Vincent Ward’s new feature Rain Of The Children wins film festival selection

11 09 2008

Vincent Ward’s new feature Rain Of The Children is winning selection in some of the world’s leading film festivals.

It has been selected for two competitions: at the Hawaii Film Festival and the Chicago Film Festival.

“The Chicago selection is full circle for me,” says Ward. “The new film evolved from my 1980 documentary In Spring One Plants Alone, which won a Silver Hugo at Chicago. It is exciting that my new film will also be in competition at Chicago.”

Rain Of The Children has also been selected for the Hof Film Festival, one of the most influential film events in Germany, which is celebrating its fortieth anniversary this year.

And it will be representing New Zealand in Thailand at the Bangkok Film Festival, with the director as a festival guest and a reception in the film’s honour hosted by the New Zealand Ambassador.

The film has already scored international success by winning the grand prix at the New Horizons Film Festival in the Polish university city of Wroclaw. The film then screened in the Karlovy Vary Film Festival. Its world premiere in the Sydney Film Festival was followed by screenings in the Melbourne Film Festival with actor Temuera Morrison representing the film, and in the Brisbane Film Festival.

Its New Zealand premiere at the Auckland Film Festival was attended by more than 300 Tuhoe representatives many of whom traveled to Auckland from the Urewera region where the film was made.

Rain of the Children uncovers the story of an old Maori woman who was the subject of Ward’s In Spring One Plants Alone, which he made when he was 21. It showed the life of 80-year-old Puhi who lived in remote bush country looking after her 40-year-old son Niki. Ward lived with Puhi for 18 months but never unravelled the mystery of her life. In the new film, we learn her extraordinary story.

Critics have been impressed. “A haunting historical epic,” wrote the Hollywood Reporter. “Emotionally rewarding, powerful and heart-wrenching,” wrote Variety. Auckland Film Festival director Bill Gosden wrote: “You are bound to be amazed and shaken by the spectacular fusion of documentary, myth and personal history.”

Rain Of The Children begins its New Zealand theatrical release in main centres next week, after previews starting today (Thursday 11th) in seven provincial towns.


Katie Wolfe’s This is Her selected for New York Film Festival

9 09 2008

This is Her NZ short film starring Mia Blake as Evie

This is Her NZ short film starring Mia Blake as Evie

Katie Wolfe’s New Zealand short film This is Her has been selected to screen in official selection at the 46th New York Film Festival later this month after premiering in North America at the prestigious 35th Telluride Film Festival last weekend.

This follows nominations for This is Her in all four short film categories of the New Zealand Qantas Film and Television Awards including Best Short Film.

“We are absolutely thrilled that This Is Her has been selected to screen in such important festivals as Telluride and New York. With so many short films being made around the world, it’s a huge honour to be invited to these highly competitive festivals. These selections indicate the strength of the short film’s unique voice,” says NZFC Short Film Manager Juliette Veber.

This Is Her is a 12 minute black tale directed by Katie Wolfe about the bitter aftertaste of love. As she watches her younger self in the throes of childbirth, Evie’s devastatingly wry commentary reveals exactly what life has in store for her, her loving husband, and the six year old bitch who will one day steal his affections and destroy her life. This is Her is written by Kate McDermott and produced by Felicity Letcher and Rachel Lorimer.

“There was a lot of interest in This Is Her at Telluride, and It was heartening to see that the comedy of the film translated into the American sensibility,” says director Katie Wolfe.

“Telluride is a very small, select festival. You get to see a lot of wonderful films, and to interact with amazing filmmakers, in my case Mike Leigh and David Fincher. I also connected with a network of upcoming filmmakers from around the world.”

“Telluride was amazing, and I’m now looking forward to seeing the film with a New York audience, especially as it is playing in the revived Ziegfeld Theatre.”

Producers Rachel Lorimer and Felicity Letcher say This Is Her’s success is a testament to the storytelling talents of Katie, and of writer Kate McDermott, and the efforts of a terrific cast and crew.

“We are absolutely delighted by the response to This Is Her, both at home and overseas. Telluride has a reputation for selecting shorts from new filmmakers who go on to make feature films very quickly. New York is one of the great film festivals.

“It is fantastic to see a contemporary Kiwi story embraced by moviegoers around the world.”

This Is Her screens at the 46th New York Film Festival before the Mexican feature film I’m Gonna Explode (Voy A Explotar). The New York Film Festival showcases inspiring and provocative cinema by emerging talents and first rank international artists whose films are often recognised as contemporary classics. The festival has introduced filmmakers such as Jean-Luc Godard, Martin Scorsese, Francois Truffaut and Wong Kar-Wai to the United States.

