Screen Australia announces Indigenous teams for James Cook right of reply project

Screen Australia and the New Zealand Film Commission have announced the eight Indigenous teams who will take part in a joint anthology feature providing an Indigenous perspective on the 250th anniversary of James Cook’s maiden voyage in the Pacific.

Each team will write a create a chapter for Cook 2020: Our Right of Reply, entitled Ngā Pouwhenua in New Zealand, and will attend a residential lab at Shark Island Institute in Kangaroo Valley to develop the film.

Australian Mitchell Stanley and Bailey Mackey and Mia Henry-Teirney from New Zealand have been chosen as co-producers and will collaborate with the teams to develop their concepts and the overarching narrative.

The eight indigenous filmmaker teams selected for the project

Screen Australia’s Head of Indigenous, Penny Smallacombe said: “This is a rare opportunity for creative collaboration between Indigenous cultures, from Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific.

“I’m inspired by the experience and talent of the filmmakers selected to helm this project. These teams have presented exceptional concepts, with stories exploring the past, present and future, with humour and horror, sadness and joy, in response to who we are and how we continue to survive the colonial experience.”

“I’m excited by their unique storytelling styles and individual voices, and how they will complement each other to create a powerful anthology. This unique feature film will shine a light on us, as it should, in this moment in time.”

“Congratulations to all the successful teams,” says Annabelle Sheehan, NZFC CEO.

“I look forward to seeing how they transform their individual stories into a single, shared vision through the wananga (workshop) process. This is a unique opportunity for these filmmakers from Australia, New Zealand and across the Pacific to share their voices, stories and histories through examining the impact of Cook’s arrival in our region.”

The Australian filmmakers:

Beck Cole, a writer/director renowned for her work in drama and documentary with projects including Here I Am, First Australians, Black Comedy and most recently Wentworth. Cole will team up with emerging writer/director Samuel Paynter, who has written for the children’s show Little J & Big Cuz.

Dena Curtis who has written and directed compelling short films including Jacob and Hush and directed comedy drama 8MMM Aboriginal Radio. Curtis has also recently produced award-winning children’s series Grace Beside Me and documentary series Elements.

Danielle MacLean whose work includes writing and directing Queen of Hearts, and writing episodes for Redfern Now and season two of Mystery Road. MacLean will be joined by producer Anna Grieve, who previously collaborated with her on Croker Island Exodus and Blown Away. Also joining the team is animator Huni Bolliger (Blown Away) who specialises in local storytelling.

Writer/director Tracey Rigney, whose credits include shorts Abalone and Man Real. Rigney has also worked across documentaries, webseries and feature films, and has written for TV series The Warriors.

The New Zealand filmmakers:

Television producer, director and writer Tiraroa Debra Reweti who will be working on her first film project with Elise Francis, a producer who gained on television series Pūmanawa, and has recently production managed Merata: How Mum Decolonised the Screen. They are joined by Chantelle Burgoyne who has written and directed short films Tatau and Sista, and worked in production on films such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Writer/director Renae Maihi whose short film Redemption screened at Berlin and Sundance Film Festivals. Maihi recently wrote and directed a short film for Waru, an acclaimed anthology of eight short films created by Maori women which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Filmmaker Richard Curtis, creator and director of television series Hunting Aotearoa, as well as short film Ahi Kaa. Curtis will work with visual artist and writer/director Tim Worrall, whose credits include award-winning short films Tits on a Bull and The Road to Whakarae.

Actor, writer and director Mario Gaoa, known for his work on comedy series Bro-Town. Joining Gaoa is Miki Magasiva, a director who has worked on short films such as Brother and Uso which won the Dream Digital Award at Hawaii International Film Festival.


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