Issue date: 
Monday, 22 July 2019

Malo lava to Samoan screenwriter Sima Urale who is the recipient of the New Zealand Film Commission’s (NZFC’s) 2019 Gender Scholarship.  She will receive a grant of $50,000 to help progress her filmmaking career.

Application assessors said of Urale, “The sample script from her feature film, Solo, is breathtaking in its fine detail and slow build-up of nuanced tension. The work of an expert screenwriter at the height of her powers. The voice is original and authentic with detail that can only come from lived experience.”

Congratulations also go to Matasila Freshwater who was awarded a special grant of $15,000.

The NZFC’s annual gender scholarship award is a way of recognising and celebrating women in the filmmaking community who have displayed a high level of achievement and aims to support their career progression.

The 2019 scholarship was for Pacific Island women screenwriters.  Applications for this award were by nomination and the twelve nominees were assessed by a panel of internal and external industry experts.  The standard of applications was high with the top four applicants all alumni of NZFC short film funding. Additionally, six of the applicants were filmmakers from the Vai portmanteau film.

Since 2015, the NZFC has awarded an annual scholarship to a female filmmaker in areas of the industry where female participation has historically been low.  Past scholarships have been awarded to female cinematographers, directors and wahine Māori directors. 

Sima Urale has worked in the creative industry from theatre to film and television for more than 30 years, initially as a professional actor in theatre, and then in the last 25 years as a freelance filmmaker. She is a highly regarded filmmaker with extensive experience in drama and acting, writing and developing screenplays, to directing numerous films from drama to documentary, TV commercials, music videos, and corporate videos. She has also been a mentor for emerging filmmakers, and a part time Senior Lecturer at Unitec’s Film & TV School. From 2012 to 2015, she was Head Tutor at the New Zealand Film & Television School in Wellington.

Sima has been the recipient of several international awards, as artist in residence at Hawaii University, McMillian Brown Center at Canterbury University, and the COCA arts residency at Massey University. Sima is currently developing various feature length projects with producers and hopes to embark on another feature film in the near future whilst taking care of her elderly mother.

Matasila Freshwater is a writer/director with a background in anthropology, film, and animation. She is passionate about exploring cultural complexities through storytelling.  Of Nusa Hope, Roviana Lagoon (Western Province) / Matakota, Dugaha and Baguri / Vuregare heritage, Matasila was responsible for the Solomon Islands section of portmanteau feature, Vai. Matasila’s short animated film, Shmeat, was an NZIFF Official Selection for New Zealand’s Best Short Film and appeared in a number of festivals including the 2016 Sitges International Fantasy Film Festival and was awarded Best Animation in A Night of Horror Film Festival in Sydney.


Last updated: 
Monday, 22 July 2019