" and "The Long Ride Home".  Born and raised in suburban New Jersey, this everyman director/editor loves making movies.Ernest Hemingway - The man who ran with the bulls.  His literary sparseness and compression, well-worn and well-earned, captured the attention of critics and public in a volatile age.  In 1952, he received the Pulitzer for The Old Man and the Sea.   In 1954, he received the Nobel Prize for his "powerful style-making mastery of the modern art of narration."  He wrote from life.  Until his life subdued and rescued him.Will Shakespeare - Aka "The bard".  Arguably the best English writer to ever glide pen to page, populist hero as well as aristocratic raconteur, though we wish he had used all women instead of all men to populate his plays.  (Not a prejudice, just a fact.)   His sonnets remain divine.  Rare is the writer who can scribble successfully in one genre, let alone two.  Some postulate this poet and playwright was, in fact, more than one man…or woman.  What would he have done with film, we wonder?Though he produced fewer than 40 paintings, Dutch painter Jan Vermeer is one of the most respected artists of the European tradition. He is known for his serene, luminous interiors populated by one or two figures. Vermeer grew up in Delft, Holland, joined the painters' guild in 1653, and worked as an art dealer to support his wife and 11 children.  In 1672, war with France ruined Holland’s economy and Vermeer's business failed.  Soon after, he died of a stroke at age 42, leaving his family bankrupt.  Vermeer's paintings were largely forgotten for nearly 200 years, until 1858 when a French critic began to write admiringly about his work.  Interest in Vermeer surged again recently with his work exhibited at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.  Contemporary writers have also been inspired by him, including Tracy Chevalier whose novel Girl with a Pearl Earring imagines the life of the girl in Vermeer's painting of the same name. L.Ron Hubbard - Whatever you may think of his other worldly beliefs, the full body of L. Ron Hubbard's work includes more than 5,000 writings and 3,000 tape-recorded lectures, spanning five, highly productive decades.  A humanitarian and adventurer, he  believes, "There are only two tests of a life well lived: Did one do as one intended? And were people glad one lived?"  We add, "And can one write about it, anyhow?"Johannes Vermeer's "Lady Writing a Letter with Her Maid" records a prior chivalrous age where class decorum reigned.  (Oh, well, you can't have everything.)   One of the most talented painters in the Dutch Golden Age, that's the 1600's, Vermeer's work was forgotten for centuries.  The most brilliant artists of any century are probably never discovered, their paintings hidden till ruin, their pages dropping to dust in unfound attics.  We find this oddly comforting.  No martyr of time, this particular masterpiece hangs in the National Gallery of Ireland.  Definitely worth a gaze.Jules Verne - Ode to childhood and the player within us.  Verne was born, aptly, in Nates, France in 1828.  He promptly ran off to become cabin boy on a merchant ship but was caught and sent back to his parents.  Thus constrained, his imagination wandered.  He wrote story after story, became very rich, bought a yacht and resumed his initial intent - to sail around the world.  Or Europe anyhow.   Our favorite remains Twenty Thousand Leagues.
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First-Place Winner, November 2008 - April 2009
Screenplay Contest - Full-Length Series
Written by Muhammad Ali Hasan

Craig Rosenthal

Muhammad Ali Hasan graduated with a Master's in Film Directing from Chapman University in 2007. Hasan's latest film, RABIA, which he wrote and directed, won over 35 awards on the film festival circuit and is currently being distributed worldwide by Elypse Films. Opening to controversial reviews, Rabia is a dramatic biopic about Palestine's first female suicide bomber, Wafa Idris.

A former regular guest on CNBC's The Dennis Miller Show and Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher, Hasan ran as a Republican for Colorado's State House in 2008, gaining 47% of the total vote. An advanced snowboarder, Hasan would refer to his puppy dog, Deelya, as his first love and his snowboard as his second. At this time, Hasan is actively developing BENAZIR, with plans to direct it in 2010.

Additional writer information:


Embezzler. Manipulator. Murderer. Hero.


The story of Benazir Bhutto, the Prime Minister of Pakistan who brutally murdered rival politicians, manipulated superpower countries, and embezzled billions from foreign investors, all for the sake of helping her people.


The BENAZIR screenplay, copyright, and story idea below is owned by Muhammad Ali Hasan. No copying of any of the pages below is allowed, unless approved by owner.



