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, May - October 2007
Screenplay Contest - Teleplay/Short Series

"Kiyala"

Written by Kimberly Coleman

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kimberly Coleman is a full-time screenwriter with Master degrees in English and Nursing. 'Kiyala' also won Second Place in Gimme Credit Screenplay Competition Cycle V, and the 2007 Bronze Brad Award for Short Scripts in Movie Script Contest, and was in the Top Three Short Script Nominees at the 2007 Queens International Film Festival. For more information on Kimberly and her scripts you may contact her at coleman@merrimonpress.com or visit http://www.writerbytes.com?SiteID=1126.

LOGLINE

A young Iraqi electronics student must protect her family and bring vengeance to the Jihadists who martyred her father.

SYNOPSIS

Kiyala Otani's life as an electronics student in Baghdad is disrupted when her father is forced into a suicide bombing by Jihadists. Her mother and two young brothers are devastated by Wahid's loss. When she learns from friends that two students in their classes are followers of al-Asam, she offers herself as a martyr for their cause. Realizing the value of martyring the daughter as well, their leader Haitham, has Kiyala blindfolded and taken to their safehouse -- where she sees that the detonators for their suicide vests are Tegle cell phones.

She moves her family for safety then buys a Tegle at the marketplace with a plan to somehow switch SIM cards, but the Jihadists arrive unexpectedly at her house with a cache of weapons and new equipment - their safehouse bombed by the American military and the Tegles destroyed, now replaced with WWX German models. The SIM card is useless. She manages to slip a WWX into her pocket.

An hour before the American military convoy will be in position near the marketplace, Kiyala cooks breakfast for the Jihadists -- burning kebabs and using the smoke to hide her quick wiring of the phone from her pocket to one of the vests. Then, with the vests and phones loaded in the car the Jihadists drive her to the marketplace. En route and unseen by Haitham sitting in the backseat beside her, she unwires the WWX from her vest but leaves it strapped in place.

Haitham checks the phone as she steps from the car and instructs her to walk towards the marketplace. The convoy is approaching. She turns back to tell Haitham that taking people from their families and killing them for his cause is murder, not a process of martyrdom that gains him Paradise. He assures her since she is a non-believer she will have a place in eternal Hell…He punches in the numbers to the phone on her vest but it doesn't detonate -- she unstraps the phone, enters the numbers to the one wired to the vest in the car and it explodes, 'for my father, for my family.'

SCRIPT FOLLOWS

FADE IN

EXT. BAGHDAD - SUNRISE - 2007

The city from above.

The streets below come into focus…

…the streets leading to a small house in west Baghdad become the conductive pathways on a printed
circuit board…

INT. OTANI KITCHEN - DAY

…the printed circuit board on the kitchen table in front of KIYALA OTANI, University student, finishing a breakfast of dates and yogurt with her father, WAHID, her mother, NISREEN, and her pre-teen brothers, MAHMOUD and NIDA.

Mortars explode nearby followed by artillery fire.

The family continues breakfast. A final moment of peace before the day.

INT. UNIVERSITY CLASSROOM - LATER

PROFESSOR diagrams PCB assembly on the chalkboard.

Kiyala sits between MARIAM and ZAHRA, Western-influenced Muslim girls.

Kiyala's fingers adeptly wire electronic components to her PCB. Mariam and Zahra watch her then stare intently at the diagram unfolding on the board. Their own boards and components sit untouched. Unfathomable mysteries.

EXT. MARKET - DAY

Open-air Baghdad marketplace with vegetables, fruits, chickens, a few fish, scarves, rugs, and cell phones for sale.

Red dust from an approaching American military convoy settles over the market.

Wahid, closing his wallet, a distinct leather 'W' on the front, carries a shopping bag of vegetables as he walks
to his car.

HAITHAM, in his 30s, a knitted green scarf around his neck, follows Wahid.

An American Apache helicopter passes low overhead.

EXT. BAGHDAD UNIVERSITY - DAY

Mariam and Zahra, on break, sit on the steps of the Electronics building with Kiyala. She studies as Mariam
and Zahra chainsmoke.

