Big Screen Symposium

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Pietra Brettkelly is a multi award-winning documentary director and producer whose work has taken her to over 100 countries around the globe.

Pietra first made her name known on the international stage with her feature documentary BEAUTY WILL SAVE THE WORLD, which follows the exploits of 19 year-old Teca Zendik, the American contender in a beauty pageant in Libya in an era of pro-Gaddafi and anti-American political volatility. The documentary premiered at the 2003 AFI Film Festival and went on to screen at Hot Docs and IDFA in 2004.

Her 2008 documentary, international adoption saga THE ART STAR AND THE SUDANESE TWINS, follows renowned and controversial contemporary artist Vanessa Beecroft from New York to Africa and Europe in her efforts to adopt two orphaned Sudanese twins. The film received much critical acclaim and won best director and best documentary at the 2009 Qantas Film and TV Awards as well as the World Cinema Documentary Editing Award at Sundance Film Festival. It went on to screen at over 100 festivals around the world.

Her next documentary was the critically acclaimed MAORI BOY GENIUS (2012), which tells the story of 16-year-old Ngaa Rauuira Pumanawawhiti, a boy from Hawkes Bay who began his university degree at 12 years old, and is the youngest student to be accepted into Yale. The documentary premiered in competition at Berlinale in 2012 and won a MOA at the NZ Film Awards for best documentary.

Her most recent film, A FLICKERING TRUTH (2015), follows a group of Afghan archivists endeavouring to uncover their country’s cinematic past, retrieving over 8,000 hours of film footage that they risked their lives to conceal during the Taliban era. The film opened in competition at the prestigious Venice Film Festival and TIFF last year, and has received glowing critical reviews internationally. It’s New Zealand theatrical release begins on Thursday 25 August.

Pietra is currently working on a new documentary about the Chinese designer Guo Pei, who has designed for various celebrities including the American singer Rihanna.

See Pietra Brettkelly in the following session:

Case Study: A Flickering Truth with Pietra Brettkelly – Sun 25th September, 9:40 pm.