At the National Library of New Zealand tonight, Annabelle Sheehan, CEO of Te Tumu Whakaata Taonga New Zealand Film Commission announced a new investment fund to celebrate 125 years since New Zealand women won the right to vote, promoting New Zealand’s international leadership in women’s rights.
Making the announcement, Sheehan said, “Women are significantly underrepresented in the New Zealand screen industry - as they are globally. With this unique initiative, we want to encourage ambitious women’s voices and diverse scripts which depict meaningful representations of women in both character and story and provide new opportunities for New Zealand women filmmakers.”
The fund is open to dramatic features in any genre and is offering an investment of $1.25 million each for up to two projects where the director and at least one other key creative is a woman.
Sheehan explained that this year’s 125 Fund is part of a larger plan for inclusion and diversity in the New Zealand screen sector with research and policy development underway to create programmes and funding that will support and encourage under-represented voices in the film industry. In 2019 there will be designated production funds to support Pasifika filmmakers, and then further funding allocated to other groups with opportunities for filmmakers from a range of cultural and ethnic backgrounds, the LGBTQI community and those with disabilities.
Sheehan also announced the funding for the Pasifika feature film Vai. “Vai is a portmanteau film in the vein of Waru, which will be written and directed by eight New Zealand women of Pasifika heritage.” Vai will be produced by Waru’s producers, Kerry Warkia and Kiel McNaughton.