Hamish Bennett, writer and director of New Zealand feature film, Bellbird, was the recipient of the Best Screenplay award at the Macao International Film Festival, last night.
Currently in theatrical release in New Zealand, Bellbird has enjoyed an eight-festival run. The film premiered In Competition at the Sydney Film Festival before premiering in New Zealand at the New Zealand International Film Festival. Earlier this month the film screened as part of the Hawaii International Film Festival. Screen Daily said of the film, “Actions clearly speak louder than words in this sensitive, hopeful feature, a message that shapes Bellbird’s thematic landscape as it unpacks the strong, silent strain of masculinity, and also describes the cast’s measured yet moving performances.”
And Variety said, "The notes it hits may not be new, but they are plangent and pleasant as small bells, exquisitely tuned."
“We're rapt that Bellbird has won the Best Screenplay award at Macao. I always felt that if we made a film that we were proud of, and that my whānau and the community that I grew up in were proud of, then with a bit of luck it might resonate with a few more people. But for Bellbird to have achieved what it has, and for it to have had so many people connect with it in meaningful ways, has all been quite overwhelming. I'm very grateful to our producers Orlando Stewart and Catherine Fitzgerald for their endless tautoko over the last few years, and to our script consultant Emily Anderton for her clear and assured guidance. For a little story that was written over many evenings after the kids had gone to bed, it's a pretty humbling thing to have it recognised by Macao in this way. Very proud!” said Hamish Bennett.
New Zealand Film Commission CEO Annabelle Sheehan said, “This is a wonderful achievement and much deserved. Hamish has written a film filled with complex, realistic characters and dry New Zealand humour that manages to be both funny and quietly devastating.”
Now in its fourth year, the Macao International Film Festival was launched in 2016 to bring together the screen industries of Asia and the west. New Zealand International Film Festival Director – Kaiurungi Marten Raberts, accepted the award last night on behalf of Hamish Bennett.