SUPERIMPOSE: Karachi, Pakistan - December 2007

We're approaching a large house, made of stucco, all windows shining bright. THREE LARGE POSTERS hang outside the walls of the house, each of BENAZIR BHUTTO's face.

The house is guarded by TEN ARMED GUARDS and FOUR JEEPS, lights on, parked in front. A BRITISH RADIO ANNOUNCER'S VOICE plays from a stereo inside one of the jeeps:

                RADIO ANNOUNCER
    (on radio)
...the world is watching Pakistan
today, as Benazir Bhutto attempts
to become the nation's Prime
Minister for a third time, with her
first rally tonight...


We are in Benazir's bedroom, as the radio announcer's voice continues from a stereo inside. The room has a cold marble floor and a large vanity, but is bare of decoration, cluttered with papers and folders like a small office.

BENAZIR (53), a tall woman, with light skin and long black hair, sits in front of the vanity applying makeup. She wears a traditional Pakistani outfit.

With her are IQBAL (53), a short, balding man in a suit and TARA (49), a Pakistani woman wearing formal ethnic attire. Iqbal rifles through a memo, pacing back and forth, sweating, as Tara takes notes on a pad.

                RADIO ANNOUNCER (CONT'D)
     (on radio)
...victory this time will be
difficult for Bhutto, due to past
charges of corruption, including
embezzlement, nepotism, and
possible murder charges...

Turn that off.

                RADIO ANNOUNCER (CONT'D)
     (on radio)
...but many note that Bhutto was
never expected to win her first two
elections, causing some to...

I said off!

Tara turns off the radio.

                IQBAL (O.C.)

Benazir combs her long hair, not answering. Iqbal appears in her vanity mirror, standing behind her.

                IQBAL (CONT'D)
President Musharraf doesn't want
you going out tonight.

Benazir continues combing her hair, ignoring him.

                IQBAL (CONT'D)
They can't do a full security
screening at the outdoor rallies.
It's suicide bombers, Bena, we

       (slamming her hair brush
        to the table)
So we give into terrorists!?! Ruin
our lives so they can win?

Benazir hastily puts a white veil on her head and starts wrapping it, covering her hair, but not her face.

                BENAZIR (CONT'D)
How are people supposed to feel
safe if their own leaders can't?

Iqbal turns away, taking a deep breath.

                BENAZIR (CONT'D)
I beat the Army. I'll beat the
terrorists. The Taliban. India.
America. We won't fear anyone.

She gets up, looking one last time into the mirror.

Let's go!

Benazir exits the bedroom and briskly walks down the hallway,
Iqbal and Tara trailing behind.

       (to the servants)
Get the jeep ready!


A MOB of PEOPLE stand outside, flooding the town square, as a STREET BAND plays. Large POSTERS of Benazir are everywhere.

Benazir steps onto a small stage, bullhorn in hand, to the CHEERS of the adoring crowd. MEN and WOMEN push themselves closer to the stage, as the street band quiets. Benazir surveys the crowd, eyes blazing with confidence.

        (speaking into the
We're not terrorists! We're not
murderers! But we won't die at the
hands of America finding

The crowd CHEERS.

                BENAZIR (CONT'D)
We don't need America to solve our
problems. We'll build schools and
bring teachers to every village,
and we'll defeat our terrorists!
Not with missiles, but with
education! With opportunity!

The crowd ROARS.

                BENAZIR (CONT'D)
And we'll work with America, but we
won't fear them. We won't bend to
the demands of Osama Bin Laden.
We'll succeed together, as one
Pakistan! Pakistan, zindabad!

The crowd CHANTS "Pakistan, zindabad" repeatedly, as the brass band excitedly PLAYS an upbeat folk tune.

As the crowd chants, a MAN, standing next to Benazir's stage, opens his dark coat. Strapped to his chest are thick rows of DYNAMITE and a SILVER DETONATOR in his hand.


In darkness, we HEAR an EXPLOSION, followed by SCREAMS of horror.

All sounds fade to silence over black.





The village is dusty, with small adobe structures dominating the area and chickens running wild everywhere.

A YOUNG BENAZIR (26) sits inside a muddied MERCEDES SEDAN, her long black hair draped over a stylish t-shirt and jeans. She looks like a British hipster, displaced in a village.

