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Thursday, 15 December 2016


December 2016


Here Comes The Sun....

This is our last newsletter for 2016 and what a year it has been for New Zealand films!

During 2016 the NZFC supported 11 new feature film projects, including four documentaries, seven short films, and over 100 professional development opportunities for New Zealand talent.

Nine NZFC-funded feature films were released in New Zealand cinemas. Hunt for the Wilderpeople earned the most at the box office, with over $12 million, making it the highest-ever grossing New Zealand film. Mahana, Poi E and Chasing Great all took over $1 million at the box office.

Enquiries from international productions looking to film in New Zealand are up, with 20 final New Zealand Screen Production Grant (NZSPG) certificates issued to international productions, and seven to New Zealand productions or co-productions.

Bravo to all of you!

We'd like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy holiday season and a fantastic start to 2017.

The NZFC offices will be closed from 24 December until 9 January. We look forward to working with you all again next year.


Upcoming Local Releases

2016 has been a fantastic year for New Zealand films at local cinemas.  

Fingers crossed for 2017...

Here's a little preview of what you can expect to see in cinemas in the early part of the New Year.

Pork Pie 
Jon, a charming but out-of-luck novelist, musters the bravery needed to try and win back the love of his life by surprising her at a friend’s wedding. One problem: he's in Auckland and the wedding is in Wellington. After a failed attempt to make the journey south in his clapped-out Holden, Jon hitches a ride with Luke, a sparky young dude driving a fancy new (and unbeknownst to Jon, stolen) yellow Mini Cooper….thus beginning the most epic road trip of their lives.

Written and directed by Matt Murphy, produced by Tom Hern, executive producer Tim White and starring James Rolleston, Dean O'Gorman and Ashleigh Cummings. Pork Pie is being released by Studio Canal and opens 2 February. You can view the trailer here.

Gary of the Pacific
When struggling real-estate agent Gary Vasisi is called back to his homeland in the Pacific, he’s handed a great opportunity: the chance to take his dying father’s crown and become Chief of an island that is rapidly sinking into the ocean.

With a treasury and a tropical paradise to his name, Gary hopes to give his girlfriend Chloe the wedding she wants, and finally attain the success he’s yearned for. Even if it is at the expense of his people.

Written and directed by thedownlowconcept, produced by Fiona Copland and starring Josh Thompson, Megan Stevenson, Matt Whelan, Taofi Mose-Tuiloma, Dominic Ona-Ariki and David Fane. Gary of the Pacific is being released by Rialto and opens 16 March. Watch out for the trailer soon.

One Thousand Ropes
One Thousand Ropes is a powerful character drama of a father reconnecting with his youngest daughter and together putting to rest the ghosts that haunt them.

She arrives vulnerable: badly beaten and heavily pregnant. He struggles on one hand, with the inner temptation and the encouragement from the men in his life to take revenge in the way he knows best,  and on the other, to build the new family and companionship so desperately missing from his life.

Written and directed by Tusi Tamasese, produced by Catherine Fitzgerald and starring Frankie Adamas, Uelese Petaia, Beulah Koale, Sima Urale, Ene Petaia and Anapela Polataivao. One Thousand Ropes is being released by Transmission Films and opens 23 March.

Pecking Order
Fierce rivalries, club infighting, problematic birds and irregular judging are just some of the challenges faced by a group of zealous Kiwi chicken breeders hell bent on victory at the 2015 National Poultry Show.

This feel-good, feather-ruffling flockumentary follows a group of witty and distinctive poultry obsessives trying to peak at nationals as their 148-year old club crumbles around them.

Written and directed by Slavko Martinov, produced by Mike Kelland, David Brechin-Smith and Martinov. Pecking Order is being released by Vendetta Films and opens 6 April.

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Production Funding Announcements

The Board considered and approved one application for production financing at the December Board meeting.

Herbs: Songs of Freedom
Only one New Zealand band fought with their music against nuclear power, land theft, apartheid, poverty, police and the government – and in the next breath sang ballads about the magic of a kiss. We meet Herbs once more at their 40th anniversary concert at Bastion Point in this documentary written and directed by Te Arepa Kahi, and produced by Reikura Kahi and Cliff Curtis.

All funding decisions can be found here.


Appointments to NZFC Board

Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Maggie Barry announced two new members appointed to the New Zealand Film Commission Board.