This Is Her was funded by the Short Film Fund of the New Zealand Film Commission.

The film premiered at that Edinburgh International Film Festival earlier this year, and has screened at the New Zealand International Film Festival and the Melbourne International Film Festival.

The 46th New York Film Festival runs 26 September to 12 October 2008, for more information see

Toa Fraser’s Dean Spanley feature film to premiere in Toronto

20 08 2008

Peter O’Toole and friend in a scene from Toa Fraser’s Dean Spanley, NZ 2008

Peter O’Toole and friend in a scene from Toa Fraser’s Dean Spanley, NZ 2008

Confirming its position as the prime North American launch pad, the Toronto International Film Festival has added more world premieres to its line-up. Among the new titles announced today is director Toa Fraser’s Dean Spanley starring 8-times Academy Award nominee, Peter O’Toole.

The film will have a red carpet Gala screening during the opening weekend in Toronto, on Saturday 6 September.

Dean Spanley joins a select list of others premiering at Toronto, including new films from critically acclaimed filmmakers Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, Mira Nair, Brett Ratner, Caroline Link and Anees Bazmee and feature performances by Brad Pitt, Rachel McAdams, John Malkovich, Julie Christie, Vincent Cassel, Ellen Burstyn, Edward Norton, Christina Ricci, Colin Farrell, Akshay Kumar, Jon Voight, Scarlett Johansson, James Caan, Natalie Portman, George Clooney, Jeremy Northam, Kate Beckinsale, Alan Alda, Matt Dillon, Tim Robbins, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton and Angela Bassett.

The Gala programme is described by the Festival as a ‘high profile showcase of films with major impact’. The film will premiere at the 2,600 seat theatre, the Roy Thomson Hall. This is the first time a NZ feature film will have a Gala screening at Toronto, which is the most exalted slot the festival offers.

“The gala screening represents a spectacular launching pad for Dean Spanley” says director Toa Fraser. “We put our hearts and souls into making the movie and I can’t wait to see it up there on the big screen at one of the world’s most prestigious festivals.”

Toa Fraser will be in Toronto to introduce his film along with his cast – Peter O’Toole, Jeremy Northam, Sam Neill and Bryan Brown. They will be joined by screenwriter Alan Sharp and producers Matthew Metcalfe and Alan Harris.

Set in the early 1900s, Dean Spanley is a whimsical, poignant tale of a father and son, and their encounters with an eccentric stranger.

NZ Film, which is the sales arm of the NZ Film Commission, is handling world sales of the film.

Dean Spanley will be released in Australia and New Zealand early 2009 by Transmission Films in association with Paramount Pictures.

Following Toronto, the subsequent Canadian release of the film is being handled by of Alliance Pictures (The World’s Fastest Indian; The Lord of the Rings).

A UK-NZ co-production, Dean Spanley was financed by Aramid Entertainment, the NZ Film Commission’s Film Fund 2, Lipsync Productions and Screen East. Executive Producers are David Parfitt, Finola Dwyer, Simon Fawcett and Alan Sharp.

The thirty-third annual Toronto International Film Festival will be held from September 3 to 13, 2008.

C4 to feature 48 Hours Film competition TV Special

2 07 2008

‘The V’ 48HOURS is officially the largest filmmaking competition in the Southern Hemisphere. Now in its sixth year, the competition is drawing to a thrilling conclusion on July 3rd at 8.30pm on C4 Television. The two hour TV special was created by Two Heads and is jammed packed with all the cheers and tears of what 48HOURS entails. There are team profiles, behind the scenes action, spotlights on Animation, Maori and Teen Teams, Special awards and the nine competing short films.

Filmmakers from around New Zealand are competing for a Grand Prize package worth over $100,000.

Peter Jackson has selected his Wildcard shorts for this years ‘V’ 48HOURS Grand National Final. His choices will compete alongside the City Winners from Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Gisborne, Christchurch and Dunedin.

The first wildcard is Team Lense Flare with their time travel short called BEYOND BELIEF. An apt title for the team who were chosen last year as a wildcard and ended up going on to be crowned Grand Champions. All eyes will be on the Grand Final to see if they can pull off the biggest back to back victory ever.

