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The Lumière Reader presents ‘Paper Boat’

Directed by Alex Mitcalfe Wilson, Paper Boat charts the journey a book follows when it is published today, telling the story through the words of those who carry a text through each step of that path: writers, editors, designers, printers, binders, booksellers, and librarians.

The 30-minute film is built around interviews with writer Gregory Kan; Auckland University Press editor Anna Hodge; INDEX Design co-founder Amy Yalland; Image Centre print and binding specialists Rob Girdwood and Kevin Devane; Time Out Books manager and Young Book Retailer of the Year, Jenna Todd; and Carla Gullichsen, formerly of Wellington City Libraries.

“Paper Boat is my way of sharing the stories of the under-sung artists and workers whose creativity and skill are currently expanding the possibilities of writing and publishing,” says director Alex Mitcalfe Wilson.

“It presents a visual narrative built from the unique personal histories and fascinations of these people, whose work as writers, editors and book professionals continues to change the way in which New Zealanders read, think and dream. Paper Boat unspools their stories into a rich tapestry of dreamlike image and sound, that illustrates the many worlds of contemporary reading and writing. This is a documentary that maps territory as diverse as the way writing can give voice to the weight of life, the role of libraries in raising children, and how everyone’s mother seems to own the same cookbooks.”

Paper Boat was filmed on location in Auckland and Piha. It was produced by Melinda Jackson, shot by Sean Wallace, edited by Alexander Gandar, art directed by Selina Eshardi, with sound design by Jackson Hobbs—all Auckland-based filmmakers. Its original score was composed by Melbourne-based Luke Benge and Francesca Mountford.

Alex Mitcalfe Wilson is a writer from Wellington who has previously published with Artspace Auckland, Art New Zealand, the Horoeka Reading Grants, Pie Paper, Le Roy, and The Pantograph Punch. He is currently undertaking postgraduate study at Elam Art School. Having worked in bookstores and libraries for many years, Alex considers this first directorial effort something of a labour of love.


In October, it will be followed by Out of the Mist, an alternate history of New Zealand Cinema directed by Tim Wong and narrated by Eleanor Catton. Out of the Mist received its world premiere in Auckland at the New Zealand International Film Festival in July, and has since screened in Wellington, Dunedin, and Christchurch. The inaugural film in the web series, Land of the Long White Stain, a love letter to a brood of genre-bending Auckland musicians directed by writer and musician Claire Duncan, was first released in July.

The Lumière Reader is New Zealand’s leading online journal of film criticism and the arts review. It is a division of Lumière Industries, the design and production company behind this web series.

Paper Boat can be viewed here.

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