Cris Jones, screenwriter of The Death and Life of Otto Bloom, posthumously awarded top sci-fi screenwriting prize

1 November, 2017

1 November 2017

Cris Jones, the screenwriter and director behind the celebrated sci-fi mockumentary The Death and Life of Otto Bloom, was posthumously honoured with the Australian Writers’ Guild’s $10,000 John Hinde Award for Excellence in Science-Fiction Writing last night in Brisbane.

Jones, who passed away in September, entered his debut feature film in the John Hinde Award produced category in July, almost a year after the film made its premiere and opened the 65th Melbourne International Film Festival to great applause.

Jones’s mother was in Brisbane last night to accept the Award, acknowledging that Jones would be honoured to be recognised by his screenwriting peers for a screenplay into which he poured incredible dedication, passion and imagination.‘I know Cris would be over-the-moon to know that his screenplay of The Death and Life of Otto Bloom has won the John Hinde Award for Excellence in Science Fiction Writing for Best Produced Screenplay. I remember him telling me how great it was to see an Award that actually rewarded imagination and thinking-outside-the-box in a screenplay.’

‘To win an award from his peers at the Australian Writers’ Guild, who truly recognise the time, effort, and sheer hard work that simply takes over your whole life while writing a feature film, is something he aspired to and I know he would feel deeply honoured. I am only sorry that Cris isn't here with us to be able to experience this honour, and I thank the AWG on his behalf,’ she said.

The Death and Life of Otto Bloom chronicles the life and great love of Otto Bloom, an extrodinary man who experiences time in reverse – passing backwards through the years only remembering the future. It has been nominated for Best Original Screenplay at the 2017 AACTA Awards, to be presented in December.

The John Hinde Award judges praised the great skill displayed by Jones in bringing humanity – with all its wonders, faults and horrors – into fascinating examination through the prism of science-fiction in the screenplay.

‘It is with privilege that we honour Cris Jones’s memory with the 2017 John Hinde Award,’ said AWG Group CEO Jacqueline Elaine. ‘We were greatly saddened to hear of his death, but feel it is befitting that the screenwriting and science-fiction community were able to come together to celebrate his work through the John Hinde Award, which each year recognises the excellence of writers whose imaginations delight, intrigue and challenge us.’

Melanie Coombs, who worked alongside Jones as producer on The Death and Life of Otto Bloom, said, ‘Cris Jones was a hard-working, serious, industrious writer and director who loved his work, making art. He was fascinated by the ways that Quantum mechanics, Physics and Philosophy could help us find consolation and meaning in the chaos of life. He was so thoughtful, insightful, kind and compassionate and it is all there in his work. Having The Death and Life of Otto Bloom recognised with this Award is a great honour and we thank the AWG’s John Hinde Award for the recognition.’

In a great sign that Australian science-fiction writing is moving from strength to strength, the 2017 John Hinde Award produced category received the most entries since the competition’s inception, with Ben C. Lucas’s science-fiction thriller OtherLife highly commended by the judges.

It is funded by a bequest from the late, iconic film critic, John Hinde, with $10,000 awarded to the writer of the best produced screenplay each year and professional support given to the winner of the unproduced category, this year awarded to C.S. McMullen for her pilot script, Awake.

Previous John Hinde Award winners in the produced category include feature films Arrowhead, by Jesse O’Brien, and the Spierig Brothers’ Predestination, as well as episode five of the acclaimed Indigenous superhero series Cleverman by Michael Miller.

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