A new collaboration between NZ On Air and the NZ Film Commission will produce three feature-length documentaries for cinema, television and online release.
The two agencies launched Doc Connect earlier this year under the new ‘virtual agency’ Screen NZ. The scheme, which replaced the previous Joint Documentary Fund from NZ On Air and the NZFC, was introduced as a way “to encourage documentary-makers to push boundaries and consider innovative ways to distribute films”.
The three projects funded “all identified a clear understanding of their audience and how they would reach them”.
“Most of the applications did not”, noted the NZFC’s Dave Gibson when flagging the announcement during his address to the Big Screen Symposium.
Although the funders were satisfied with the filmmakers’ intentions on how to reach their audiences, the routes being used are intelligent rather than innovative: a combination of theatrical release, FTA broadcast and, in one instance, an online release via Stuff (which has previously run an online season of NZ short films).
City Of Dreams is set among the ruins of post-quake Christchurch where a group of passionate artists and entrepreneurs are reviving the creative heart of their city and fighting for its place in the future. It will have a theatre release and will screen in prime time on TV One.
It comes from Peter Young’s Fisheye Films, which has won plenty of accolades over the years for its TV work including Hunger for the Wild and Country Calendar. Young’s 2012 feature doco The Last Ocean has an award-winning run on on the international film festival circuit.
Te Taki A Merata Mita – How Mum Decolonised The Screen is a personal retrospective look at the life and influence of filmmaker Merata Mita. It will be directed by her son Heperi Mita and will reveal her work in the context of her life as a Māori filmmaker, mother, activitist, feminist and teacher. It will have a cinema release and will also screen on Māori Television.
The third funded project is David White’s We Kill which removes the comfortable barrier most consumers have between the packaged meat we buy and the living animal it once was.
Made by White Balance Pictures it is an extension of themes explored in previous short films I Kill and OINK (aka The Cleanest Pig). The documentary will have a cinema and online release.
NZ On Air and the NZ Film Commission will each contribute 50%:
City Of Dreams, Fisheye Films for TV One and theatre, $366,085
Te Taki A Merata Mita – How Mum Decolonised The Screen, Arama Pictures for Māori Television and theatre, $391,005
We Kill, White Balance Pictures for online (Stuff.co.nz) and theatre release, $199,998