Two students from their class, JASSIM and HUSAM, watch them, disapproving. Mariam, whispers to Zahra and indicates
Jassim.

             MARIAM
That one is with al-Asam.

             ZAHRA
How do you know!

             MARIAM
Someone saw him leave the mosque.

             ZAHRA
So?

             MARIAM
Before the Shafiqs were martyred.

             ZAHRA
If Jassim was a suicide bomber, he
would be dead.

             MARIAM
You know nothing.

             ZAHRA
'Suicide' bomber.

             MARIAM
        (scoffs)
There are groups, Zahra. With
leaders. Everyone doesn't die.
--Give me another cigarette.

             ZAHRA
--Husam is very cute.

             MARIAM
        (to Zahra)
Whore. --Give me the cigarette!

             KIYALA
        (to Mariam)
You have no patience.

Zahra throws her a handful of cigarettes.

             MARIAM
So I die from lung cancer and
not a bomb.

Mariam blows smoke in Zahra's face and lights another.

INT. WAHID'S CAR - DAY

Wahid pulls off from the market, turns onto a side street. BASIM reaches through the car's open window and grabs Wahid around the neck.

NAJI, wearing a backpack, opens the passenger door and slides in beside Wahid.

             BASIM
Pull over.

Naji sorts through the shopping bag, pulls out a plum.

EXT. SIDE STREET - DAY

The car stops. Basim opens the door and slides in beside Wahid. Naji is eating the plum.

Haitham walks up to the car.

             HAITHAM
Your wallet.

             WAHID
        (pulling out his wallet)
Please. Please. Take money, take
the food--

Haitham takes family photos from the wallet and Wahid's identification. Wahid's address. He holds the card in
front of Wahid's eyes.

             HAITHAM
You will be a martyr for al-Asam.

Naji pulls an explosives belt and a length of rope from his backpack.

             WAHID
No, please, I don't want to die.
My family--

Basim takes a silver cell phone from his shirt pocket and quickly connects it to the wires on the belt.

Haitham returns the id and photos to the wallet.

             HAITHAM
Your family, then, they will be
our martyrs.

             WAHID
No!

Haitham slips the wallet into his own pants pocket.

             HAITHAM
Then you.

Basim slides out of the car as Naji straps the explosives belt around Wahid's waist then ties his wrists to the
steering wheel.

EXT. MARKET - DAY

The military convoy of AMERICAN SOLDIERS passes the marketplace and approaches the entrance to the side street.

EXT. SIDE STREET - DAY

Dust from the convoy blows into the side street.

Haitham pulls a silver cell phone from his pocket. Wahid is praying.

Naji grabs Wahid's shopping bag and closes the passenger door.

             HAITHAM
Turn the car around.

             WAHID
Please.

             HAITHAM
Now. --For Allah. For al-Asam.

The car inches forward.

Naji and Basim, waving, walk toward the passing convoy.

             BASIM
Americans! --Americans! U-S-A!

Naji tosses plums to the soldiers.

             NAJI
President Bush! Bush, thank you!
Thank you!

The car stalls.

             BASIM
You overthrow Saddam--

Naji, laughing, tosses a bundle of celery to a SOLDIER. He catches it, pretends to take a bite-

             BASIM
--You give us…unimagined opportunity!

The soldiers laugh, wave.

Haitham strikes Wahid with the cell phone.

INT. WAHID'S CAR - DAY

             HAITHAM
I promise you, your family will die.

             WAHID
If you believe, please, martyr
yourself. --My family needs me.

             HAITHAM
        (angry)
What is your daughter's name.
--Your wife.

             WAHID
No…

Haitham leans in, turns the ignition.

             HAITHAM
al-Asam needs you.

Wahid steps on the clutch. The car starts. Haitham shifts into first gear.

             HAITHAM
Allah akbar.

EXT. SIDE STREET - DAY

The car turns around and moves slowly up the side street.

