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Documentaries for one and all!

August 2005

Documentaries for one and all!

With pleasure, DOCNZ announces some of the highlights of our inaugural program.
After receiving more than 230 entries from 25 different countries, the selection panel (see appendix for members of this panel) settled on a healthy figure of around 130 documentaries, for the 1st DOCNZ documentary film festival. 30 New Zealand documentaries are short-listed for the top awards in the national documentary film contest.

Festival director Dan Shanan is ecstatic with the quality and the diversity of the documentaries to be included into programming and is confident that there will be something for everyone.

The titles are from all around the world, and feature subjects as diverse as the relationship between Hemingway and his boat captain, Gregorio Fuentes in a charming Cuban short story (The Old man and Hemingway ), and a historic front door in Dunedin (The Freedom Flat).
Highlights include:

  • 2005 Best Documentary Film nominee at the Academy Awards: Twist of Faith. In 2002 the news media exploded with reports of clergy sex abuse and charges of cover-up by Catholic leaders from dioceses all over America. Twist of Faith is the first documentary to delve into the wrenching psychological journey of one victim who determines to take on the church and set things right.
  • Negroes with Guns, the story of a forgotten civil rights figure. Rob Williams, the forefather of the Black Power movement and a complex man who played a pivotal role in the struggle for respect, dignity and equality for all Americans.
  • Tupperware follows the rise of reclusive inventor Earl Tupper's plastic bowls to icon status more than 40 years ago, thanks to the savvy marketing skills of a single young mother, Brownie Wise.
  • From the Edinburgh International Film Festival comes Voices of Iraq. 150 digital-video cameras were given to Iraqi citizens to record whatever they wished. This film is the fascinating result. An important documentation of the Iraqis, it pulses with life, from candid scenes in the home, to parties packed with young people, to harrowing first-person accounts of torture and displacement, and serves to capture a little of the complexity, chaos and (occasional) euphoria of life after the regime of Saddam Hussein.
  • SEEDS, runner up for the Audience Awards at the Palm Springs International Film Festival and the Cleveland International Film Festival. Also the opening night film at Silver Docs AFI Documentary Festival and in official selection for over 25 top US Film Festivals. SEEDS, introduces us to ten courageous teenagers trying to accomplish what most adults can never bring themselves to do: sit down in peace to face their enemy.
  • Have you ever thought ‘where do the countless strands of gaudy beads sported carelessly by Mardi Gras revellers come from?’ In Mardi Gras: Made in China, we follow four Chinese teenagers, who leave their homes to work in a factory making bead necklaces and related paraphernalia. This film has shown at festivals around the world, including Sundance, Nashville, Florida, Palm Beach, Philadelphia, One World Human Rights, New Orleans Human Rights, USA, and Amnesty International.
  • Banned by the Indian Government, Final Solution has garnered praise and awards all over the world. The film documents the 2002 genocide of Moslems in Gujarat and the Assembly elections, considering the exploitation of violent incidents as propaganda for electoral gain.
  • Sugihara – a Conspiracy of Kindness: Can one man really make a difference? Chiune Sugihara, the Japanese consul in Lithuania, helped to save upwards of 2500 Lithuanian Jews during World War II.
  • The winner of ‘Best Documentary Feature’ at the 2005 Los Angeles film fest. Everyone their Grain of Sand examines the impact of global industrialization on land ownership in Tijuana, and the socio-political landscape of the U.S./Mexican border.
  • The opening night will feature the New Zealand premiere of Heroes of Gallipoli. This is a special presentation of restored footage shot by a solider during the War at Gallipoli. The film was restored by Peter Jackson (Weta Digital Ltd), and will be shown together with a presentation by the curator, Madeline Chaleyer.
  • Consistent with the Festival’s commitment towards local documentary film makers, the festival will be featuring a limited retrospective of top rated “shown on television” documentaries, deserving of a Festival screening and inclusion in the awards competition.
  • This will include documentaries such as Marti: The Passionate Eye (about photographer, Marti Friedlander), Colin McCahon: I am (about New Zealand artist and icon, Colin McCahon), and Life On The Street, which explores the day-to-day realities associated with homelessness in New Zealand, by interweaving several vivid portraits of Kiwis living on the street. The Festival will also provide a fresh angle to some of these documentaries with the inclusion of a Q & A panel, most likely featuring the director and in some cases the subject character of the documentary.

    Festival Chairman, Alex Lee, says ‘A great piece of local work should not be disadvantaged from being included in the competition simply because it has shown on television. The Festival competition is about celebrating excellence in local documentary film making including documentaries made by local film makers and commissioned by TVNZ or TV3 for local broadcast”.

  • Other New Zealand made documentaries include Beauty Will Save the World (a fly on the wall account of the 1st Miss Net World beauty pageant held in Iraq) and the world premiere of Pacific Solution (about the Afghani refugees on board the MV Tampa).
  • Following on the generous support of principal sponsors SKYCITY Community Trust, Auckland City and National Geographic Channel, Festival Business Development and Sponsorship Manager, Ewa Bigio is thrilled to announce this week the inclusion of three new principal sponsors, accountancy firm and the Festival’s official accountant, Staples Rodway, Australasian investment and finance company, St Laurence Group and “ideas” company, Saatchi & Saatchi.

    Staples Rodway will be providing accountancy support to the Festival whilst Saatchi & Saatchi will be delivering the Festival’s marketing campaign. Saatchi & Saatchi is currently devising a comprehensive marketing strategy which will include a 4 week TVC campaign running on both the Arts and the National Geographic Channels as well as a print campaign. St Laurence Group will be generously donating towards all three of the competition’s major awards.

