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Wednesday, 6 December 2023


Production Funding Decisions

The Board approved one application for production financing at the April meeting and a conditional offer has been made to:

The Justice of Bunny King
After making a desperate promise to throw a birthday party for her kids, Bunny, a homeless squeegee queen must break the law to keep her word, but in doing so risks losing her children altogether. Directed by Gaysorn Thavat, produced by Emma Slade and written by Sophie Henderson.

Also approved for production financing at the February Board meeting, and given a conditional offer was: 

Shadow in the Cloud
When Flight Officer Maude Garrett boards a B-17 Flying Fortress, clutching a radio bag with top secret contents, strange happenings begin to occur. There’s more to fear than the tormenting crew and encroaching enemy bombers, as she is terrorized by something lurking within the clouds. Directed by Roseanne Liang and produced by Tom Hern, Brian Kavanaugh-Jones and Kelly McCormick.


Festival News

Ant Timpson's directorial debut feature, Come to Daddy had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in late April, generating positive reviews like this one from Film Threat, with the reviewer calling the film "my favorite horror offering of the year so far."  US rights for the film have been sold to Saban Films with a theatrical release in the territory planned.

Merata: How Mum Decolonised the Screen screened at Hot Docs in Toronto in late April.

Merata: How Mum Decolonised the Screen, Vai and For My Father's Kingdom screened in competition at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival in early May with the Vai and For My Father's Kingdom both receiving Special Jury Awards.

For My Father's Kingdom and Vai will screen at the Seattle International Film Festival in mid- May.

Upcoming festival submission deadlines:

Giffoni Film Festival – Sicily – Deadline May 31 
Toronto International Film Festival, Canada – Standard Deadline May 31
BFI London Film Festival, UK – Standard Deadline May 31
Tokyo International Film Festival, Japan – Deadline May 31
Uppsala International Short Film Festival, Sweden – Deadline May 31
Venice Film Festival, Italy – Deadline June 14
ImagineNATIVE Film Festival, Canada – Deadline June 14
Chicago International Film Festival, USA – Deadline June 17
Venice Days, Italy – Deadline June 21
Valladolid Film Festival, Spain – Deadline July 6
AFI Fest, USA – Final Deadline July 12

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New Zealand Country of Focus at Sydney Film Festival

The programme for the 66th Sydney Film Festival has been released with New Zealand featuring prominently as the Festival's country of focus with eight feature films and six shorts selected this year.

Bellbird, the feature debut for writer/director Hamish Bennett will have its world premiere in Official Competition at the Festival.

Justin Pemberton's documentary Capital in the Twenty-First Century, will also have its world premiere at the Festival in the International Documentary section.

Following its critically acclaimed world premiere at last month's Tribeca Film Festival, Ant Timpson's debut feature Come to Daddy will have its Australasian premiere in the festival’s Freak Me Out and Festival Hits sections.

Also having its Australasian premiere at SFF is The Chills: The Triumph & Tragedy of Martin Phillipps which had its world premiere at SXSW in March.

Following its successful New Zealand release, musical romance Daffodils, will have its international premiere in the Festival Hits section of the festival

The Heart Dances: The Journey of The Piano – the ballet will also have its international premiere in the festival.

Heperi Mita’s Merata: How Mum Decolonised the Screen along with portmanteau film Vai written and directed by nine Pacific Island women will screen in the festival’s First Nations programme.

New Zealand short films, A Matter of Time, Rū and Hinekura will have their world premieres at the festival, along with Australasian premieres for Falling Up, The Gravedigger of Kapu, and Hush.

You can read more about the Sydney Film Festival and the New Zealand focus here, and you can find the full festival programme here.

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Cannes Film Market and Festival 2019

Around 40 New Zealanders will be at the Cannes Film Market this May. 

Daffodils and Merata: How Mum Decolonised the Screen will both screen in the market. Short film, That Which is to Come is Just a Promise will screen in Quinzaine Directors Fortnight. The film is an Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand production with Catherine Fitzgerald the producer for New Zealand.

Nine New Zealand films are screening in Cannes Cinéphiles - Cinéma des Antipodes, features Three Wise Cousins, Goodbye Pork Pie, Pork Pie, Stray and Waru, and short films Tree, Stranger, Run Rabbit and Fire in Cardboard City.

NZFC CEO Annabelle Sheehan, Head of International Relations Chris Payne, Head of Production and Development Leanne Saunders,  Head of Marketing Jasmin McSweeney, and Marketing and Festival Executive Hayley Weston are attending the Cannes Film Market  this year.