Her father, ZULFIKAR ALI BHUTTO (51), captivates a SMALL CROWD of impoverished VILLAGERS with his speech. Ali, a short and handsome man, has a perfect haircut and freshly shaven face. He wears tattered Pakistani clothing, doing his best to blend in, despite an immaculate appearance.

                ALI BHUTTO
...and as your guardian, your
Communist leader... I will give
your bread, your water... your
shelter. And as Pakistanis, we will
serve as guardians to this Earth.
Guardians chosen by Allah!

The small crowd CHEERS.

                ALI BHUTTO (CONT'D)
And guardians never fear! Never
fear the Soviets in Afghanistan!
Never fear India's invasion! If
either invades, then we'll put up
our arms and we'll fight! We'll
fight to protect Pakistan! We'll
fight to protect this Mother Earth!

The SHOUTS of the crowd grow louder.

                ALI BHUTTO (CONT'D)
Guardian Pakistan! Pakistan,
zindabad! Pakistan, zindabad!

The crowd CHANTS "Pakistan, zindabad" repeatedly.

Ali points to Benazir. She turns the car stereo's volume UP, loudly playing FAST-PACED PAKISTANI MUSIC. Ali starts dancing in a hyper manner and laughing, as the village crowd joins him. Everyone DANCES and CHANTS in unison, celebrating. Benazir claps her hands, dancing inside the car.

As they dance, a MILITARY CAR pulls up near Benazir. Two men, GENERAL ZIA UL-HUQ (54) and GENERAL GHULAM ISHAQ KHAN (64), step out. They're dressed in Pakistani MILITARY UNIFORMS, each decorated with many ribbons.

Zia stands in front of Ghulam, sporting a black uniform and a gigantic handle-bar mustache, his arms crossed against his short, muscular frame. Ghulam has a wise appearance, with white hair, glasses, and a tall body, dressed in a tan uniform. Neither is amused by the dancing.


Ali approaches the Generals, with Benazir following. Ali's car is running in the background, as FIVE VILLAGERS practice dance steps, listening to music from the car stereo.

                ALI BHUTTO
Generals! Working too hard, yes?
Welcome to Larkana!

Ali shakes their hands enthusiastically. Zia lightly giggles, warming up to Ali.

        (to Ali Bhutto)
Prime Minister, I'm worried about
Lahore. The riots are growing.

                GHULAM KHAN
Police and Army forces are
completely overextended!

They know the elections were
rigged, Ali, it's obvious.

                ALI BHUTTO
        (to Benazir, smiling)
Bena, leave me with the Generals?

Benazir smiles and walks back to the car. Zia waits until she is out of earshot.

      (to Ali, whispering)
Let Lahore have new elections and
end this!

Ali crosses his arms and shakes his head in disagreement.

                ZIA (CONT'D)
        (angrily whispering)
How am I supposed to stop thousands
of rioters who know their Senate
seats were stolen!?!

                ALI BHUTTO
        (to Zia, whispering)
Shoot them.

The civilians?

                ALI BHUTTO
Yes, shoot them!

Prime Minister--

                ALI BHUTTO
       (pointing his finger into
        Zia's chest)
Don't question me! Just get me my
seventy percent!

An uncomfortable beat. Ali steps back.

                ALI BHUTTO (CONT'D)
I can't change the Constitution
unless my Party has seventy percent
of Parliament's seats. We want a
nuclear program, right?

Zia and Ghulam are silent, speechless by his orders.

                ALI BHUTTO (CONT'D)
I need full power if you want
nuclear missiles! We're not giving
those Senate seats back.

Ali walks back to his car, leaving them alone.

                GHULAM KHAN
Something needs to be settled.

We're not killing people.

                GHULAM KHAN
You realize that Bhutto is the kind
of man who will kill you if nothing
is done?

A beat. Zia watches Ali, his eyes full of furry.

I don't have to kill innocent
people to get nuclear weapons.

Ali's car leaves with Benazir inside.


Ali Bhutto sits at a table with THREE MEN. They play poker, drink wine, and smoke cigars. In front of them, TWO BELLY DANCERS dance to slow, ARABIAN MUSIC.

