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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
29 January 2016
The Directors & Editors Guild of NZ is thrilled to announce Bryn Evans as the recipient of our International Director’s Mentorship with award winning Canadian filmmaker Jennifer Baichwal.
“I feel both excited and inspired by the prospect of being mentored by Jennifer and anticipate that it will have an immense impact on my development as a filmmaker and the project we will be developing together,” said Evans.
“Bryn has a deep understanding of documentary possibility, and a clear expertise with form, as evidenced in his earlier work,” said Baichwal. “I commend his desire to push the boundaries, and am looking forward to being part of that creative journey.”
For more than 20 years, Jennifer Baichwal has been making award-winning and critically acclaimed documentaries with Nick de Pencier through the pair’s Toronto-based company, Mercury Films Inc.
Baichwal’s strong documentary background and international success make her an ideal mentor for Evans, whose latest documentary feature Hip Hop-eration has screened in official selection around the world, from its world premiere at the International Documentary Film Festival of Amsterdam to the DocAviv Documentary International Film Festival. It has also won a slew of awards including Best Documentary at the 2014 Rialto Channel NZ Film Awards and the Audience Award at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.
“Jennifer’s approach to documentary is different than Bryn’s prior work, which should prove challenging and highy interesting for Bryn as a filmmaker,” said Executive Director of DEGNZ Tui Ruwhiu. “Her long experience in theatrical documentary will also give him great insights for the future.”
Currently, Baichwal is working on her latest feature documentary Anthropocene, the third in a trilogy of feature documentaries preceded by Watermark (2014) and Manufactured Landscapes (2006). Anthropocene follows an international group of geologists who want to change the name of our present interglacial epoch ‘Holocene’ to ‘Anthropocene’ in recognition of human impact.
As part of the mentorship, Jennifer will visit New Zealand to work with Bryn on developing his next project, A Season for Persimmons. This documentary delves into the story of Kiwi nurse Kathleen Hall who put herself on the line to smuggle medical supplies to the needy in China.
The mentorship is an industry professional development initiative funded by the New Zealand Film Commission and managed by DEGNZ. The overall intention of the International Director’s Mentorship is to inspire a promising New Zealand director and demystify the international film industry. The experience offers genuine insight into creative process and engagement with the industry as a whole, while providing a solid platform upon which to build an international career.
For further information, please contact:
Directors & Editors Guild of NZ
From searing reportage of some of the world’s conflict zones to personal journeys into one’s culture, Bryn has a passion for exposing the political, social and personal stories of the world that we live in.
After a successful international career as a photojournalist Bryn made his debut documentary with ‘The Great Game – Afghanistan’ (2002) an intimate profile of the Taliban National Cricket Team and their first International tour to Pakistan.
Since returning to New Zealand in 2003 Bryn has also directed and produced numerous current affairs and documentary productions, but in 2008 made his first cinematic feature length documentary; ‘From Street to Sky’ through the support of Maori Television.
An opportunity again came in 2014 to write and direct the hugely successful documentary Hip Hop-eration, which was a local box office success and has gone on to screen at cinemas around the world.
Its world premier was at the prestigious Documentary Film Festival of Amsterdam (IDFA). It won the Audience Awards at it’s US premier in Santa Barbara, the Two Rivers Film Festival in Poland and picked up the Best Feature Documentary Award at the Chagrin Documentary Film Festival in the US. It also screened at the Cannes Film Festival and the Berlinale Film Festival market places.
Bryn’s current development slate is a reflection of his desire to work in feature length documentary – developing concepts with visual scope, entertainment value, non-conventional treatments and profoundly human, universal stories, with strong character-arcs.
Jennifer Baichwal was born in Montréal and grew up in Victoria, British Columbia. She studied philosophy and theology at McGill University and received an M.A. in 1994, supported by a McGill Major Fellowship and a 2 year FCAR Master’s Scholarship.
She has been directing and producing documentaries for 15 years. Her first film, Looking You In The Back of the Head, an enquiry into the problem of personal identity, asked thirteen women to try to describe themselves and was first broadcast, to critical acclaim, on TVOntario’s From the Heart. It subsequently sold for broadcast across Canada.
Let it Come Down: The Life of Paul Bowles, her first feature documentary, won a 1999 International Emmy for Best Arts Documentary. It premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 1998 and was nominated that year for a Best Feature Documentary Genie Award. It won Best Biography at Hot Docs in 1999 and was picked up for theatrical release by Mongrel Media in Canada, Zeitgeist Films in the U.S., and Uplink in Japan. The film has been sold for broadcast all over the world, and has been selected for a number of international film and television festivals, including Jerusalem, Buenos Aires, FIPA, Banff (where it received a Rockie nomination), Istanbul and Edinburgh.
