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News Release: June 26, 2010
Third Annual WGA Documentary Screenplay Award at AFI-Discovery Channel Silverdocs Goes to Yael Hersonski for A Film Unfinished

NEW YORK CITY and LOS ANGELES -- The Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) and Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) have named Yael Hersonski as the winner of the third annual WGA Documentary Screenplay Award at the AFI-Discovery Channel Silverdocs Festival. Hersonski wrote and directed the documentary, which offers a penetrating look at the now-infamous Nazi-produced film about the Warsaw Ghetto.

The WGA Documentary Screenplay Award goes to the qualifying screenwriter of a feature-length film who demonstrates screenwriting excellence in the documentary genre. WGAE President Michael Winship presented the award at the festival’s awards ceremony held Saturday, June 26 at the AFI Silver Theater in Silver Spring, MD.

“The art of documentary writing is more than words on a page. It is also the skillful juxtaposition of images and voices to create vivid portrayals of people, places and events. When done well, it is storytelling of the highest order. That’s why the Writers Guilds East and West are proud to present this year’s WGA Silverdocs Documentary Screenplay Award to Yael Hersonski,” said WGAE President Michael Winship.

“The Writers Guilds are once again proud to sponsor this award at the AFI-Discovery Channel Silverdocs Film Festival. It gives well-deserved recognition to the essential role that the documentary screenwriter plays in non-fiction filmmaking," said WGAW President John Wells.

“We are thrilled to collaborate with the Writers Guilds of America for a third consecutive year, recognizing the critical role of writing in non-fiction filmmaking. We couldn’t be more delighted about their choice to celebrate Yael Hersonski and her film A Film Unfinished,” said Silverdocs Artistic Director Sky Sitney.

The WGA Documentary Screenplay Award carries a prize of $1,000. In addition, the winner is granted a five-year membership in either the WGAE Nonfiction Writers Caucus or WGAW Nonfiction Writers Caucus.

Nominees for this year’s WGA Documentary Screenplay Award at Silverdocs 2010 were:

UTOPIA IN FOUR MOVEMENTS / USA, 75 minutes (Written and Directed by Sam Green and Dave Cerf) – With a powerful sense of poetry, Utopia In Four Movements uses the collective experience of cinema to explore the battered state of the utopian impulse at the dawn of the 21st century. Filmmaker Sam Green cues the images and narrates the “live documentary” while musician Dave Cerf performs the soundtrack.

A FILM UNFINISHED / Germany/Israel, 87 minutes (Written and Directed by Yael Hersonski) –A powerful documentary that offers a penetrating look at another film – the now-infamous Nazi-produced film about the Warsaw Ghetto. Rigorous in its regard for human tragedy and the power of images, it indicts both the evil and the astounding narcissism of the Nazi state.

THE KIDS GROW UP / USA, 90 minutes (Written, Produced and Directed by Doug Block) – Doug Block examines his relationship with his only child, Lucy, in this documentary, which moves seamlessly between past, present, and the fast-approaching future. It creates a loving portrait of a girl transitioning into womanhood, as well as an incredibly candid look at parenting and what it means to let go.

BARBERSHOP PUNK / USA, 83 minutes (Written and Produced by Georgia Sugimura Archer; Directed by Georgia Sugimura Archer and Kristin Armfield) – Contemplating the future of the American Internet and the net neutrality debate, this documentary follows the personal journal of Barbershop Quartet fan Robb Topolski as he takes on the nation’s largest cable company and finds himself at the center of a Federal investigation.

THE PEOPLE vs. GEORGE LUCAS / USA, 97 minutes (Written and Directed by Alexandre O. Philippe) – A no-holds barred, no-stone unturned, uncensored cultural examination of the conflicted dynamic between George Lucas and his fans over the past three decades. A participatory documentary is the ultimate expression of the fan’s obsession for a man and the universe that defined a generation.

GOODBYE, HOW ARE YOU? / Serbia/Montenegro, 60 minutes (Written by Boris Mitic) – Piercingly poignant, yet tinged with an acid sense of humor, Goodbye, How Are You? combines a portrait of a splintered society with a voiceover drawn from cynical Serbian adages addressing political corruption and the ravages of war.

To be eligible for the WGA Silverdocs Award, Silverdocs documentaries were required to meet the following criteria: Writer(s) must have received an approved onscreen screenwriting credit, and a script must be submitted for consideration, i.e., a screenplay or transcript.

During the past few years, the Writers Guilds have increased their outreach and organizing efforts to build a strong community of nonfiction writers, with an aim to bring more documentaries under WGA contracts. The WGA’s Documentary Screenplay Contract enables writers to write and sell documentary screenplays using partial or completely deferred fees while receiving Writers Guild benefits and protections. Questions regarding joining the Writers Guild through documentary work may be directed to the WGAE’s Justin Molito at (212) 767-7808 or email: Justin Molito and the WGAW’s Kay Schaber Wolf at (323) 782-4731 or email: Indie Program.

This season, Silverdocs 2010 presented a total of 102 diverse films, representing 54 countries selected from 2,162 submissions with six world, one international, three North American, five U.S., and ten East Coast premieres plus six retrospective films, and an outdoor screening. Now in its eighth year, Silverdocs and its concurrent International Documentary Conference honors excellence in filmmaking, supports the diverse voices and free expression of independent storytellers and celebrates the power of documentary to enhance the understanding of the world. At this year’s festival, a wide range of documentary films from around the globe screened in five distinct sections: Sterling U.S. Feature Competition, Sterling World Feature Competition, Sterling Short Film Competition, Silver Spectrum and Spotlight Programs. Additional information about Silverdocs is available at www.silverdocs.com.

The Writers Guild of America, East and the Writers Guild of America, West are labor unions representing writers in motion pictures, broadcast, cable, news and digital media. The WGAE and WGAW are active in legislative activities on the state, federal, and international levels with a special focus on globalization, labor, communications, and copyrights. They also conduct a number of programs, seminars, and events on issues of interest to, and on behalf of writers. For more information about the Writers Guild of America, East, visit www.wgaeast.org. For more information about the Writers Guild of America, West, visit: www.wga.org.