Born: Established: 1931 Vienna,
Sonia Borg was born in Vienna where she studied dramatic art before moving to India in 1951. While based in India, Borg joined Shakespeareana International, a touring theatre company.
In 1961, she moved to Australia and joined Crawford Productions as a drama coach. She also worked as a script writer, editor and associate producer. She wrote her first scripts for Crawfords as early as 1961, with episodes of Consider Your Verdict. She continued to write for Crawford Productions for the next two decades, with scripts for Homicide (for which she wrote at least seventeen episodes, between 1964 and 1973), Division 4 (1970 to 1975), Matlock Police (for which she wrote at least eleven episodes between 1971 and 1975), and Solo One (1976). She also worked in a production capacity for these programs: as associate producer (1964-1969), producer (1969-1972), and supervising producer (1967) for Homicide; producer (1969) for Division 4; and both assistant producer and associate producer (1964) for Consider Your Verdict. She was also Homicide's script editor between 1968 and 1971.
While working for Crawford Productions, Borg was also writing scripts for other television studios and production companies, including Gemini Productions (The Spoiler, 1972) and the ABC (including an episode of the anthology series A Time for Love in 1972, and at least three scripts for Rush in 1974).
In 1976, she contributed to the ABC and Paradine Productions' Power Without Glory, based on Frank Hardy's book, and written in conjunction with other major Australian script-writers, including Cliff Green, Howard Griffiths, Tom Hegarty, John Martin, and Roger Simpson. The same year, she adapted Colin Thiele's novel into the film Storm Boy, which won her an AWGIE Award (for feature film) and was nominated for an AFI Award (Best Screenplay: Original or Adapted).
Borg followed Storm Boy with the script for the ABC TV drama No Room for the Innocent (1977), in which a married Catholic woman in dire financial straits struggles with the church's dictum on contraception. In 1978, she adapted another Colin Thiele novel into the feature film Blue Fin. She continued to write for television drama, including Young Ramsay (1980). In 1981, she collaborated with two of her former Power Without Glory co-writers, Cliff Green and Roger Simpson, to adapt Alan Marshall's I Can Jump Puddles as a nine-part ABC serial.
In 1982, Borg and Hyllus Maris brought Women of the Sun to the screen: this groundbreaking four-part television series covers two hundred years of white occupation of Australia through the eyes of Indigenous Australian women, and was born of Borg's concern at the widespread under-representation of Indigenous Australian women on the screen, where she felt they only appeared as prostitutes. The program garnered several major awards, including the United Nations Media Peace Prize (1982) and two
AWGIE Awards (Television Award and Major Award, both 1983).
Borg's other scripts in the 1980s included the telemovie Dusty (1983), though she had no discernable role in the later television series of the same name; the Gold Rush-era television series Colour in the Creek (1985); and the horror-fantasy film Dark Age (1987), one of Arch Nicholson's few films before his early death. Never released in Australia due to the collapse of negotiations between American studio RKO and Australian distributors, the film is recognised as providing strong, non-stereotypical roles for its female and Indigenous Australian actors.
Borg has been less prolific a script-writer in recent years, but more recent works include the four-part television series Ratbag Hero (1990); episodes of the television series Mercury (1996), created by Cliff Green, her co-writer on Power Without Glory and I Can Jump Puddles; and the screenplay for Sarah Watt's short, animated film The Way of the Birds, an adaptation of the book by Meme McDonald.
In 2001, Borg was executive assistant on ABC television program The Glass House. In 1985, she was awarded the A.M. (Member of the Order of Australia) in the Queen's New Years Honours List for her services to the film and television industry.
A short animated film developed from the 1996 novel The Way of the Birds: A Child and a Curlew Travel Across the World.
Parent production company Every Cloud Productions offers the following synopsis of the film:
'The Ways Of The Birds [sic] is the story of a little girl who thinks she is a bird. She never speaks to humans, but dances and twitters and talks with the willy wagtails, ravens, magpies and white-plumed honeyeaters that visit her garden. And then one day she finds a dying Eastern Curlew in the backyard and her spirit is transported to the Siberian plains where these great wading birds breed and hatch. She turns into a curlew herself and eventually goes with them on their journey across the world.
'When finally her spirit returns home, she wakes from her dreams and buries the curlew with the help of her mother and brother. The neighbour's kids who until then have thought her crazy, decide to join in and they work to create a haven which will provide a vital stopover for the migratory birds. Their labours bear fruit: One day an Eastern Curlew lands in the little swamp that they have created on the edge of their suburb, rests and feeds to regain strength for the rest of its journey.
And the little girl finds the words to speak to her mother for the first time.'
Source: Every Cloud Productions (http://www.everycloudproductions.com.au/about-us/fiona-eagger/twenty-20/the-way-of-the-birds/p/31). (Sighted: 18/10/2012)
A ground-breaking television series, Women of the Sun was, according to Moran in his Guide to Australian TV Series, born out of co-writer Sonia Borg's desire for a more balanced televisual representation of Indigenous Australians: 'Angry at the plight of Aborigines, she was concerned that many scriptwriters could conceive of Aboriginal women only as prostitutes.' To counter this tendency, she contemplated a series that showed Australian history from the perspective of Aboriginal women, a project for which she sought the colloboration of sociologist and social worker Hyllus Maris.
Because, as Moran notes, it 'portrayed the history of Aboriginal people since the incursion of the whites, focusing on the relations between blacks and whites over the previous 200 years', Women of the Sun 'was a direct counter to the various official histories in preparation for the Bicentennial celebrations in 1988'.
Women of the Sun is divided into four parts, each of which focuses on a different woman in a different period of history.
'Alinta the Flame' (set in the 1820s) shows the interaction between the two cultures as an Indigenous Australian tribe (the Nyari) nurse back to health two English convicts whom they find washed up on the beach, only to find the new settlers increasingly encroaching on Nyari lands--a process that ends in the annihilation of the entire tribe, barring Alinta and her young daughter.
'Maydina the Shadow' (set in the 1890s) follows Maydina, abducted and abused by a group of seal-hunters, from whom she eventually escapes with her daughter Biri (who is of mixed Indigenous Australian and European heritage). Taken in by Mrs McPhee, head of a church mission, Maydina is separated from her child and sent into service for the church. When she falls in love with an Indigenous Australian man and attempts to leave with him and Biri to return to a traditional lifestyle, Mrs McPhee has them pursued by troopers, who kill Maydina's lover and remove Biri from her care.
'Nerida Anderson' (set in 1939) focuses on the Cumeroongunga Walkout, showing the deterioration in conditions on the reserve through the eyes of Nerida Anderson, raised on the reserve and returning there after a period working in the city as a book-keeper. Her attempts to foster improvement on the reserve are greeted angrily by the reserve manager, who attempts to have Nerida and her family tried for treason; ultimately, Nerida incites a successful walkout.
'Lo-Arna' (set in the 1980s) focuses on 18-year-old Ann Cutler's discovery that she is not of French Polynesian descent as she believed, but actually the biological daughter of her adoptive father and Alice Wilson, an Indigenous Australian woman from a nearby town, prompting her to reconsider her relationship with her adoptive parents and with her own identity.
Moran notes of the series as a whole that 'Although each of the four episodes of Women of the Sun is self-contained, nevertheless, taken together the episodes powerfully suggest what 200 years of white contact has done to Aboriginal society'.
'A young boy befriends an Aboriginal man and a pelican. One day he is forced to choose between his beloved companions and the often cruel outside world.'
Source: Screen Australia.