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Tuesday, 5 April 2016


April 2016


Dame Patsy Reddy appointed as Governor General

New Zealand Film Commission (NZFC) Board and Staff congratulate Dame Patsy on her recent appointment as the next Governor General.

Dame Patsy, who has served as Chair of the NZFC Board since 2009, will assume the role for a five-year term which begins in September 2016. She will be New Zealand’s 21st Governor General and the third woman to hold the position alongside Dame Silvia Cartwright and Dame Catherine Tizard.

Dame Patsy has contributed significantly to the arts and not-for-profit sectors.  She has served as Chair of the New Zealand Film Archive and on the Boards of New Zealand Opera, VUW Foundation, NZSO Foundation, Adam Art Gallery and as a trustee of the New Zealand International Arts Festival, the Wellington Jazz Festival, the Telecom Art Trust, the VUW Art Collection Trust and the Sky City Auckland Community Trust.

She graduated LLM (Hons) from Victoria University of Wellington and is a barrister and solicitor of the High Court and a Fellow of the Institute of Directors. In June 2014, Patsy was appointed a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the Arts and Business.

Dame Patsy will chair her final Board meeting in June 2016. 


Sundance Film Festival

Tickled screened in the World Documentary section of the 2016 Sundance Film Festival and Hunt for the Wilderpeople screened in the festival’s Premieres section.

Directed by David Farrier and Dylan Reeve and produced by Carthew Neal, Tickled follows journalist Farrier, as he stumbles upon a mysterious tickling competition online. When he delves deeper he comes up against fierce resistance, but that doesn’t stop him getting to the bottom of a story stranger than fiction. The film was financed by the NZFC and US sales agent MPI. 

The film was repped in Sundance by Submarine Films who sold US television rights to HBO and North American theatrical rights and world rights outside of North America (excluding Australia and New Zealand) to Magnolia who plan a June release in the US.

Tickled will premiere in New Zealand as part of the New Zealand International Film Festival's Autumn Events, screening at the Civic in Auckland on 13 April, and at Wellington's Embassy on 22 April. The film's general theatrical release begins on 26 May.

You can view the trailer for Tickled here.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople, written and directed by Taika Waititi and produced by Carthew Neal, Leanne Saunders, Matt Noonan and Waititi, stars Sam Neill and Julian Dennison. Inspired by Barry Crump’s novel, Wild Pork and Watercress, the film recounts the story of misfit kid Ricky Baker. Ricky finds himself on the run with his cantankerous foster uncle in the wild New Zealand bush. A national manhunt ensues, and the two are forced to put aside their differences and work together to survive in this heartwarming adventure comedy. This is Waititi’s fourth film to premiere at Sundance following Eagle vs Shark, Boy and  What We Do in the Shadows.

Protagonist handled world sales at the festival and sold North American rights to The Orchard. The Orchard handled the very successful US release of What We Do in the Shadows in 2015.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople followed its Sundance premiere with screenings at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York, the Wisconsin Film Festival, and in the 'Festival Favourites' section of SXSW.

The film opened in New Zealand on 31 March and you can view the trailer here.

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Berlin Film Festival

Two New Zealand films were included in the programme of the 2016 Berlin Film Festival. Mahana had its World Premiere at the festival, screening Out Of Competition, and Born To Dance had its European premiere in the festival’s Generation 14plus section.

Mahana, directed by Lee Tamahori, written by John Collee and produced by Robin Scholes, is based on Witi Ihimaera’s novel Bulibasha. Set in rural New Zealand in the 1960s, the film tells the story of two families of sheep-shearers, the Mahanas and the Poatas. The families are sworn enemies and 14-year-old Simeon, growing up in the shadow of his powerful grandfather, Tamihana Mahana, wants to know why.  As Simeon unravels the truth behind the longstanding family vendetta, he risks not only his own future, but the cohesion of the entire tight-knit society.

Mahana is funded by the NZFC, New Zealand On Air, Māori Television, Entertainment One (eOne), Wild Bunch and private equity investors, including a selection of 200 individuals who invested via the Snowball Effect equity crowd funding platform.

