At the recent Screen Production and Development Association (SPADA) Conference held in Wellington, New Zealand Film Commission (NZFC) CEO, Annabelle Sheehan announced funding of three feature films through the NZFC’s 125 Fund.
Launched in June this year, the 125 Fund is a unique investment fund for dramatic features in any genre. Offering investment of $1.25 million each for up to two projects where the director and at least one other key creative is a woman, the fund was designed to encourage more women to submit funding applications. New Zealand is celebrating 125 years of women’s suffrage in 2018.
Making the announcement, Sheehan noted all three key creative roles (writer, director, producer) in the successful teams are women; writer-director Loren Taylor with producers Ainsely Gardiner and Georgina Conder on Hawk Mountain; writer Sophie Henderson, director Gaysorn Thavat and producer Emma Slade on The Justice of Bunny King and writer-director Linda Niccol and producer Susan Parker on Poppy.
“The calibre of applications was outstanding, these are unique, authentic women’s stories and ultimately, the decision was made that three of the shortlisted projects should be funded.” said NZFC CEO Annabelle Sheehan. “From a squeegee queen who wants nothing more than to give her children the party of their dreams, to a Down syndrome woman determined to have a dynamic, engaged life, to a trio of disparate women trapped together on a decidedly unromantic weekend, the stories and experiences of women are at the heart of each of these unique projects.”
The voices and perspectives of women are integral to telling New Zealand’s stories and the Film Commission is committed to encouraging women to participate, and remain, in the screen industry.
Applications were assessed by a panel of assessors, with the filmmaking teams invited to pitch their project to a panel comprising NZFC CEO Annabelle Sheehan, Head of Development and Production Leanne Saunders, and two industry representatives, Philippa Campbell (Top of the Lake) and Rachel Larsen (Coraline).
The projects awarded funding are:
Hawk Mountain by writer/director Loren Taylor (Eagle vs Shark) and producers Georgina Conder and Ainsley Gardiner (The Breaker Upperers, She Shears), is a story of three women - a lonely empty-nester on an uncharacteristic mission of mercy, a duped Greek mail-order bride, and a numbed anaesthetist on an increasingly unromantic weekend each navigate their way through an alpine landscape and the contours of the human heart.
The Justice of Bunny King, written by Sophie Henderson (Fantail), directed by Gaysorn Thavat (Brave Donkey) and produced by Emma Slade (The Changeover), tells the story of Bunny, a homeless squeegee queen. who must break the law to keep her word when she makes a desperate promise to throw a birthday party for her kids, but in doing so risks losing her children altogether.
Poppy, written and directed by Linda Niccol (Second Hand Wedding) and produced by Susan Parker, is about a young Down syndrome woman who assumes she’s entitled to live her life like everyone else, yet the person she trusts most puts her in the ‘disability’ box, forcing her to take control of her destiny.