A 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
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
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
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