There is strong competition coming from three time Grand Finalists Smashing Pants, a Wellington team who could live the ultimate cliché and make it third time lucky. They’ll have to get past six year veterans of the competition, Fractured Radius, a team coined after their director broke his wrist in their debut short back in 2003. And then there are the sleeping giants, the unassuming Guerilla Monkeys from Hamilton and the soon-to-be-known but extremely assured Spooce Media:The Real McCoy from Christchurch. Dunedin has newcomers The Dangly Gruffnuts and Gisborne has Team Kaiti Hill, a husband and wife team who might just win on charm alone.

An international judging panel of film experts will decide just who will be the Grand Champion for 2008. The judges include Mimi Brody from UCLA Film Archive, Livia Bloom the curator of Moving Image Centre in NYC, Michael Koller from the Melbourne Cinematheque, Doug Jones from LA Film Festival, Tim League from Fantastic Fest and Mitch Davis from Fantasia Film Festival.

One of the nine shorts below only one will be crowned Grand National Champ 2008.

The End by Fractured Radius (Auckland)
A man tries to keep the script to his final moments just perfect

Sum Of All Parts by Guerilla Monkeys (Hamilton)
A creepy tale of obsessive love and body parts

le dernier jour de Tony (Tony’s Last Day) by Kaiti Hill (Gisborne, Tairawhiti)
A wry look at a kiwi abroad

Darlene by Smashing Pants (Wellington)
A troubled youth, some stolen goods and love

The Real McCoy Agent Post:
Or How I Stopped Being Pretentious And Learned To Love Cliche by Spooce Media (Christchurch)
Ken & Barbie meet Michale Bay and things blow up

Two Bodies, One Night by Dangly Gruffnuts (Dunedin)
Nothing like an unwanted stiff to ruin your night

Beyond Belief by Lense Flare (Peter Jackson Wildcard)
Witness the unbelievable but true story of the backward man

+ The final two Wildcards will be revealed July 3rd in the Time Out section of the NZ Herald.

‘V’ 48HOURS – C4, JULY 3RD, 8.30pm – Rated M for aMazing

If home viewers don’t agree with our esteemed Judges they can cast their votes after the Grand Final at The team that gets the most votes wins a thousand bucks.

Hundreds of teams compete. Hundreds of thousands watch.


The Wahine Disaster documentary wins Best in Festival Award

11 06 2008

Sharon Barbour wins Award
Peter Morris, Chairman BAFTA / LA presents Sharon Barbour, Producer with the award
THE WAHINE DISASTER which screened earlier this year on Maori TV has taken out the coveted top prize – “Best in Festival” at the Swansea Life International Film Festival in Wales on Saturday – the largest film festival in the UK. 236 films were screened – The Wahine Disaster was voted by judges to be the best.

The Wahine Disaster is an extraordinary documentary in which many of the survivors and rescuers speak for the first time.

On that day in April, 1968 – the country’s newest inter-island ferry Wahine set sail on her overnight journey from Lyttleton. She was also setting sail into the heart of the most violent storm in New Zealand’s history. Over 730 people were on board.

The hour long documentary, made by Storm UK Productions, follows passengers as they boarded the ferry on that “beautiful calm night” – right through to the end of the journey. One that would change all their lives.

Maori Film Festival programme announced

12 05 2008

The organisers of the third Wairoa Moari Film Festival are proud to announce the launch of its programme, available online at the Official Website: This year’s festival event will occur at the dawn of the Matariki celebrations, over Queen’s Birthday Weekend May 30th to June 2nd. The festival will celebrate Maori and indigenous film achievement, and this year will pay special tribute to three of our early film pioneers, Witarina Harris, Don Selwyn and Barry Barclay.

Opening the festival will be the classic comedy feature CAME A HOT FRIDAY, starring Don Selwyn and Billy T. James. A Mexican-Maori themed celebration will take place, including a film-makers networking hui sponsored by Nga Aho Whakaari Maori in Film & Television. Other feature films featuring Don Selwyn will be screened, including RANGI’S CATCH and THE LOST TRIBE. “Don Selwyn was one of the founding Patrons of our festival, and we were greatly saddened by his passing last year,” says Festival Chairperson Huia Koziol. “Don’s early support helped make the festival a reality, and his legacy will live on both on the screen and in the continued success of the Wairoa Maori Film Festival.”

The festival will honour the memory of pioneer Maori actress Witarina Harris with a piano-accompanied screening of the silent classic UNDER THE SOUTHERN CROSS. This 1927 feature film will be the Centrepiece of this year’s festival. Witarina Harris passed away early in 2007, at age 101.

