16 January, 2024
An exciting field of Australian screen and stage writers have been recognised as nominees for the 56th Annual AWGIE Awards, to be presented next month in Sydney. Over 70 new and outstanding works are celebrated from a cohort of storytellers that includes emerging and debut writers who are bursting onto the scene, as well as multi-AWGIE Award winners and much-admired Guild members, a testament to the strength of our writing community and its significance at the heart of our industry.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in the theatre categories, where six original works for the stage are recognised. David Williamson Prize-winning playwright Alana Valentine is nominated for Wayside Bride, a tribute to Sydney’s Wayside Chapel, alongside Dylan Van Den Berg’s Whitefella Yella Tree, described by Griffin Theatre Company as a “heart-warming and heartbreaking story about love, Country, and Blak queerness.” Torres Strait Islander playwright John Harvey examines the dark history of Australia and the repatriation of Ancestral remains to Country in The Return, while Noëlle Janaczewska turns our attention to the climate emergency in The End of Winter. Rounding out the Stage nominees, Ron Elisha paints a moving and compelling picture of life and love in Everyman and His Dog, and Grace Chapple takes us to the heart of The Troubles in Northern Ireland in her debut Never Closer, a finalist in the 2021 Shane and Cathryn Brennan Prize for Playwriting.
Van Den Berg is also nominated in the Community and Youth Theatre category for Ngadjung, a prescient environmental drama. It competes with Madelaine Nunn’s supernatural mystery, The Chapel, the Fire and the Dead Cat, and Julian Larnach’s How To Vote!, a biting study of university student politics.
In the Theatre for Young Audiences category, plays by Brendan Hogan (All The Shining Lights), Julian Larnach (Past the Shallows) and Finegan Kruckemeyer (The Sleep That Ceased to Settle) are nominated. Kruckemeyer also picks up a nomination in Stage – Adapted (Are We There Yet?), alongside Vidya Rajan’s exciting new take on the Australian classic Looking For Alibrandi and Tom Holloway’s look at the Stella Prize-winning The Museum of Modern Love.
Two new Australian music theatre works also feature with Daniel and James Cullen’s Dubbo Championship Wrestling up against Alana Valentine and Christos Tsiolkas’ oratorio Watershed: The Death of Dr Duncan.
Turning to the big screen, Robert Connolly’s adaptation of the Tim Winton classic Blueback is nominated alongside Oscar Redding and Kitty Green’s thriller The Royal Hotel, inspired by the chilling doco Hotel Coolgardie. Horror also features in the Original category, with Colin and Cameron Cairnes nominated for Late Night with the Devil. It’s up against Mark Leonard Winter’s cinematic debut The Rooster, Jonathan Ogilvie’s semi-autobiographic ode to post-punk subculture Head South and Warwick Thornton’s The New Boy, which premiered at Cannes.
Australia’s long fascination with sport runs through the documentary category with The Defenders (Matthew Bate) and Harley & Katya (Blayke Hoffman and Selina Miles) exploring the complexities and politics of elite international sport. Another Australian icon, John Farnham, also makes the list, with Finding the Voice (Poppy Stockell and Paul Clarke) up against James Crawley’s intimate study of his eccentric father’s life atop a dormant volcano in Volcano Man (James Crawley, Tim Russell and Steven Sander). Four outstanding short films by Catherine Kelleher, Vee Shi, William Duan and Steve Anthopoulos will also compete.
In the television categories, ABC’s The Newsreader has garnered last year’s AWGIE-winner Kim Ho a second nomination, up against Keir Wilkins for Stan’s dark comedy Totally Completely Fine and Tony McNamara for the final season of his Emmy-nominated The Great. In the Limited Series category, Elise McCredie (The Clearing: ‘Maitreya) and Giula Sandler (The House Across the Street) are nominated, as well as the writing team behind The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart adaptation (Sarah Lambert, Kirsty Fisher and Kim Wilson).
Following its revival on Amazon Freevee, Neighbours resumes its long-time rivalry with Home and Away in the Serial category, with nominations for Sarah Mayberry, Jason Herbison, Paige Montague and Louise Bowes. The UK soap EastEnders completes the list with a nomination for Peter Mattessi.
In the Comedy categories, Harriet Dyer and Patrick Brammall’s international hit Colin From Accounts has picked up two nominations, competing with In Limbo (Tamara Asmar) and the festive family flick A Christmas Ransom (Elliot Vella, Gretel Vella and Timothy Walker). Meanwhile, Gruen Nation secures its third nomination in three years in Sketch Comedy for writers James Colley, Bec Melrose, Kirsten Drysdale, Angela Lavoipierre and Cameron James. They’re up against Rob Hunter’s Margaret Pomeranz roasts for The Weekly and Mitch McTaggart’s hilarious The Last Year of Television.
Turning to children’s television, horror-comedy Crazy Fun Park has picked up two nominations (Nicholas Verso and Magda Wozniak), competing with episodes of Turn Up the Volume (Chloe Wong, Penelope Chai and Matthew Bon) and season two of Mikki vs the World (Gemma Bird Matheson). In the Pre-school category, it’s a tussle between ABC Kids programs as the delightful Beep and Mort (Amy Stewart and Charlotte Rose Hamlyn) goes up against the summertime hit Kangaroo Beach (Charlotte Rose Hamlyn, Tim Bain and Rebekka Schafferius).
Meanwhile, the Animation category celebrates an exciting and diverse range of formats, with an adult comedy (Koala Man – Nina Oyama), a short film (Bird Drone – Clare Toonen), a children’s series (The Strange Chores – Alix Beane) and a standalone animated episode of The Sandman (‘Dream of a Thousand Cats’– Catherine Smyth-McMullen) in contention.
SBS On Demand dominates the Web Series category, with three dramas that delve into contemporary Australia. This includes the Australian Korean diaspora inspired Night Bloomers, with nominations each for creator Andrew Undi Lee and Ra Chapman, as well as Appetite (Mohini Herse, Neilesh Verma and Grace Tan) and Latecomers (Emma Myers, Nina Oyama and Angus Thompson). Rounding out the category is David Ferrier and Dean Thomas’ laugh-out-loud series Childish Deano.
Finally, in the Audio – Fiction category, Meegan May and Lauren Anderson’s queer sci-fi comedy Starship Q Star competes with crime thrillers Gripped: You Don’t Know Me by Jacklyn Bassanelli and The Missed by Sami Shah.
The sole nominees in the Audio – Non-fiction and Documentary – Community, Educational and Training categories will be announced on the night.
Find the full list of nominees for the 56th Annual AWGIE Awards here.
ABOUT THE 56th ANNUAL AWGIE AWARDS
AWGIE Award winners will be announced at the 56th Annual AWGIE Awards on Thursday 15 February 2024 at the Parade Theatre at NIDA in Sydney. For those outside Sydney, a broadcast of the event will be free to watch from home or at AWG events in Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth.
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Awards will be presented across 21 individual categories, including feature film, television, documentary, theatre, audio, animation and children’s television. Individual theatre category winners will be eligible for the David Williamson Prize for Excellence in Writing for Australian Theatre. Made possible by the generous donation of David and Kristin Williamson and Shane and Cathryn Brennan, the $100,000 prize is awarded to the most outstanding script selected from the winners of each of the theatre categories at the AWGIE Awards with the express purpose of encouraging theatre companies to commission, develop and program a new Australian work.
On the night, the AWGIE Awards will honour the achievements and contributions of some of our most esteemed screen and stage writers, including the presentation of 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 to the Australian arts. The AWGIE Awards are the only Australian writers’ awards judged solely by writers, based on the written script – the writer’s intention rather than the finished product.
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