The New Zealand Film Awards, the Moas, have announced this year's nominations.
To some extent, the list's a celebration of New Zealand women's writing and directing talent and of stories about women. Four of the five nominees for Best Documentary Director are women and two of their stories are about women, Gardening With Soul and Finding Mercy. Three of the five nominees for Best Short Film Screenplay are women and two of the nominees for Best Short Film. And two of the nominees for Best (Feature) Screenplay are women.
But there's no woman-directed film in the Best (Feature) Film category. No woman director nominated as Best Director.
The New Zealand Film Commission’s (NZFC) gender policy failure means that Dana Rotberg’s White Lies is – I think – the only 2013-released New Zealand feature film about women which has a woman writer and director. And now, although it has eleven nominations in other categories – more nominations than two of the Best Picture/Best Director nominees and the same number as a third one – White Lies is excluded from both the Best Picture and Best Director lists. How did Whirimako Black, nominated as Best Actress for her first film role, and Antonia Prebble, nominated as Best Supporting Actress, do their work so well, if not directed by Dana Rotberg? How did the cinematographer, editor and composer – each nominated in his category – do so well, if not for their collaboration with the director?
Like all behaviours – private or public – that help silence women's voices, New Zealand’s ongoing failure to treasure feature films (and other art works) by and about women is, I believe, a significant – and usually unacknowledged – issue for discussion within the #rapeculture debate. #rapeculture doesn't value the integrity of women’s bodies, minds and spirits. And nor does the culture that fails to attract, fund, support and celebrate diverse feature films that women write and direct, alongside those that men write and direct.
With that out of the way, warm congratulations–
To the two women among the five nominees for Apex Insurance Best Screenplay– Dana Rotberg for White Lies and Sophie Henderson for Fantail. Fantail has a woman protagonist, played by Sophie herself, and was produced within the NZFC’s low-budget Escalator programme. It has eight nominations in all, including Best Director and Best Film and Best Actress for Sophie Henderson – is this the first time someone has been nominated as Best Actress and for Best Screenplay?
To the women nominated for Villa Maria Best Actress– Whirimako Black (White Lies, here's a lovely Kate Rodger interview with her where she talks about working with Dana Rotberg); Angelina Cottrell (The Weight of Elephants); Miriama Smith (Mt Zion); Xzannjah (Mr. Pip).
To the women nominated for Mili Pictures Best Supporting Actress– Antonia Prebble (White Lies, also interviewed by Kate Rodger, here); Catherine Wilkin (The Weight Of Elephants); Laura Peterson (Shopping); Healesville Joel (Mr. Pip); Amy Usherwood (Eternity)
To all these women among the five nominees in their categories–
Zoe McIntosh, director of the The Deadly Ponies Gang, for the Nikon Best Self-Funded Film
Ginny Loane (Shopping) and Sophia Olsson (The Weight of Elephants), for the Niche Cameras Best Cinematography – great to see TWO women nominated!
Annie Collins (Shopping) and Molly Marlene Stensgaard (The Weight of Elephants), for Mandy Best Editor
Mahuia Bridgman Cooper (Fantail) for APRA Best Score (waiting for a woman nominee in APRA Best Sound!)
Ngila Dickson (Mr. Pip); Morgan Albrecht (Romeo and Juliet: A Love Song); Lucy McLay (Shopping); Tracey Collins (White Lies) for Rodney Wayne Best Costume Design
Celeste Strewe (Crackheads); Hil Cook, Ange Duncan, Lea Hoare and Natalie Henderson (Fresh Meat); Amber D (Giselle); Abby Collins, Yolanda Bartram, Vee Gulliver, Andrew Beattie and Main Reactor (White Lies) for M.A.C Best Makeup Design Hair and Makeup
Haley Williams (Romeo and Juliet: A Love Song); Kirsty Cameron (The Weight of Elephants); Tracey Collins (White Lies) for Regional Film Offices NZ Best Production Design
Aidee Walker (Friday Tigers); Catherine Bisley (Wide Eyed) for AUT Best Short Film (there’s some interesting analysis to be made re the nominees for this and for the #nzff and Show Me Shorts Best Short Film awards)
Aidee Walker (Friday Tigers); Lauren Jackson (I'm Going to Mum's); and Catherine Bisley (Wide Eyed) for NZ Herald Online Best Short Film Screenplay
Ruth Korver, producer (The Sleeping Plot) for Event Cinemas Best Self-Funded Short Film (A terrific 48-Hours film, remember it?)
Rachel Nicholls (Blind Mice); Aidee Walker (Friday Tigers); Narelle Ahrens (I’m Going To Mum’s); Kayte Ferguson (Morepork); Nova Waretini-Hewison (The Sleeping Plot), for Allpress Best Short Film Actress
(Special congratulations to Aidee Walker, nominated as writer and actor for Friday Tigers, and nominated for best film!)
Brighde Riddell (The Last Stop - Makeup and hair) for Media Design School Best Technical Contribution to a Short Film
Robyn Patterson, Leanne Pooley (Finding Mercy); Vicky Pope and Jess Feast (Gardening with Soul); Annie Goldson and Kay Ellmers (He Toki Huna: NZ in Afghanistan) for Telecom Business Hubs Best Documentary
Robyn Patterson (Finding Mercy); Jess Feast (Gardening with Soul); Annie Goldson and Kay Ellmers (He Toki Huna: NZ in Afghanistan); Leanne Pooley (Beyond The Edge) for Canon Best Documentary Director
Ari Wegner (Gardening with Soul, with Gareth Moon and Hamish Waterhouse) for PLS Best Documentary Cinematography
Annie Collins (Gardening with Soul); Annie Goldson and James Brown (He Toki Huna: NZ in Afghanistan), for Lotech Best Documentary Editor (Annie Collins' nominations for both feature and documentary editing are pretty amazing!)
And special congratulations to all the women who wrote and/or directed episodes of the nominations for NZ On Air Best Television Feature or Drama Series, and who acted in them and crewed for them: Harry; The Almighty Johnsons; The Blue Rose; Top of the Lake.