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NZ Update #12: Everything's Gonna Be All Right?

Look at these two! Our Prime Minister and our distinguished filmmaker and global advocate for women filmmakers meet, at last week's SPADA (Screen Production and Development Association) conference. Look at their pleasure in each other. Their body language. Their close attention.

AotearoaNZ Prime Minister Jacinda Arden meets Dame Jane Campion

For me, this meeting is a significant turning point in the movement to gender equity in the allocation of public money for screen storytelling. The first one was at 2015's Big Screen Symposium, when Chelsea Cohen – with support from other Māori women – spoke out  about the need to allocate New Zealand Film Commission funding equally to women and men. Our first woman writer/director/producer to do this publicly. Her courage made it safer for others to follow her example.

So: what might this Jacinda-And-Jane meeting mean?

The new government has already announced its commitment to pay equity and I think we can now be confident that gender equity will infuse screen production. I think we can also be confident that Jacinda will be guided by Dame Jane, among others. O Whew. And O Wow.

But that's not all. According to reports – can't find a full text – in her SPADA opening address the Prime Minister – also Minister for Arts, Culture & Heritage – promised that the government will focus on the arts over the next two years, as part of broader policy planks addressing poverty, accessibility and diversity. What could be better? And there was more. This focus will, she stated, include a 10-year industry strategy and although it was important to acknowledge that the industry contributed $1 billion to GDP in 2015, the economic contribution should never be the primary focus: as long as we're constrained by the boundaries of a platform driven by commercial imperatives, we are not being as courageous as storytellers as we could be. O Whew and O Wow. Again.

After Jacinda spoke, Dame Jane delivered the NZ On Air John O’Shea Memorial Address, with John O'Shea's granddaughter Molly O'Shea as a special guest. She spoke about industry exploitation of women and referred to today's 'fairytale time' as women unite to speak up against sexual harassment and violence and men listen.

"Women are being believed and the men fired. This is breathtaking. I have never seen anything like this solidarity and call to action in my life," she said.

"The more we speak out, the less it will happen." (She worked with Harvey Weinstein and fell out with him while directing Holy Smoke in 1999, but did not know the extent of his behaviour.)

Those two speeches would have been plenty for one week, one year. But there's more. Another major turning point.

Women's Hui re Industry Culture Change Around Harassment

In the New Year there will be a Women’s Hui, set up by a group of women in the industry for women in the industry, to address practical steps in an industry culture change around harassment. This too is big big news and I'm excited that the women organising it have the skills and experience to make sure it'll be a superb and safe event, with excellent outcomes. No details yet but stay tuned.

These turning points combine with this year's third major turning point, Waru – the first feature written and directed by Māori women since Merata Mita's Mauri in 1988 – to make 2017 a truly stellar year.  

In case you missed it, Waru made its international debut at the Toronto Film Festival, opened the world’s largest indigenous film festival imagineNATIVE, and won Best Feature Film Screenplay at the SWANZ awards. If you haven’t seen Waru yet, look out for it. It’s affecting people deeply and is still moving around New Zealand and still travelling to festivals around the world. And it’s also truly special because it provides a new model in the way it was made, with mutual support among the writers/directors and with the filmmakers’ children around (see here, in the Building Our Own House section): that model, along with some women’s web series' working models, is now established as a reference point for gender equity advocates and for that women’s hui. 

And Waru’s off to Aussie.Here's that info: 'Thanks to the team at Demand Film, Waru will be having one off screenings on Monday 11th December at these cinemas! Head to the website and reserve your tickets. If you would like to set up a screening local to your area, also head to the website and select 'Host a Screening' to find out how.'

More about Waru here (the nine writers and directors speaking at the Big Screen Symposium in 2016) and here and here and here and here and here: every interview with the filmmakers has been so good and I bet there are more that I've missed.

Thanks to these beautiful things, I'm once again optimistic that Everything's Gonna Be All Right.

Finally, it's the awards time of year, always exciting. And women are doing so so well. We're doing other thrilling things, too, like making more commercials.

SPADA Awards

Here are the women who won at the SPADA conference.

The Candle Wasters with their win

The Candle Wasters – Claris Jacobs, Elsie Bollinger, Minnie Grace, Robbie Nicol, and Sally Bollinger – picked up the New Filmmaker of the Year award for their based-on-Shakespeare web series Nothing Much To Do and Lovely Little Losers, the Candle Wasters earlier this year released an original lesbian musical rom-com Happy Playland and are returning to the Bard as they crowdfund for Tragicomic. The SPADA Award delivers the Candle Wasters $20,000 worth of post services from Park Road, which I understand they'll use for Tragicomic.

In the SPP Big Pitch competition Emma Schranz was a joint winner for Black Widows.

Emma Schranz and Dame Jane at SPADA
And the SPADA Independent Producer of the Year award went to Kerry Warkia and Kiel McNaughton of Brown Sugar Apple Grunt (BSAG), producers of Waru. BSAG is also known for TV show Find Me A Maori Bride and web series Nia’s Extra Ordinary Life and (with Millen Baird) Auckland Daze and Darryl: an Outward Bound Story. Kerry was also a producer for Roseanne Liang’s Flat 3 and EP on Roseanne's Friday Night Bites.

Kiel McNaughton and Kerry Warkia
A bit earlier, there were the NZ Webfest Awards.

