Skip to main content

Highlights

I'm delighted that Jane Campion's now Dame Jane. Here are my other local highlights from 2015. What have I missed?


Those who spoke out in support of gender equity in allocation of film funding



Karin Williams, Briar Grace-Smith, Libby Hakaraia, Chelsea Winstanley at the Big Screen Symposium (photo: @multinesia on tumblr)
This is undoubtedly the highlight of my ten years' thinking and writing about this issue, as well as of 2015. First, at the annual Big Screen Symposium, producer/director  Chelsea Winstanley made  unequivocal statements about the need for gender equity in New Zealand Film Commission's allocation of taxpayer funding.


Huge respect to Chelsea, the first high-flying New Zealand woman director/ producer to speak up publicly and staunchly on this issue, except for Dame Jane. May others join her in 2016.

Then two men directors spoke out, writer/director Jonathan King and actor/writer/director Jemaine Clement. The first I noticed was Jemaine, in support of the Australian Directors Guild's call for gender equity.
And then Jonathan King let me know that he supported gender equity too–


Niki Caro



On set: The Zookeeper's Wife
Best known as director of Whale Rider and North Country, 'our' Niki Caro directed this year's McFarland, USA (not yet released in New Zealand). It is 57 on Box Office Mojo's 2015 Box Office Results, has grossed almost $45m and is one of only five women-directed films this high on the list. The others are Fifty Shades of Grey (16); Pitch Perfect 2 (12); The Intern (57); and Jupiter Ascending (54).  That's pretty amazing.


But I was even more excited by Jessica Chastain's account of life on set with The Zookeeper's Wife, also directed by Niki, published in The Hollywood Reporter
I'm in Prague filming a movie called The Zookeeper's Wife with director Niki Caro. I can't tell you — it's amazing. I've never been on a set with so many women. We're not even 50 percent of the crew — we're probably something like 20 percent women and 80 percent men — but it's way more than I've ever worked with on a film before. There are female producers (Diane Levin, Kim Zubick and Katie McNeill), a female screenwriter (Angela Workman), a female novelist (Diane Ackerman), a female protagonist and a female director. I've never seen a female camera operator like Rachael Levine on one of my films. And I've never, ever seen a female stunt coordinator like Antje "Angie" Rau.
Niki Caro hasn't spoken up about gender equity in the allocation of taxpayer film funding and I so wish she – and others – would. But it's great to see her doing so well outside New Zealand and supporting women who work in film.

Programmes that embraced diversity & achieved high levels of participation and achievement by women


These programmes provided models for others. Take note, New Zealand Film Commission. Take note, 48Hours competition!
Inspiring Stories' Making a Difference (entries now open for 2016!) 
The Outlook For Someday 
K' Road Stories 

Pot Luck – New Zealand's first lesbian webseries




It's great, written and directed by Ness Simons.

More women-directed films in cinemas


I think  we're seeing more women-directed films in our cinemas and that's ace. It's felt almost-normal to be able to watch one woman-directed feature after another, down the road at the Paramount or elsewhere. Just before the holidays,  it was Jocelyn Moorhouse's The Dressmaker, that I intended to follow with Leslye Headland's Sleeping With Other People. But I needed space to reflect on The Dressmaker, so I didn't. I still find distribution mysterious: why has Gina Prince-Bythewood's Beyond the Lights not reached New Zealand, for instance? And McFarland, USA?

Film Fatales arrives


Film Fatales 'is a global network of women filmmakers who meet regularly to mentor each other, share resources, collaborate on projects and build a supportive community in which to make their films'. Itwas founded in New York and now there's a Wellington chapter. A big thank you to Anita Ross for taking the initiative.

Alyx Duncan's The Tide Keeper





This short film has travelled all over and won many awards. But perhaps most significantly, it won coveted Lightbox Best Film Award at New Zealand's Show Me Shorts and this made Alyx eligible to enter The Tide Keeper into the 2017 Oscars®. Fingers crossed she'll do that.

Alison Maclean is back here, with The Rehearsal!



What a thrill that Alison came back to direct Eleanor Catton's first novel, The Rehearsal, after writing the screenplay with Emily Perkins, best known as a novelist


I don't know when The Rehearsal will be released, but am looking forward to it. And a whole lot of other things in 2016.

Thank *You*!

A big thank you to all of you who've supported my work this year, as interviewees and contributors, in emails and in Facebook 'likes' and conversations, through tweets (@LittleFairyFilm wins the most supportive tweets award!), through messages and phone calls and in meetings. You're always a highlight. I love knowing that you're out there reading this and am always especially touched when you tell me you find something useful, tell me I'm mistaken, share your stories with me. Every good wish to you for 2016!



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

NZ Update #13: The Brilliance of Molly O'Shea

John O'Shea of Pacific Films is a legend in the film history of Aotearoa New Zealand. He died in 2001, aged 81. His daughter Kathy O'Shea, who died in 2010, was a legendary editor. And his grand-daughter, filmmaker Molly, gave this year's John O'Shea Memorial Address at the annual conference of New Zealand's Screen Production & Development Association (SPADA).

The address would be 'delivered by Dame Jane Campion and special guest', according to the SPADA programme. And what a special guest Molly was.

Her address is an instant feminist classic. Just brilliant. Wherever you live, if you want to persuade someone to give women filmmakers a go, entertain and inform them with this clip.
I hope that some of those producers who gave Molly a standing ovation then seized the opportunity to ask to read her pilot script, described by Jane Campion as 'incredible'. Go Molly! I can't wait to see your work.





Saving Mr. Disney: A Lesbian Perspective By Carolyn Gage

To stay focused when I'm writing intensively, I go to the movies in the afternoons. It's a kind of meditation that includes the walk down the hill to the cinema and back up again afterwards. And a few weeks ago, I saw three women-directed movies in three days: Rama Burshtein's Fill The Void, Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette's Inch'Allah and Nicole Holofcener's Enough Said. Maybe things have changed, I thought to myself, ever optimistic. But I also noticed that men wrote and directed Catching Fire, from a novel by a woman, about a young woman and produced by a woman. And then I read Vocativ's analysis of 2013's 50 top-grossing US releases. This shows that almost half were Bechdel Test-passing films and that they did better at the US box office than those that weren't. BUT except for Frozen, which Jennifer Lee co-directed (and wrote) men directed all 50. And then at the weekend, all three of the new releases reviewed in our local paper (with enthusiasm) told s…

NZ Update #3: WIFT New Zealand

This is Part 3 of an NZ Update 4-part series. Part 1 was Gender Breakthrough in New Zealand Film Commission Funding. Part 2 was a letter to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Women, Paula Bennett, about the New Zealand Screen Production Grant. Part 4 is a not-quite-A-Z of New Zealand women directors and some writers.

So how has Women in Film & Television New Zealand (WIFTNZ) responded to the lack of gender parity between women and men who write and direct, in particular the lack of gender parity in allocation of taxpayer funding? For example, does it endorse Telefilm Canada's statement, referred to back in Part 1 and to some extent implicit in the New Zealand Film Commission (NZFC)'s latest Annual Report?–
Based on industry recommendations that these two roles require immediate critical attention, gender parity amongst directors and screenwriters was identified as a priority (emphasis added).The simple answer: No-one Knows For Sure. And because of this, I believe it'…