The NZFC will be based at Residence L’Imperatrice, 44 la Croisette (next door to the Grand Hotel) from Tuesday 14 May through to 22 May.

If you are going to be in Cannes and have not let us know yet, please email hayleyw@nzfilm.co.nz so we can include you in any planned events.


The Power of Inclusion Summit Coming to New Zealand

The Power of Inclusion will be hosted by the NZFC and Women in Film and Television International (WIFTI), with support from The Walt Disney Studios and take place in Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand on 3 and 4 October 2019.

Tackling the topics of representation, inclusion and belonging in today’s screen, entertainment and technology landscape, the summit will include local and international heavyweights as guests and speakers – an unprecedented event in the Asia-Pacific region.

Announced speakers include New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern who will join keynote speakers, panels and in conversations that include writers and directors Niki Caro and Haifaa Al-Mansour, Charles D. King, MACRO founder & CEO, The Black List founder Franklin Leonard, writer and producer Philippa Boyens, leading expert on social change in media, Dr. Stacy L. Smith, breakthrough actor, film and theatre maker Ana Scotney (Ngāti Tāwhaki), along with the support of Geena Davis and the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.

Through the lens of inclusion, The Power of Inclusion will address core changes enveloping the industry, through the voices of those that are participating in them. Whether it is how distribution models are being disrupted, in what way the boundaries of storytelling are being pushed or how the technology landscape is widening, this summit

Further speakers and full programme to be announced.

You can find out more about the Power of Inclusion Summit including registration here.


NZFC Announces International Co-Development Fund (ICF)

The NZFC announced a boost this month to financial support for New Zealand producers co-developing feature film and series drama projects for international audiences.

Launching July 1, the new International Co-Development Fund (ICF) expands the current Co-Production Development Fund for official feature film co-productions to include the development and/or packaging of series drama official co-productions or series drama projects with market partners such as a sales agent, streaming platform or broadcaster.

New Zealand producers can apply for matched development funding from the ICF for a feature film or series drama project.  The Fund has an annual allocation of NZ$400,000 available on a contestable basis at any time.

Guidelines for the ICF will be available on the NZFC website post-Cannes with applications accepted from 1 July 2019.  


Development Funding Announced for Ten Drama Series from New Zealand

The NZFC has partnered with NZ On Air on the development of ten series ideas with international and domestic appeal.

The initiative, Raupapa Whakaari Drama to the World, will support each writer/producer team to develop distinctive, high-end scripted series with an initial grant of NZ$10,000. Each team will also attend a Series Drama Lab, held in conjunction with Script to Screen, where international advisors will give feedback on story and market to assist the teams to further develop their concepts and strengthen appeal to the international marketplace.

Following the Series Drama Lab and submission of the re-worked projects, four teams will be selected to receive additional development funding of up to NZ$80,000.

The ten successful projects are:

(*Not Her Real Name) 
Pip Hall / Carmen J Leonard / Deborah Cope

All of Me                       
Daniel Musgrove / Natalie Medlock / Shoshana McCallum / Peter Salmon

Chasing Pure               
Carey James Carter / Gavin Strawhan / Rachel Lang / Steven Ivan Zanoski

Roxane Gajadhar / Angela Littlejohn

Drunk Poetry                
Briar Grace-Smith / Victor Rodger / Desray Armstrong

Donna Malane / Paula Boock / Carthew Neal

Hannah Marshall / David de Lautour / Gareth Williams / Kelly Martin

Kath Akuhuta Brown / Greg McGee / Philippa Rennie / Robin Scholes/ Lee Tamahori

The Different Girl        
Alison Maclean / Philippa Campbell

The Harder They Fall   
Matthew Saville / Luke Sharpe / Gerard Johnstone

More information on the teams and projects, can be found here.


Film Teams Selected for Joint Indigenous Initiative Ngā Pouwhenua

The NZFC and Screen Australia are pleased to announce the eight indigenous teams from New Zealand and Australia who will work on a joint anthology feature, entitled Ngā Pouwhenua in New Zealand and Cook 2020: Our Right of Reply in Australia.

The teams will each create a short chapter for the feature film, which will provide an Indigenous perspective on the 250th anniversary of James Cook’s maiden voyage to the Pacific.

Mitchell Stanley (Servant or Slave) and Toni Stowers (development executive at No Coincidence media) from Australia, and Bailey Mackey (All or Nothing; New Zealand All Blacks, associate producer on Hunt for the Wilderpeople) and Mia Henry-Teirney (Baby Mama’s Club) from New Zealand have been chosen as co-producers and will collaborate with the teams to develop their concepts and the overarching narrative.

