January 16, 2007

Page To Screen

Children Of Men Wins Scripter Award

By Hugh McHarg

The author of Children of Men and the screenwriters of the film based on the book have won the 19th annual USC Libraries Scripter Award.

British writer P.D. James published the book, her 12th, in 1992. Screenwriters Alfonso Cuarón, Timothy J. Sexton, David Arata, Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby adapted the screenplay for the 2006 film, directed by Cuarón.

The Scripter is awarded annually by the USC Libraries to honor writers for the best achievement in adaptation among English-language films released during the previous year and based on a book, novella or short story.
Clive Owen and Clare-Hope Ashitey star in the Universal Pictures drama.

The selection committee, led by screenwriter, novelist and USC School of Cinematic Arts Writing Division Chair Howard A. Rodman, chose Children of Men from a field of 45 eligible films released in 2006. The other four finalists competing in the last round of voting were The Devil Wears Prada, The Illusionist, The Last King of Scotland and Notes on a Scandal. Rodman announced the winners on behalf of the selection committee and the Friends of the USC Libraries, which sponsors the award.

“This year’s five nominated films were, all of them, heartfelt and elegantly wrought,” Rodman said. “In that heady company, Children of Men was first among equals. Messrs. Cuarón, Sexton, Arata, Fergus and Ostby took P.D. James’ bracingly dystopic novel and crafted from it a film at once brave, subtle, shocking. This is writing and screenwriting of the highest order.”

Children of Men depicts humanity’s coming to terms with its impending extinction due to universal infertility. Set in near-future Great Britain, anarchy has overtaken once-ordered societies, leaving little hope for a dwindling population consumed with violence and factionalism. Clive Owen, Julianne Moore and Clare-Hope Ashitey star as humanity’s last chance for survival.

Author James, 86, so far has published 19 books in her long career as a writer, member of the British Civil Service and magistrate. Other credits for the screenwriters include  tu mamá también (Cuarón); Live From Baghdad (Sexton); Spy Game(Arata); and the upcoming Iron Man (Fergus and Ostby).

Universal Pictures distributes Children of Men, and Vintage published a reprint paperback edition of the book in May 2006.

The black-tie Scripter gala honoring the winning collaboration will be held on Sunday, Feb. 18, in USC’s Doheny Memorial Library. Henry Winkler will make his third appearance as emcee, with Hal Kanter returning as grand emcee for the seventh time.