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'Christmas' Wins AFTA Digital

'Christmas' Wins AFTA Digital

Clean sweep for Christmas

9 November 2003, For immediate release. 357 words (main body text).

Debut feature ‘Christmas’ from writer/director Gregory King (SPADA New Filmmaker of the Year 2003) won all four main categories for Digital Film at last night’s AFTA NZ Film Awards.

The wins included Best Digital Feature, Best Script for a Digital Feature, Best Technical Contribution (Caroline Faigan, Art Direction) in a Digital Feature, and Best Performance (Darien Takle for the role of ‘Loma’) in a Digital Feature.

“It is an incredible honour to be recognised by the local industry in this way”, says producer Leanne Saunders. “This caps off a phenomenal run with the film enjoying significant international success with official screenings at A-list festivals including Toronto, Locarno, Melbourne and Edinburgh.”

There were 33 entries in the Digital Film categories, reflecting the increased use of the digital technology by emerging filmmakers as a cost effective and accessible medium.

“’Christmas’ was written and conceived as a digital film, but having said that, the craft skills and storytelling needed to be of a high quality to reach an audience and achieve critical acclaim”, says Saunders.

“The success of ‘Christmas’ is remarkable considering the micro budget. It was produced on less than 100K with funding and investment from the Screen Innovation Production Fund and the New Zealand Film Commission. It is a testament to the quality of the creative involved in the project that it has punched far above its size.”

Saunders accepted the Best Script Award on King's behalf. Gregory is currently in Amsterdam attending the Maurits Binger Film Institute. He has recently been invited to attend the residential Script Writing programme for 2004, places for which are hotly contested internationally. King will attend with financial support from the New Zealand Film Commission, and will be working on the next script to be filmed in New Zealand.

“It is very difficult to single people out, when the passion and commitment that has been extended to this project by everyone involved has been unwavering despite the lack of financial reward” says Saunders.

“However, Caroline and Darien’s awards (Best Technical Contribution, Best Performance) were richly deserved and they both gave everything under very challenging conditions.

‘Christmas’ will have a one off screening tomorrow Wednesday 10 December, 8.00pm at the Moving Image Centre in Auckland as part of an inaugural Digital Film Festival. Screening information and programmes are available through Creative New Zealand.

Selected Press and Festival Comment

“Offering a painfully realistic and blackly humorous slice of suburban misery, the anything-but-merry Christmas marks a most impressive feature debut from Kiwi helmer Gregory King.” Leslie Felperin, Variety 2003

“Somehow, out of this less than promising material, first-time New Zealand director King has crafted something little short of remarkable: at times grimly funny (imagine a much darker episode of The Royle Family), at others anguished and discomfortingly intimate…As a piece of filmmaking, this is exciting - unlike anything else in New Zealand cinema, past or present.” Edinburgh International Film Festival, August 2003

“Laced with black humour, Gregory King has effectively created a sense of claustrophobia and mounting pressure in his ultra low-budget debut feature … King has tapped a rich vein of realism that is compelling.” Melbourne International Film Festival, July 2003

“Bleakly funny and horrifyingly accurate, every scene is carved with equal precision as one character after another implodes in his or her own private hell – all within the family fold…In his first feature film, Gregory King announces his distinctive talent. After Christmas, what will he take on next?” Kay Armatage, Toronto International Film Festival, September 2003

“This singular, bleakly funny, R-rated version of Kiwi life clinches King’s position as the most distinctive new voice in New Zealand film.” Bill Gosden, Director, New Zealand International Film Festival, June 2003


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