Ali surveys his cards and frowns. RAZA (60) a tall, handsome man, sits with MOHSEN (50) and KHALID (55). All three men are dressed in European three-piece suits, looking more like English aristocrats than Pakistanis. Raza, despite his dark complexion, speaks with a hybrid British and Pakistani accent, hinting at his Cambridge education.

Bhutto, your turn!

Ali smiles, putting down his cards.

                ALI BHUTTO
Royal flush!

The other men throw their cards to the table in frustration. Ali laughs, as he rises from the table and starts drinking from the wine glasses of the other men, drunkenly taunting.

                ALI BHUTTO (CONT'D)
Third time tonight! Beyond luck!
Completely beyond luck!

Ali stumbles towards the belly dancers and dances with them.

Suddenly, LIGHTS turn on and Benazir walks in. Dressed to party, Benazir wears a sexy pink blouse and tight jeans, with hair in curls and thick makeup on her face.

Game over! Time for bed!

Just one more drink!

C'mon Bena!

Raza stands, smiling at Benazir, a glass of wine in hand.

Bena, my gorgeous woman... please?

Benazir smiles at Raza, reconsidering, due to his charm.

Benazir suddenly notices her father flirting with the dancers. She immediately shoots a dirty look at the belly dancers, arm stretched with pointed-finger:

Out! Everyone out! Now!


Ali sits at the poker table with Benazir standing behind him. She rubs a hot towel against his forehead and massages his shoulders. Ali melts with every caress. The stereo is off.

                ALI BHUTTO
Awww... perfect.

You need to be in good shape, so
you can build democracy here!

                ALI BHUTTO


                ALI BHUTTO
I should make the decisions, Bena!
Like Chairman Mao... I know best!

They both giggle. A beat.

                ALI BHUTTO
And you should have it. Take it,


                ALI BHUTTO
Larkana! Everything we saw today.
The entire family ranch. All of its
thousands of acres. All yours.

Benazir giggles.

                ALI BHUTTO (CONT'D)
Yes! You'll be Bhutto Sahib! Like
me! You'll own the farmers, the
people... the votes.

And the money?

                ALI BHUTTO
You want Larkana for money!?!

Ali, agitated, removes her hands from his shoulder and grabs the wet towel, finger pointing, drunkenly lecturing:

                ALI BHUTTO
Yes, we make millions off the
farming, jaan, but the votes! When
every one of your farmers votes for
you, your seat's always guaranteed!
Men give billions for such
influence... to be a Sahib!

Benazir smiles. She grabs his lecturing hand and sits down next to him, massaging his wrist. Ali smiles proudly.

                ALI BHUTTO
My daughter's seat is guaranteed...

Papa, I'm not running.

                ALI BHUTTO
No, I want you to--

Politics is corrupt and--

                ALI BHUTTO
       (sitting up)
No! You'll stay and take care of
Larkana! Become its Bhutto Sahib!
Promise me, Bena? Promise?!?

Benazir brings him closer and caresses his shoulder, encouraging him to sleep. A beat.

Did you rig the election, papa?

                ALI BHUTTO
No. Never. Never, Bena...

She kisses his forehead. Ali smiles, nuzzling his head into Benazir's shoulder and falling asleep.

NUSRAT (50), Benazir's mother, walks into the room with her dark eyes leering at Benazir and her father. Nusrat is a Persian woman, but looks more like a Parisian, wearing European clothing and shiny jewelry.

Don't you have a party?

I'm going soon, mummy.

Your papa had another gathering?

Benazir holds Ali closer, away from Nusrat, caressing him.

                BENAZIR (CONT'D)
He had a long day.


AMERICAN DISCO MUSIC plays from a small yacht floating in Karachi's glistening harbor. A group of YOUNG ADULTS, dressed in chic European clothing, smoke cigarettes, drink martinis, and dance. Benazir dances with a British boy, WILLIAM (25).

        (imitating a British
Marry me, William! I love you!

They both laugh, kissing each other.

I'll miss you, Bena.

But we're getting married?

Nonsense! You're a candidate here--

No, no! Stop it.

Benazir puts a CIGARETTE to her lips and William lights it.

                BENAZIR (CONT'D)
I'm just here to help papa. I'm
going back to London and joining
the foreign service. Honestly.

Bena, you'd be brilliant here.

Brilliant!?! Is this Pakistan's
next great politician?!?

They both giggle, as they continue dancing.