Internationally Esteemed Filmmakers Tune Into the Zeitgeist

The Big Screen Symposium is back for its seventh year, once again presenting an inspiring and accomplished line-up of speakers to the NZ film and television community. This year’s programme is crafted around the theme Tuning into the Zeitgeist and explores how the characteristics of our age and the politics of now manifest in our imaginations, and how that impacts the stories we tell and how they connect with audiences.

Don’t miss the chance to hear from an unbeatable line-up of filmmakers who present inspiring and thought-provoking masterclasses, workshops, case studies and addresses. 2018 marks 40 years of the New Zealand Film Commission, and Big Screen Symposium hosts drinks and canapés on the Friday evening to honour the occasion.

Kenyan filmmaker, author and co-founder of media company AFROBUBBLEGUM, Wanuri Kahiu, kicks off #BIGSCREEN18 with an opening address. Kahiu sued the classification office in her home country for banning Rafiki for ‘promoting lesbianism’ and the Kenyan High Court issued a temporary injunction in September which was reversed after one week.  Rafiki, is Kahiu’s second feature and premiered at Cannes this year.

Renowned writer/director David Lowery (Pete’s Dragon, A Ghost Story, The Old Man and The Gun) travels in from Dallas to share his knowledge and experience in a filmmaking masterclass, to deliver an address, and to participate in a panel discussion.

CEO of the Swedish Film Institute, Anna Serner, who has been praised across the globe for tackling gender disparity in filmmaking in her own country and creating a ripple effect around the world, delivers a pertinent keynote address.

A number of speakers from Australia join the programme, including revered director and cinematographer Warwick Thornton (Samson and Delilah, Sweet Country). Thornton’s unique eye and powerful voice have seen him awarded both the Camera D’Or in competition at Cannes (best first feature) and the Premio Bisato d’Oro in competitoin at Venice (critics’ award for best film).

Lynette Wallworth (Tender, Collisions, Awavena) is an Australian artist whose practice spans video installation, photography and film. She traces what drives her work and the technologies she uses to deliver them. Lynette describes her intention as, “bringing together technological advances and ancient understandings, new media and old practices, electronics and the electricity of human touch.”

Director/writer Dustin Feneley and producer Desray Armstrong share the story of their bold and critically acclaimed debut feature, Stray in a special #BigScreen18 case study. Their case study will focus largely on how they financed the film through private investment, sponsorships, the goodwill of cast and crew, and crowdfunding donors – where it raised the highest amount ever for a New Zealand film.

This year sees Warwick Thornton, Brita McVeigh, Tim White and Briar Grace Smith present intimate Close Up sessions, with places limited to 15. Brita and Briar deliver practical workshops to deepen your storytelling craft, Tim delivers an interactive session about market place and financing, and Warwick Thornton talks about finding your indigenous voice, the truth of storytelling and how important it is to tell the truth to help set history right.

Four writers who have mastered the truly tricky business of comedy for the screen come together to reveal how they made their audiences laugh: Jackie Van Beek and Madeleine Sami from The Breaker Upperers, and Wellington Paranormal’s Paul Yates and Melanie Bracewell.

Big Screen Symposium 2018 delves into stop-motion, presenting a workshop with world-leading animators, Christchurch born Antony Elworthy (lead animator of Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs and Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie) and US Rachel Larsen (animation director for Amazon’s Tumble Leaf, lead animator on Charlie Kauffman’s Anomalisa).

Anna Dean, PR maverick and co-director of Wellington company Double Denim, returns to talk about effective content marketing in our rapidly changing environment, and nine Pasifika writers and directors from yet-to-be released anthology feature, Vai, present a session drawing on this year’s theme in the context of their collaboration.

Jo Porter, Fremantle’s Director of Drama, shares her experience developing, producing and selling six-part Australian television series Picnic at Hanging Rock which attracted world-wide attention with sales to premium broadcasters including Amazon and the BBC, and a prestigious selection to open Berlinale Film Festival. It is a trailblazing reimagining of Joan Lindsay’s timeless and iconic 1967 novel of the same name.

Script to Screen Executive Director Esther Cahill-Chiaroni said, “This year we are very excited by our move to the ASB Waterfront Theatre, but we know that the wonderful community spirit at the heart of the event will remain. It will be two days filled with extraordinary local and international talent gathered under the one roof to talk about filmmaking and storytelling in our times.”

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