The teams and producers are attending a four-day development workshop at Shark Island Institute in Australia’s Kangaroo Valley to develop the eight individual concepts into a cohesive, dramatic film.

You can read more about Ngā Pouwhenua and the filmmaking teams here.


In Cinemas

Merata: How Mum Decolonised the Screen
An intimate portrayal of pioneering filmmaker Merata Mita told through the eyes of her children. Using hours of archive footage, some never before seen, her youngest child and director Hepi Mita discovers the filmmaker he never knew and shares the mother he lost, with the world.

Directed by Heperi Mita and produced by Chelsea Winstanley, Merata: How Mum Decolonised the Screen had its international premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January and was released by Rialto Distribution on Mothers' Day (12 May).  You can view the trailer here.

The Chills: The Triumph & Tragedy of Martin Phillipps
The story of lyrical genius, Martin Phillipps and his band, The Chills, is a cautionary tale, a triumph over tragedy, and a statement about the meaning of music in our lives. This intimate portrait follows the eccentric Martin as he reconciles a lifetime’s worth of curious collections, looks back on a catalogue of heavenly pop hits and relives his place in the iconic Flying Nun and Dunedin sound. With a startling sense of humour even in the blackest moments, we bear witness to one man’s universal battle with the fear of failure and the jarring reality of his own mortality.

Directed by Julia Parnell, co-directed by Rob Curry and produced by Nicola Peeperkoorn, Tim Riley and Parnell, The Chills: The Triumph & Tragedy of Martin Phillipps had its world premiere at the SXSW film festival in March and was released in New Zealand cinemas by Madman Entertainment on 2 May. You can view the trailer here.

Daffodils is a bittersweet love story told with beautiful re-imaginings of iconic New Zealand songs.

The film has taken over one million dollars at the New Zealand box office and remains on screen at 30+ cinemas two months after its release.

Of the 150 films released in New Zealand this year Daffodils is  the highest grossing independent (non-studio) film.  The film’s soundtrack also debuted at number one on iTunes NZ.

Written by Rochelle Bright, directed by David Stubbs and produced by Richard Fletcher and Stubbs, Daffodils was released in New Zealand cinemas by Transmission Films on 21 March. You can view the trailer here.

Brown Boys
The Brown Boys spend their weekends drinking, partying and chasing girls. Peter the Player, Kiligi the Bad Influence, Magele the Tough Guy, Luka the Drunken Master, Siaki the Weird Guy and Mickey the Baby - they are a family by blood and by choice. When one of the boys expresses a desire to settle down, it causes reactions among the group that could rupture their bonds of freindship and family forever.

Written and directed by Hans Masoe and produced by Henry Cheng, Levon James-Rawiri, Tania Masoe and Hans Masoe, Brown Boys was released in New Zealand cinemas on 9 May by Rialto Distribution.  You can view the trailer here.

Brown Boys was made with support from the NZFC's Feature Film Finishing Grant.

Locally made feature film, #statusPending, will have its New Zealand premiere at the Embassy Theatre on 21 May.

 #statusPending is directed by and stars Chicago born actor, Ben Zolno. The film examines a day in the life of a Tinder born couple and explores how social media impacts on our behaviour and relationships.

#statusPending is produced by Kelly Kilgour (Chronesthesia) and co-produced by Jane Fletcher.

You can purchase tickets to the premiere here.

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Producer Masterclass hosted by Jon Landau

Join Jon Landau in a 'Producer Masterclass' series where he will share his vast production knowledge and experience with a small group of New Zealand producers.

Held in Wellington over five Saturdays, each of the five sessions, framed as a 'master-conversation' will involve a discussion with Jon, a film screening and a Q&A session.

In line with Eligibility Criteria, the NZFC invites applications from mid-career and experienced producers and line producers with high budget credits. Producers must be able to attend all five sessions to be eligible. Sessions are scheduled to start mid-June. All relevant travel costs will be covered.

Please contact Talent Pathways Manager, Jude McLaren by email or phone 04 894 1959 for further information and to receive an application form.

Applications are due by 5pm Monday 27 May


Catalyst He Kauahi Funding Announcement

Catalyst He Kauahi supports New Zealand filmmakers to progress their talents to the next stage and make exceptional, high end narrative short films that will ignite the flame and be the catalyst for change in their career.

Three teams were offered funding in the February 2019 round. Each project will receive a grant of $90,000 towards their short film, and $10,000 towards development of their feature concept.

