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German Film Festival to help Kiwi filmmakers gain funding

German Film Festival to help Kiwi filmmakers gain international funding

This year has seen some incredible Kiwi films hit our screens: The Dark Horse, What We Do In The Shadows, and The Last Saint, to name but three.

However, with a fixed amount of funding available each year many Kiwi filmmakers are having to look for international money in order to make their next film, a fact recognised and supported by the New Zealand Film Commission and the New Zealand Government.

But how do filmmakers find international producers and new sources of funding? How do they ensure they make the right pitch? What expectations and accountabilities come with such co-productions? These questions and more will be answered at an International Co-Production Forum, hosted by the Goethe-Institut in association with Documentary Edge and support from AUT/ Colab and the New Zealand Film Commission as a special event attached to this year’s German Film Festival.

Special guests have been flown out from Germany and added to a panel of top New Zealand industry experts. Led by producer Alex Lee, the panel consists of German filmmakers Arne Birkenstock (Sound of Heimat) and Maren Niemeyer, New Zealand producer John Barnett (Footrot Flats, Whale Rider, Sione's Wedding and TV's Outrageous Fortune) and the Chief Financial Officer at the New Zealand Film Commission, Mladen Ivancic.

The International Co-Production Forum consists of a Pitching Workshop and a Panel Discussion, which will be held at the AUT City Campus in Auckland on Thursday 18 September. For more information or to book a seat at the forum, please email

The forum is just one of many special events that are part of this year's new-look German Film Festival - designed specifically to expand festival enjoyment beyond what’s on screen. Other events in Auckland include a special Yodelling Workshop with Loni Kuisle (Germany's Yodelling Queen, who features in the opening night film Sound of Heimat) and a Film for Foodies event on Wednesday 17 September, which includes a screening of Love Steaks. In Wellington, a Jazz Concert will be held at Old St Paul’s on Saturday 6 September, featuring Kiwi musician Hayden Chisholm, the star of Sound of Heimat.

The German Film Festival begins in Wellington (4-14 September, Paramount) before moving to Auckland (11-21 September, Rialto Cinemas Newmarket) and Dunedin (25-28 September, Rialto Cinemas).

About John Barnett (Producer and International Co-Production Forum Panel Guest)

Since the 1970s John Barnett has brought a host of uniquely Kiwi stories to local and international screens, from Fred Dagg and Footrot Flats, to Whale Rider, Sione's Wedding and Outrageous Fortune. As boss of production company South Pacific Pictures since 1993, Barnett has been a driving force behind some of New Zealand’s landmark television dramas and feature films.

About Arne Birkenstock (Film Director, Writer and International Co-Production Forum Panel Guest)

Arne Birkenstock has directed and produced numerous successful feature length documentaries for cinema, such as Beltracchi- The Art of Forgery (German Film Award for Best Documentary 2014), Chandani - the Daughter of the Elephant Whisperer (German Film Award for Best Children‘s Feature 2011) and Sound of Heimat. Arne Birkenstock also works as a consultant for several film and media schools in Germany and has served as a juror for several festivals and film funding commissions. He is a board member of the German Documentary Association AG DOK and a member of the European Documentary Network EDN, the German Film Academy and the European Film Academy.

About Mladen Ivancic (Chief Financial Officer New Zealand Film Commission and International Co-Production Forum Panel Guest)

Mladen Ivancic has overall responsibility for the financial and marketing information systems of the NZ Film Commission. In addition, he monitors aspects of feature film financing and budgets, manages co-production approval and film certification and has input into policy development and the NZFC’s interface with Government.

About Alex Lee (Producer and Chair of the International Co-Production Forum)

Alex Lee is a lawyer and also has a filmmaking background graduating in a Masters of Creative & Performing Arts (Film & TV Directing) from University of Auckland. Since then, he has been actively developing and promoting both his own film and TV projects as well as promoting the industry. In the last six years, he has founded and helped build the documentary film festival and industry related events. His goals are to continue to develop media projects both locally and internationally and to help develop the film, TV and media industries.

About Maren Niemeyer (Journalist, Author, Documentary Filmmaker and International Co-Production Forum Panel Guest)

Maren Niemeyer has worked as a journalist, editor and documentary filmmaker for national and international radio and tv channels, mainly for ARD, ZDF, Deutsche Welle -TV and the German-French culture channel ARTE. Since 2010 she has been working as Programme Advisor for the Film Department of the Goethe-Institut Headquarter in Munich.

/ends (798 words)

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