26 October, 2021
An outstanding field of Australian screen and stage writers have been nominated for the 54th Annual AWGIE Awards in a year that champions storytellers who have crafted works of strength, creativity and ambition. The nominations exemplify the excellence and range of Australian writers, with stories that speak to the complexity and richness of our past, alongside those that seek to understand our present, telling tales of our everyday heroes, our struggles and our joys.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in the theatre categories, where funny, moving and complex Indigenous storytelling has triumphed. In the Stage category, Kodie Bedford’s debut play Cursed! is nominated alongside Andrea James’ exploration of the life of World No. 1 tennis star Evonne Goolagong Cawley (Sunshine Super Girl: The Evonne Goolagong Story). Also nominated is Kylie Bracknell [Kaarljilba Kaardn] and Dr Clint Bracknell’s ground-breaking Hecate, an adaptation of Macbeth and Australia’s first large-scale Shakespeare production performed entirely in Noongar. Rounding out the category is Angus Cerini’s dark and poetic Wonnangatta, commissioned and produced with assistance from the David Williamson Prize for Excellence in Writing for Australian Theatre, which Cerini won in 2015.
In the Theatre for Young Audience category, Jamie Hornsby and Ellen Graham (Claire Della and the Moon) will compete against multi-AWGIE-Award-winning Finegan Kruckemeyer (Magic Beach). The sole nominees and the winners in the Music Theatre and Community and Youth Theatre categories will be announced on the night.
The Feature Film categories celebrate our most successful writers alongside an exciting group of emerging talent, with last year’s winner Shaun Grant (Nitram) nominated alongside the writing team behind the anthology film Here Out West: Nisrine Amine, Bina Bhattacharya, Matias Bolla, Claire Cao, Arka Das, Dee Duygu Dogan, Vonne Patiag and Tien Tran. They will compete with Ben Lewin and Allen Palmer (Falling for Figaro) and Roderick MacKay (The Furnace) in the Original category. In Adaptation, two striking examinations of contemporary Australia will vie for the AWGIE Award, with nominations for Babyteeth, by Rita Kalnejais and The Dry, by Harry Cripps and Robert Connolly.
Showcasing the exceptional craft of our top screenwriters, the television categories include Oscar-nominated Tony McNamara’s genre-bending The Great, which will go up against the critically-acclaimed Wakefield, Five Bedrooms and Wentworth. Stan’s delightful down under comedy A Sunburnt Christmas and SBS’s beautifully crafted New Gold Mountain, which tells the previously untold true story of Chinese miners during the Australian gold rush, will compete in the Telemovie and Miniseries category, while the battle between Home and Away and Neighbours resumes in Serial, with nominations for Andrew Gardner, Jessica Paine, Peter Mattessi and Jason Herbison.
The Comedy – Situation and Narrative category celebrates a raft of new works, with Kitty Flanagan’s award-winning Fisk up against Aftertaste, Why Are You Like This? and Retrograde. In Sketch comedy, another season of blisteringly funny commentary from last year’s winners The Feed will vie with work by the Gruen team and Reputation Rehab.
In a strong year for children’s television, episodes of the summer splash hit Kangaroo Beach (Simon Dodd and Tristan Dodd), the international favourite Pocoyo (Lina Foti) and the curiosity-driven The Wonder Gang (Wendy Hanna) will compete for best preschool program. In Children’s C, Hardball (Amy Stewart) and The Gamers 2037 (Hannah Fitzpatrick) will contend with two episodes of The Strange Chores (John McGeachin and Luke Tierney), while last year’s Animation winner Space Nova dominates its category, with a nomination each for Melanie Alexander and John Armstrong.
Exceptional children’s programming also runs through the Documentary nominees, with Tim Bain’s Water Safety with Kangaroo Beach up against works by Peter Flynn, George Catsi, Ari Kwasner-Catsi and Zac Perry in the Community, Educational and Training category. In the Public Broadcast category, a powerful group of documentaries examine Australia’s past and present, with Alec Morgan and Tiriki Onus’ history of civil-rights and Indigenous filmmaking in Ablaze alongside Tom Murray’s tale of the extraordinary life of Indigenous WWI soldier Douglas Grant (The Skin of Others). They will compete with Firestarter, Nel Minchin and Wayne Blair’s masterful celebration of Bangarra Dance Theatre’s first 30 years, and Sally Aitken’s underwater odyssey Playing With Sharks.
Finally, in a testament to the innovative and creative work driving the Audio renaissance, the comedy musical CrossBread (Declan Fay, Chris Ryan and Megan Washington), an hilarious history of the rise and fall of a Christian rap duo, will compete with Ross Mueller’s deft exploration of relationships in The Right Fit and Kate Rice’s timely celebration of a play that survived quarantines and closures in Performing the Past: 1919. In Web Series, Imogen McCluskey’s Instagram-led lockdown romcom Love Bug is up against Tim Spencer and Zoe Norton Lodge’s queer and sex-positive tour de force Ding Dong I’m Gay and Caitlin Richardson’s haunting examination of grief in The Tailings. An excellent slate of films by Alies Sluiter, Piri Eddy and Jon Bell will compete for best Short Film.
Commenting on the nominees, the AWGIE Award judging coordinators said: ‘There’s no doubt the last eighteen months have been extraordinarily challenging for the whole country. The arts have been hit particularly hard, so it’s heartening to see that the standard and ambition of Australian performance writing continues to excel. These nominations represent just some of the great work done by our members, and we’re proud to see that talent and resilience rewarded.’
The 54th Annual AWGIE Awards
AWGIE Award recipients will be announced at the 54th Annual AWGIE Awards via an online ceremony broadcast on Tuesday 7 December 2021. The broadcast will be free to watch via YouTube and will feature some of Australia’s finest screen and stage talent.
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 Prima Facie (2020), The Harp in the South (2019), Lost & Found (2018), The Drover’s Wife (2017) and The Code (2014 and 2016). Individual theatre category winners are eligible for the David Williamson Prize for Excellence in Writing for Australian Theatre.
On the night, the AWGIE Awards will honour the achievements and contributions of some of our most esteemed screen and stage writers with the presentations of the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award, the Fred Parsons Award for Outstanding Contribution to Australian Comedy and the Richard Lane Award for Outstanding Service and Dedication to the Australian Writers’ Guild.
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. 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. Take action to protect and support Australia’s screen sector by contacting your MP and senators and signing up for news via the Make It Australian campaign.
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