The writers behind the feature film “The Lost Daughter” and series “Dopesick” won the 34th-annual USC Libraries Scripter Awards at an online ceremony on the evening of Feb. 26, 2022.
The Scripter Awards honor each year’s most accomplished adaptations of the written word for the screen and, uniquely, recognize the screenwriters and the authors of the source material.
This year, screenwriter Maggie Gyllenhaal and author Elena Ferrante won in the feature film category for Netflix’s “The Lost Daughter,” based on Ferrante’s 2006 book (published in English in 2008). Gyllenhaal, who directed, wrote, and produced “The Lost Daughter,” acknowledged the deep connection between screenwriters and the original authors in her acceptance speech.
“I think only writers know how intimately a screenwriter is connected to the work they’re adapting,” Gyllenhaal said. Describing her relationship with Ferrante’s work, “She and I have made something new together. It’s like a love affair of the mind.”
In the episodic series category, writer/director Danny Strong and author Beth Macy won for Hulu’s “Dopesick,” based on Macy’s nonfiction book “Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America.”
“A third of all American families have been touched by addiction,” Macy said. “My biggest thanks to all the families who helped us tell this story, and there are thousands of them.”
Strong acknowledged the impact of the book in shining “a light on this crisis and the people who were most affected by it on the ground in a way that really captured the nation in such a powerful, beautiful way.”
The Scripter Awards are usually presented at a black-tie gala in USC’s Doheny Memorial Library. However, both this year and last year, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the ceremony was streamed online. USC Libraries Dean Catherine Quinlan referenced the extraordinary year in her opening remarks.
“I truly hoped that we’d be celebrating the 34th year of Scripter where we celebrated its first—in the beautiful Doheny Memorial Library,” Quinlan said. “While it didn’t quite work out that way, I’m delighted to be with all of you online. We are so fortunate to be able to connect this way, to come together as a community in support of writers, storytelling, and our excellent Trojan libraries.”
A selection committee comprising 52 writers, producers, journalists, and other distinguished members—including several past winners—determined this year’s awards.
Howard Rodman, a professor at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and a former president of the Writers Guild of America West, chairs the committee. In his remarks, Rodman noted that the art of adaptation requires the screenwriter to strike a delicate balance.
“Adaptation from a book to film or book to series is a dialogue, a murmuring, and adaptation is a translation from one language into another,” Rodman said. “It’s no accident that in so many languages, the words for ‘translator’ and ‘traitor’ are so similar. And the person who adapts a work of fact or fiction always has to balance, with poise and finesse, an opposing set of obligations.”
Earlier in the evening, Rodman presented Barry Jenkins with the Literary Achievement Award. Jenkins, a nominee this year for “The Underground Railroad,” previously won the 2017 Scripter for “Moonlight” and was a finalist in 2019 for “If Beale Street Could Talk.”
In accepting the award, Jenkins thanked the authors whose works he’s adapted and described the importance of cinema in reaching audiences with their language. “We’re living in a time right now when people are watching more than they are reading,” Jenkins said. “I think in a way, translating these works from the medium of literature or playwriting into the screenplay format and ultimately into feature films and television is very crucial, very vital to continuing the spread of this language these authors have put into their works.”
The 2022 Scripter Award was presented by the USC Libraries Board of Councilors, with sponsorship support from Apple Original Films, Amazon, Disney+, HBO, Hulu, Netflix, and Warner Bros.
For more information about Scripter, visit scripter.usc.edu.