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Scarecrow Documentary Among Screen Fund Grants

A one-hour documentary capturing a festival of more than 200 scarecrows and a slice of rural life in the Wairarapa features among the 14 films offered grants in the latest funding round of the Screen Innovation Production Fund.

Wellington filmmaker Jayne Cooper, who was offered a $13,575 grant to produce a documentary of this year’s Gladstone Scarecrow Festival, promises that the film will be entertaining and full of insights into the spirit of a community.

New Zealand’s first scarecrow festival was held in the small farming community last year. This year’s festival opened on Black Friday, 13 October, with residents bringing their scarecrows to the local pub. The month-long festival will include such events as Opera in the Woolshed and the Scarecrows Ball.

The Screen Innovation Production Fund, a partnership between Creative New Zealand and the New Zealand Film Commission, supports the moving-image arts by funding innovative, often low-budget productions. In its first funding round for 2000/2001, the Fund received 89 applications seeking a total of $1.45 million. In the end, grants totalling $247,280 were offered to 14 projects.

The Fund’s assessment panel – comprising Julie Warren (Chair), Lawrence McDonald, Whetu Fala, Nick Ward and Vanessa Alexander – was particularly impressed by the quality of the experimental work and the increase in low-budget feature proposals.

“With each round, we’ve seen a steady increase in feature proposals and this has been the strongest round yet,” Ms Warren said. “This is also the first time the Fund has supported full-length features and the three films we selected were because of their innovative approach.”

Christmas and family tensions are the subject of award-winning filmmaker Gregory King’s latest feature-length drama. Gregory King and producer Leanne Saunders of Auckland were offered a $25,000 grant to produce the film.

King’s latest film, teach you a lesson, screened at the Melbourne International Film Festival earlier this year. He also won Most Outstanding Achievement in a Video Production for his first film, POP, at the 1999 Melbourne festival.

A professional actor, writer and filmmaker, King lives in Auckland but will make the film in his home town of Whangarei.

Another full-length experimental drama takes a look at the festive season. Auckland filmmaker Florian Habicht was offered $25,000 to produce Hans in Luck. A Christmas story set in the middle of a hot New Zealand summer, the film is based loosely on a classic German fairytale. When Hans, an immigrant worker, loses his labouring job a week before Christmas, he’s offered work as Santa in a small Northland town.

The third experimental drama, I Dug Up A Chinese Vampire, was supported with a grant of $14,244 to Dunedin filmmaker Phil Davison. A group of Dunedin students accidentally unearth a Chinese vampire straight out of Hong Kong cinema – with alarming consequences.

Hamilton filmmaker Keith Hill was offered a grant of $15,500 for post-production costs of Laxmi, a short drama written and directed by Mandrika Rupa. In this film, a young girl with the responsibilities of an adult, struggles to understand why her family emigrated to New Zealand from India.

Laxmi has attracted overseas interest, including from the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Cinenova in London and European distributors.

The panel also received a number of experimental fine art projects from established artists. Grants were offered to three projects:

 $9003 to Kim Fogelberg and Sean Kerr of Wellington for the production of con_flict, an experimental film investigating movement, form, repetition, opposition, and visual and aural dynamics. The entire film will be generated on computer. Sean Kerr was recently awarded a Creative New Zealand artists residency at Artspace in Sydney.

 $23,705 to Olivia Lory Kay of Christchurch and Lara Bowen of Auckland to produce a 15-minute film essay on Katherine Mansfield, called The Far-Away Sky. Currently studying in Berlin, Olivia Lory Kay’s earlier film, Lure – FIRST LIGHT, has had several prestigious international screenings.

 $9800 to emerging filmmaker Adria Morgan of Auckland for the production of a six-minute experimental film exploring the ways in which images form in the mind of a young Maori painter as she works. Morgan, who studied art at Otago Polytechnic, will return south to Central Otago to shoot Ta/Paint.

Several documentaries covering a range of topics were offered grants. The largest grant in this funding round of $30,577 was offered to Makerita Urale and Mara Finau-Moir of Wellington to produce Savage Symbols, which explores why Samoan males living in modern New Zealand undergo excruciating physical pain to adorn their bodies with the traditional Samoan tattoo.

