Top of the Lake: China Girl, Series 2 Episode 4 ‘Birthday’ by Jane Campion and Gerard Lee

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Top of the Lake: China Girl, Series 2 Episode 4 ‘Birthday’ by Jane Campion and Gerard Lee (See-Saw Films)

Judges' Comments 

Birthday, Jane Campion and Gerard Lee’s deftly written episode of Top of the Lake, draws on the police procedural to drive a dramatic exploration of gender politics in the contemporary world. While conflicted detective Robin pieces together the China Girl puzzle, the narrative undertakes a wider investigation of the exploitation of women, from prostitution to surrogacy.

The Birthday episode script effectively combines reinvented elements of the thriller, the melodrama and film poetry to create a mode of storytelling in a heightened register — entirely appropriate to the depiction of a world in which nothing is quite as it seems. Along the way, the writers of Birthday develop a range of complex women characters rarely seen on our screens.

Birthday is a gripping and compelling drama featuring fascinating women coping with challenges in their domestic and professional lives while artfully blurring the distinction between the two in unsettling ways. Writers Jane Campion and Gerard Lee’s bold and inventive script is to be applauded for its creative vision as it seeks to unravel the mysteries of gender and racial politics in the contemporary world.