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Finalists for The Air New Zealand Screen Awards

News release

Drama, Adventure, Love and Suspense

Finalists found for The Air New Zealand Screen Awards 2006

The top people and productions in New Zealand film and television have once again been found to compete for the country’s premier industry titles in 47 categories.

“Further, irrefutable proof of New Zealand’s depth of talent in both the film and the television industries,” is how Screen Directors Guild of New Zealand President Dan Salmon sums up this year’s finalist list for The Air New Zealand Screen Awards 2006.

These Awards, well supported by the industry and led by the SDGNZ, are regarded as the premier film and television industry awards in New Zealand. And, in just its second year of full presentation, the event’s special finalist announcement has again given keen followers of local production a healthy mix of the old and the new; the legends of the local industry and the rising young stars.

In the film section, critical success No 2, the Mt Roskill-based story of a family ensuring the success of a new generation, leads all finalists with a total of 12 finalist berths. These include selection for Air New Zealand Best Picture, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise Achievement in Directing, Panavision/Atlab Achievement in Cinematography, and Images Achievement in Editing.

It will have to fend off the challenge of three other superb movies to take out the Air New Zealand Best Picture. And it will find the same names challenging for the title in many of the other categories too. The South Pacific Pictures-backed Sione’s Wedding takes ten finalist spots, as does Roger Donaldson’s The World’s Fastest Indian, which stars Anthony Hopkins. With seven selections of its own, River Queen rounds out the country’s four best films of the year.

In the Achievement in Directing category, two young filmmakers find themselves up against a Hollywood heavyweight. Toa Fraser, who wrote and directed No 2, and Chris Graham, who many know best for his music video work, and whose feature film debut was directing the comedy Sione’s Wedding, have found themselves selected alongside one of NZ’s finest, Roger Donaldson.

As for in front of the camera – Shimpal Lelisi and Cliff Curtis come up against none other than Sir Anthony Hopkins for Performance by an Actor while Teuila Blakely vies for Actress honours with Samantha Morton and Ruby Dee (not bad company to be keeping!) No 2 takes four of six places in the Supporting Role categories. They go to Rene Naufahu, Xavier Horan, Mia Blake and Miriama McDowell. Madeleine Sami (Sione’s Wedding) and Rawiri Pene (River Queen) complete the list.

While the Feature Film categories will be fought out between four challengers, a total of six short films have been selected to compete in the short film categories. James Blick’s Us and Jane Shearer’s Nature’s Way each receives three selections, the Paolo Rotondo-scripted ‘Dead Letters’ and Blue Willow from Veialu Aila-Unsworth each take two. The Ambassador’s Brain and The Lost One round out the finalists.

Alison Bruce, who has been selected as a finalist in the Performance in a Short Film category has been acting locally for more than 20 years. Her credits include Mercy Peak, Street Legal, Magik & Rose and The World’s Fastest Indian. This goes someway to shedding some public light on an exceptional career. Nature’s Way lead Matthew Sunderland may have something to say about it though. The rising star also gets a nod for Performance and will be hoping for some recognition of his own in time for his performance in Rob Sarkies’ new film based on the events at Aramoana. The third & youngest short film performance category finalist is Anna Hutchinson, possibly best known for her role as Delphi on Shortland St.

Five Digital Features (up from just three in year one) are in line to take honours in the genre’s two categories. Banana In A Nutshell, {Dream} Preserved, Squeegee Bandit, EVENT 16 and Hidden – are the interesting names to have made it through the judging round this year.

All three films up for Sony Best Digital Feature have been made by immigrant New Zealanders, or their children – Steven Kang ({Dream} Preserved) was born in Seoul and moved to New Zealand in 1993, Roseanne Liang (Banana In A Nutshell) is NZ-born Chinese, and Sandor Lau (Squeegee Bandit) has the fascinating parentage of Chinese and Hungarian-American. Lau came to New Zealand as a Fulbright Scholar in 2000 and has been here ever since.

Dan Salmon says the diversity in New Zealand’s cultural landscape has added new layers of meaning to the nations’ film output and the range of titles selected for finalist spots reflects a certain coming-of-age in our storytelling.

“We have some very big names up for The Air New Zealand Screen Awards 2006 which ensures the longevity of the industry, and we have a feast of fresh talent, all of whom are worthy finalists and all of whom bring unique vision and experience to the filmmaking process,” he says.

