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Indie Film Trailblazer Bingham Ray at Conference

For immediate release
19 October 2006

Independent Film Trailblazer Bingham Ray to Address Film and Television Conference

US independent film distribution legend Bingham Ray is a keynote speaker at this year’s Screen Production and Development Association’s (SPADA) Conference at the Hyatt Regency Auckland, 16-18 November 2006.

Ray co-founded the successful independent film company October Films in 1991, whose breakthrough films include Secrets and Lies, The Apostle, The Last Seduction and Breaking the Waves. In 2001 Ray became President of United Artists, where his successes include Academy Award winners Bowling For Columbine and No Man’s Land, and the Academy Award-nominated Hotel Rwanda. He is now consultant to New York based IFC Films.

Ray was the “unnamed” executive who said at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival: “The scariest thing about Blair Witch is the price Artisan paid for it.” His career is documented in Peter Biskind’s book about the Sundance generation “Down and Dirty Pictures”, which ends with this quote from Ray: "The independent world isn't like the Hollywood world. The motives are different, the goals are different, people aren't necessarily trying to get rich and powerful, they're trying to push art first while thinking everything else will take care of itself. That's the naive part of it, it doesn't happen that way. You can't even talk about that with a straight face or people will laugh you off the planet. But there's a big part of me that really does believe that. And will always believe that."

SPADA chief executive Penelope Borland expects more insights from Ray’s address to the conference: “We are delighted this independent industry icon has agreed to be part of this year’s speaker line-up. He embodies the spirit of independent filmmaking that we in New Zealand know so well. I’m sure he’ll enjoy meeting our film industry practitioners, and we think that some interesting relationships, which lead to new projects, could come from Ray’s visit, as well as that of other key speakers”.

Another speaker with resonance for New Zealand film makers is Swedish producer Tomas Eskilsson whose company has co-produced more than 130 films originating from 15 different countries in the past seven years, including Lars von Trier’s Dancer in the Dark and Dogville. Eskilsson also runs one of the largest regional European film funds.

Also recently confirmed as a speaker is Tom Brisley from UK company Darlow Smithson, which produced the mountaineering tragedy Touching the Void, and is now specializing in the disaster genre with the National Geographic series, Seconds From Disaster.

Other international guests are: Brian Seth Hurst (digital & new media); Michelle Krumm (The Weinstein Company); David Court (AFTRS Centre for Screen Business); Sander Schwartz (Warner Bros Animation), who is also speaking at the ANIMFXNZ 2006 Symposium in Wellington on November the 4th and 5th; Sarah Geater (Channel 4); Julian Mercer (BBC1/BBC2); Rebecca Batties (Discovery Lifestyle Networks); and Ynyr Williams (Producer).

New Zealand speakers include: David Gascoigne (Film Fund), who will deliver the John O’Shea Memorial Address to open the Conference; Julie Christie (Eyeworks Touchdown) and Minister of Broadcasting Steve Maharey.

The Conference presents three days of plenary sessions, workshops and masterclasses, exploring aspects of screen production, financing and distribution. Opening night kicks off with the Sky Welcome Drinks on Thursday the 16th, followed by the TVNZ Big Dinner on Friday 17 November, which will feature the presentation of the SPADA New Filmmaker of the Year Award, SPADA Independent Producer of the Year, and the Associate Minister Arts, Culture and Heritage the Hon Judith Tizard will present the SPADA / Onfilm Industry Champion Award.

SPADA CONFERENCE 2006 is supported by principal sponsor New Zealand Film Commission, strategic partner New Zealand Trade and Enterprise / Investment New Zealand; premium sponsor TVNZ with sponsors and supporters Auckland City Council, FIUA, Maori Television Services, New Zealand Film Archive, New Zealand On Air, Oktobor Visual Effects, Onfilm magazine, Screenrights, Sky Networks, Sony, South Pacific Pictures, Te Puni Kokiri, Telecom and TV3.

SPADA New Filmmaker of the Year principal sponsor is Park Road Post, with sponsors Kodak, Panavision, Stage and Screen Travel, FACB and Village SKYCITY Cinemas.

The Screen Production and Development Association of New Zealand (SPADA) represents the interests of producers and production companies on all issues that affect the business and creative aspects of independent screen production in New Zealand (


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