#NZWF17 Awards

NZ Factual Nominees
Kirsty Griffin, Viv Kernick Amy Street  winner Best Director and Best Show (tied)
Paula Jones He Ao Kotahi: Pai In Palestine
Lanita Ririnui-Ryan, Ngatapa Black Poi – Hopes And Dreams winner Best Show (tied)

Best Ensemble Nominees
Auckward Love written by Jess Sayer, Emmett Skilton & Holly Shervey
Bright Summer Night The Candle Wasters
Friday Night Bites writer/director Roseanne Liang (tied winner)

Best Actress Nominees
Holly Shervey Auckward Love (winner)
Luci Hare Auckward Love
Neenah Dekkers-Reihana Happy Playland
Thomasin McKenzie Lucy Lewis Can’t Lose

Best Director (NZ Narrative) Nominees
Elsie Bollinger, Sally Bollinger Happy Playland 
Roseanne Liang Friday Night Bites

Best Show (NZ Narrative) Nominees
Auckward Love
Friday Night Bites
Happy Playland

Jury Award 
Poi – Hopes and Dreams (cinematography)


No roundup can be complete without reference to Jean, a teledrama about aviator Jean Batten, written and produced by Lippy Pictures: Donna Malane and Paula Boock.

Jean won won nine awards at the New York Festival's (NYF) Best TV & Film Awards including five golds: Best Performance by an Actress (Kate Elliott), Best Original Music/Lyrics (Peter Hobbs, Harmonic) and Best Camerawork (Ginny Loane) in the Television – Craft: Program category, plus TV Movie, and Drama Special in the Television – Entertainment Special Program category.

Jean also took four silver medals in the Television – Craft: Program category, for Best Direction (Robert Sarkies), Best Screenplay (Paula Boock & Donna Malane), Best Sound Design (Chris Burt, Inside Track), and Best Special Visual Effects (Peter McCully, Albedo).

And then Donna and Paula won Best One-Off TV Drama for their Jean script, at the NZ Script Writer Awards.

Some of the Jean winners at NZTV Craft Awards: Donna fourth from left and Paula far right 

And now Jean has won eight awards at the NZTV Craft Awards, three of them for women: Ginny Loane for Best Cinematography, Kirsty Cameron for Best Costume Design and Susie Glass for Best Makeup Design. There may be more to come too, later this week, at a big gala for the other NZTV awards.

Script to Screen's Story Camp Aotearoa

Three women will join six men at Story Camp Aotearoa – a wonderful initiative – this year. They are–

Lisa Cherrington (Ngāti Hine, Ngāpuhi), a published novelist, scriptwriter and clinical psychologist of Māori, Niuean and Pākehā descent. In 2004, Lisa had her first novel published, The People's Faces with Huia publishers. In 2013, she completed her Masters in the IIML Creative Writing Scriptwriting course at Victoria University. She won the inaugural Brad McGann Best Film Script Award from Victoria University for her feature length film script. In 2013, Lisa also won the Huia Publishers Pikihuia Award for Best Short Film Script in English for Maitu's Luck. Lisa has a number of other writing projects she is continuing to work on including her feature film script All Mixed Up, her first play and two short films.

Rochelle Bright, a writer and alumni of Tisch, New York University. She has been a Michael King writer in residence, as well a resident artist with the American Lyric Theatre. Her gig-theatre work Daffodils received a Scotsman Fringe First Award while playing at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh. In 2017, Rochelle with director David Stubbs (KHF Media) and songwriter Stephanie Brown (LIPS) are adapting Daffodils into a feature film script, in development with Libertine Pictures, Transmission Films and NZFC. She is co-director of theatre company Bullet Heart Club with Kitan Petkovski and has two feature scripts in development.

Writer/director Yamin Tun was the New Zealand film industry’s SPADA New Filmmaker of the Year 2016. She won the Madman Entertainment Jury Prize for best short film and the Wallace Filmmaking Achievement Award at the New Zealand International Film Festivals 2016 for her short film Wait. Wait also won the NZFC Special Jury Prize at Show Me Shorts 2016. Yamin is currently developing three feature film projects as writer-director. The Teak and the Cloth was selected for Story Camp 2016. Yamin has also been selected to international mentorship opportunities, including FilmUp in 2016 with mentor Rolf de Heer, and to Telluride Film Festival by Film Finances Inc in 2013. Yamin is a graduate of the University of Oxford in Philosophy, Politics & Economics and an arthouse cinephile since age six.


For a long time, women directors didn't get many opportunities to direct commercials, although Christine Jeffs and Sima Urale have made them from way back and Zia Mandviwalla works for Finch. But it seems there are now more. Earlier this year, I interviewed Loren Taylor about her commercials (among other things). And two new commercials, directed by multi-hyphenates who also act in them are just amazing. Here's Rachel House's (more info here) and then Zoë Bell's (more here), which also features a performance by Rachel; they're both attached to Curious Film.


Lauren Porteous: Winner!
Actor/director (New Zealand does them so well, and they're often writers and producers too!) Lauren Porteus has become the first woman director to win big at the HP48Hours filmmaking competition. It was a trifecta for her and her team, Cool Story Bro. Their film, Under The Bridge, was crowned Grand Champion and Lauren won both of the awards for directing – Best Director and the Gaylene Preston/WIFT Award for Best Female Director.

Lauren also won the Best Female Director Award last year with The Morning After, and last month she won the Show Me Shorts Best Screenplay award for Motel.



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