Pania Tyson-Nathan and Tom Greally will replace outgoing Board members Cameron Harland and Charles Finny.

Pania Tyson-Nathan is the CEO of New Zealand Māori Tourism, a national organisation based in Wellington.  As a previous business owner , she also has expertise in local and central government. Pania brings to the Board an extensive trade and investment network with a particular focus on China. She is currently a Director on Kahungunu Asset Holding company and the Maori Economic Development Advisory Board. Before taking on her Māori Tourism role, she owned and successfully operated several hospitality and retail businesses, giving her  hands on knowledge of the importance of tourism for Māori economic growth and a full understanding of the workings of local and central government.

Tom Greally is an Independent Management Consultant working in the field of business and technology strategy, research and innovation.  He is currently Chair of Booktrack Holdings, an early stage technology company that creates automated, synchronised soundtracks for the audiobook and ebook market.  Tom is also a member of the Callaghan innovation Stakeholder Advisory Group. Prior to 2015 Tom spent 10 years in the film industry as Chair of Park Road Post Productions and as General Manager of the highly acclaimed visual effects studio, Weta Digital Limited.

Ms Tyson-Nathan and Mr Greally commenced their appointments on 1 December with their terms ending 31 August 2019.

You can read more about the new Board appointments here.

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Academy Awards News

Three films supported by the NZFC were longlisted for next year's Academy Awards,  A Flickering Truth for Best Foreign Language Film, Tickled for Best Documentary and 25 April for Best Animated Feature.

This is the first time a New Zealand film has been long-listed in the Best Animated Feature category, and director Leanne Pooley is the only solo female director to helm one of the 27 films under consideration.

A shortlist of fifteen documentary features was released on 7 December, and sadly, Tickled was not among those to move into the next round.

Nominees for the 89th Academy Awards will be announced on 24 January 2017.


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International Releases

Mahana opened in Australia for a limited season on 8 December and received rave reviews including the Sydney Morning Herald describing the films as "...a landmark – it succeeds as an engrossing narrative on a grand scale about quotidian lives... a complete and convincing world, rooted in its own time and soil and way of thinking."

You can read the full review here.


Festival and Awards News

Roseanne Liang’s short film, Do No Harm has been selected for the 2017 Sundance Film Festival and will screen in the Midnight Shorts section.

Made with support from the NZFC's Premiere Pathways initiative, the film tells the story of  a single-minded surgeon who is forced to break her physician's oath when violent gangsters storm in to stop a crucial operation.

Belief: The Janet Moses Story received the Pasifika Warrior Award at Australia's Pasifika Film Festival. The Award is given to a documentary that highlights relevant and current issues in the Pacific region.The Festival held screenings in both Sydney and Brisbane in early November.

Ever the Land screened at the Seoul International Film Festival on 22 November.

Mahana opened the inaugural WINDA Indigenous Film Festival with an outdoor screening at Circular Quay, beside the Sydney Opera House, on 10 November.  

Hunt for the Wilderpeople won a best film award in the Doha Film Institute's Ajyal competition. Ajyal Jurors voted in three categories and selected Hunt for the Wilderpeople as the winner of the Mohaq section which is for films suitable for children aged eight to 12.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople also picked up two awards at the Jefferson State Flixx Fest, a Best Male Actor gong for Julian Dennison and the Audience Award for Best Feature.

Empire Magazine named Hunt for the Wilderpeople as their number one film for 2016 saying, "It’s a small, charming, utterly delightful film, from a tiny island on the other side of the world, and it deserves to take the world by storm. We’d call it ‘majestical’, but as Ricky insists, that’s not a word, so we’ll have to settle for calling it the best film of 2016."

Also on Empire's list, in 25th position, is The Greasy Strangler, produced by Ant Timpson.

You can see Empire's full top 25 list here.

Alt-culture icon, John Waters, has also put together a list of his favourite films for the year, and Tickled sits in second place with Waters saying, "Hahahahaha! First you’ll chuckle watching this exceptional piece of investigative reporting, but then, once the shocking plot twists begin, you’ll choke on that laughter."


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International News

New Zealand continues to hold strong interest for international filmmakers. New seasons of  Power Rangers and Ash vs Evil Dead are all in pre-production.