Topping Out
Writer: Michael Bennett
Director: Kerry Fox
Producer: Juliet Dowling

When We Were Kids
Writer/Director: Josephine Stewart-Te Whiu
Producer: Sarah Cook

Frankie Jean and the Morning Star
Writer/Director: Hannah Marshall
Producer: Tara Riddell, Gareth Williams

You can read more about the selected projects here.


Asia News

A delegation of nine New Zealand producers and industry representatives attended Hong Kong FILMART / Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum 18-21 March 2019 accompanied by the Head of International Relations, Chris Payne and International Relations Executive, Raymond Suen.

Key Hong Kong activities included meeting with people attatched to  HAFFF projects involving New Zealand’s co-production partners; meeting key sister agencies, platforms and production companies; attending relevant FILMART conference sessions; and a tour of Shaw Studios and briefing session by InvestHK for New Zealand industry.

The Head of International Relations, Chris Payne and Chief Operating Officer, Mladen Ivancic attended the Beijing Film Market (16-19 April 2019) with a focus on strengthening ties with sister agencies for film and television co-production approvals, as well as key recurring production clients  and promoting trilateral activity involving the Japan-China and China-New Zealand co-production treaties.

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New NZIFF Director Announced

The NZFC is pleased to join the New Zealand International Film Festival (NZIFF) in welcoming Marten Rabarts as the new Film Festival Director – Kaiurungi to lead the NZIFF from 2020. Marten is the current head of EYE International at the EYE Film Museum Netherlands. Marten will attend the NZIFF 2019 but won’t commence his position until October 2019.

The NZIFF 2019 line-up has been programmed with significant input from Bill Gosden (who retired at the end of March after 40 years of service), and will be delivered by the existing NZIFF programming team which includes Programme Manager Michael McDonnell and Programmer Sandra Reid.

You can read more about Marten Rabarts and the NZIFF here.


Congratulations Go To...

Fred Renata on receiving the $50,000 Te Apounamu Māori Screen Excellence Award for his work as a cinematographer.

Kath Akahuta-Brown who received a special acknowledgement at the Te Apounamu Māori Screen Excellence Awards for her work as a storyteller, script writer and supporter of the Māori screen industry.

Leo Koziol who also received a special acknowledgement at the Te Apounamu Māori Screen Excellence Awards  in recognition of his work as creator and organiser of the Wairoa Māori Film Festival.

Briar Grace-Smith on her appointment to the Arts Council of New Zealand.

David Stubbs, Rochelle Bright and Richard Fletcher for Daffodils. The film has now taken over $1.1 million at the New Zealand box office and secured a UK theatrical release.

The Chills who received the Grulke Prize for Career Act at the 2019 SXSW Festival in Austin Texas. The band were at the Festival for the world premiere of Julia Parnell's documentary The Chills: The Triumph & tragedy of Martin Phillipps.

Wade Shotter and Jimena Murray, writer-director and producer of I Will Not Write Unless I Am Swaddled in Furs which has been selected for its 40th festival, and received awards including Best Comedy Short at the Jelly Film Festival and Southern Shorts Awards (fall edition), Best Short Film at the Miami Independent Film Festival and Best Adapted Screenplay at the Indie Shorts Fest.

imagineNATIVE Film and Media Arts Festival on its selection as the laureate in the Arts Organisation category of the 2018 Premier's Awards for Excellence in the Arts. These awards recognise artists and arts organisations that strengthen Ontario's vibrant cultural sector.

Kiwi screen sector companies SKYCITY Entertainment, Vista Entertainment and Huhu Studios for their nomination in the NZCTA HSBC China Business Awards 2019. These companies have been recognised for their work creating economic benefits for New Zealand via trade with China.

Dustin Feneley for receiving the award for best feature film with a budget of less than $1 million at the Australian Directors' Guild Awards. The award was for Stray, produced by Desray Armstrong, which had its world premiere at the 2018 Moscow Film Festival.

Whetu Fala as this year's recipient of the WIFT NZ Mana Wāhine Award.  The award will be presented at the Gala Awards dinner of the Wairoa Māori Film Festival on 1 June.

NZFC Board member, Pania Tyson-Nathan for receiving the Māori Woman Business leader at the recent Māori Business Awards for her contribution to Māori tourism .

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On-the-Job Development

On-the-Job Development includes internships, attachments and mentorships on productions for writers, directors and producers, and professional placements with companies for emerging and mid-career filmmakers to gain on-the-job experience that will help progress their careers.

To be eligible for On-the-Job Development, filmmakers need to register their interest on the NZFC's Talent Register.  Talent Development Eligibility criteria apply.

Producers and production companies wishing to offer on-the-job development opportunities should contact the Talent Pathways Manager at profdev@nzfilm.co.nz.

