|White Lies: Tuakiri Huna: the book|
The film has also generated a book. It includes three versions of the story – a new White Lies novella from Witi Ihimaera, the original novella, and Dana Rotberg's script. There are also stills from the film, an introduction from South Pacific Pictures' John Barnett ('John' although I don't know him) explaining how he met Dana Rotberg and gave her a Witi Ihimaera collection to read, notes from Dana and from Witi Ihimaera, a thoughtful collection of acknowledgements from Dana and a full list of cast and crew. For me, it was a solid, fascinating read.
But today, I want to focus on two elements of the book, the Acknowledgments and the Introduction.
I often hear or read that if women are in a majority (on a selection committee, say) or in charge (of a gatekeeping function), things will improve for women artists of various kinds, including scriptwriters and directors for film and television. And every time I read that, I sigh. Because that hasn't been my experience. Most of those who've advocated for me and my own work have been men. Many of those I've observed advocating for women storytellers, as storytellers, have been men. There are a few notable exceptions, but as women, we're all socialised to support golden boys and stories about men. And within institutions we tend to become part of the patriarchy. This is often necessary, to survive. Some of us bring resistance with us, are highly resilient and strongly supported and may be able to sustain our resistance. Others don't and aren't and can't.
I also sigh when organisation-speak – ‘career’, ‘mentorship’, ‘networking’ – and its associated paradigms dominate discussions about how to ensure that more work by and about women reaches screen audiences. I sigh at their primary focus on paid work, including circumstances where individuals, organisations and systems withhold appropriate payment from artists, in the contexts referred to in this poster, in internships and through illegal downloading.