Thursday, November 24, 2011

Make My Movie, Gynophobia & Mavericks

This is the year for the female mavericks to get the same treatment as their brothers

In New Zealand there’s a new competition for feature films, called Make My Movie. The winner receives $100,000 and makes a movie. As a first step, participants submitted posters for their movies online, with a synopsis, and filled in a few more details, some in relation to the participants’ track records, from memory. One detail requested was ‘age’, which I questioned. The competition needed to know that entrants were over 18, but because of the potential for age discrimination it seemed more appropriate to ask entrants to state that they were over 18.** Twelve finalists were selected, from around 750.

Anyway, I became interested when I saw that the project's writer's name was the only personal name that appeared online with each submission. Aha, I thought, what a great way to find out more about the range of New Zealand women screenwriters. How many are there? So I started at the very beginning, alphabetically, and went to the 43rd entry. Enough to tell me that the numbers of women weren’t great and that there was a relatively high proportion of entrants using initials and/or pseudonyms. So I stopped counting and went on to other things.

Then, this week, someone forwarded me this email, from a woman I did not know:
Hi, just wondering if there have been any comments regarding the final selection in the Make My Movie competition? All but one of the final movie pitches are written by men for men. A simple scan of the many submissions will prove that there are many, many great ideas from men and women so I can't imagine that there could be a 'the women just didn't have the best ideas' argument. I'd love to know if there were any women on judging panel. If this were just a bunch of privately funded guys choosing movies that guys might want to see, then, fine. But this is a competition sponsored by NZFC, NZ on Air and the NZ Herald. One would think that the selection would be more representative of the country's talent as a whole, not just the writers but the protagonists in the stories.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Women and the Documentary Feature Academy Award short list (& the rest!)

Five docos that women directed or co-directed are among the fifteen films short-listed for the Documentary Feature category of the 2012 Academy Awards. Warm congratulations to all these women!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

At Circle's End

We have lovely neighbours. Madeline McNamara is one of them. A writer, director, actor. Her current gig, for Voice Arts Trust, is At Circle’s End: The Drama of Death from Diverse Perspectives. Part of the Death and Diversity programme at Museum of Wellington City and Sea, At Circle’s End explores death and dying, grief, mourning and lamentation, in a celebration of diversity and sameness, and of life. And to create this unique production, Madeline’s worked with a group of strangers, diverse in culture, faith, age and performance experience. There will be six 40-minute performances only:

7pm Friday 18 November
3pm Saturday 19 November
3pm Sunday 20 November
7pm Friday 25 November
3pm Saturday 26 November
3pm Sunday 27 November.

Entry is by koha/donation. Limited seating, booking is essential: call 472 8904.
If you saw Madeline’s Demeter’s Dark Ride (nominated for Most Original Production of the Year in the Chapman Tripp Awards that year) you’ll realise that At Circle’s End explores similar themes and imagine that you’re in for a powerful experience.

You may also remember Madeline from the Development trailer, as Viv, down on the Oriental Bay beach, explaining how a screenplay works. In Development, Viv’s the filmmaker who in late middle-age still hasn’t resolved a key issue for many women filmmakers: how to manage her work, motherhood, and an intimate domestic relationship.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Gaylene Preston, Barbara Hammer, & Briar March

Mary Wiles at Canterbury University edited this beautiful catalogue (34pp) for Gaylene's recent retrospective at Te Papa Museum of New Zealand. It's a great overview of Gaylene's documentaries and biographical drama. I loved reading Keri Hulme's memories of being filmed by Gaylene, Mary Wiles' interview with Gaylene and Deborah Shepard's, Bruce Harding's and Paul Sutorius' contributions.

The catalogue also includes a filmography I made as part of my archival work for Gaylene, with a wee reference to Corinn Columpar and Sophie Mayer's There She Goes: Feminist Filmmaking and Beyond, which helped me articulate how Gaylene can be understood as a feminist auteur. And I'm thrilled that by accident the filmography associates me with Gender & Women's Studies at Victoria University of Wellington, where the lovely lecturers made space for the work on Gaylene's archive, waaaay back in 2003: it was such a supportive and generous and life-and-work enhancing place, thanks to Alison Laurie, Lesley Hall, Lorna Kanavatoa and Prue Hyman. And it's so sad that it's no longer there.

You can order your very own copy of the catalogue for only NZ$20: from Mary Wiles: mary.wiles[at], or from Gaylene herself: the1[at]

There's a rumour that the retrospective may reach Auckland. I wish it could travel outside New Zealand as well.


The finalists for the IDA Documentary Awards have been announced. It's wonderful to see that Barbara Hammer's Maya Deren's Sink, has been nominated. Barbara's life and work have inspired a generation of queer, feminist, and avant-garde artists and filmmakers, and this interview, courtesy Museum of Modern Art, New York, illustrates just how inspiring she is.