Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Māori comedy series wins Victoria University of Wellington Prize

television comedy series that confronts the polarising question of ‘What is a real Māori?’ has been awarded the 2018 David Carson-Parker Embassy Prize in Scriptwriting at Victoria University of Wellington.

Written by Dana Leaming (Ngāpuhi) as part of her 2018 Master of Arts folio at the University’s International Institute of Modern Letters (IIML), the Not Even series is described by its examiners as ‘intelligent, refreshing and highly entertaining’, ‘very funny and surprisingly thoughtful’ and ‘irreverent, raunchy, bold and appealing’.

Named in honour of the late David Carson-Parker, who established the prize to support the Master of Arts (Scriptwriting), it is continued by David’s partner Jeremy Commons through the University’s Development Office. The $3,000 prize is awarded annually to an outstanding Master of Arts (Scriptwriting) student at the IIML.

Not Even features a group of young Māori friends in their twenties, all wrestling with the tricky question of identity. Their attempts to function as adults blow up like cultural time bombs in ways that are hilarious, humiliating and just straight tragic, says Dana.

She describes the course as “challenging, but the best decision I have made in a long time.” “The mentoring I received pushed through all the doubt I constantly have about my writing. I was able to work through some of my own cultural identity insecurities by literally putting my most humiliating moments on the page,” she says.

An examiner of the winning script wrote, ‘Not Even had me frequently laughing out loud, it shocked me on occasions. I winced now and again at the outrageousness of some of the things being said, and I appreciated the very smart politics at play.’  Another examiner observed, ‘Not Even takes the often lofty, angsty kaupapa of identity politics and gives it an irreverent once-over. The central theme of cultural identity is something that many young Māori contend with and it is fantastic to hear these voices crafted into such a vivid and accessible comedy series.’

Fellow Master of Arts student Vincent Konrad, who identifies as non-binary and uses the pronoun they, has won the Brad McGann Film Writing Award for their feature film script Blue Smoke.


Described by Vincent as a dark Hitchcockian fable, it follows young bride Lottie as she discovers her new life in a small rural town is very different to what she had anticipated.


Examiners described Blue Smoke as ‘a very strong piece of work’ showing ‘originality of voice and a strong setting up of character and style, with many exciting, dramatic moments, set in an interesting world where issues of morality, power and freedom are investigated by story and symbol.’


Vincent says, “I did not expect to write a film this year, and even less so to write one that would win an award. It is a great honour and a comfort that I am grateful for.”


Named in honour of the late Brad McGann (writer/director of In My Father’s Den) the award is also worth $3,000.



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