A grant of $19,369 was offered to Halina Ogonowska-Coates and John Chrisstoffels of Christchurch to produce A Feather On The Breath Of God, a short film based on the dance by Dunedin choreographer Shona Dunlop McTavish.

“Shona is one of the pioneers of modern dance in New Zealand,” Ogonowska-Coates said. “She has taught many outstanding New Zealand dancers, choreographed dance performances since the 1940s and won many awards for her work.”

The subject of Dunlop McTavish’s new work, A Feather On The Breath Of God, is Hildegard of Bingen, a twelfth-century mystic and conservationist who was concerned with the exploitation of air and water. The dance is performed by soloists Bronwyn Judge, Suzanne Renner and members of the Dunedin Dance Theatre.

A computer animation combining sporting history, the Tangiwai railway disaster and a tongue-in-cheek wedding speech was one of two animations supported in this funding round. Juggling Monk Productions of Raumati Beach was offered a $20,000 grant to produce The Wedding Speech, in which a Kiwi bloke reveals his true passion.

And Ian Powell of Wellington was offered a $14,932 grant for the production of Meta Mutt to Mars, a short animation about a robotic dog with attitude.

Powell, who has been working overseas (mainly in Kyoto, Japan) as an independent filmmaker and multimedia teacher for the past 10 years, returned to New Zealand earlier this year and teaches at the National College of Design and Technology in Wellington.

Julie Warren said that over the years, the Screen Innovation Production Fund had supported many filmmakers whose work had gone on to screen at international film festivals and win awards. One of the most recent notable successes was Michael Heath’s A Small Life, which premiered at the 2000 New Zealand International Film Festival and also won the Senef Grand Prix Award, at the 1st Seoul Net Festival in Seoul, Korea in September.

“The Fund supports New Zealand’s most innovative moving-image artists and the overall standard of proposals in this round was extremely high,” Julie Warren said.

The Screen Innovation Production Fund has two funding rounds a year. The closing date for the second round of 2000/2001 is 23 February 2001.


For further information contact:
Iona McNaughton
Communications Writer
Creative New Zealand
Tel: 04-498 0715

Warwick Burton
Administrator, Screen Innovation Production Fund
Creative New Zealand
Tel 04-498 0739

Screen Innovation Production Fund
A complete list of grants in the first funding round 2000-2001

$13,575 to Jayne Cooper of Aro Valley, Wellington for the production of a one-hour documentary on the Gladstone community and its Scarecrow Festival

$14,245 to Phil Davison of Dunedin for the production of I Dug Up A Chinese Vampire, a feature-length drama

$13,550 Della Notte Horror Film Co of Grey Lynn, Auckland for the post-production of Ghosts Are Real, a documentary

$9,003 to Kim Fogelberg and Sean Kerr of Roseneath, Wellington for the production of con_flict, an experimental film

$25,000 to Florian Habicht of Ponsonby, Auckland for the production of Hans In Luck, an experimental feature-length drama

$15,500 to Keith Hill of Hamilton for the post-production of a short drama, Laxmi

$20,000 to Juggling Monk Productions of Raumati Beach for the production of The Wedding Speech, a short animation

$23,705 to Olivia Lory Kay of Christchurch and Lara Bowen of Point Chevalier, Auckland for production of The Far-Away Sky, a short experimental documentary about Katherine Mansfield

$9,800 to Adria Morgan of Newton, Auckland for the production of Ta/Paint, a six-minute experimental drama

$19,369 to Halina Ogonowska-Coates and John Chrisstoffels of Sumner, Christchurch for the production of A Feather On The Breath Of God, a short film based on the dance by Dunedin choreographer Shona Dunlop McTavish

$14,932 to Ian Powell of Wellington for the production of Meta Mutt to Mars, a short animation

$25,000 to Leanne Saunders and Gregory King of Auckland for the production of Christmas, an experimental feature-length drama

$13,024 to Toitu Productions and Lisa Te Hira of Lyall Bay, Wellington for the production of What The F**k, a short drama

$30,577 to Makerita Urale and Mara Finau-Moir of Lyall Bay, Wellington for the production of Savage Symbols, a documentary on the traditional Samoan male tattoo

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