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DEGANZ member Rebecca Tansley directed the New Zealand Opera film Semele, which opens in selected cinemas from 28 October.

Filmed live in Auckland’s Holy Trinity Cathedral, Rebecca had just one live performance to get the film right which required a lot of careful pre-production planning, including bringing camera operators into rehearsals.

Semele is a sensual love triangle between Jupiter, King of the Gods, his wife Juno, and his lover, the mortal princess Semele.

Although the film’s premiere was back in May in Auckland, this nationwide release enables New Zealand Opera to travel from major cities to the regions. Find out more information on the film and see if it’s screening near you.

Meanwhile, Rebecca’s short film The Finding has been selected for Montecatini International Short Film Festival in Italy, one of Europe’s longest running short film festivals. The film, written and directed by Rebecca, was shot on Kodak 16mm in Central Otago and Dunedin. In The Finding, a teenager’s efforts to reconnect with her estranged father forces them to confront a secret in their past.

The New Zealand International Film Festival has announced that local shorts will also screen before selected feature films in Auckland and Wellington, on top of the NZ’s Best and the Ngā Whanaunga Māori Pasifika short film sections. Keep an eye out for these five short films by DEGNZ members.

The Man Downstairs

Director/producer and DEGNZ member Grant Lahood will have his short The Man Downstairs  screened this year during the festival. The premise is mysterious as young couple Jess and Tom move into the perfect new apartment upstairs from their landlord Colin, but then things start getting strange.

Marieville

Grant Lahood also has another short film screening, one he wrote, directed and produced called Marieville. Marieville is centred around Karen and a sudden encounter with an icon from her past that conjures evocative memories of her late father and his passion for a model Mississippi paddle boat.

The Meek

The storyline for The Meek simply couldn’t be more timely: in a twist of chromosomes and fate, young Izzy may also be the key to humanity’s future in a world ravaged by a deadly virus. The short film set to screen at this year’s festival is directed and written by DEGNZ member Gillian Ashurst and edited by Jonathan Woodford-Robinson.

Munkie

DEGNZ board member Steven Chow will see his film Munkie screened in Auckland and Wellington during the festival too. Steven wrote, directed and edited Munkie which tells the story of Rose and her violent plan for revenge against her domineering tiger parents.

Peninsula

In the film Peninsula, Mark is pushed out of his comfort zone while trying to reconnect with his estranged son Toby and deal with his new neighbour Amber who does things differently. Written and directed by Fiona McKenzie and edited and produced by Scott Flyger, Peninsula has done extremely well internationally and we are excited to have it screen on our shores again.

Six short films have been selected as finalists for Whānau Mārama: New Zealand International Film Festival’s New Zealand’s Best Short Film Competition. Amongst those selected by Guest Selector, award-winning actress and filmmaker Kerry Fox, are films made by our very own DEGNZ members.

Only F**ks Pat Me on the Head

Only F**ks Pat Me on the Head is an intimate documentary about John, a Wellingtonian with Cerebral Palsy, as he shares the frustrations of living with CP in a world not designed to accommodate those who are different. This short doco is co-directed and co-produced by DEGNZ member Paul Wolffram.

Datsun

In Datsun, fourteen-year-old Matt takes his dad’s yellow Datsun for one last wild joyride with his best buddy and kid brother in tow. DEGNZ member Luke Haigh was the editor of the film.

A total of four prizes are to be won; The Vista Group Award for Best Short Film, the Creative New Zealand Emerging Talent Award, the Auckland Live Spirit of the Civic Award and The Audience Award.

Read more about the competition

The 2021 Whānau Mārama: New Zealand International Film Festival has announced an impressive lineup of New Zealand feature films. More than a few DEGNZ members have had their films selected and we would like to congratulate each and every member. We can’t wait to see your mahi on the big screen!

This is the first part of our NZIFF 2021 members round-up.

Millie Lies Low

Premiering to the world this year, Michelle Savill’s feature film directorial debut, Millie Lies Low (pictured above), tells the story of an architecture grad accepted into a prestigious internship who panics, misses her flight and fakes being in New York while hiding out in her hometown.