    “The three sponsors announced this week are all leaders in their own field and the Festival will benefit greatly from its association with them. All three sponsors are investing considerable time, money and effort into the Festival and the Festival Management Board would like to acknowledge the sponsors’ for their invaluable contribution”, says Ewa Bigio.

    DOCNZ 2005 will take place at Auckland’s Academy Cinema, 15-28 September 2005, and at Wellington’s Paramount Theatre 29 September – 5 October 2005. The media launch will be held on Wednesday the 24th of August at the Academy Cinema and it will be open for the public. Programs will be distributed through cafes and libraries throughout Auckland and Wellington.


    Our highly experienced Selection Committee consisted of the following people:

    Leanne Pooley

    Pooley's documentaries have screened in more than 100 countries, and include topics ranging from genetics to the Pope. Upon her return to New Zealand from England in 1997 Pooley established the independent production company Specific Films. Recent documentaries include the Qantas Award winning film Relative Guilt, The Man Who Has Everything for the American Discovery Network, Kiwi Buddha as seen on National Geographic and Haunting Douglas about choreographer Douglas Wright. Most recently she has completed production of feature length documentary The Promise about euthanasia campaigner and convicted murderer Lesley Martin. Leanne has served as a judge for the International Emmy Awards, is on the executive of the New Zealand Director's Guild, and has published several articles on documentary filmmaking.

    Di Rowan

    Rowan is New Zealand’s most celebrated casting director and currently the President of Women in Film and Television (WIFT). From England, Di graduated from Drama School and turned her talents to discovering screen talents have including Anna Paquin in The Piano: and Keisha castle Hughes in Whale Rider.

    Susan Potter

    A lawyer by training, Potter worked in the public sector but decided to take up film and television at the University of Auckland. She has been the Acting Executive Director of the Screen Directors Guild and is a documentary filmmaker.

    Sandor Lau

    An American, Sandor is of Hungarian Chinese decent. He was a Fulbright Scholar and did a Masters in Film & Television at the University of Auckland. His films Another Man’s Treasure and Behaviours of the Backpacker have shown in international film festivals. His current project is a feature length documentary called Squeegee Men.

    James Brookman

    Brookman has been in the movie picture marketing business for more than 20 years serving as a writer, producer, director and editor. Over the years he has created hundreds of theatrical trailers, TV and radio sports and promotional videos for films of all genres. He immigrated to New Zealand in 2000 and his trailers since then includes Crooked Earth, Rain, Kombi Nation, The Locals, Perfect Strangers, Spooked, 50 Ways of Saying Fabulous, The World’s Fastest Indian, Number 2, Grateful Dawg, Almost Salinas, Assassination Tango and Three Dollars.

    Ewa Bigio

    Bigio is a trained lawyer and active in the arts. She has been a realtor, owned an art gallery and an active supporter of Opera New Zealand.

    Beth Butler

    Butler is currently an academic, whose industry experience has covered the whole range in film, eventually specialising in lighting. She worked overseas and most notably, has apprenticed and then worked extensively with Stanley Kubrick on his projects.

    Catherine Maddigan

    Maddigan has been in the film industry for over 20 years with production experience in feature films, television series, television commercials and documentaries. Many of the projects Maddigan has been involved with have been shot overseas, primarily in the South Pacific and Asia.

    During the past year Maddigan has worked with Weta Workshop producing a complex miniature train sequence for Sony’s upcoming feature The Legend of Zorro. Maddigan is currently developing two documentaries, one based out of Auckland with the second one being shot both in Sri Lanka and New Zealand.

    Philippa Mossman

    Mossman is TVNZ’s Art Commissioner. She has more than 12 years production experience and joins TVNZ from Greenstone Pictures where she has spent eight years as a producer. Her production credits include Mercury Lane (23 hours of arts documentaries for TV ONE and a finalist in the 2003 Qantas Media Awards), two series of semi-dramatised history documentaries Epitaph and many one-off documentaries including Crump, Hudson and Halls and The Respectable Addiction. Before going into production Philippa worked in arthouse cinema and produced theatre.

    Alex Lee

    Lee is an entertainment lawyer, producer, director and writer, as well as managing director of Tsunami Management Limited, Tamarillo Films Limited and Tamarillo Casting Limited. Alex is currently producing a feature film The Magician. He also founded and set up the Asia Film Festival Aotearoa. In case that wasn’t enough, he also teaches Production Management to the Masters students at the University of Auckland.

    Dan Shanan

    Shanan is a documentary filmmaker who immigrated to New Zealand in 2003. His feature length documentary, A Stage of Mind, will premiere in the Haifa International Film festival in October 2005.

    Ma-kara at Makara, a short documentary film that he co-directed, screened at the 2005 Asia Film Festival Aotearoa, 2004 Warsaw International Jewish Film Festival, and the 2004 Jewish Film Festival in Jerusalem. Shanan also owns and manages Timeline Productions Limited, a production company devoted to documentary making.

    Annie Goldson

    Goldson is Associate Professor of the Department of Film & TV Studies at the University of Auckland. She has been producing and directing award-winning documentaries for 15 years, both here and in the United States. Goldson’s feature film Punitive Damage, showed in festivals, cinemas and on television throughout the world and won over 10 international awards.

    Feature documentary, Georgie Girl was shown at the Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane International Film Festivals as well as at Hotdocs in Toronto. Goldson’s current film Pacific Solution is currently in post-production.


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