2021 - Shortlisted
Penguin Bloom is a moving meditation on connection and the rebuilding of a shattered life through the healing power of the natural world. A family is turned upside down after a shocking accident during an overseas trip leaves Sam, the mother, paralysed. An unlikely ally enters the family’s world in the form of an injured baby magpie. The bird has a profound difference on Sam’s life, teaching her how to live again.
Told from the point of view of Sam’s guilt-ridden son Noah, this is an assured, highly cinematic screenplay. The protagonist’s journey back to acceptance and love is deftly structured and played out, with the unusual and quirky choice of a magpie as a spirit guide. The dialogue is visceral and honest, and takes us to some uncomfortable places in dealing with disability. The family dynamic carries us through to the end, with the action rarely losing dramatic momentum.