Humanitas Prize: 'Lady Bird,' 'The Post' and 'Mudbound' Win Top Awards

From left: 'Lady Bird,' 'The Post,' 'Mudbound'

The honors were announced during a ceremony on Friday at the Beverly Hilton.

Humanitas doled out its annual Humanitas Prize awards on Friday night at the Beverly Hilton.

Taking home the top honors were Lady Bird, The Post and Mudbound. The latter two tied for feature drama, and the former won for feature comedy. Screenplay writers Virgil Williams and Dee Rees (Mudbound), Liz Hannah and Josh Singer (The Post) and Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird) were all recognized for their work.

On the television side, the 30-minute category prize went to an episode of Big Bang Theory, "The Long Distance Dissonance," the teleplay for which was written by Chuck Lorre, Steve Holland and Tara Hernandez, and the story for which was penned by Steven Molaro, Eric Kaplan and Jim Reynolds. Meanwhile, the pilot for The Good Doctor, written by David Shore, nabbed the 60-minute category prize.

The ceremony was emceed by Chicago-based playwright Sarah Gubbins, with Pamela Gray, David Hudgins, Jay Kogen, Hart Hanson, Melanie Marnich, Jeff Melvoin, Tom Schulman and Patric Verrone serving as hosts. Kieser Award recipient John Sacret Young, the WGA award-winning screenwriter known for his work on The West Wing, delivered the keynote address.

Among the presenters were Jane Anderson, Carlton Cuse, Marjorie David, Karen Gaul, Felicia Henderson, Winnie Holzman, Alexa Junge, Ali LeRoi, Margaret Nagle, Jan Oxenberg, Nina Sadowsky, Misan Sagay and Maiya Williams. In addition, The CW's Traci Blackwell was designated Humanitas’ 2017 Voice for Change in acknowledgement of the programming choices she has made at the network. 

“We were extremely excited to recognize this incredible group of writers, who have so effectively used their storytelling powers for good,” said Humanitas president Ali LeRoi. “This year, the Humanitas winners are also using their prize money for good, and it was our honor to use our show’s platform to help raise awareness of so many important charitable organizations devoted to helping young people find and strengthen their voices.”

“We are living in a startling new landscape in which truth, facts and independent thought are under assault,” said Humanitas executive director Cathleen Young. “It has never been more important to nurture and empower the next generation of journalists, film and television writers and playwrights.”  

In other wins on the evening, Cries From Syria, directed by Evgeny Afineevsky, was recognized for best documentary, and Crown Heights, written by Matt Ruskin, edged out the competition for best Sundance feature film. The animated film Ferdinand — the screenplay for which was written by Robert L Baird, Tim Federle and Brad Copeland, and the story for which was penned by Ron Burch, David Kidd and Don Rhymer — took home the family feature film award.

For children's live action, the "#ImSleep" episode of Degrassi: Next Class, written by Matt Huether, won. In the children's animated category, the "Hannah the Brave" episode of Doc McStuffins, written by Kerri Grant, was honored.

In total, $75,000 was awarded to the Humanitas Prize winners: $5,000 for each of the feature-film genre categories, plus $10,000 for each of the six other categories. This year, for the first time, each winner designated non-profit organizations as the beneficiaries of their prize money. Here are the organizations that the winners chose:

● Anti-Recidivism Coalition in LA (Crown Heights)
● Film2Future (Ferdinand)
● International Documentary Association (IDA) (Cries From Syria)
● Inner-City Arts in LA (Lady Bird)
● Inner-City Filmmakers (Ferdinand)
● Inside Out Writers (Mudbound)
● P.S. Arts (The Post)
● The Remix Project (Degrassi: Next Class)
● Rosie's Theatre Kids (Ferdinand)
● The Heidelberg Project (Doc McStuffins)
● We for She (Lady Bird)
● The Writer’s Guild Foundation (The Good Doctor)
● Young Storytellers (The Big Bang Theory)

In addition, two college fellowships, in which $20,000 awards go to two young writers, were announced. The Carol Mendelsohn College Drama Fellowship, which was launched last year, was given to Waves, written by Kieryn Ziegler at USC. The David and Lynn Angell College Comedy Fellowship, meanwhile, went to FLIP (Funny Little Island People), written by Jerell Rosales at UCLA.

This year's recipients of the New Voices program for emerging writers each receive a $15,000 grant to write a pilot script under the supervision of seasoned showrunners. The winners were: Devon Balsamo-Gillis, Charlie Kelly, Daniel Pearle, Paula Sabbaga, Rowan Wheeler and Kayreth Williams.

Also, the winners of Play LA were announced: Inda Craig-Galván, Jennifer Maisel, Matthew Paul Olmos, Mildred Lewis and Stacy Osei-Kuffour. Each playwright recipient will get support in the form of a $1,500 grant, an ongoing workshop and critiques from professionals throughout the year. At the end of the process, each play is featured as a professional reading in the Humanitas Play LA Festival of New Works.