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NZ Film Milks The Big Apple

A reception will be held in New York next week to celebrate the US premiere of the Kiwi romance The Price of Milk and to promote the New Zealand film industry to the city’s movie, TV and advertising communities.

The reception is being organised by Investment New Zealand (a division of Trade New Zealand) and the US distributor of The Price of Milk to follow the film’s premiere at the Clearview 62 Street Cinema on 7 February.

More than 200 of New York’s top producers, directors, film distributors, media and advertising agency executives are expected to attend, says Investment
New Zealand’s North American manager Jane Cunliffe.

Boosted by such high profile movies as Vertical Limit and Lord of The Rings, Ms Cunliffe says interest in New Zealand from overseas filmmakers is at an all time high.

Miett Fear, Trade New Zealand’s film sector specialist in the USA, adds, “the
New Zealand film and TV industry helped earn $455 million in foreign exchange last year, providing extensive economic benefits throughout the country.

“That money came from a combination of foreign investment in New Zealand films and overseas companies filming on location in New Zealand, many of whom used local film crews and infrastructure.”

Ms Fear says the $455 million in foreign exchange earnings in 2000 is up from $151 million in 1999. A large amount of last year’s total was generated from overseas production investment in Peter Jackson’s three Lord of the Rings features.

“Because of the huge sums of money involved, countries throughout the world are competing fiercely to attract overseas finance and projects to their shores.”

She says New Zealand is positioning itself as a leading choice film location with a large and sophisticated local film infrastructure.

“We have to proactively promote the benefits of filming in New Zealand, otherwise we will be left behind by countries who are actively and aggressively touting for the same movie dollar.”

Ms Cunliffe says Investment New Zealand is working closely with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade in the USA to attract investment into the
New Zealand film industry and to promote New Zealand as a quality and affordable place to film.

“The Price of Milk US premiere is an ideal opportunity to target the East Coast film industry, a group we haven’t focused on before. Along with Los Angeles, New York is home to a number of important independent producers and head office for many of the big advertising agencies that frequently need to shoot commercials offshore.

“Our reception, which includes a welcome by New Zealand’s Ambassador to the USA Jim Bolger, will enable us to develop a database and build up networks with this influential group.”

MFAT and Investment New Zealand held a similar reception in Los Angeles recently to coincide with the release of the American funded movie Vertical Limit, which was shot in New Zealand.

The New Zealand Consulate General in Los Angeles will host a third function in February. That function will coincide with the release of The Price of Milk in Los Angeles, and support the New Zealand presence at the American Film Market where four Kiwi movies will be screening, as well as supporting New Zealand’s participation at a major locations trade event in Los Angeles. Investment
New Zealand is also contributing to increase New Zealand’s presence at the Locations Expo.

The US premiere of The Price of Milk – being billed by its US distributor Lot 47 as “a symphony of magic that inventively explores the boundaries of relationships” - will launch the start of a week long New Zealand film festival in New York, 2001: A New Zealand Film Odyssey.

The festival is being organised by Lot 47 and The New Zealand Film Commission, the agency responsible for funding, marketing and selling
New Zealand films.

Film Commission marketing director Lindsay Shelton says the objective of the festival is to generate media and public interest in The Price of Milk before its public release in the USA on Valentine’s Day, and to promote New Zealand film and talent generally.

The Price of Milk’s director Harry Sinclair and the three lead cast members -Danielle Cormack, Karl Urban and Willa O’Neill - will attend the New York premiere and the Investment New Zealand reception. They will then travel throughout the USA for a two-week promotion of the film.

“Media interest in the film is already high, with reviews and articles appearing in many national magazines, including Premiere, Interview and Mademoiselle. The New Zealand film festival is also generating a buzz, with an article planned for the Arts & Leisure section of the New York Times next Sunday, as well as coverage in the Village Voice and Time Out New York,” says Shelton.

Lot 47 co-president Jeff Lipsky, whose 20 years of experience in the US film industry includes the release of My Life As A Dog and other record breaking foreign films, is very upbeat, not only about The Price of Milk, but about the future of the whole New Zealand film industry.

“In 2000, films from Asia were all the rage. After recently screening a wealth of motion pictures from this tiny island nation, we’re predicting that some of the best films this decade will come from New Zealand. For a country that produces so few films, the overall quality is staggeringly good.”

Lindsay Shelton describes The Price of Milk as a magical romance about a couple living happily together on a dairy farm.

“It’s a perfect love until she decides to test it and goes too far. She then has to set out to get him back…It’s a beautiful movie told lavishly in cinemascope. It does a huge job for New Zealand tourism because it makes the country look so ravishing.

“When overseas people watch our films, they see the country and the people as being amazingly exotic and attractive.”

Shelton says that every time a New Zealand film screens overseas, it does an enormous amount to promote both tourism and trade and attract foreign investment into the industry.

The Price of Milk has also been sold to Germany, Spain and Japan, and Shelton expects it will have a similarly large release in those countries. The other
New Zealand premieres selected for the New York film festival are the uncut versions of Utu and Braindead, War Stories: Our Mothers Never Told Us, Scarfies, Topless Women Talk About Their Lives and What Becomes of the Broken Hearted and a programme of short films.


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