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Thirty-four scripts were received for this year’s Betty Roland Award, a category open to scripts written for feature film, television, radio/audio and interactive media. They included long-form and short works, drama and documentary and hybrid works. Television series were particularly well-represented. The shortlist is representative of the range of work submitted and includes scripts for episodes of television series, a feature film adapted from a young adult novel, an independent feature film and an interactive documentary. No radio/audio works were received this year and only a limited number of documentaries. The judges suggested that in future years web-based media and podcasts might also be eligible for this category.
The judging panel
Jane McCredie is an award-winning journalist, writer and reviewer who has been widely published in Australia and internationally. A former book publisher, she is the CEO of Writing NSW and the founder and director of the Quantum Words Festival of writing about science. She is the author of Making Girls and Boys: Inside the science of sex and was coeditor of the 2013 anthology of The Best Australian Science Writing. Jane is a graduate of the Australia Council’s arts leaders program and has previously chaired both the Christina Stead and Douglas Stewart panels of the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards.
Kathryn is Professor of Screen and Creative Arts at Macquarie University. She is also a writer and director whose films are internationally recognised and much awarded. Most recently, Kathryn’s feature documentary Shock Room (2015) won ‘Best Australian Documentary’ at the Antennae Documentary Film Festival and has travelled widely. Other major long-form credits as writer and director include The Boot Cake (2008); Travelling Light (2003); Parklands (1996) and Light Years (1991). Kathryn’s scripts—across drama and documentary—have received multiple Australian Film Institute and AWGIE (Australian Writers’ Guild) nominations.
Dr Anna Broinowski is a multiple AACTA and Walkley-winning filmmaker who documents subversive political subjects. Her films include Aim High in Creation! (about North Korean propaganda cinema); Please Explain (about populist Senator Pauline Hanson); Forbidden Lie$ (about hoax-author Norma Khouri); and Helen’s War (about anti-nuclear crusader Dr Helen Caldicott). Anna’s written two books, The Director is the Commander (2015) and Please Explain: the rise, fall and rise again of Pauline Hanson (2017). A Screen Arts lecturer at Sydney University, Anna is currently working on a new magical feature film set at Uluru, and researching the rise of fake political videos online.
Pearl Tan is the founder and director of Pearly Productions, a filmmaking boutique with a focus on diverse stories. She is currently the Senior Lecturer in Directing at the Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS). She was Co-Founder and Co-Chair of the Equity Diversity Committee within the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) and held positions on the MEAA Board and the National Performers Committee (NPC) for Actors Equity. She currently sits on the AFTRS Council and on the board of Critical Stages Touring. She is the NSW Chapter Head for the Australian Directors Guild (ADG). In 2017, she delivered a TEDx talk entitled Reimagining Diversity. In 2016, Pearl was named a Woman of Influence by the Australian Financial Review and Westpac.
About the Prize
The Betty Roland Prize ($30,000) is offered for the screenplay of a feature-length fiction film, for the script of a documentary film, for the script of a play or documentary for radio, or for the script of a television program (whether fiction or non-fiction). A script will be eligible for consideration if a film or radio or television program has been first publicly screened or broadcast between 1 October 2017 and 30 September 2018. Scripts written by more than four authors are not eligible for the Scriptwriting Award. Only one episode, per writer, per series can be considered. Only the writer’s original work will be considered for an award.
In the case of a feature-length film, the final shooting script should be submitted; in other cases, shooting and production scripts, which may differ from the original script, may be submitted only if accompanied by the original script.
Assessment will be made entirely on the literary merit of the written text, and not on the merits of the resulting film, radio or television program.
About Betty Roland
Betty Roland (1903-1996) was an Australian writer of plays, novels, screenplays, children’s books and comics. Roland left school at sixteen to train as a journalist, working for Table Talk and Sun News-Pictorial. She began writing plays in the mid-1920s. Her best-known play The Touch of Silk being first performed in 1928 by the Melbourne Repertory Theatre company.
Roland lived in Russia for several years while being in a relationship with Guido Baracchi, one of the founders of the Australian Communist Party. She returned to Australia in 1935 writing a number of political plays, but became disillusioned with the Communist Party.
Roland also wrote the screenplay for what is claimed as the first Australian feature length "talkie" movie Spur of the Moment (1932) credited as Betty M. Davies.
Roland began writing for the radio, including The First Gentleman, Daddy Was Asleep and The White Cockade. During the 1950s she worked as a freelance writer in London, but returned to Australia in 1961 and moved on to write a number of highly regarded children’s novels. Roland is most-admired for her three volumes of autobiography, the first being Caviar for Breakfast (1979).