HOT on last night’s news that Kirsty Zane (formerly Budding) had won a CAPO grant to attend a professional reading of a screenplay in the US, an email has arrived at the “CityNews” arts desk from Zane, already in America, with news that her short screenplay, “Happy Ending Retirement Home”, has picked up screenwriting awards in the US.
Top of the list of accolades is the Grand Prize in the Dallas International Film Festival “Broaden Your Horizons” Screenwriting Competition’s Short Screenplay section.
The dark comedy screenplay is based on a stage monologue, “Gertrude’s Sweetheart”, first performed by Canberra actor Phillip Mackenzie at the Courtyard Studio at Canberra Theatre Centre in 2017 and reprised this year on Artsound FM by John Cuffe.
The winning scripts for the Dallas festival were selected by industry judges such as screenwriter Aaron Rahsaan Thomas (“Numb3rs” and “CSI: NY”) and Disney writer Jonathan Hurwitz. Zane’s prize includes membership of screenwriting organisations, professional consultations; and meetings with producers and agents.
“Happy Ending Retirement Home” also won Best Comedy Script in the LA Just4Shorts Competition and Best Short Script at Sherman Oaks Film Festival, Los Angeles.
The screenplay was selected for a professional reading at the Pittsburgh Shorts Film Festival on Sunday (November 22).
Zane, who decided at the last minute to hop on a near-empty plane across the Pacific with her fiancé, Zane Jordan, says: “Everyone here has been so friendly and keen to read my scripts.”
While in the US, she is attending festivals and meeting agents and tells us: “I’m very grateful to CAPO – I’ve been so lucky to be able to travel at the moment.”
Of her screenplay she says: “The script comically contrasts Harold’s first love with his late wife – who he met as a teenager – with his second love with Gertrude over a game of bingo. Ultimately, Harold must overcome his insecurities as an ageing man anxious to satisfy a woman, as well as the guilt he feels for falling in love again after his wife’s death. After a profound, lifelong love – can we fall in love again? And what does that look like?”
The scenario is based on the true story of Zane’s great-grandmother, who found love in her eighties, when she met a widower with great-grandchildren. He came to Christmas dinner and as a 10-year-old, Zane thought: “Isn’t that romantic?”
Although she says some people in the audience were a bit shocked by the sex scenes, the lead actors (she calls them “sexy seniors”) after a reading thanked her for writing them exciting, provocative roles.
“I think it’s one of the reasons the script has been noticed, because it’s telling a story that isn’t often told,” she tells us.
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