Emerging Filmmaker Daniel Byers Wins Top Horror Prize at Austin Film Festival with ‘Paradise’ Screenplay

Columbia, Missouri – Daniel Byers, a talented writer and director, has emerged as the winner of the Austin Film Festival Jury Prize for Horror. His feature screenplay, titled “Paradise,” claimed the prestigious award among more than 11,000 submissions this year. Byers’ gripping tale revolves around a young mother’s struggle against a coal company after her husband mysteriously disappears in a mine. As she ventures deep into the mountain, she unearths a monstrous presence fueled by unbridled greed.

Byers has long harbored a passion for horror, science fiction, and fantasy. His directorial debut, “Eradication,” garnered significant attention, earning two appearances in The New York Times and becoming a Tubi Channel Original release in June 2022. An ICVFX Unreal Fellow, Byers has also ventured into virtual production LED wall technology, producing multiple films. He honed his talent at Columbia University, where he completed his MFA film program in 2022.

Notably, another remarkable project by Columbia University alumni was recognized in the Austin Film Festival. “Yasmine/Jasmine,” a limited series crafted by Yossera Bouchtia, reached the competition’s finals. The series centers around Jasmine, a first-generation immigrant plagued by indescribable existential grief tied to her distant homeland in North Africa. Following an unexpected loss of her mother, Jasmine spirals into a deep shock, leading to harrowing visions of a doppelgänger ghost named Yasmine. The ghost relentlessly disrupts Jasmine’s American life, entwining her in a haunting narrative.

Bouchtia, passionate about challenging stereotypes and bridging the gap between eastern and western cultures, pursued studies in Directing at Columbia University. Prior to her Columbia journey, she obtained a BS in Psychology and a BA in Cinema from Virginia Commonwealth University. Bouchtia’s narrative short films have graced esteemed film festivals, including the Salento International Film Festival, LA Shorts Fest, Flickers Rhode Island International Film Festival, FilmShop Breakthrough Series, and Women’s International Film Festival in Salé, Morocco. Furthermore, “Yasmine/Jasmine” was selected for various acclaimed programs, such as the Storylines 2020 program by Cine Qua Non Lab, the Torino Film Lab Next TV 2021 program, and the 2021 Gotham TV Series Lab.

In conclusion, Daniel Byers’ gripping screenplay “Paradise” has earned him the Austin Film Festival Jury Prize for Horror. Meanwhile, Yossera Bouchtia’s “Yasmine/Jasmine” has captivated audiences with its haunting narrative. Both Byers and Bouchtia, alumni of Columbia University, have showcased their immense talents and creativity through their remarkable works in the film industry.