Mahana was released in New Zealand on 3 March by eOne and now in its 5th week of release has taken over a million dollars at the NZ box office. The film remains in the top ten of films currently in theatrical release in NZ,

Directed by Tammy Davis, written by Steve Barr, Hone Kouka and Casey Whelan, and produced by Jill Macnab, Leanne Saunders and Daniel Story, Born to Dance features some of the world’s top hip hop dancers with choreography by world champion Parris Goebel.

World sales at the festival were handled by Cinema Management Group (CMG) who brokered distribution deals for the film in the US, France, Germany, China, the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

Born to Dance made over a million dollars at the New Zealand box office when it was released in September 2015. The film released in NZ on DVD and Blu-ray on 30 March.

High-end television series Cleverman opened the Berlinale’s television strand, Berlinale Special.

Cleverman is produced by Angela Littlejohn for New Zealand's Pukeko Pictures and Rosemary Blight for Australia's Goalpost Pictures. It will screen in 2016 on SundanceTV in the US and on Australia's ABC network. A New Zealand release is yet to be announced.

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Production Funding Announcements

The Board considered and approved one application for production funding at the 11 March Board meeting.


Vermilion tells the story of a group of women who are close to each other – mothers, daughters, friends and neighbours. Some of their relationships are good and some are broken. The events of one summer month changes their lives forever.

Vermilion has been written and will be directed by Dorthe Scheffmann with Michele Fantl as producer.

Funding decisions made since December 2015 can be found here.


New Zealand Releases

Mahana, Lee Tamahori's first New Zealand-made film in more than 20 years, opened on 94 New Zealand screens on 3 March and has, to date, taken over a million dollars at the New Zealand box office. The film remains in the top ten releases in New Zealand this week. You can view the trailer here.

Taika Waititi's Hunt for the Wilderpeople released  on 31 March on 110 screens across New Zealand, with a first weekend box office of just over $1,300,000. It is currently the number one film in theatrical release in New Zealand, beating Batman vs. Superman and Kung Fu Panda.You can view the trailer here.

And congratulations to Stallone Vaiaoga-Ioasa and the team behind Samoan-New Zealand comedy, Three Wise Cousins. Wholly self-funded and self-distributed, the film has taken more than a million dollars at the Australian and New Zealand box offices.

Hunt For the Wilderpeople, Mahana and Three Wise Cousins are all currently sitting in the top 20 of the New Zealand Motion Picture Distributors' Association (NZMPDA) box office charts.

Tickled will premiere as part of the New Zealand International Film Festival's Autiumn Events before its general theatrical release on 26 May. You can view the trailer here.

25 April will release in New Zealand on 28 April. Directed by Leanne Pooley and produced by Matthew Metcalfe with animation by Auckland’s Flux Animation Studios, the film tells the story of Gallipoli through the letters and diaries of some of those who served in the campaign. 25 April had its world premiere at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival. You can view the trailer here.

Orphans and Kingdoms will release in selected cinemas across New Zealand on 14 April.  The film is a debut feature for writer/director Paolo Rotondo and is produced by Fraser Brown, Orphans and Kingdoms was made as part of the NZFC's Escalator scheme.

It tells the story of a wealthy businessman who is attacked by three desperate kids in his luxurious Waiheke Island home. Over the course of a tense night the tables are turned and an unlikely bond begins to grow between attackers and victim. When dawn comes, so too does the law and the four of them find themselves on the run together. You can view the trailer here.

Crossing Rachmaninoff had a limted theatrical release from  25 February 2016. The film had its world premiere at the 2015 New Zealand International Film Festival.

Directed by Rebecca Tansley, Crossing Rachmaninoff follows aspiring NZ based Italian pianist Flavio Villani, as he prepares Rachmaninoff’s famous Piano Concerto No. 2 for his first performance with an orchestra back in his homeland. You can view the trailer here.