You will find more information about On-the-Job Development, including application guidelines here.


Queenstown Industry Hold-the-Date

Queenstown people – HODs, crew, vendors, producers, directors, writers, investors – please join the NZFC for an industry information evening and drinks in Queenstown on Thursday 18 July. 

Invitation with venue and other information to come.  The NZFC will partner with Film Otago Southland for this event. 

Please hold the date for now and send your details to pam@nzfilm.co.nz with Queenstown Industry Event in the subject line, to register your interest


MIFF 37° South Market

An important upcoming date in the project market calendar for Australasia is MIFF 37° South Market (37°South) running from 1-4 August 2019 in Melbourne.

This year, to be eligible for consideration for NZFC contributory travel support via the Producer International Travel Fund (PITF), we require all applicants to inform us after they apply to 37°South, in advance of any news of selection or otherwise.  Click here to notify the NZFC of your application.

Please note that notification will not guarantee NZFC financial support, but without your notification we are unable to consider any PITF application you may make, should you be selected to attend.

As a reminder, 37°South is an invitation-only event and places are highly competitive, so we would strongly recommend applying as soon as possible. You are welcome to contact Investment Executive, Lloyd Meiklejohn via investment@nzfilm.co.nz if you wish to discuss the project(s) finance plan(s) required as part of your application.  Please do not wait until the last minute to contact Lloyd!

NZFC staff attend 37°South to support producers, attend industry presentations and screenings, and provide information to potential co-production and market partners.

The 37°South application process is here and note the application deadline is 10 June 2019. We would strongly recommend applying as soon as possible.



Farewell to Anzac Wallace

The NZFC sadly acknowledge the death of Anzac Wallace on 8 April in Australia.

Best known for his role as Te Wheke in Geoff Murphy’s Utu, Wallace’s first on-screen appearance was in The Bridge, a documentary by Merata Mita and Gerd Pohlmann about the long-running industrial dispute during the building of Auckland’s Mangere Bridge.  

It was Mita who brought Wallace to Geoff Murphy’s attention when she was helping with casting Utu. Wallace’s portrayal of the heavily tattooed Te Wheke, a scout who picks up a gun and starts a revolution, was striking and garnered glowing reviews from overseas film critics, including Pauline Kael who called him “a commanding figure – a Māori Che Guevara”.

You can read more about Anzac Wallace here.


Te Puna Ataata The New Zealand Film Heritage Trust

Te Puna Ataata New Zealand Film Heritage Trust website is now live, providing information about what the Trust does and why it exists. For those considering the ongoing life and accessibility of their films for future generations, the website outlines the guardianship role of the Trust.

If you are interested in knowing more about the Trust's work and discussing your films with them, you can contact them through the site or at info@filmheritagetrust.co.nz.

Some of the films already under the Trust’s care are Came a Hot Friday, Utu Redux, The Irrefutable Truth About Demons, Starlight Hotel,  and the Pacific Films catalogue.


Digitisation Programme Update

The NZFC continues to digitise its back catalogue, bringing older titles into modern formats that audiences can continue to enjoy now, and into the future.

David Blyth's cult film Death Warmed Up has recently been digitised and is finding new audiences with new Blu-ray releases in the US and Australia in April, and sales to France and Germany.

Other titles that have recently been digitised include Flying Fox in a Freedom Tree, Punitive Damage and Starlight Hotel.


New to NZ Film On Demand

New films added to NZ Film On Demand include Angel Mine, Death Warmed Up and The Silent One.

There are over 160 feature and short films available to stream at NZ Film On Demand.


Second Unit

Second Unit is a new, live and immersive event inspired by the world of film.

Happening this June in a huge custom-built set on Wellington’s waterfront, it takes inspiration from Wellington’s award-winning vampire mockumentary, What We Do In The Shadows. A mash up of music festival, life-sized video game, film set and choose your own adventure, Second Unit celebrates Wellington as the home of New Zealand film. You and a whole cast of warm-blooded humans are needed for this supernatural misadventure where you’ll be assigned the role of a film extra and help wrap a film shoot of unholy proportions.

Thanks to the New Zealand Festival of the Arts, the NZFC is pleased to be able to pass onto filmmakers a discounted rate to experience this ultimate live event. By entering NZFILM in the promo box, you will save $30 on full price tickets for for performances from Thurs 13 – Sun 16 June. Offer only available until midnight 27 May.

You can book your tickets here.

Photo by Matt Grace



Feel free to send any questions, feedback or comments regarding this newsletter info@nzfilm.co.nz.

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