Thursday, October 13, 2011

Crime amongst the NZ Film and TV awards nominees

Well, the nominees for the 2012 AFTA Awards (the Aotearoa New Zealand Film & TV Awards) have been announced today, and scanning through the eye-glazingly-long list of nominees in the 61 categories (yes, 61, crazy, I know - it's like the Golden Globes, with news media categories added on), I can see that there is some local crime fiction and true crime content amongst those being lauded.

I'll leave aside for the moment any comments re: the plethora of categories for reality TV (even split into 'contructed' and 'observational' reality TV categories) and news media, while those that are the true initial creators - the writers - are relegated to one single TV writing category that combines drama and comedy (while actors and others have multiple categories, split into drama, comedy, lead and supporting, male and female, etc) - that's a personal pet peeve of mine, the way writers, who start it all when it comes to storytelling, are still overlooked and underappreciated by the media and public etc.

Anyway, onto the good news; there are some highlights for crime-loving fans amongst the many awards. Back in 2009 the excellent dramatisation of the real-life David Dougherty miscarriage of justice case (Until Proven Innocent) deservedly starred at the awards, picking up seven trophies. Writer-producer Donna Malane went on to publish her debut crime novel last year, SURRENDER, and now her TV work has received several more nominations, with her telemovie Bloodlines (based on another NZ true crime story) being nominated for Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Script, and Best Director. Congratulations to Malane and her team.

I watched and enjoyed Bloodlines; personally I didn't think it quite reached the heights of Until Proven Innocent, which was truly superb, but it was still a very good telemovie. Incidentally, Bloodlines already won the Best TV Drama Script Award at the Scriptwriting Awards of NZ.

A feature film, Predicament, based on Kiwi thriller writer Ronald Hugh Morrieson's darkly twisting third novel (published posthumously in 1975), has also been nominated in several categories. Morrieson, who was born, lived, wrote, and died in Hawera, South Taranaki (a small rural town) is a very interesting character in New Zealand's literary history. He scratched at the dark underbelly of rural New Zealand life, but wasn't really appreciated until after his own death in 1972; his tales were considered too dark, twisted, and violent.

He is widely celebrated as writing the best opening line ever in a New Zealand novel: "The same week our fowls were stolen, Daphne Moran had her throat cut", from THE SCARECROW, a tragicomic tale of a sex killer in a small town, published in Sydney in 1963 and made into a film in 1982. In fact, the film version was I believe the first New Zealand film ever to win official selection at Cannes. And we don't have a history of crime fiction; hmmpphhh!

The Oxford Companion to New Zealand Literature states that, "Conservative critics had diffculty with the violence and sexuality of his writing and its failure to conform to the high culture models that dominated the literary values of the period".

Predicament, which stars Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords fame, is the fourth film to be made from Morrieson's writing (all well after his death), after adaptations in the 1980s of THE SCARECROW, CAME A HOT FRIDAY (pictured left, starring Billy T James), and PALLET ON THE FLOOR.

You can read a review of the film here (more positive about the book than the film). It has received ten nominations, in the Best Feature, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Original Music, Best Sound, Best Costume Design, Best Make-up, Best Visual Effects. No nominations for acting though.

Other thriller, mystery, and crime-themed nominees include acclaimed TV show Outrageous Fortune. You can read the full list of nominees here.

Did you watch Bloodlines, Predicament, or Outrageous Fortune? Have you read any of Morrieson's work? Thoughts and comments welcome.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Craig,

    Enjoyed your thought-provoking post. Glad I managed to catch 'Until Proven Innocent' initially decided to stay watching it as homage to David's story; and am very glad I did. Very clever and well done - I especially liked the poignancy of the last shot of the real Sunday Star Times' photo over the actor's one....