In a year marked by uncertainty and upheaval, the power of stories has taken on new and profound meaning. Unable to gather in person, we have instead gathered in shared narratives, connecting across ideas and experiences, and finding moments of joy in film, theatre and television.
Yet our Australian stories are under threat, ravaged by years of funding cuts to the screen and stage sectors, competition from unregulated players, and hindered by the current suspension of content quotas and pending government reform.
In 2020, there has never been a more important time to join the fight to protect, support and celebrate our industry. In this spirit, the Australian Writers’ Guild has announced a field of screen and stage writers whose work exemplifies the powerful stories we are fighting for, nominated for the 53rd Annual AWGIE Awards.
From striking examinations of contemporary Australia in Stateless, Total Control and The Hunting to beautifully woven tales of society and culture in Hungry Ghosts, Messiah, The End and Bloom, the television categories are a testament to the nuanced, provocative and entertaining work crafted by Australian screenwriters at the top of their game.
In the comedy categories, Rosehaven is nominated for a fourth year and will vie with How to Stay Married and The Other Guy for a chance at its second AWGIE gong, while Hannah Reilly’s Direct Eye Contact will compete with sketches from The Feed and 7.30. Last year’s new kid on the serial block The Heights dominates its category with four nominations.
Showcasing the scope emerging in modern Australian cinema, nominees in the feature film categories range from heart-warming (H is for Happiness by Lisa Hoppe) to horror (C.S. McMullen’s debut feature The Other Lamb).
They are nominated alongside Shaun Grant and Harry Cripps’ upcoming Penguin Bloom and Thomas M. Wright and Erik Jensen’s critically acclaimed Acute Misfortune in Adaptation, with Hearts and Bones by Ben Lawrence and Beatrix Christian, Unsound by Ally Burnham and Ellie & Abbie (& Ellie’s Dead Aunt) by Monica Zanetti competing in the Original category. A master of many formats, Ben Lawrence has earned a second nomination in the Audio category for Ghosthunter, up against Paul Gartside’s Mackaroy Declassified.
Turning to our stages, we are reminded why the light of Australian theatre continues to burn, with two outstanding works by 2019 Major Award and David Williamson Prize-winning playwright Kate Mulvany (Mary Stuart and The Mares) up against Suzie Miller’s acclaimed Prima Facie.
Music Theatre also shines, with Yve Blake’s joyous celebration of young women finding their voices (Fangirls) up against Alana Valentine’s compelling Flight Memory and Justin Fleming’s Whiteley – an opera based on the life of the colourful artist.
Rounding out the theatre categories are works by Finegan Kruckemeyer, Grace De Morgan, Mary Anne Butler, Katie Pollock and Candice Bowers in Community and Youth Theatre and Theatre for Young Audiences.
Illustrating the world-class talent of our children’s television writers, the Animation nominees transport us to new worlds entirely, with nods for Alien TV and Space Nova up against Kitty Is Not A Cat. Closer to home, NITV’s celebrated Little J and Big Cuz dominates the Preschool category, picking up nominations for Dot West, Beck Cole and Erica Glynn.
In the Children’s C category, 2018 AWGIE-winner Mustangs FC will go up against ABC and Netflix’s reimagining of a cult favourite in The New Legends of Monkey, with nominations for brothers Christiaan and Connor Van Vuuren.
In the Documentary category, Genevieve Clay-Smith’s exploration of the life and career of filmmaker Daniel Monks (Perspective Shift) will compete with Gregory Read’s high-flying Own The Sky, Shireen Narayanan’s dramatised reflection on childhood trauma in Wild Butterfly, and Aaron McCann and Dominic Pearce’s charming tale of the pup behind the cinema legend in Koko: A Red Dog Story.
The short form categories continue to champion a generation of innovative Australian creators, with ABC’s ground-breaking vertical web series Content garnering a nomination alongside Vonne Patiag and Sara Mansour’s Halal Gurls. Films by Antony Webb, Dannika Horvat and Eva Justine Torkkola will compete for best Short Film.
Awards will be presented across 19 individual categories, including feature film, television, documentary, theatre, audio, animation and children’s television. Individual category winners will be eligible for the Major Award, given to the most outstanding script of the year.
Past winners have included The Harp in the South (2019), Lost & Found (2018), The Drover’s Wife (2017), The Code (2014 and 2016), The Sapphires (2012) and Animal Kingdom (2010). Individual theatre category winners are eligible for the David Williamson Prize for Excellence in Writing for Australian Theatre.
Since 1968 the Australian Writers’ Guild has presented the AWGIE Awards to recognise and reward the talents, triumphs and unique contributions of Australian screen and stage writers to the Australian arts. The AWGIE Awards are the only writers’ awards judged solely by writers, based on the written script – the writer’s intention rather than the finished product.
To read the full list of Nominees, Click here! Award recipients will be announced at the 53rd Annual AWGIE Awards via an exciting new online ceremony broadcast on Tuesday 8 December 2020. For more information, visit: www.awg.com.au for details.
Image: The Heights – courtesy of Matchbox Pictures