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Niu Han for Venice

University of Auckland, Auckland, 7 September 2015: University of Auckland graduate Niu Han is one of only 12 filmmakers accepted into the prestigious Venice Biennale College-Cinema.

The Beijing based film maker was thrilled but was initially unable to share the great news.

“I received the email notification while inside the Beijing subway, I tried to call my girlfriend to tell her the good news but there was no signal inside the subway car. I was excited and felt the urge to tell her, as she had given me the biggest support throughout the process.”

The Biennale College – Cinema is a community of filmmakers, selected from around the world to work alongside an invited team of international experts and tutors to explore the aesthetics of micro-budget filmmaking and the new integrated models of production.

Han and his team will go to Venice in early October for ten days to present the project to Alberto Barbera, the director of Venice Film Festival. Up to three teams will be invited to additional workshops in December and January. If they are one of those teams they will receive €150.000 to produce and finish their project so it can be presented at the 73rd Venice Film Festival 2016.

Han was encouraged to apply for a place through his mentor and friend Dr Jake Mahaffy of the university’s Media, Film and Television department in the Faculty of Arts. He submitted his current project, A Most Peculiar Man, an unlikely love story between a man who is deforming into a geometric cube and a woman who seeks exit from her complicated life.

“Jake suggested A Most Peculiar Man was an interesting project that suits the scheme of the Venice programme.”

Han was born in Xi’an, China in 1985, but brought up in New Zealand. He graduated in Screen Production from the Faculty of Arts and from the Elam School of Fine Arts.

He lives and works in Beijing and is a current PhD candidate at China Central Academy of Fine Arts. As a child he initially dreamed of becoming a great painter but this changed when he went to Elam and started making videos.

“From artsy videos I moved on to more rigid, narrative based little movies. While I was at the university I watched many great films and even took up a conjoint degree in film studies. Cinema has a charm like no other art form, I was enchanted by it and there was no turning back.”

Han’s filmography includes feature films Freedom Hills and Land of Nobody. His 2015 new project, Chinese Whispers, is currently in pre-production.