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NORMAN – Michael Mares, PhD, Director of the Sam Noble Museum in Norman, has received the Golden Palm Screenplay Competition award from the Beverly Hills Film Festival for his original screenplay “God’s Architect.” Mares accepted the award at a ceremony April 9 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif.
The annual Beverly Hills Film Festival is an international competition dedicated to showcasing the art and talent of emerging filmmakers and screenwriters in the city globally recognized as the headquarters for leaders in the motion picture industry. Designed to bridge the world of premiere independent cinema with the renowned community of Beverly Hills, the festival is dedicated to showcasing and promoting some of the most auspicious non-studio films and screenplays to the entertainment elite.
There were 802 screenplays submitted for consideration in this year’s competition. Other awards were given for best documentary, best feature length film, best short film, and the Legend Award, which was given to Jon Voight for his distinguished career in such notable films as Deliverance, Catch 22, Midnight Cowboy, The Champ, and other works that have become film classics.
Mares’ screenplay deals with the life of Antonio Gaudí, the great Spanish architect whose fantastical buildings help make Barcelona, Spain, one of the world’s most beautiful cities. Mares, a biologist and museum specialist, discovered Gaudí’s buildings on a visit to Barcelona to lecture at a museum conference. Mares was moved when he learned how Gaudí’s attempt at constructing one of the great churches in history, the Sagrada Familia, ultimately broke the spirit of the architect and led him to become a beggar seeking alms for his great church.
“Through the 1980s and 1990s I was leading efforts to construct the Sam Noble Museum, which was a most challenging 17-year period in my life,” Mares said. “I knew what it was like to have to continue to fight for a building over almost two decades. I could identify closely with Gaudí.” It took two years to write the screenplay.
The Sam Noble Museum, located on the University of Oklahoma Norman campus, was completed in 1999 and opened to the public in May, 2000. Mares’ campaign for funding to build the museum was a laborious process that included a Norman city bond issue, an Oklahoma state bond issue, and years of exhausting grassroots fundraising. Donations ranged from collections of loose change made by Oklahoma schoolchildren to a $10 million gift from the Noble Foundation and Noble affiliates for which the building was ultimately named.
Prior to winning the Golden Palm Award, “God’s Architect” received an Award of Merit at the 2011 Los Angeles/Hollywood Film Festival, and was a finalist in both the 2009 Latino Screenplay Competition in Orlando, Fla., and the Marina del Rey, Calif., Latino Screenplay Competition in 2008.
“The Beverly Hills Film Festival was a very exciting competition,” said Mares. “Now my great challenge is to find a producer who wants to see my screenplay made into a major motion picture. I look forward to this challenge.”