by Dov Kornits and Chris Daniel

The David Williamson Prize, presented by the tall man himself, ended proceedings at the 50th Annual Australian Writers’ Guild Awards night, the AWGIES, at Sydney’s Cockle Bay. Appropriately enough, it came with a call to action, namely that Australian theatres needed to put on productions of new Australian work rather than simply commissioning it and keeping it on its shelves. The winner of the award, and the big winner of the night, was Leah Purcell for her Henry Lawson inspired The Drover’s Wife. A majority chunk of that prize went to The Belvoir Theatre in Sydney which produced the play.

Earlier in the evening, Purcell had picked up the Major Award of the night for the play, along with the Stage Award.

Hosted in a loose but entertaining style by The Chaser’s Julian Morrow, who was surprised to be awarded the Fred Parsons Award For Outstanding Contribution to Australian Comedy, the evening lived up to the standard of the best awards shows; plenty of well-dressed film industry professionals drinking too much, who visited the toilets more than they should; and the whole thing went on for about two hours longer than it should. There was even a modest musical number performed by Morrow’s co-Chaser Andrew Hansen filled with the requisite knowing jibes at writers and TV executives.

A large chunk of the evening was devoted to veteran screenwriter Andrew Knight, who first picked up the best Original Feature Film Screenplay Award for Hacksaw Ridge, before being feted in the centerpiece Australian Writers’ Guild Lifetime Achievement Award. There were four live introductions – Sigrid Thornton, Andrew Anastasios, Peter Duncan and a Foxtel exec – followed by pre-records from various previous collaborators including Deb Cox, Ted Emery and Mel Gibson, before Knight took to the stage to accept the honour. His speech was candid and heart-felt, especially when it came to paying tribute to his friend John Clarke, who passed away earlier this year. Knight also spoke about the importance of giving opportunities for young writers to make an entrée into the industry and to be given the opportunity to learn from their mistakes.

Earlier in the night, there was a call for the hashtags #someonewrotethat and #makeitaustralian, various award presenters took the opportunity of the sympathetic audience to call out network television’s recent squeeze to remove Australian content quotas, particularly the current fight for Australian children’s television content and also the legal battle with Screenrights for royalty payments. If you want to come up with your own, using a hashtag generator like HashtagsForLikes is recommended.


And the (full list of the) 50th Annual AWGIE Award winners are…

Feature Film- Original:
Hacksaw Ridge – Andrew Knight with Robert Schenkkan

Feature Film- Adaptation:
Lion – Luke Davies

Short Form
Creswick – Christian White and Natalie Erika James

Documentary- Public Broadcast or Exhibition
Streets of Your Town: Episode 2 – Sally Aitken and Tim Ross

Documentary- Community, Educational and Training
Cyber Security- The Internet – Sam Meikle

Television- Serial
Home and Away: Episode 6510– Faith McKinnon

Television- Series or Miniseries (Of More Than 4 Hours Duration)
Seven Types of Ambiguity: ‘Alex’ – Jacquelin Perske

Television- Telemovie or Miniseries (Of 4 Hours or Less Duration)
Deep Water
– Kris Wyld and Kym Goldsworthy

Children’s Television- ‘P’ Classification (Preschool- Under 5 Years)

Guess How Much I Love You: ‘Little White Fawn’ – Melanie Alexander

Children’s Television- ‘C’ Classification (Children’s 5-14 Years)
The Deep: ‘Beware the Sentinels’ – Thomas Duncan- Watt

Comedy- Situation or Narrative
Rosehaven: Episode 6 – Luke McGregor and Celia Pacquola

Comedy- Sketch or Light Entertainment
Fancy Boy: ‘Three Wishes’ – Declan Fay, Henry Stone and Anne Edmonds with John Campbell, Stuart Daulman, Greg Larson and Jonathon Schuster

The Drover’s Wife – Leah Purcell

Community and Youth Theatre

Michael Swordfish – Lachlan Philpott
Teacup in a Storm – Noelle Janaczewska

Theatre for Young Audiences
Where Words Once Were – Finegan Kruckemeyer

Children’s Theatre
Egg – Angela Betzien

Music Theatre
Atomic – Danny Ginges with Philip Foxman

Ghosts of Biloela – Que Minh Luu, Christopher Burke and Anna Barnes

Counterfeit Cat: ‘Room of Panic’ – Tim Bain

2017 Major Award
The Drover’s Wife – Leah Purcell

2017 David Williamson Prize
Given in Celebration and Recognition of Excellence in Writing for Australian Theatre
The Drover’s Wife – Leah Purcell

Richard Lane Award
For Outstanding Service and Dedication to the Australian Writers’ Guild
Kelly Lefever

Fred Parsons Award
For Outstanding Contribution to Australian Comedy
Julian Morrow

Australian Writers’ Guild Lifetime Achievement Award
Proudly Presented by Foxtel
Andrew Knight


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