north fork tv festival + alfred p. sloan foundation present

the winner of the science + technology script competition: ‘distemper’

We are proud to announce selection by emerging author Maxwell Pitagno for his script ‘Distemper’, which tells the true story of pathologist and LGBT icon Louise Pearce as she works to find a cure for African Trypanosomiasis as it infects millions across the Belgian Congo. The Festival will turn his script into a pilot which will premiere at the 2019 festival.



Written by Maxwell Pitagno
Directed + Produced by Elias Plagianos, North Fork TV Festival Director of Programming
Individual pilot tickets are now available for purchase.



competition winner

Maxwell Pitagno

Maxwell Pitagno is an emerging writer from the south shore of Long Island. He graduated cum laude from Stony Brook University in 2018 with a degree in biology and works in a fungal genetics lab. His focus is biographical stories where he is able to channel his love of science and history.



director, producer + festival Director of Programming

elias plagianos

Writer / Director Elias Plagianos’ film and television projects have won Best Director, Best Feature Film, Best Short Film, Best TV Pilot, and Best Actor awards for his cast at over 75 International Film Festivals including 10 of MovieMaker Magazines list of Top 25 and Top 50 Festivals.

In addition to his creative work behind the camera, he is a partner at the new media startup venture “Zero Channel”. Their first project (written and directed by Plagianos) “Shoot Me Nicely” stars iconic actors Linda Hamilton and William Sadler. Shoot Me Nicely won over 40 International Festival Awards including being named Best Independent TV Pilot by Sky TV, Europe’s largest media broadcaster, at Snowdance, and winning Best TV Pilot at the Academy qualifying Hollyshorts in Los Angeles.

Elias just completed producing the Australian film "Rancour" for Blumhouse owned CryptTV, and is currently in development on several feature film and new media projects as he tours the festival circuit with his latest award winning film "Sombra City", a future noir filmed in Havana, Cuba.


“We received many excellent scripts, but none had the social, historical, and scientific relevance that ‘Distemper’ has. As a century-old story that takes place in the Belgian Congo and New York City, its production is highly ambitious. But we are inspired to find creative solutions because we are honored to tell Louis Pearce’s historic story and to share her pioneering significance.”

-elias plagianos, director of programming


About the Science + Technology Script Competition

The Science + Tech Pilot Script Competition aims to encourage screenwriters to create realistic and compelling stories about science and technology and to challenge existing stereotypes about scientists and engineers in the popular imagination. The winner was selected by a panel of independent judges, including accomplished television professionals as well as noted scientists and technologists.


About the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation makes grants in science, technology, and economic performance. Sloan's program in Public Understanding of Science and Technology, directed by Doron Weber, supports books, radio, film, television, theater and new media to reach a wide, non-specialized audience. The Foundation has supported over 600 film projects via screenplay development programs with the Sundance Institute, the Tribeca Film Institute, SFFILM, the Black List, the Athena Film Festival, and Film Independent, and with annual awards in screenwriting and film production from six of the nation’s leading film schools plus six new film schools this year.