Basim and Naji are nowhere in sight.

Haitham steps into a doorway and punches in numbers on the cell phone as the doorway opens.

An AMERICAN MAN, mid-50s, with white hair and wearing a suit, emerges.

INT. WAHID'S CAR - DAY

Wahid prays loudly, waving his hands as much as the rope allows, to warn the soldiers.

EXT. SIDE STREET - DAY

The car moves steadily on a slowing personnel carrier.

INT. PERSONNEL CARRIER - DAY

             DRIVER
Look at that guy--

The SOLDIER beside him grabs his rifle.

             SOLDIER
        (aims at Wahid)
Sarge! We got a situation--

EXT. SIDE STREET - DAY

The American man disappears through the doorway as Haitham presses the last digit on the cell phone.

INT. WAHID'S CAR - DAY

Wahid closes his eyes.

             SOLDIER (O.S.)
Bomber!

Bullets rip through Wahid's chest--

EXT. SIDE STREET - DAY

Personnel carrier wheels away as the car explodes.

INT. OTANI KITCHEN - DAY

Kiyala drops her bookbag at the door. Mahmoud and Nida huddle beside the pantry, frightened.

             NISREEN
        (distraught)
Your father has not returned from
the market--

             KIYALA
Stop it. You upset Mahmoud and
Nida.

             NISREEN
Something is wrong--

             KIYALA
Then I will go see.

EXT. SIDE STREET - DAY

An ambulance pulls away, a police car trails behind.

A dozen IRAQIS talk quietly, staring at the twisted metal of Wahid's car. Haitham stands among them.

Kiyala's uncle, YASIN, is beside the car.

             KIYALA
Uncle Yasin, why are you here--

             YASIN
Your father is dead.

She recognizes the remnants of the car.

             KIYALA
No.

             YASIN
My neighbor saw your father at the
market. He heard the explosion.
He knew Wahid's car.

Kiyala touches her father's blood on the door panel.

             YASIN
Come. I will make arrangements.
Your mother, you, your brothers,
can come home with me.

INT. OTANI KITCHEN - DAY - LATER

Nisreen and the boys hold each other, wailing.

             KIYALA
Why.

             YASIN
        (to Kiyala)
The police said a 'forced
suicide.' al-Asam. Their method
.

             KIYALA
For Allah?

             YASIN
        (shrugs)
For recruiting. If a person does
not cooperate with al-Asam, his
family is killed. This applies
to recruits and to those 'chosen'
for martyrdom.

             KIYALA
And no one stops this?

             YASIN
How.

INT. OTANI BEDROOM - NIGHT

Nisreen and the boys sleep together in her bed.

INT. OTANI KITCHEN - NIGHT

Kiyala drinks coffee at the table.

EXT. SIDE STREET - SUNRISE

Wahid's car is gone.

Kiyala stands where the car exploded. She holds a shopping bag of food from the market.

Her father's dried blood is beneath her feet.

INT. UNIVERSITY CLASSROOM - DAY

The class wire-wraps circuits as the Professor paces.

Jassim and Husam talk quietly over their work. Zahra looks
at them.


             ZAHRA
        (to Kiyala)
They talk about you.

Kiyala concentrates on her circuits.

             MARIAM
What do they say?

             ZAHRA
        (to Kiyala)
Your father was a martyr.

Kiyala's eyes meet Jassim's. He smiles at her.

             KIYALA
        (so Jassim hears)
My father was a martyr.

             MARIAM
It was forced.

             KIYALA
I want to be a martyr.

             ZAHRA
What are you saying!

             KIYALA
I want to honor my father's
sacrifice.

             MARIAM
Kiyala!

             KIYALA
Do not talk to me.

Mariam and Zahra look at each other.

EXT. BAGHDAD UNIVERSITY - DAY - LATER

Kiyala walks ahead of Mariam and Zahra, ignoring them.

Haitham leans against a palm tree beside the Electronics building.

Aware someone watches her, she glances at Haitham. Then past.

The green scarf.

CONTINUED