Children of Men
Children of Men author P.D. James and screenwriters Alfonso Cuarón, Timothy J. Sexton, David Arata, Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby were honored at the 19th annual USC Libraries Scripter Award ceremony on Feb. 18. 2007.
On hand to salute the writers were a number of literary luminaries and Hollywood personalities. Movie critic and USC faculty member Leonard Maltin accepted the award on behalf of James, while actor and director Danny Huston presented the award to the screenwriting team.
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.
Howard A. Rodman, chair of the USC School of Cinematic Arts writing division as well as this year's Scripter selection committee chair, highlighted the book-adaptation process.
Comedian Hal Kanter served as grand master of ceremonies, while actor-producer-author Henry Winkler entertained the library's supporters as emcee.
Via a videotaped acceptance speech filmed at her London home, James commented on her appreciation for libraries.
"This occasion combines two of the great enthusiasms of my life - writing and libraries," James said. "When I was a child, it was the public library in Cambridge which gave me the greatest joy and helped me to discover books and indeed has partly formed me as a writer."
In accepting the Scripter Award, Cuarón said, "Speaking here tonight made me think very carefully about the process of adaptation. Making this film about the future required us to fully understand the present." He then cited the influence of such diverse thinkers as Naomi Klein and Wole Soyinka in informing the screenplay's vision of the future.
Marje Schuetze-Coburn, dean of the USC Libraries said, "As USC grows in stature as a premier research university, events like Scripter support the USC Libraries' mission to help students and faculty excel in our dynamic academic setting."
Pointing to the role of libraries in helping to inspire creative artworks, Schuetze-Coburn said, "Our special collections preserve scholarly materials across the disciplines, from arts and letters to the regional history of Southern California - ensuring that students and faculty can study the legacies of the world's greatest writers, scientists, artists and thinkers."
The evening culminated with USC Trustee and president of the Friends of the USC Libraries Glenn A. Sonnenberg surprising Winkler with a card-catalogue drawer in Doheny Library's Hall of Honor for his work in support of the USC Libraries.
The selection committee ultimately 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, screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna and author Lauren Weisberger; The Illusionist, screenwriter Neil Berger, based on the story "Eisenheim the Illusionist" by Steven Millhauser; The Last King of Scotland, screenwriters Peter Morgan and Jeremy Brock, based on the book by Giles Foden; and Notes on a Scandal, screenwriter Patrick Marber and author Zoe Heller.
"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."
The USC Libraries' flagship fund-raising event, Scripter was created in 1988 to recognize both the author and screenwriters behind the year's best film adaptation of a book. Proceeds from this year's black-tie gala will support the creation of the Friends of the USC Libraries Lecture Hall as well as new spaces for instruction, collaboration and materials preservation.
Past Scripter winners include the authors and screenwriters of Capote, Million Dollar Baby, The Hours, A Beautiful Mind, L.A. Confidential, The English Patient and Schindler's List.
2007 Award Ceremony Webcast