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Showing posts from June, 2009

Reading women's scripts

A while ago, I wrote an article about how it’s harder for New Zealand women to make feature films than it is for men. And I discussed how having women as script assessors and decision-makers appears not to help women filmmakers. And how I came to realise that I, too, tended to favour men’s work (as I also wrote here). The editor took those bits out and I wondered: Is this reality sometimes too hard to acknowledge?

I also invented two ‘Queen Bees’ for Development-the-movie, powerful women in the industry who privilege men. Readers from the radio broadcasting, television, and film sectors recognise these characters immediately. And some women say to me, about scenes I invented: “I didn’t tell you that story. It’s my story. Who told you? How could you use it?”

The Queen Bees and I are not alone in privileging men’s projects, so I've been thrilled to read some recent public discussion about this. Last week, Ela Thier wrote in Women & Hollywood, within a post about her own difficulti…

NZFF again

So what else will I go to in the New Zealand International Film Festival, for sure (along with the Animation For Kids programme and the twelve animated films in Animation Now 2009, selected from a gob-smacking 2,300 entries)? Some years I get too many tickets and the rush to the next film gets in the way of absorbing the last one. Amazing that the festival starts in Auckland 9 July and travels round. Then ends in Whangarei 25 November. Do tourists come here for it, I wonder.

I'll be there for The Strength of Water written by Briar Grace-Smith—until now best known as as a playwright—and directed by Armagan Ballantyne. I've been waiting for a film written by a Maori woman since Once Were Warriors (1994) written by Riwia Brown. I think we need lots of them. There's a group of Barry Barclay films in the festival, and I'm remembering what he wrote, ages ago: “We shall get to know what a Maori film is when we get a chance to make more films”. Just as we'll know more abo…

NZFF's must-see art movies (for me, anyway)

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Seraphine, because Seraphine de Senlis is a 'forgotten' woman painter and they always interest me. Louise Bourgeois: The Spider, the Mistress and the Tangerine because her work fascinates me; and I'm always especially happy when women make films about women artists (this time Marion Cajori—who died in 2006 and who made the wonderful Joan Mitchell: Portrait of an Abstract Painter, and Amei Wallach).

The Man in the Hat about Wellington art dealer Peter McLeavy, have always had a soft spot for him. He has always supported women artists, one of those quietly feminist men, and I like his intrinsic elegance.

Bright Star Alert; & Matariki

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Sometimes 140 characters can say a whole lot. This Tweet from melsil (Women & Hollywood) on Friday:
Bright Star was one of the most emotional and fulfilling films I have seen in a long, long time. That Abbie Cornish can really act. Amazing.And then I finished work for the day (a couple of thousand thesis words and a pruned apple tree) & went in search of a New Zealand Film Festival catalogue. Got the last one downstairs at the public library, then the last one upstairs (for a mate who gets out even less than I do). Took them home and found that Bright Star will open the festival on 17 July. Great.

Bright Star has a lovely production scrapbook. It reminds me of an Advent calendar, lots of little windows that open to surprises and pleasures, some photographs in satisfying black and white. And it's winter solstice, & I've had an email about Matariki, the Pleiades. Matariki rose in our sky a little while ago. So Bright Star and a kind of Advent calendar are just the thi…

Open Letter from a Woman Director

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In today's Women & Hollywood, there's an open letter from director Ela Thier (pictured). Her story's so familiar; it could have come from New Zealanders I've spoken with. Good on her.

Development-the-movie producer Erica and I have formulated our dream:

Imagine… a world where women write and direct half of all movies.
And New Zealand does it first. Just like women’s suffrage.

(And we were encouraged the other day when we saw Jane Campion at the Cannes press conference for Bright Star, talking about New Zealand being first to have women's suffrage.)

I so hope that Peter Jackson's review of the Film Commission will help our dream come true.

Peter Jackson to head Film Commission review: Only in New Zealand

It could only happen here. It's extraordinary, wonderful news. Instead of an earnest contract worker with a tired agenda—always a possibility—we get a distinguished local filmmaker who has criticised the Film Commission AND no longer needs it to fund his films. Here's the press release. I'll write about the Terms of Reference as soon as I have my head around them. At first glance, there's nothing specific about gender, but various places where it can be considered.
Oscar award winning director and producer Peter Jackson will lead a ministerial review of the New Zealand Film Commission to ensure it is best able to serve the needs of the local industry and community, Minister for Arts Culture and Heritage Christopher Finlayson announced today.

“National promised a review of the New Zealand Film Commission during last year’s election campaign,” Mr Finlayson said. “The act was passed over 30 years ago, and during that time the face of the local film industry has changed dram…

The Insatiable Moon

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I've been avidly following Mike Riddell's blog about The Insatiable Moon, a feature film based on his novel—the wonderful story of Arthur, boarding house resident. I love reading about another New Zealander's development processes and I've especially enjoyed Mike's blog because he seems so upfront and courageous. A great case study for every New Zealander wanting to make a feature, and probably for others as well.
And his project's especially close to home today because Mike hopes that as well as telling a great story, The Insatiable Moon will help reduce the stigma of psychiatric illness. And yesterday, a couple of mates sat at my kitchen table talking about their family members who'd been through the psychiatric 'system'; and I had a long letter from another mate who has post traumatic stress disorder. So when I saw that The Insatiable Moon needs a bit more money and Mike's set up a page at GiveALittle I wanted to help. Maybe you do, too.

The …

Returning us imaginatively to the event of violation, & allowing it to affect us

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Thank you Yoko Ono. I found details about this exhibition on her Imagine Peace website. Off the Beaten Path will open at the Stenersen Museum in Oslo next week. (And thanks, Twitter, for pointing me to Imagine Peace.)

The exhibition document says that the Art Gallery of Wellington New Zealand is one of the 'target galleries'. Is this Te Papa, or the Wellington City Gallery?


In the meantime, it's possible to take a virtual tour of the exhibition.

The curator, Randy Jayne Rosenberg, writes: When we encounter violence against women, we often experience a kind of blindness... The stories that underlie these artworks by 32 artists from around the world return us imaginatively to the event of violation and allow it to affect us. I've just been reading a report on my second draft of Development-the-movie, and trying work out what I still need to change. I want the audience to be deeply engaged with and moved by the story and the characters who live in it. And part of that means …

Seraphine

Been getting Tweets about a French film called Seraphine, about a woman painter. It looks beautiful. Hope it gets here soon. "Have you ever been in love?" someone asks Seraphine. "A painter," she responds, "loves differently."

Earth Whisperers/Papatuanuku

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Earth Whisperers/ Paptuanuku is about to open, down the road at the Paramount. I found the Earth Whisperers flier there the other evening when I went to Shamim Sarif's I Can't Think Straight (I'm such a sucker for rom coms, and this was different than any rom com I've ever seen, really enjoyed it, in an almost full theatre, on a very cold night).

And then I found that the Earth Whisperers/ Paptuanukudirector is Kathleen Gallagher, a poet and playwright whose work I loved in the past, but someone I haven't seen or heard of for ages.

And then I found a website, full of details about her other films: He Oranga He Oranga: Healing Journeys about people with cancer, Caed Mile Failte: A 100,000 Welcomes about Villa Maria, a Sisters of Mercy school in Christchurch, A Peaceful Pacific about a peace conference in Christchurch in 2004, and Tau te Mauri/ The Breath of Peace.

According to the website:
Tau Te Mauri/ The Breath of Peace tells the story of of effort towards global pea…