Crossing Rachmaninoff received a Feature Film Finishing Grant in 2015.

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Pork Pie Begins Production

A modern reimagining of kiwi classic Goodbye Pork Pie has begun shooting across New Zealand with Matt Murphy, son of the original film’s director, Geoff Murphy, directing.

The cast includes Dean O'Gorman (Trumbo, The Hobbit), James Rolleston (Boy, The Dark Horse), and Ashleigh Cummings (Puberty Blues).

Pork Pie is being produced by Tom Hern for Four Knights Film, executive produced by Tim White for Southern Light Films and has investment from the New Zealand Film Commission, NZOnAir, Random Films, Augusto, Park Road Post Production and Treehouse Films.

StudioCanal will distribute the film in New Zealand and Australia.


New Zealand and Israel Sign Co-Production Agreement

A film co-production agreement between New Zealand and Israel was signed in Wellington in early March by New Zealand’s Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, Hon. Maggie Barry and Israeli Ambassador H.E. Yosef Livne. The new agreement will encourage collaboration between the New Zealand and Israeli screen industries.

Atomic Falafel, written and directed by Israel’s Dror Shaul and produced by New Zealander Matthew Metcalfe is a three-way co-production using Germany's exisiting treaties with both New Zealand and Israel and had a very successful theatrical release in Israel in September 2015. The film screened in Auckland as part of the Jewish International Film Festival in November 2015.

You can read more about the co-production signing here.


International Releases

The Dark Horse was released theatrically this week in the US by film production, financing, and distribution company Broad Green. The film's trailer became the most viewed on iTunes USA when it launched in January. US reviews of the film have been positive with Variety stating, "A stunning yet subtle Cliff Curtis performance, an inspirational true story and a lively directorial touch make for a winning combination." You can read the full review here and view the US trailer here.

White Lies, written and directed by Dana Rotberg and produced by John Barnett and Chris Hampson, released theatrically in New York in March. The New York Times said White Lies was "Quiet, graceful, stately and infused with slow tension," after it screened as part of the African Diaspora Film Festival. Actress Antonia Prebble travelled to New York to introduce the film to the audience.  You can read the full review here.

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International Productions

A teaser trailer for Pete's Dragon was released on 21 March, following the release of a first-look poster a day earlier.

New Zealand doubles for the American Pacific Northwest in the film which is a reimagining of Disney’s cherished 1977 family film.  The trailer features some stunning New Zealand filming locations: Tapanui, the small South Island town that was transformed into the logging town Millhaven; the Wellington region; and the towering Redwoods of Whakarewarewa Forest in the Central North Island.

Directed by David Lowery, Pete’s Dragon was based out of Wellington’s Stone Street Studios for a shoot that commenced in February 2015 and took the production to locations around New Zealand.

Pete's Dragon will release theatrically on August 12 in the US and on 15 September in New Zealand.

Watch the trailer here.

The trailer for The Light Between Oceans has been released and showcases some stunning landscapes from New Zealand’s South Island.

Written and directed by Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine, The Place Beyond The Pines), the film, based on a best-selling novel by M.L. Stedman, stars Michael Fassbender, Rachel Weisz and recent best Supporting Actress Oscar winner, Alicia Vikander.

Set on a remote Australian island in the years following WW1, a lighthouse keeper (Fassbender) and his wife (Vikander) are faced with a moral dilemma when a boat washes ashore with a dead man and a two-month-old infant.  When they decide to raise the child as their own, the consequences of their choice are devastating.

The Light Between Oceans will be release in the US on September 2, 2016.  You can see the trailer here.

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China News

The NZFC and China Film Co-Production Corporation (CFCC) have issued joint approval for 3D animated family film, Beast of Burden as the first official feature film co-production between the two countries.

A partnership between New Zealand’s Huhu Studios (Huhu) and China Film Animation (CFA), Beast of Burden is the first of 17 proposed feature film collaborations between the two companies.

Written and directed by Kirby Atkins and produced by Trevor Yaxley (Huhu) and Huang Jun (CFA), Beast of Burden is a heartfelt, tense, and exhilarating adventure. 

