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NZ Digital Filmmakers Take the Double in Oz Awards

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – 15 November 2006

NZ Digital Filmmakers Take the Double at Australian Film Awards

New Zealand filmmakers have taken the two top positions in Australia’s digital film awards.

The Waimate Conspiracy, by Christchurch filmmaker, Stefen Lewis, took the top honours at the 2006 digiSPAA awards announced in Brisbane yesterday.

Waimate was one of two New Zealand films to make the shortlist of four in the competition. The second film {Dream} Preserved, by Stephen Kang received honourable mention.

digiSPAA is an annual competition for feature films made with digital cameras. The competition is conducted by the Screen Producers Association of Australia (SPAA) and is sponsored by MOVIE NETWORK CHANNELS..

The Waimate Conspiracy is a comedy about a Maori land claim in the South Island. Though fictional it is filmed in a mock documentary style. It was produced by Stefen Lewis, Beverley Harris and Quentin Wilson. Mr Lewis also wrote and directed the film which recently won the supreme award at the Wairoa Maori Film Festival. The film was financed by the filmmaker and received a post-production financing grant from the New Zealand Film Commission (NZFC).

It has New Zealand distribution from Arkles Entertainment and New Zealanders will get their opportunity to see it when it opens in Christchurch on November 23. Other centres around the country will follow.

{Dream} Preserved is the story of a Korean student overstayer living in Auckland. Earlier this year it won the best Digital Feature award at the New Zealand Screen Awards.

All films entered in the competition were judged by a panel of industry insiders including Oscar-winning producer Melanie Coombs; Romper Stomper producer, Daniel Scharf; and Los Angeles based producer / distributor Antony I Ginnane.

Judging panel chairman, Antony I Ginnane said he was impressed with the freshness and honesty of the winning film. “As a first time feature producer, Stefen Lewis has created a remarkable debut film. Shooting his fictional story in a documentary style was a brave decision, but one that has ultimately paid off. “ Mr Ginnane said.

In awarding an honourable mention to {Dream} Preserved the judges said they felt that the film heralded an exciting new talent whose next work would be eagerly anticipated.

NZFC Chief Executive, Dr Ruth Harley, has congratulated the filmmakers on their success.

“This is a great achievement for these filmmakers,” she said.

As well as a cash-prize the winning producer team wins a trip to Cinemart in Rotterdam which is one of the leading marketplaces for developing new projects.

“That in itself shows that digital filmmaking provides solid opportunities for emerging filmmakers both to have their work spotted and to begin working towards developing contacts with international film financing and marketplace structure.”

SPAA Executive Director Geoff Brown noted, “In its second year, digiSPAA has firmly established itself as a development platform for emerging Australian and New Zealand film makers.”


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