 Soon to wrap is the Warner Bros/Gravity Pictures feature film MEG. Recently wrapped are television series from R&R Productions, Wanted and Stephen David Entertainment’s Palisade

American Film Market & Conferences (AFM) and Related Events

The New Zealand industry was very well-represented at the US-China Film Summit (1 November), US-China Film & TV Industry Expo (2 & 3 November) and American Film Market & Conferences (2-7 November). Approximately 30 New Zealand industry and five NZFC staff attended AFM this year, meeting with  a wide range of LA-based expats and key US contacts. 

The team had a full schedule of events in Santa Monica including a  New Zealand-Germany Co-Production Networking Lunch in partnership with International Film Partners (Munich), a New Zealand/Los Angeles Networking Reception, a New Zealand-China Co-Production Networking Dinner in partnership with Spire Media (Beijing) and an Australia/Canada/New Zealand/UK Co-Production Networking Reception in partnership with AusFilm.

SPA Screen Forever

Ahead of SPA Screen Forever the NZFC held a successful co-production speed-dating event in partnership with Film Victoria. Many thanks to the New Zealand producers who participated in this and stayed on in Melbourne for Screen Forever.

CEO, Dave Gibson participated in a Screen Forever panel, and the NZFC partnered with SPA on a successful New Zealand-Australia producer networking dinner. Head of International Relations, Chris Payne hosted a SPA Connect Roundtable and one-on-one meetings.

Guangzhou International Documentary Film Festival (GZDOCs)

New Zealand's Doc Edge is presenting two films,
Hip Hop-eration and Loving in Limbo, at GZDOCs in the programme of 57 films.

Doc Edge have also curated two other films, The Day That Changed My Life and Speechless, that will screen outside the GZDOCs main programme.

All four films played at Doc Edge and the latter three are past recipients of the festival's award for Best New Zealand Documentary Feature.

Producer Travel

Any producers planning on attending Sundance, Rotterdam, the Berlinale/EFM or any other key markets, festivals or conferences in early 2017 are encouraged to contact us.  If you’re considering applying for Producer International Travel Assistance (PITA), please check out the application process on our website.  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.

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Desperate Remedies Re-Premiere

A special red carpet re-premiere of the1992 film Desperate Remedies was held at Auckland's Civic Theatre on 28 November with many of the cast and crew in attendance.  The late Kevin Smith was represented at the event by his three sons.

Written and directed by Peter Wells and Stuart Main, Desperate Remedies was made only five years after homosexual law reform and was groundbreaking in its unflinching portrayal of same-sex relationships on screen.  With its over-the-top costumes and production design, the film has gathered a cult following in the 20 years since its initial release.

Arranged by Wallace Productions, the premiere was held to launch the "Remedies Redux: The Desperate & The Beautiful" exhibition at The Pah Homestead TSB Wallace Arts Centre and to showcase the newly digitised film.

Desperate Remedies was digitised as part of the NZFC's digitisation programme to make films the NZFC has invested in accessible for new audiences as part of its larger Te Ahi Kā philosophy.


First NZ-Korea Co-Production

Wellington’s POW Studios signed a co-production agreement with Korea’s XrisP for Nori Roller Coaster Boy, an animated children's series expected to become the first official co-production under the treaty with the Republic of Korea. 

The series is due to be launched in South Korea in March 2017. European sales have been secured by Mondo TV of Italy. The first episode is being screened on Amazon Prime.

You can read more about Nori here.


Chasing Great Takes Record

Chasing Great: Richie McCaw became the highest grossing
New Zealand documentary of all time at the local box office in October.

The cumulative gross box office in New Zealand at the end of the film's run was $1,828,741. This result sees the film take the number one spot from another film about New Zealand icons, Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls, directed by Leanne Pooley. Untouchable Girls released in April 2009 and held the highest grossing spot for an impressive seven years.

When it opened on 1 September, Chasing Great broke its first record, achieving the highest first day gross for any New Zealand documentary.




To Jake Mahaffy for his film, Free In Deed's  four nominations in the Independent Spirit Awards.  The film has been nominated for Best Male Lead (David Harewood), Best Supporting Female (Edwina Findley) and Best Cinematography (Ava Berkofsky) and for the John Cassavetes Award which is given to the best feature made for less than $500,000.

The awards ceremony will be held on 25 February, one day before the Academy Awards.

To Joe Letteri for winning the GENIE Lifetime Achievement Award. This award recognises the significant and lasting achievements of people in the digital creation industry.  Letteri's award celebrates his work as a Senior Digital Effects Supervisor at Weta Digital.

