Drexel prof wins screenwriting prizes

Mary Spiers, a clinical psychologist and screenwriting student, won two cash prizes on Saturday for her Revolutionary War-themed screenplay, "Saving Independence," as part of the Set in Philadelphia screenwriting competition. She won both the $10,000 grand prize and the $2,500 Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce Regional Award.

The Greater Philadelphia Film Office and its offshoot, the Greater Philadelphia Filmmakers, sponsor the annual contest that coincides with the Philadelphia Film Festival, which is known this year as Philadelphia Film Festival/Cinefest '09.

Spiers, a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), is working on a middle-grades novel version of "Saving Independence," which is about Hannah, a 12-year-old girl visiting her grandmother at the home where her ancestors lived during the Revolutionary War. 

Synopsis: "Hannah reluctantly plays a part in the Philadelphia City Tavern's annual July 4th reenactment. But when an antique recipe book reveals a coded message in Hannah's own handwriting, she is magically sent back in time to 1777. There, the war rages on and Philadelphians loyalties are split, except for Hannah's Quaker ancestors who struggle to stay neutral, despite danger from both sides. When she and her 12-year-old ancestor, Lydia, discover a plot to kidnap the Rebel Congress during the first July 4th celebration feast at the City Tavern, Hannah must decide where her loyalties really lie. Can she prevent the kidnapping and keep her family safe? Through an unlikely alliance with a young Patriot soldier and a crusty privateer, the plot is foiled. Hannah returns to the present with a personal sense of how people make choices during war."