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The Stranger

2023 - Shortlisted


Judges' Comments

This is a rich cinematic adaptation of a non-fiction book about Daniel Morcombe’s killer. Told mainly from the antagonist’s point of view, the script creates intense moments with writing that often feels one step removed, as if the writing itself is a traumatised, highly controlled and self-regulated character. This demonstrates a high level of craft not always seen in Australian screenwriting. The script is tautly written and innovative, occasionally drifting into psychological dreamscapes that reveal glimpses of the gruelling internal cost of living an undercover life and provide insight into the mind of a child murderer. 

With slight echoes of last year’s Betty Roland Award for Scriptwriting winner, Nitram, writer Thomas M Wright has bravely entered the world of the sexual predator and killer. This inevitably takes the reader into a dark and murky pathology. Yet, like Nitram, the script is written with nuance and complexity, avoiding clichéd plot points and dialogue. The result is a subtle work that reveals itself in layers, with devastating subtext and an assured journey between the two central characters. We congratulate Wright on the courage and craft of this script.