To Gaylene Preston, Carthew Neal and Yamin Tun for their awards at the recent SPADA Conference.  Gaylene Preston was named the SPADA / Data Book / SCREENZ Industry Champion. Carthew Neal took the SPADA Independent Producer of the Year award, sponsored by Crombie Lockwood, and Yamin Tun took the SPADA New Filmmaker of the Year award, supported by Park Road Post.

To Taika Waititi for the Arts Foundation's annual Laureate Award, a monetary prize that recognises an artist's contribution to their chosen field, yet acknowledges that their best work may yet be to come.

To Miriam Smith and Chris Prior for the Harriet Friedlander New York Residency which enables artists to live in New York for as long as $80,000 lasts them.

To editor, Peter O’Donaghue as the recipient of The Directors & Editors Guild of NZ (DEGNZ)'s 2017 International Editor Mentorship with Oscar-nominated and Emmy Award-winning American documentary editor Doug Blush.

To producer Ant Timpson for his film, The Greasy Strangler, taking the Discovery Award at the British Independent Film Awards.

To Pukeko Pictures and Goalpost Pictures for winning Drama Series of the Year for Cleverman at the 2016 Screen Producers Australia Awards, and to Fulcrum Media Finance for being named Services and Facilities Business of the Year.

To John Gilbert for receiving the Best Editing Award at the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) Awards for his work on Mel Gibson's Hacksaw Ridge.

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Locations Workshops

39 participants from throughout New Zealand, including several representatives from regional film offices attended Locations Workshops held this month.

The NZFC’s international and talent development teams, in collaboration with the film offices in Auckland and Wellington, developed the day-long sessions to help upskill and interest people in location scouting and management. We were fortunate to have the support of two of New Zealand’s most experienced location managers with the workshop in Wellington led by Jared Connon and in Auckland by Sally Sherratt.



We are saddened by the loss of producer, distributor, exhibitor and former NZFC Chair, Barrie Everard.

During his 50-year career in New Zealand's entertainment industry, Everard worked as a film distributor, radio station owner, and film producer on such films as Never Say Die and Hotere.

He established the Berkley Cinema Group, which became one of Auckland's largest chains.

Barrie was appointed to the NZFC Board in 1998 and was named Chair in 2002, a position he retained until 2006.  

In the 2007 New Year’s Honours, Everard was awarded the Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the film industry.

You can read more about Barrie here.


New Funds

The NZFC have recently announced two new funding opportunities.

The Interactive Development Fund supports concept development of original narrative-focused interactive (VR and AR) and games content delivered on any platform .

Funding will be provided to develop an interactive concept including creative material such as story and design, that may form the basis of a playable prototype that is suitable to access the appropriate marketplace to seek project financing.

You can find more information, including the fund's guidelines and application form here.

The Co-Production Development Fund replaces the China Co-Production Development Fund and is to support New Zealand filmmakers to develop feature films as official co-productions with one of our 17 co-production partners.

You can find more information, including the fund's guidelines and application form here.


New to NZ Film On Demand

Merata Mita's Mauri and Paul Murphy's Second-Hand Wedding have been added to NZ Film On Demand, the NZFC's video-on-demand platform and are now available to stream or download-to-own.

There are now more than 90 films available at NZ Film On Demand.


Staff News

We have recently welcomed Talent Development Manager, Paul Fagamalo.  Paul joins Dale Corlett and Jude McLaren in the Talent Development team.

As well as helping to develop both up-and-coming and established industry professionals, Paul oversees the Talent Development Fund and is the main contact for the Industry Guilds - funded through the Industry Support Fund.

Paul comes from a production and performing Arts background in television, theatre and online. A graduate of both AUT and the Pacific Institute of Performing Arts, he has performed nationally and internationally and is particularly interested in helping to grow the Pacific Arts community. Recently he was involved in helping develop and produce online content for The Coconet, and helped produce up-and-coming dance company Fine Fatale.


High Tech Awards 2017

Submissions for the 2017 Hi-Tech Awards opened on 7 December, and this year there is a new category: Best Technology Solution for the Creative Sector. The winner of this category will be recognised as a company that has created a successful product or service for the creative sector. 

The NZ Hi-Tech Awards are the Oscars of the industry and celebrate New Zealand’s most successful high-tech companies and highest achieving individuals. The Awards recognise and celebrate our successes on the global stage.

You will find more information about the awards and how to submit here.



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

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