You can read more about Beast of Burden here.

ZooMoo Animal Friends, co-produced by ZooMoo Networks, its creative team at New Zealand-based NHNZ, and CCTV, is a 60 part children’s series which premiered last month on CCTV14 in China to a massive 252 million viewers. 

ZooMoo Animal Friends aired on primetime daily from 8 February 2016. It was the number one show in China in its time slot.

The show was watched by 72.68 Million kids aged 4-14; the second largest group were 25-34-year-old people with an audience of 41.94 Million. The series continues to air weekly, with more episodes in the pipeline.

A number of other China/New Zealand co-productions are also underway including family action film, The Wonder 3D, IMAX feature documentary and television series The Colours of China, and feature documentary A Season for Persimmons. Details about these projects can be found here.


New Zealand Film Month in China – April 2016

Beijing International Film Festival and Market 17-20 April
Chris Payne (Head of International Relations) and Lulu Hansen (China Business Development Executive) will be attending this key Chinese festival and market to support New Zealand producers and industry. Jake Mahaffey's Free In Deed  has been selected for the festival's Panorama section.  

Shanghai New Zealand Film Festival 22-30 April
The NZFC has partnered with the Shanghai Art Film Federation (SAFF) and the New Zealand Consulate-General to showcase New Zealand films, The World’s Fastest Indian, Boy, Eagle vs Shark, An Angel at My Table, Rain, In My Father’s Den and My Wedding and Other Secrets at two cinemas in Shanghai’s Xintiandi District. New Zealand writer/director, Roger Donaldson will attend the festival to support screenings of The World’s Fastest Indian and in his capacity as Vista Foundation Patron. The festival is supported by Vista Entertainment and Air New Zealand, as well as a range of NZ Inc. partners.    

New Zealand Film Festival in China
This biennial showcase of New Zealand cinema travels to Beijing, Qidong and Shenzhen, with screenings of contemporary feature and short films.  Titles include features, The Ground We Won, Atomic Falafel, Crossing Rachmaninoff and Orphans and Kingdoms (the latter fresh from its New Zealand premiere at Auckland’s The Civic on 5 April) and short films, Madam Black, Ross & Beth and Utu Pihikete.  The NZFC assists the festival with access to New Zealand films, with the festival coordinated by Auckland-based Jim He of Pacific Culture & Arts Exchange Centre (New Zealand).

New Zealand filmmakers or industry intending to be in China during any of these events  should contact international@nzfilm.co.nz for more information about New Zealand activities in China.

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Festival and Awards News

Jake Mahaffy’s Venice winner, Free In Deed, screened at SXSW hot on the heels of its four sold-out sessions in the 'Voices' section of the Rotterdam International Film Festival.

SXSW is an annual festival of film, interactive media, and music in Austin, Texas. The fest ran from 11-20 March.

The film will next screen in the Beijing International Film Festival's Panorama section.

25 April had its US premiere at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival in February. The film premiered last year at the Toronto International Film Festival. Directed by Leanne Pooley and produced by Matthew Metcalfe with animation by Auckland’s Flux Animation Studios, the film tells the story of Gallipoli through the letters and diaries of some of those who served in the campaign.

25 April also screened in competition at the Holland Animation Festival which ran 16-20 March.

The Ground We Won received the First Place Special Jury Prize at FIFO, Tahiti's Pacific International Documentary Film Festival. This follows positively received screenings at DocPoint - Helsinki Documentary Film Festival and at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival.

The Price of Peace and Hip Hoperation also screened in competition at FIFO.

Pietra Brettkelly’s A Flickering Truth, which premiered at Venice in August last year, had its tenth festival appearance at the Hong Kong International Film Festival, which ran for two weeks from 21 March.

The first film to be awarded the new Philip French award for a breakthrough British/Irish filmmaker was director John Maclean for New Zealand-UK co-production, Slow West. The award, named after The Observer's long-term critic, was presented by the professional body of UK critics to which French belonged throughout his 37-year career.