Also highlighted at the festival will be the works of Barry Barclay. “Barry Barclay was special guest at the 2006 festival,” says Mrs. Koziol. “The loss of Barry to the Maori film-making community this year leaves a huge gap in our knowledge and dreamscape.”

A special screening of Barry Barclay’s feature documentary THE NEGLECTED MIRACLE will be presented. The documentary explores the plight of indigenous genetic conservation initiatives around the world, with sequences shot in Peru, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, the Netherlands, Italy, France and Australia. Also to be screened will be episodes of the TANGATA WHENUA series, which Barry Barclay directed in collaboration with John O’Shea and Michael King. “The legacy of these three leaders in the Maori film world will live on, on screen, and in our hearts and minds at this year’s Wairoa Maori Film Festival.”

The international programme will include works from Canada, Australia, Sweden and USA. The New Zealand premiere of the feature film FOUR SHEETS TO THE WIND presents a poignant and wryly funny story of family and healing. This is the first feature by Seminole/Creek film director Sterlin Harjo, a guest of the festival in 2005. From Canada, comes SEEKING BIMAADIZIIWIN, a touching story of youth suicide and depression in native communities. An extensive Australian selection is presented, including New Zealand premiere of the offbeat, quirky and poignant BIT OF BLACK BUSINESS native short drama series. “The Wairoa Maori Film Festival will be priced low to encourage community attendance, for example all Marae screenings will be by gold coin koha”, says Festival Chairperson Huia Koziol.

This year’s festival will also include the MAORI FILM FESTIVAL AWARDS DINNER with entertainment by Maori guitar veteran BILLY TK. The music of BILLY TK still reflects his early influences of Hendrix, Santana & McLaughlin and every time he plays the young people are gobsmacked and the oldies relive the past!

Gaiety Cinema and Taihoa Marae, Wairoa
Friday 30th May to Monday June 2nd 2008

MIC Toi Rerehiko & Academy Cinema, Auckland, June 2008 (final dates TBC)
Paramount Cinema & NZ Film Archive Mediaplex, Wellington, June 2008 (final dates TBC)
Regent Cinema, Taumarunui, July 2008 (final dates TBC)

3 NZ short films selected for Edinburgh film festival

9 05 2008

Mia Blake as Evie in This is Her
Mia Blake stars as Evie in the NZ short Film – This is Her
Three New Zealand short films have been selected to screen in the 62nd Edinburgh International Film Festival this June.

“Edinburgh is one of the UK’s premiere festivals, so we are thrilled to have three New Zealand short films selected this year. This Is Her, Careful with that Axe and New Educational Series: Canaries In Colour are very different films but each share a subversive sense of humour. This fits perfectly with Edinburgh’s reputation for exposing cutting edge new talent,” says NZFC Short Film Manager Juliette Veber.

This Is Her is a 12 minute black tale directed by Katie Wolfe about the bitter aftertaste of love. As she watches her younger self in the throes of childbirth, Evie’s devastatingly wry commentary reveals exactly what life has in store for her, her loving husband, and the six year old bitch who will one day steal his affections and destroy her life. This is Her is written by Kate McDermott and produced by Felicity Letcher and Rachel Lorimer.

Careful with that Axe is a two minute black comedy written and directed by Jason Stutter about a young boy who tries his hand wood chopping firewood with his father’s razor sharp axe. Finding the axe heavy, he rests his bare foot on the chopping block… The short film is inspired by the song Careful with that Axe, Eugene by Pink Floyd and it screens before the “darkly witty” British feature film Mum and Dad.

New Educational Series – Canaries In Colour is an animated pastiche of found graphic material from AV learning programs of the 1970s by Jill Kennedy. The viewer is taken on a psychedelic journey through a book of canaries, with animated excursions to scrolling landscapes of the Scottish Highlands and back again. Canaries In Colour will screens in Black Box shorts, a section dedicated to new experimental work.

This Is Her was funded by the Short Film Fund of the New Zealand Film Commission. Careful with that Axe and New Educational Series – Canaries In Colour were funded independently by the filmmakers. Jill Kennedy will travel to Edinburgh to attend the screenings with assistance from the New Zealand Film Commission.

The Edinburgh International Film Festival is one of the UK’s most significant and valued cultural institutions. The festival aims to stand internationally as a festival of discovery, a celebration of cinema, a centre of debate and a catalyst for new films.

The 62nd Edinburgh International Film Festival runs 18 – 29 June 2008, for more information see