It’s the End of the World at the Wellington Film Festival
This August It’s the End of the World at the Wellington Film Festival
On the west -coast of Wellington the end of the world has come and gone. At least it has in the world of Existence, a haunting new feature film that will have its first preview screenings at the Wellington Film Festival this August.
Directed by Juliet Bergh and written by Juliet and cinematographer Jessica Charlton, Existence is the story of a woman who is one of the last stragglers still clinging to life long after the world has suffered an unspecified series of ecological disasters. Played by Loren Taylor (Eagle vs Shark) Freya challenges what remains of her and her family’s fragile existence by trying to find out what lies behind an endless turbine-powered boundary fence that has been in place for centuries.
Playing on old myths and current-issues the film was made on the beautiful but savage coastline around the edges of Wellington. Given special permission by Meridian Energy to film at its Makara West-Wind Farm, the cast and crew were often stunned by the landscapes they found themselves in after a half an hour drive from the central city. The film is the first of the New Zealand Film Commission's Escalator scheme to have delivered on its small budget of 250 thousand and the production team were delighted to have recently been selected as part of the Industry-only Breakthru Screenings at the Melbourne International Film Festival.
The film is made by a predominantly female team; still relatively unusual in the world of film. The film's producers (Mhairead Connor and Melissa Dodds), director, cinematographer and protagonist are all local Wellington girls and it is point of difference of which they are all proud, especially given a physically demanding shoot in a typical Wellington winter.
Despite only being completed earlier this year, the “woman alone” nature of the story and the vast and highly cinematic landscapes that feature throughout give it more in common with some of the distinctive films coming out of New Zealand in the 1980s (Navigator, Quiet Earth, Vigil). The filmmakers were lucky enough to be one the last teams that the late, great Graeme Tetley worked with in 2011. “Working with Graeme was instrumental in making this film possible” says Bergh. “He was a wonderful example of the generosity and extraordinary talent of the local film industry.
Existence makers' are looking to exploit the fascination that offshore movie goers have with our local “otherworldly” landscapes and are pursuing international distribution enthusiastically. They are thrilled however that their hometown will hold the film's first screening. “As well as telling a great universal story, we want to show Wellingtonians a side of their region that they may not have ever seen” say Connor and Dodds – hopefully they'll come out of the cinema looking at their hometown a whole new way.
Existence screens this August the 3rd and the 6th at the Wellington International Film Festival – tickets are on sale through Ticketek and at Film Festival screening venues.