Sue Smith has received the 2018 Australian Writers’ Guild’s Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of the enduring mark her work has made on the Australian cultural landscape.
Tony Ayres took home the Hector Crawford Award for outstanding contribution to the craft as a script producer, editor or dramaturg at the AWGIE Awards on Thursday night.
Presented by Foxtel, the Lifetime Achievement Award is decided by a unanimous vote of the 13 members of the AWG’s national executive committee, all professional writers. Sue joins previous recipients Laura Jones, Craig Pearce and Andrew Knight.
Ayres, who is executive producing the third series of Glitch, directed by Emma Freeman and produced by Louise Fox for the ABC and Netflix, tells IF: “To be acknowledged by your peers is the best honour. These are the people you work with and whose judgment I trust.”
The Guild gave the Hector Crawford Award to Graeme Koetsveld in 2012, Kym Goldsworthy (2013), Peter Matheson (2014) and Marcia Gardner (2016). There was no award in 2015 or 2017.
Ayres recently launched Tony Ayres Productions with the backing of Matchbox and NBCUniversal International Studios.
His credits as creator, producer or executive producer include Glitch, The Slap, Barracuda, Seven Types of Ambiguity, The Family Law and Wanted. He also directed the features Cut Snake, The Home Song Stories and Walking on Water.
Giving the award to Smith, Foxtel’s head of drama Penny Win said: “In television and film, everything starts with the writer and what is put on the page. We are honoured to present this award to Sue in recognition of her incredible work and contribution to the Australian entertainment industry.”
AWG president Jan Sardi said that it was impossible to overstate the impact Smith’s work on the industry, observing: “Sue has written some of our most iconic and beloved stories and her work explores the lives of ordinary Australians with incredible warmth and humanity, making the ordinary seem extraordinary. Whether it be on screen or stage, it leaves a mark on all those it touches.”
Smith responded: “I actually consider these awards to be collective rather than individual. Every generation of writers we produce in this country stands on the shoulders of the pioneering work of the generation of playwrights and screenwriters before them, and hopefully learn all over again from the generation after them.
‘So I want to thank all those writers whose worked I watched when I was growing up and starting out, for their guidance and inspiration, and for their generosity in including me among them, and the new generations for what they’re teaching me.”
Among her early screen credits were The Young Doctors, Sons and Daughters and Prisoner. She went on to write the acclaimed telemovies Mabo, Temptation and The Road From Coorain, the feature film Peaches and Bastard Boys, the ABC drama of the 1998 waterfront disputes.
Apart from Saving Mr. Banks, which she co-wrote with Kelly Marcel, she is best known for her multiple collaborations with screenwriter John Alsop including the TV series Brides of Christ, The Leaving of Liverpool, Bordertown and RAN: Remote Area Nurse.
In recent years she turned to the stage, making her professional theatre debut with Strange Attractor at the Griffin Theatre in 2009, followed by the libretto for Rembrandt’s Wife, an adaptation of Tolstoy’s The Kreutzer Sonata, Kryptonite, Machu Picchu and the upcoming Hydra for Queensland Theatre Co.