Writers of Cursed!, The Dry, New Gold Mountain, The Great and Nitram among winners at the 54th Annual AWGIE Awards

07 December, 2021

The AWGIES 54th Annual Awards

For the third year running, a playwright has taken home the top prize at the Australian Writers’ Guild’s Annual AWGIE Awards, with Kodie Bedford’s sharp and vibrant play Cursed! winning the 2021 Major Award.  

On a night celebrating the creativity, craft and excellence of Australian screen and stage writers, Bedford’s win was one of many moments highlighting the strength of contemporary Australian theatre and the importance of supporting the industry as it responds to challenges wrought by COVID-19. Premiering in 2020 against the backdrop of the pandemic, Cursed! is a hilarious and thoughtful exploration of family, truth and mental health that netted Bedford – already an established screenwriter – her first AWGIE Award in the Stage category.  

In response to the impact of COVID-19 on our theatres, $160,000 of prize money for playwrights was announced throughout the evening. Adelaide-based writers Jamie Hornsby and Ellen Graham were awarded the David Williamson Prize for Excellence in Writing for Australian Theatre for their cosmic play Claire Della and the Moon, following their AWGIE Award win in the Theatre for Young Audiences categoryLike Bedford, Hornsby and Graham’s work champions the poetic and transformational power of theatre to shine a light on mental health and isolation. In receiving the David Williamson Prize, $20,000 will go to the AWG member playwright, while $80,000 goes to the theatre company responsible for developing the work – this year Hornsby and Graham’s independent theatre company Madness of Two.  

AWG Executive Director Claire Pullen announced the launch of a new opportunity, the Shane & Cathryn Brennan Prize for Playwrights, which is now open for AWG members to submit an unproduced script for consideration. Winners across two categories (Stage and Theatre for Young Audiences) will receive $10,000 in prize money, while the shortlisted and longlisted writers will share in $40,000. Presented in partnership with Australian Plays Transform, the Prize is made possible by the generous and ongoing philanthropy of Shane and Cathryn Brennan.  

The AWGIE Awards also celebrated another knockout year for Australian screen stories, with Shaun Grant taking home his third AWGIE in as many years for Nitram (Feature Film – Original), while Robert Connolly and Harry Cripps won the Feature Film – Adaptation category for the critical and box office hit The Dry. In the television categories, Oscar-nominated screenwriter Tony McNamara won for The Great, and the writing team behind SBS’s beautifully crafted New Gold Mountain (Peter Cox, Yolanda Ramke, Benjamin Law, Greg Waters and Pip Karmel) received the AWGIE for best Telemovie or Miniseries.  

Other 2021 AWGIE Award winners:

  • Peter Mattessi won his second AWGIE in two years in the Television – Serial category for Neighbours,
  • Piri Eddy won the AWGIE for Short Film with The Last Elephant on Earth,
  • The Web Series category went to both Caitlin Richardson for The Tailings and Tim Spencer and Zoe Norton Lodge for Ding Dong I’m Gay,
  • Mark Bonanno, Naomi Higgins and Humyara Mahbub won the Comedy – Situation or Narrative category for Why Are You Like This,
  • The team behind The Feed (Alex Lee, Ben Jenkins, Victoria Zerbst and Jenna Owens) won their second AWGIE in two years in the Comedy – Sketch and Light Entertainment category,
  • Alec Morgan and Tiriki Onus won the Documentary – Public Broadcast or Exhibition category for Ablaze,
  • The Documentary – Community, Educational and Training category was awarded to Tim Bain for Water Safety with Kangaroo Beach,
  • Hannah Fitzpatrick won Children’s Television – C Classification for The Gamers 2037,
  • Lina Foti won Children’s Television – P Classification for Pocoyo, and
  • For the second year running the Animation category went to Space Nova, with John Armstrong taking home the AWGIE. 

In the theatre and audio categories, winners were:

  • Donna Hughes for Trackers, in the Community and Youth Theatre category,
  • Alana Valentine for Notre-Dame in Music Theatre, and
  • Declan Fay with Chris Ryan and Megan Washington for CrossBread: ‘In The Beginning’ in Audio.

Four special awards were presented on the night: 

  • Wesley Enoch was honoured with the Dorothy Crawford Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Profession and the Industry. The internationally acclaimed playwright and artistic director was celebrated for his leadership, creative vision and extensive achievements in theatre.
  • Writer, actor, musician and comedian Tim Minchin was awarded the Fred Parsons Award for Outstanding Contribution to Australian Comedy, recognising his unique comedic voice and success across music, theatre and television, as well as his strong support of Australian stories.
  • Former AWG Group CEO Jacqueline Elaine was awarded the Guild’s prestigious Richard Lane Award for Outstanding Service and Dedication to the Australian Writers’ Guild, recognising 15 years of tireless work leading the organisation to ensure writers’ interests are protected and promoted. 
  • One of Australia’s most successful writers and producers, Roger Simpson, was honoured with the Australian Writers’ Guild Lifetime Achievement Award. The creator of an impressive seventeen series for television, Roger’s impact on Australian TV includes classics such as Halifax f.p, Stingers, SatisfactionSquizzy Taylor and Good Guys Bad Guys, as well as service on the boards of Film Victoria, the Film Finance Corporation and the Australian Writers’ Guild. 

Longstanding Australian Writers’ Guild member Rob George was made a Life Member. 

The 2021 AWGIE Awards were presented by some of Australia’s top writers, actors and comedians, including Meyne Wyatt, Eric Bana, Deborah Mailman, Leah Purcell, Rebecca Gibney, Claudia Karvan, Shane Brennan, Celia Pacquola, Luke McGregor, Jimmy Chocolate Chip, Mithila Gupta, Suzie Miller, Adam Zwar, Leah Vandenberg, Charlotte Rose Hamlyn, Christiaan Van Vuuren, Adele Vuko, Jan Sardi AO, Claire Pullen, Jenna Owen, Victoria Zerbst, Dan Ilic, Natalie Tran, Charles Firth and Mark Humphries.  

For the full list of AWGIE winners, click here. For the full list of AWGIE nominees, click here

To watch the full 54th Annual AWGIE Awards broadcast, click here

For all media enquiries and to request an interview with any of the AWGIE Award recipients, please contact: Shannen Usher at [email protected]