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Writers in the spotlight: AWG honours writers of The Drover’s Wife, Lion, Hacksaw Ridge, Rosehaven, Deep Water and more at 50th Annual AWGIE Awards

Playwright Leah Purcell has capped off an incredible year of recognition for her play The Drover’s Wife, taking home the top two writing honours at the Australian Writers’ Guild’s 50th Annual AWGIE Awards tonight in Sydney.

Purcell was awarded the 2017 Major Award and the David Williamson Prize for Excellence in Writing for Australian Theatre for her re-imagining of Henry Lawson’s short story The Drover’s Wife, as well as winning the Stage category in a competitive year for theatre.

Over 350 screen and stage writers, industry representatives and special guests gathered to celebrate the 50th year of the Australian Writers’ Guild’s AWGIE Awards, where over 25 Australian writers were recognised for their outstanding contribution to the Australian arts.

At a time when Australian screen content and kids’ TV are under threat, AWG President Jan Sardi took time to reflect on the vital role of the writer and the continued fight to ensure that Australians are able to hear and tell their own stories, from their own perspective and in their own voice.

He honoured the impressive line-up of 2017 nominees and winners and paid tribute to the AWGIE Award’s half-century old tradition of putting writers in the spotlight.‘For fifty years we have celebrated the best of the best; the unique skills, craft and creativity that only writers can bring, without which there would be nothing,’ he said.

Awards were presented across 20 categories, including film, television, theatre, documentary, children’s television and interactive media.

Among the 2017 AWGIE Award winners were:

  • Luke Davies of Lion, who earlier this year won the BAFTA Award for adapted screenplay, for the most outstanding script for a Feature Film Adaptation, and
  • Andrew Knight with Robert Schenkkan, writers of Oscar-winning war epic Hacksaw Ridge, for most outstanding script for an Original Feature Film.

In the television categories, winners included:

  • Jacquelin Perske, for Seven Types of Ambiguity in the Series or Miniseries (of more than 4 hours duration) category
  • Kris Wyld and Kym Goldsworthy, writers of Deep Water, in the Telemovie or Miniseries (of 4 hours of less duration) category
  • Luke McGregor and Celia Pacquola for Rosehaven in the Comedy – Situation or Narrative category, and
  • Faith McKinnon for Home and Away in the Television – Serial category.

Winners in the theatre categories included Danny Ginges with Philip Foxman for Atomic in the Music Theatre category, 2015 David Williamson Prize-winning playwright Finegan Kruckemeyer (Where Words Once Were) in the Theatre for Young Audiences category, Anelga Betzien for Egg in the Children’s Theatre category, and joint winners Lachlan Philpott (Michael Swordfish) and Noëlle Janaczewska (Teacup in a Storm) in the Community and Youth Theatre category.

A number of special awards were presented on the night:

  • Julian Morrow was awarded the Fred Parsons Award for Outstanding Contribution to Australian Comedy, recognising a prolific career as a writer and comedian as part of the satirical media empire The Chaser.
  • Screenwriter Kelly Lefever was recognised with the Richard Lane Award for Outstanding Service and Dedication to the Australian Writers’ Guild, and
  • Leah Purcell was awarded the David Williamson Prize for Excellence in Writing for Australian Theatre. Purcell will receive $20,000 as a commission for a new work while $80,000 will go to Belvoir St Theatre – the company who programmed The Drover’s Wife – to commission and program a new Australian work within the next 12 months.

The AWG also honoured Hacksaw Ridge, Rake and Jack Irish screenwriter Andrew Knight with the 2017 Australian Writers’ Guild’s Lifetime Achievement Award, proudly presented by Foxtel, in recognition of his contribution to the Australian screen industry over more than 30 years. Knight was presented the Award by Foxtel’s Bruce Meagher, with tributes from Sigrid Thornton, Peter Duncan and Andrew Anastasios.

The 50th Annual AWGIE Awards are presented with the support of 50th Anniversary Partners Foxtel and Scripted Ink. and Platinum Partner Media Super.

Read the full list of winners here.

Read the full list of nominees here.


Shannen Usher
26 August, 2017
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