“There is something about the film line-up this year which leads one to feel incredibly positive about the stories we are telling. They are stories that display a deep understanding of both the craft and creativity of film. Seeing the new faces up against the more familiar ones proves that we are developing as an industry, and that’s great news for New Zealand.”

The Air New Zealand Screen Awards 2006 will also decide winners in 28 television categories and The Gibson Group’s The Insider’s Guide To Love leads all finalists with 12 finalist selections – just nudging out Outrageous Fortune (nine) and The Market (seven).

These three highly acclaimed shows will fight it out to be named the country’s Best Drama Programme and Best Drama Series and it is no surprise to find Insiders in the mix – last year’s The Insider’s Guide to Happiness was nominated for 11 Screen Awards. Outrageous Fortune and The Market are strong contenders and these are bound to be very hotly contested categories.

In the Best Comedy Programme category, bro’ Town’s Morningside adventures again ensure it makes the finalist list where it is joined by The Gibson Group’s satirical effort Facelift (series three) and by the Tom Scott/Danny Mulheron production Seven Periods With Mr Gormsby, starring New Zealand screen legend David McPhail.

bro’Town’s nomination shows how well it’s creators have crossed over between television and film – many of them are also nominated for their work on the feature Sione’s Wedding.

The strength of women in film and television becomes even more obvious in the finalist selections for Best Documentary and Achievement in Directing, Documentary. Aileen O’Sullivan’s Black Grace From Cannon’s Creek to Jacob’s Pillow, Peta Carey’s Lifting Of The Makutu, and Leanne Pooley’s The Promise are the three documentaries selected for the overall honours while Carey and Pooley are joined by the legendary Gaylene Preston (Earthquake) for the Director Award.

Rachel Jean, who already has a number of finalist selections for The Market, also makes the cut with her drug culture history High Times. It will be competing with the Marcus Lush-presented Off The Rails – A Love Story, and John Hyde’s Wicked Weather for the title of Best Documentary/Factual Series.

In the Acting categories it is again a blend of the familiar and the relatively unknown. Luanne Gordon (Interrogation), Kate Elliot (Insiders) and Cherie James (The Market, and daughter of Billy T James) are all competing for Performance by an Actress. Anthony Starr (Outrageous Fortune), rising star Xavier Horan (The Market) and Gareth Reeves (Insiders) will battle it out for the Actor gong.

The Market manages to provide a finalist in each of the acting categories with Pete Smith and Anapela Polataivao selected for their supporting roles. They are joined by Claire Chitham and Joel Tobeck (Interrogation), Nick Dunbar (Insiders) and Antonia Prebble (Outrageous Fortune).

In the Best Lifestyle/Entertainment Programme Category, Debra Kelleher’s Dancing With the Stars gets a nod from the judges and it will be joined by long-running show Game of Two Halves (now in it’s tenth series and produced by unsung hero Carlena Smith) and by The Living Room (Series Three), which uncovers homegrown creative talent.

In Korero Maori Best Maori Language Programme. Chris Winitana’s Koi will come up against Moteatea, produced by Hinewehi Mohi and Fran Davey, and Pukana, produced by Matai Smith.

The two new categories (Best Event Broadcast and Best Reality Programme) keep pace with the changing nature of the industry and bring us finalists for popular shows like Miss Popularity, Border Patrol, The Big Experiment and coverage of great Kiwi events Shihad Live at Aotea, the National Maori Sports Awards and Westfield Style Pasifika 2005.

In total, 36 separate productions have been selected as finalists for the Air New Zealand Screen Awards 2006 (up on 31 last year) and for SDGNZ President Dan Salmon that is a number that speaks volumes about the talent of our television makers

“We have a truly great mix of experience on show in all of our television categories and this is exceptionally heartening as it proves these awards mean as much to the familiar names as they do to the ones coming up through the ranks. And that’s important for us,” says Dan Salmon.

“Significantly too, the Air New Zealand Screen Awards 2006 will showcase a huge range of Pacific Island talent across both the film and television categories. Sione’s Wedding, No 2 (Toa Fraser also co-wrote River Queen), bro’Town, The Market (Rene Naufahu wrote the show and is a finalist for acting) are just some of the big names on show. It reinforces the important contribution Pacific peoples make to the New Zealand popular culture,” he says.

A full list of all Television & Film finalists are included behind and also available as downloadable pdf files on www.sdgnz.co.nz and (click on the AWARDS tab).

ENDS

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