John Maclean also won a Spur Award at the Tuscon Festival of Books (11-12 March). The award for Drama Script was presented by the Western Writers of America for the Slow West screenplay.

Feature documentary Crossing Rachmaninoff screened in official competition in the Performing Arts section of the 29th Festival International des Programmes Audiovisuels (FIPA) in France.

FIPA, which ran 19-24 January in Biarritz, is one of Europe’s most respected festivals. It screens around 130 films and programmes from a range of genres in both competition and out of competition.

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Short Films News

Ivan Barge's Madam Black has continued its award-sweeping run, taking home the Audience Award at the Clermont Ferrand Film Festival. It is the first time a New Zealand film has won this award which includes Mike Leigh, Nick Park and Jean-Pierre Jeunet as previous winners. 

Madam Black also screened at the Santa Barbara Film Festival and has screenings scheduled at the Tribeca Film Festival and the Annecy International Animated Film Festival.

James Cunningham’s Accidents, Blunders & Calamities played in Clermont-Ferrand’s international competition, screened at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival and in the Animated Shorts line-up at SXSW. It will also screen out of competion at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival.

Ned Wenlock's Spring Jam has also been selected for the Annecy International Animated Film Festival where it will screen out of competition..

David White’s The Couple played in the Lab competition at Clermont Ferrand.

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New Zealand’s screen sector has been quick off the mark to interpret the new health and safety legislative regime with the launch of ScreenSafe’s website on 31 March.

ScreenSafe is an initiative of the NZ Techos’ Guild and the website marks the first stage of a multi-year, sector-wide health and safety programme to support safe workplaces for all screen sector participants and create a culture where everyone is empowered to contribute to safe work practices.

The initiative has received strong support from the NZ screen sector, with funding from the New Zealand Film Commission, NZ On Air, SPADA, industry guilds and organisations

A series of roadshows will provide clarity on the new legislation and answer questions people might have.  The Wellington event will be held on 20 April, Auckland on 21 April and Queenstown on 27 April.

You will find more information on both ScreenSafe and the roadshows here.


Applications for Boost are now open

Boost aims to accelerate the slates of active producers and enable successful screen businesses to build a feature film slate and move quickly into production. The NZFC has finance available until the end of the current financial year (30 June 2016) and hope to support three to five applicants.

The level of support will generally be between $50,000 and up to $100,000, with an absolute maximum of $125,000 per applicant.

Please see our website for more information.


Website News

The latest New Zealand Screen Production Grant (NZSPG) New Zealand and International criteria is now available to read online. Previously only available as a PDF download, the new pages will assist with interpretation of the criteria with frequently asked questions (FAQs) embedded in the online version. The criteria remain available as downloadable PDFs from the NZSPG International and NZSPG New Zealand pages on our website.   For further information please contact us.


Remembering Paul Swadel

It is with much sadness that we acknowledge the death of Paul Swadel on Friday 18 March in Christchurch.

Paul was a director, producer and educator best known for the dark humour threaded through his work. He made international award-winning films, music videos, commercials and television, notably directing the documentaries Colin McCahon: I AM and The Big Picture, the short film Accidents and executive producing Christchurch earthquake doco-feature When A City Falls.

From 2009 to 2011 Paul worked as a Development Executive at the NZFC, where he was an integral part of the team that created the NZFC’s low-budget feature scheme, Escalator.

He will be much missed by the industry and by filmmakers whose careers he ingnited or nurtured in his role as an educator at the Media Design School and, previously, Waikato Polytechnic.



Congratulations to Elizabeth Trotman on her appointment as CEO of StudioCanal's Australasian operation, taking over from Robert Slaverio. Trotman has headed StudioCanal's New Zealand business since the company's 2012 acquisition of Hoyts Distribution which Trotman also led.

Congratulations to writer Neil Cross and Pukeko Pictures for separate nominations in the BAFTA Television Craft Awards. Cross has been nominated in the Drama category for his work on Luther.  Pukeko Pictures' co-production with the UK’s ITV, Thunderbirds Are Go, has a nomination in the Original Music category.