Rohe Kōreporepo – The Swamp, the Sacred Place

Over the past 150 years, 90% of Aotearoa’s swaps have been drained – a tragedy considering they are among the world’s most valuable and bio-diverse ecosystems. Exploring the re-flooding, re-creation and restoration of our wetlands, Rohe Kōreporepo – The Swamp, the Sacred Place is a documentary most befitting the global crisis of our time and was edited by Gaylene Barnes.

There Is No I in Threesome

Following a critically acclaimed US premiere on HBO max, the documentary There Is No I in Threesome returns home for its theatrical world premiere on the big screen. Another milestone for DEGNZ members, director Jan Oliver Lucks and our board member Francis Glenday who cut the film.

 

A Mild Touch of Cancer

Annie Goldson directed, produced and wrote the screenplay for A Mild Touch of Cancer. David Downs survived cancer and is dedicated to helping fellow New Zealanders face their own cancer journeys. These are their stories. A Mild Touch of Cancer will have its theatrical premiere at the festival this year. With an impressive twenty year career and multiple awards under Annie’s belt, we’re sure this will be an unmissable documentary.

Fiona Clark: Unafraid

Director Lula Cucchiara’s Fiona Clark: Unafraid unravels the legacy of a great New Zealand photographer whose work ensures that the history of marginalised queer communities in Aotearoa is never forgotten. This intimate portrait of a ground-breaking photographer will have its world premiere at NZIFF. This doco is edited by Anastasia Doniants, who was selected for our first ever DEGNZ Drama Editor Attachment in 2018, and Shailesh Prajapati was assistant editor.

Mark Hunt: The Fight of His Life

Described as an autobiographical rags-to-riches story, Mark Hunt: The Fight of His Life, shines a light on one of New Zealand’s most prolific sporting superstars. Veteran filmmaker Peter Brook Bell directs and Gary Sims edits this compelling and harrowing documentary, charting Hunt’s challenging childhood to his global success as the New Zealand MMA fighter and UFC champion.

Mothers of the Revolution

DEGNZ board member Margot Francis is one of four editors of the feature-length documentary Mothers of the Revolution, telling the story of a nineteen year protest where thousands of women from around the world came together at Greenham Common to take a stand against nuclear proliferation. This is the story of one of the longest protests in history!

Whetū Mārama – Bright Star

Aileen O’Sullivan is one half of the directing partnership of the documentary Whetū Mārama – Bright Star, telling the inspiring story of Sir Hekenukumai Ngaiwi Puhipi, aka Hek Busby, modern pioneer waka builder and navigator.

Patu!

To mark the 40th anniversary of the 1981 Springbok tour protests, Patu! will take to the big screen once more with this restored and remastered version, newly preserved by Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision. The team worked for nearly five years to bring this landmark film back to the big screen. First released in 1983 and cut by Annie Collins, we can’t wait to see it in the cinema once again!

Member Rob Sarkies, director of the 2006 film Out of the Blue, which told the story of the 1990 Aramoana massacre, sat down with RNZ’s The Detail to discuss the delicate nature of filming a real-life tragedy.

The important discussion surrounding portraying a real-life tragedy was brought to the forefront, after news broke that Hollywood producers were planning a film around the March 15 terror attacks in Christchurch.

Films like these wrestle with similar questions, who should make it? Who has the right to make it? What story will actually be told and whether it’s too soon. Rob acknowledges that there is no easy answer. On his own experience making Out of the Blue, Rob said:

“I felt that, if it was to be made, it needed to be made responsibly. It needed to be made by someone who could have empathy, and basically do it right. And I felt, being from Dunedin and having some concerns about how that story might be told in the wrong hands, I trusted myself to tell it. I took on the responsibility.”

Members of the Aramoana community worked closely with the production.

As a storyteller, Rob feels that storytelling can help a nation collectively process a tragic event. There is healing power in storytelling.

Have a listen to or read the discussion here.