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Screen Innovation Film Grants Announced

An experimental documentary series depicting the transgender, lesbian and gay communities in New Zealand over a 25-year span was a highlight of the projects offered grants in the latest funding round of the Screen Innovation Production Fund, announced this week.

Photographic artist and filmmaker Fiona Clark of Waitara, Taranaki was offered $12,490 to produce Go Girl, four 30-minute documentaries drawing on the work she undertook 25 years ago as an Honours student at the Elam School of Fine Arts in Auckland.

“This project will bring my original work into a contemporary arena by answering the question, ‘What happened to those people and what are they doing with their lives now?’” Clark said.

New Zealand in the 1970s was not ready to acknowledge the existence of the transgender community, Clark said. But in 1999, Georgina Beyer was elected to Parliament.

“The work is deeply personal but it also tells a story far greater than mine,” Clark said. “This is a story of New Zealand and its emotional and intellectual growth. The community, despite legislation, is still vulnerable to public opinion. I wish to honour my original intention to tell this story without the censorship that prevented it from being seen at an earlier time.”

Clark also hopes to publish the work and exhibit it in galleries throughout New Zealand and in Sydney.

Clark’s project was one of 19 offered grants totalling $248,618 in the Screen Innovation Production Fund’s second funding round for 1999/2000. A partnership between Creative New Zealand and the New Zealand Film Commission, the Screen Innovation Production Fund supports the moving-image arts by funding innovative, often low-budget productions. In this funding round, it received 89 applications seeking a total of $1.38 million.

The Fund’s assessment panel – comprising Julie Warren (Chair), Lawrence McDonald, Sima Urale, Melissa Wikaire and Vanessa Alexander – supported both emerging and established filmmakers, several experimental projects, drama and documentaries. No projects exploring digital technologies were funded in this round.

Grants to other experimental projects include:

 $4450 to Michael Brown of Ngaio, Wellington towards the production of All to Pieces, a short experimental drama about a man reflecting on an incident from his past, when he was beaten up on a beach

 $7960 to Janine Randerson of Ponsonby, Auckland towards the production of Likely Stories, an audio-visual installation using digital video loops, closed circuit television and audience-triggered sound

 $22,745 to Morag Brownlie of Newton, Auckland towards the production of Rover, a short experimental drama set on Auckland’s Karangahape Road and following the street-dwelling Rover as he travels up the street.

Ms Warren said the panel was pleased to offer a grant of $35,550 to Wellington filmmaker Barry Thomas and Yeti Productions for rADz#4, a fourth collection of short, short films for television (haiku films of between 15 to 90 seconds).

The Screen Innovation Production Fund has supported the three previous rADz collections and Ms Warren said rADz provided vital opportunities for filmmakers with little or no track record.

“They’re a great way for emerging filmmakers to be able to take risks and bring their ideas to fruition,” Ms Warren said.

Yeti Productions will be calling for scripts in June for the new series of 30 rADz and is also planning to develop a Maori-specific series of 25 rADz.

Ms Warren said one of the aims of the Screen Innovation Production Fund was to support innovative projects by promising, emerging filmmakers. Among the emerging filmmakers offered grants was Barry Prescott of Wellington for Bouncers, an animated drama exploring the possibility of genetically engineered nightclub bouncers – with obvious comic results.

The panel also supported two projects by emerging Maori filmmakers: a drama called Player Hater by Quentin Parr of Wellington, and Moko Kauae, a documentary affirming the reclamation of Moko Kauae for Maori women by Leonie Pihama and Sharon Hawke of Moko Productions, Auckland.

Julie Warren said the assessment panel was pleased to see a slight increase in applications from Maori and Pacific Islands filmmakers. As in previous funding rounds, however, a number of projects from Maori filmmakers were for documentaries and the panel was keen to see more projects for innovative and experimental drama.

The work of New Zealand visual artists Ralph Hotere, Bill Culbert, Para Matchitt, Hariata Ropata and the late Edward Bullmore will be captured in a documentary series, Artists at Work, by Auckland filmmaker Darcy Lange.

Offered a grant $4200 towards the production of this series, Lange received support from the Fund in 1999 to document the work of 17 artists. Now completed, this earlier work has attracted interest from a number of institutions, including the Auckland Museum.

Wellington filmmaker Robin Greenberg is one of five filmmakers supported for post-production costs. Greenberg was offered a $7000 grant towards the post-production of Tu Tangata: Weaving for the People, a documentary about master weaver Erenora Puketapu-Hetet (Te Atiawa).

A 67-minute documentary, Tu Tangata: Weaving for the People will be screened at the New Zealand International Film Festival running in the main centres in July. Greenberg describes the documentary as a four-year journey producing a work of great depth and intimacy.

“Erenora’s story is one of passion and commitment to her art and to the Waiwhetu community,” she says. “At the heart of the story lies an illustration in action of the Tu Tangata policies and the potential for visionary change of how we see ourselves and the future of New Zealand.”

Other grants offered for post-production were:

 $3,763 to Dunedin filmmaker Shay Dewey of Abstract Productions towards the post-production of Puppy Love, a short drama about “dogs, a burger, coffee and sex”

 $15,000 to Dave Dawson of Herne Bay, Auckland towards the post-production of A Whisper in the Treetops, a documentary about conservationist Barry Brickell and his project to recreate a kauri forest on the Coromandel Peninsular

 $6,339 to Wellington filmmakers Jo Hiles and Fiona Bartlett of Feijoa Films towards the post-production of Face Value, a short drama about a woman whose face is stuck permanently in a smile

 $4,909 to Simon Wright of Christchurch towards the post-production of Tailormade, a short drama described as a “hypercomic tease” about the allure of jobs, smoking and marriage.

Julie Warren said the assessment panel was impressed at the level of development and professionalism of those films seeking grants for post-production costs.

In general, however, a number of the projects submitted to this funding round needed further development to improve the applicants’ chances of receiving a grant.

Applications to the next funding round for the Screen Innovation Production Fund close on 28 July 2000. Copies of the Funding Guide/Nga Putea and specific guidelines for the Fund are available from Creative New Zealand offices or can be downloaded from its website (www.creativenz.govt.nz).

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