Beijing and Cannes 2016 – Producer Travel

If you are planning to attend Beijing in April or Cannes in May, and have not already been in touch, please let us know via international@nzfilm.co.nz.  For those intending to be at Cannes, also let us know if you’d like to receive the NZFC umbrella code for registrations and/or a referral to an accommodation consultant. 

For those travelling overseas, we recommend KEA’s free app (available for iOS and Android devices), which connects you to Kiwis and NZ-focused events offshore:  www.keanewzealand.com


Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellowships

For the past 51 years The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust has been providing fellowships to men and women who seek to advance their careers in areas where there will also be perceived benefit to their industry, and to society.  Churchill Fellowships are regarded as prestigious and provide a unique opportunity for talented New Zealanders to increase their contribution to the community, and advance their trade, industry, profession or business. 

Each year 12-18 fellowships of up to NZ$10,000 are granted.  Recipients are required to self-fund 20% of their budgeted research and travel costs.

New in 2016 is a partnership between the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust and the New Zealand China Friendship Society. This new fellowship is for those intending to travel to China to gain knowledge, understanding and experience of Chinese culture and values (and promotes the sharing of New Zealand values and culture in China) for the benefit of an occupation, profession or trade, or to the benefit in general of all New Zealanders through the deepening of China New Zealand relationships. This fellowship will be awarded this year and every two years thereafter.  This could be of particular interest to filmmakers developing a project(s) with potential as a China-New Zealand co-production.

To find out more information and to apply, visit the Community Matters website.  The deadline for applications is 31 July 2016.


Staff News

As many of you know, NZFC's Head of Development and Production, Lisa Chatfield, has accepted a new role as Head of Scripted Development at Pukeko Pictures. Lisa has been at the NZFC for almost five years, the last two and a half years in her current role. Previously she was Short Film Manager. Lisa will be greatly missed by all of us. Her contribution and dedication to the growth of the New Zealand film industry cannot be overstated.

We now have a strong shortlist for the Head of Development and Production position and expect to make an announcement in early April.

There will be a transition period between Lisa leaving on 15 April and the new appointee starting. This will put time and availability pressure on the whole team, and with this in mind, we have contracted Rachael Mansfield to work with us as a Transition Co-Ordinator. Rachael will essentially lead the balancing and distribution of workload between the Development and Production team, the CEO and other senior staff where necessary. Rachael will be well-known to industry members through a variety of roles she has held at the NZFC over the years.

We appreciate your patience and understanding during this time.

As Lisa will not have the time or chance to speak to many of you before her departure on Friday 15 April, following is a brief farewell from Lisa:

Dear filmmakers

On my way out the door I just wanted to take this chance to say how much I’ve loved working at the NZFC over the last 5 years. It’s been a privilege to work with so many filmmakers across short films and features, and to feel this passionate industry of storytellers continue to grow and evolve. It’s always been my aim to support a constructive, collaborative partnership around films that allows room for both filmmakers and the NZFC to debate their own perspective, views and opinions across all aspects of making the strongest films.

One of the advantages of a job at the NZFC is getting to engage frequently with the international industry and feeling so clearly their desire to engage with and enjoy the distinctive voice of films from Aotearoa.

It’s also been a huge privilege to work with the team here at the NZFC and be alongside their passion and commitment to the NZ film industry every day.

I am really excited to be moving back to making at Pukeko Pictures – but I will miss my role here very much. I’ll look forward to catching up with you all from that new perspective!


Roxane Gajadhar, Director Marketing and Communications, is leaving her role from early May.  Roxane served 5 years with Film New Zealand, which merged with the NZFC in August 2015.  We acknowledge her considerable contributions and dedication to the industry and are very pleased to announce she will work on a special strategic project (GPS 2026) for NZFC from May, in a part-time contract role.

Roxane will also be completing an MA in screenwriting at Victoria University Wellington this year.

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

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