Big Screen Symposium

Stuart McKenzie’s debut feature film was low-budget psychological thriller FOR GOOD (2004) based on the stage play Portraits written with his wife Miranda Harcourt. FOR GOOD premiered at the Montreal International Film Festival and was selected for the Critics’ Choice competition of the Paris Film Festival. Catherine le Ferrand wrote in French film journal aVoir—aLire, “one thinks of Egoyan in the way [McKenzie] visualizes silence, creates lingering images and delicately evokes the intrinsic guilt of being alive.”

Through MAP Film Productions, Stuart has produced, written and/or directed several acclaimed short films with Neil Pardington and Miranda Harcourt, including THE MOUTH AND THE TRUTH (Best Short Film, 1991 NZ Film & TV Awards), ENDS MEAT (voted Best Film by the staff of the 1992 London Film Festival), SNAP (Official Selection, 1995 Clermont-Ferrand), CHINESE WHISPERS (finalist, 1996 Asia Pacific Film Festival) and VOICEOVER (Best Short Film, 1997 NZ Film & TV Awards).

In 2005 Stuart conceived and directed 10-part observational documentary series TOUGH ACT (produced through The Gibson Group) for TV2 which followed students auditioning for Toi Whakaari: the NZ Drama School and the first year of training of the successful applicants. TOUGH ACT was a finalist in the 2007 Air New Zealand Screen Awards in the “Best Reality Series” category and due to its ongoing popularity has been screened repeatedly.

Stuart has degrees in Creative Writing (MA — International Institute of Modern Letters) and Contemporary Religion from Victoria University (BA Hons, First Class) and Canterbury University (BA) — and has completed post-graduate research in contemporary theology at Cambridge University with controversial British theologian Don Cupitt. His writings on religion and art have been published in New Zealand and internationally.

Stuart started writing and acting in the Free Theatre, Christchurch. In 2000 he was named the Bruce Mason Sunday Star Times Playwrighting Fellow.

Through their company The Community Theatre Trust Stuart and Miranda produced and toured Miranda’s and William Brandt’s New Zealand classic Verbatim. Stuart and Miranda’s follow-up play Portraits was based on interviews with the rapist and murderer of a teenager, his girlfriend and the parents of the victim.

In 1998 Stuart wrote Flowers from My Mother’s Garden commissioned by the NZ International Festival of the Arts. It explores genealogy, social history and family dynamics through the lens of Miranda’s relationship with her mother Kate Harcourt. Flowers toured nationally and was seen by over 35,000 people, becoming one of New Zealand’s most loved and popular plays. It is published by Penguin Books.

Stuart’s play Biography of My Skin starring Miranda was commissioned by Downstage Theatre in 2009 and returned for another season by popular demand in 2010. A huge popular and critical success, touring the country in late 2010, it was described by reviewer John Smythe in Theatreview as, “A gift. Shocking. Profound. Ruthlessly honest. Funny. Not to be missed.”

Most recently, Stuart wrote the screenplay adaptation and he and Miranda co-directed upcoming young-adult feature film THE CHANGEOVER, distributed by Vendetta, produced by Firefly Films and starring Timothy Spall, Lucy Lawless, Nicholas Galitzine, Melanie Lynskey, and Erana James.

See Stuart in the following session:

Case Study: THE CHANGEOVER – Sunday 1 October, 1.20pm.