Press Room

Breaking news, press releases and statements from the Writers Guild of America, East

Monday June 27, 2011


SILVER SPRING, MD  – The Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) has named Nancy Buirski and Susie Ruth Powell as recipients of the fourth annual WGA Documentary Screenplay Award at the AFI-Discovery Channel Silverdocs Festival. Buirski and Powell wrote the documentary The Loving Story (USA, 2011, 77 minutes), which depicts the story of Richard and Mildred Loving, the couple behind the 1967 Supreme Court ruling overturning anti-miscegenation laws in the United States.

The WGA Documentary Screenplay Award goes to the qualifying screenwriter of a feature-length film who demonstrates screenwriting excellence in the documentary genre. Bernardo Ruiz, writer/director/producer of Gardens of Paradise and American Experience: Roberto Clemente and co-producer of P.O.V.: The Sixth Section, presented the award to Buirski and Powell at the festival’s awards ceremony held Saturday, June 25 at the AFI Silver Theater in Silver Spring, MD.

“Documentary writing is a unique form in which the spoken word interacts with visual imagery, sound and other resources to tell a real-life story. The Guild East’s Documentary Screenplay Award recognizes the rare talent and skill that can weave all these elements together to create a terrific work of both truth and art,” said WGAE President Michael Winship.

‘We are thrilled to collaborate with the Writers Guild of America for a fourth consecutive year, recognizing the critical role of writing in non-fiction filmmaking. We celebrate their choice to honor Nancy Buirski and Susie Ruth Powell and their film The Loving Story and think that this film is the perfect embodiment of the WGA’s mission – to honor excellence in writing for film,” said Silverdocs’ Festival 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 the WGAE Nonfiction Writers Caucus.

The other nominees for this year’s WGA Documentary Screenplay Award at Silverdocs 2011 were:FIRE IN BABYLON / United Kingdom, 2011, 82 minutes Written and Directed by Stevan Riley Feature documentary about the great West Indies cricket team of the 1970s/80s, featuring the sport as a vehicle for social change. RESURRECT DEAD / USA, 2011, 85 minutes Written and Produced by Jon Foy, Colin Smith An urban mystery unfurls as one man pieces together the surreal meaning of hundreds of cryptic tiled messages that have been appearing in city streets across the U.S. and South America. IF A TREE FALLS: A STORY OF THE EARTH LIBERATION FRONT / USA, 2011, 85 minutes Written and Edited by Matthew Hamacheck, Marshall Curry A rare behind-the-curtain look at the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), the radical environmental group that the FBI calls America’s “number one domestic terrorist threat.”   CATCHING HELL / USA, 2011, 102 minutes Written and Directed by Alex Gibney An exploration of the psychology of die-hard sports fans, the frightening phenomenon of scapegoating, and the hysteria that turned mild-mannered Steve Bartman into the most hated man in Chicago.   THE FIRST MOVIE / United Kingdom, Canada, 2010, 76 minutes Directed, Filmed & Written by Mark Cousins A documentary film about childhood, cinema and war set in Iraq.   THE PRUIT-IGOE MYTH / USA, 2011, 83 minutes Script by Chad & Jaime Freidrichs The story of the transformation of the American city in the decades after World War II, through the lens of the infamous Pruitt-Igoe housing development and the St. Louis residents who called it home. 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 writing credit, and a script must be submitted for consideration, i.e., a screenplay or transcript.

During the past few years, the Writers Guild has increased its 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 Justin Molito at (212) 767-7808 or email: .

This is the ninth year of the AFI-Discovery Channel Silverdocs Documentary Festival. The 2011 Festival takes place from June 20-26, 2011 and will present a total of 108 diverse films, representing 52 countries selected from 2,011 submissions with three world, three U.S. and seven East Coast premiers, plus five retrospective films and an outdoor screening. Films will screen in five sections: Sterling U.S. Feature Competition, Sterling World Feature Competition, Sterling Short Film Competition, Silver Spectrum and Spotlight Programs. The Festival will also present a retrospective series of films by Guggenheim honorees Chris Hegedus and D A Pennebaker and a special “Peacebuilding On Screen” strand organized in collaboration with the United States Institute of Peace. Additional information about Silverdocs is available at

The Writers Guild of America, East, AFL-CIO, is a labor union representing writers in motion pictures, television, cable, digital media, and broadcast news. The WGAE conducts programs, seminars, and events on issues of interest to, and on behalf of, writers. In addition, it represents writers’ interests on the legislative level.  For more information on the Writers Guild of America, East, visit ###

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