The Holier It Gets documents a trek Baichwal took with her brother and two sisters to the source of the Ganges river with her father’s ashes. The film won Best Independent Canadian Film and Best Cultural Documentary at Hot Docs 2000, Geminis for Best Editing and Best Writing and was nominated for the Donald Brittain Award and the Chalmers Documentarian Award. It was commissioned by TVOntario and features music by Ravi Shankar and John McLaughlin.
The True Meaning of Pictures is a feature length film on the work of Appalachian photographer Shelby Lee Adams. It was commissioned by TVOntario, Bravo!, SBS Australia and Discovery Germany. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2002 and was invited to the Sundance International Film Festival in January 2003. It won a Gemini award for Best Arts Documentary in 2003 and has played at numerous international festivals. The film was released on dvd by Docurama/New Video in October 2003.
Baichwal, along with Nick de Pencier, was commissioned in 2003-4 to make 40 short films on artists who have been supported over the past four decades by the Ontario Arts Council. These include writer Michael Ondaatje, artist Michael Snow, pianist Eve Egoyan and playwright Judith Thompson, and are in periodic rotation on TVOntario. The collection received a 2006 Gemini nomination for Best Direction in a Performing Arts Program or Series.
Manufactured Landscapes, a feature documentary about the work of artist Edward Burtynsky, was a co-production between Mercury Films, Foundry Films and the National Film Board. It premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2006 and won Best Canadian Feature Film, and has since received a number of other awards, notably a Genie for Best Documentary, Al Gore’s Reel Current Award and the 2006 Toronto Film Critics’ Award for Best Canadian Feature and Best Documentary 2006. It played theatrically in over 15 territories worldwide, after a prolonged and successful run in Canada.
Act of God, a feature documentary on the metaphysical effects of being struck by lightning and another collaboration between Mercury and Foundry, opened the Hot Docs Film Festival in April 2009 and was released in Canada afterwards by Mongrel Media. It has since played at a number of international festivals, and was released by Zeitgeist Films in the U.S. and Against Gravity in Poland. The film features Paul Auster, Dannion Brinkley and Fred Frith. It was commissioned by The Documentary Channel in Canada, Arte in France and Channel 4 in the U.K.
In 2011 Baichwal completed Payback, a documentary adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth, with the National Film Board of Canada and Ravida Din (Executive Producer, Quebec Production Centre). The film premiered in World Documentary Competition at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2012 and was released in Canada (Mongrel Media) in March, 2012 and the U.S. in April, 2012.
Watermark is a feature documentary film about human interaction with water around the world and marks Baichwal and de Pencier’s second collaboration with Edward Burtynsky. The documentary is co-directed by Burtynsky, produced and filmed by de Pencier. It premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2013, was a box office success in Canada, playing theatres for 4 months. It won the Toronto Film Critic’s Association prize for Best Canadian Film in Jan 2014 and Best Documentary at the the Canadian Screen Awards 2014. It has been released in 10 territories around the world.
Baichwal is currently in research for another feature documentary project, Anthropocene, with Nick de Pencier and Edward Burtynsky, which will mark the third in a trilogy of collaborative films including Watermark and Manufactured Landscapes.
Directors & Editors Guild of NZ
The Directors & Editors Guild of NZ is a not-for-profit membership organisation that represents Directors and Editors in the New Zealand screen industry. This includes Directors and Editors of feature drama and documentary; television drama, documentary and factual programmes; short films; video art; animation; commercials and web content.
DEGNZ’s two primary roles are advocacy and professional development. We:
- are dedicated to promoting excellence in the arts of directing and editing.
- foster collegiality and unity within the screen industry.
- promote members’ creative and economic rights.
- work to improve industry working conditions and remuneration.
- offer professional advice and information on contracts and industry standards and practice.
- offer professional development events, networking opportunities, career advice, dispute resolution, mentoring, workshops, training, discounts and regular news bulletins for members across all levels of expertise, from novices to seasoned professionals.
- are a voice for Directors and Editors in influencing policy in the interest of our members. We do this through our membership of the pan‐industry group SINZ (Screen Industry New Zealand), and by making submissions to government and public officials.
- Internationally work co-operatively with other guilds and we belong to the International Affiliation of English‐Speaking Directors’ Organisations (IEASDO).
DEGNZ is Auckland-based with an office in Grey Lynn.
Directors & Editors Guild of NZ
Level 2, 66 Surrey Crescent, Grey Lynn
P.O. Box 47-294, Ponsonby