Writers of Prima Facie, Hearts and Bones, Penguin Bloom, The Hunting and Total Control among winners at the 53rd Annual AWGIE Awards

07 December, 2020

The AWGIES 53rd Annual Awards

Playwright Suzie Miller’s critically acclaimed one-woman play Prima Facie has taken out the two highest honours at the Australian Writers’ Guild’s annual AWGIE Awards, winning the 2020 Major Award and the David Williamson Prize for Excellence in Writing for Australian Theatre.

In a year that has seen our Australian stories under threat from COVID-19 shutdowns, funding cuts and delays to Government reform, the new-look AWGIE Awards were a fitting coda to 2020; driven online due to restrictions but emerging as a joyous celebration of the strength and talents of Australia’s screen and stage writers. AWG President Shane Brennan captured the spirit of the night, commenting on the extraordinary year behind us and pressing the importance of Government and regulatory support for Australian writers as ‘critical for the future survival of our industry.’ His speech ended on a note of hope for a brighter and safer 2021, and for screen and stage writers to have the opportunity to continue to tell their stories and take them to the world. 

The 2020 winners present a fascinating look into a pre-COVID Australia on the brink of change, with stories that deconstruct societal norms, celebrate everyday lives, and challenge us to be better as we move forward. This is evident in the television categories, where two of 2019’s top dramas, The Hunting by Niki Aken and Matthew Cormack and Total Control: Episode 3 by Pip Karmel, were recognised. The Heights, lauded for its depiction of contemporary Australia, won Peter Mattessi the AWGIE in the television serial category, ending a run of 16-straight years for Neighbours and Home and Away.

However, it was Prima Facie that was the real standout on the night, garnering Miller the AWGIE Award in the stage category in addition to the Major Award and David Williamson Prize. The taut and compelling one-woman play holds an unforgiving mirror up to the Australian legal system, exposing its failures towards women in rape, sexual assault or harassment cases and challenging the system, as well as the play’s audience, to listen and learn. It is the second year in a row that a female playwright has received both the Major Award and the David Williamson Prize, a testament to the strength of Australian playwriting even in the face of funding cuts and industry upheaval.

The Major Award is presented to the writer of the work deemed the most excellent out of all the AWGIE Award category winners. The David Williamson Prize for Excellence in Australian Theatre is worth $100,000, with $20,000 of the prize awarded to the playwright of the winning theatre script, and $80,000 of the prize going to the theatre company that commissioned and developed it for the stage (this year, Griffin Theatre Company), with the express purpose of the prize money being used to commission, develop and program a new Australian work.

Other 2020 AWGIE Award winners:

  • Ben Lawrence with Beatrix Christian won Feature Film – Original for Hearts and Bones,
  • Shaun Grant picked up his second Feature Film – Adaptation AWGIE Award in two years alongside Harry Cripps for the upcoming Penguin Bloom,
  • Antony Webb won the AWGIE for Short Film with Carmentis,
  • Anna Barnes won the Web Series category for Content,
  • Luke McGregor and Celia Pacquola won their second AWGIE in the Comedy – Situation or Narrative category for Rosehaven: Season 4, Episode 5,
  • The Comedy – Sketch and Light Entertainment category resulted in a tie, with Mark Humphries and Evan Williams’ 7.30: Season 2 sharing the Award with the team behind The Feed, Victoria Zerbst with Michael Hing, Cameron James, Alex Lee and Jenna Owen,
  • Gregory Read won the Documentary – Public Broadcast or Exhibition category for Own the Sky,
  • The Documentary – Community, Educational and Training category was awarded to Christopher Burke with Distan Bach for I Am A Hazard,
  • Magda Wozniak won Children’s Television – C Classification for Mustangs FC: Season 3, ‘Mustangs Forever and Ever’,
  • Erica Glynn won Children’s Television – P Classification for Little J & Big Cuz: Season 2, ‘Goodbye Swooper’, and
  • For the second year running the Animation category was won by Thomas Duncan-Watt for Space Nova: ‘Ghost Station’.

In the theatre and audio categories, winners were:

  • Finegan Kruckemeyer for A Hymn to the Hateful, in the Community and Youth Theatre category,
  • Mary Anne Butler for Cusp in Theatre for Young Audiences,
  • Yve Blake for Fangirls in Music Theatre, and
  • Ben Lawrence, who picked up his second AWGIE Award of the night, with Jess Bineth for Ghosthunter in Audio.

The AWGIE Awards were hosted by actor, writer and comedian Bjorn Stewart, with Awards presented by Hugo Weaving, Wayne Blair, Marta Dusseldorp, Tony McNamara, Shane Brennan, David Williamson, Tony Ayres, Kodie Bedford, Benjamin Law, Michelle Law, Alison Bell, John Leary, and Bradley Slabe.

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

To watch the full 53rd 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

Email: [email protected]

The 53rd Annual AWGIE Awards were made possible with support from our sponsors: 

The 53rd Annual AWGIE Awards Sponsors