Sebastián Lelio is an award-winning Chilean filmmaker whose first three films, A Sagrada Familia (2005), Navidad (2009) and El Año Del Tigre (2011) gained him international attention and awards recognition. His breakout film, Gloria premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2013, where it won a Silver Bear for Best Actress (Paulina García), the Ecumenical Jury prize and the Gilde Award.
Lelio’s next film A Fantastic Woman (2017) was an international success, becoming the first Chilean feature film to win an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language film. It premiered at the Berlinale and took home the Silver Bear for Best Screenplay as well as the Teddy Award. The film also obtained The Goya Award and The Independent Spirit Award.
Lelio made his English-language debut in 2017 with Disobedience, starring Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams. It earned him five nominations at the British Independent Film Awards. In 2018, he recreated his hit film Gloria in the USA. Titled Gloria Bell it was released in 2019 and stars Julianne Moore and John Turturro. Lelio has also obtained the Guggenheim, Cannes Residénce and the Daad fellowships.
Alongside a directing masterclass, Sebastián will give a mini-keynote address to our theme Transforming Culture and will discuss his writing and directing career in an In Conversation.
Arielle Kilker is a two-time Emmy nominated filmmaker who has been a key collaborator on several hit series for Netflix. Most recently, she developed, produced, co-directed, and edited the six-time Emmy Award nominated docuseries Cheer.
She was a supervising editor on Peabody Award, Cinema Eye Honors Award, IDA Award, and Sports Emmy nominated Last Chance U, as well as serving as an editor on the Emmy nominated series Chef’s Table. Starting her career as an assistant editor, she rose quickly through the ranks to serve as an editor and writer on a variety of projects for MSNBC, A&E, MTV, The Travel Channel, and PBS.
Grant Major was nominated for four Academy Awards and four British Academy of Film Awards (BAFTA) for his work as a production designer on The Lord of the Rings trilogy and King Kong. Major won an American Film Institute award for The Fellowship of the Ring as well as an Art Director’s Guild Award for The Two Towers and again for The Return of the King. Major finally claimed his Academy Award and a Los Angeles Film Critics Society Award on the third installment of the trilogy The Return of the King. He was nominated by the International Press Association for a Satellite Award in 2003 for both The Return of the King and his work as production designer on WhaleRider, winning for The Return of the King.
Previously, Major received a New Zealand Film and Television award for Best Design on Peter Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures in 1995. Two years later Major picked up the same award for The Ugly and again in 2010 for The Vintner’s Luck. Major’s other film credits include Jackson’s The Frighteners, Memory & Desire, An Angel at My Table, Mr. Pip, Emperor, Green Lantern, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon: Legend of the Green Destiny, X-Men: Apocalypse, The Meg and, as art director, for Other Halves. Major’s work as an art director for television includes telefilms ‘Hercules’ and ‘TheGrasscutter’, the series “Hanlon,” as well as commercials and news programs.
Born in Palmerston North, New Zealand, Major’s career in design began at Television New Zealand. His background ranges from production design for Commonwealth Games ceremonies to designer for the New Zealand Pavilions at the World Expos to design consultant for the Louis Vuitton 150th year party NY, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Paris.
Major received an honorary doctorate from his alma mata The Auckland University of Technology and in 2005 became a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit awarded by the New Zealand Government for services to the New Zealand Film Industry.
Sophie Henderson is a New Zealand screenwriter, theatre-maker and actor. Her first screenplay, Fantail, in which she also starred, won over audiences at home and overseas. Fantail premiered at the Rotterdam Film Festival in 2014 and picked up a People’s Choice Award at Melbourne International Film Festival that year. Her film Baby Done with Taika Waititi and Carthew Neal’s Piki Films is released this October. Sophie wrote the screenplay for The Justice Of Bunny King which stars Thomasin McKenzie and Essie Davis and is released in 2021.
A co-general manager of Auckland’s Basement Theatre until 2014, Sophie programmed the theatre for 4 years, developing emerging artists and new work. In 2015 Sophie was mentored by Australian screenwriter and showrunner, Alice Bell and worked in the script department for her mini-series The Beautiful Lie. Sophie has worked extensively for Silo Theatre as an actor and deviser and was named Metro’s Best Actress in both 2009 and 2014, for her work with the company in The Scene and Belleville. She can be seen in a number of film and television productions including Human Traces and Outrageous Fortune. Sophie is a member of the Script to Screen board.
David White has produced and directed a substantial body of documentary and drama work that has enjoyed considerable national and international success, among them Meat, Shihad: Beautiful Machine, I Kill, Little Criminals, The Cleanest Pig and This Town. His work has screened at over 50 film festivals including Sundance, AFI, SXSW, SilverDocs, Tribeca, MIFF, TRUE/FALSE, Clermont Ferrand and been commissioned and screened on BBC, Sky and PRIME TV amongst selling commissioned work across the globe.
He was the first New Zealander to be shortlisted for a Cinema Eye Honor (documentary) for his film I Kill. In 2014 David graduated from the inaugural Entrepreneurial Producing for Creative Industries course run by the NFTS. His documentary Little Criminals (2015) aired on PRIME TV to strong ratings and critical acclaim and more recently directed an episode of Decades In Colour (2017 – PRIME TV) for Greenstone.
Meat (2017) Executive Produced by Phil Fairclough (Grizzly Man / Cave Of Forgotten Dreams) opened to 4-star reviews and sell out audiences throughout NZ and was recently released on multiple NZME platforms. Meat was also been picked up by MPI Media Group and has sold globally.
David’s (writer/director/producer) debut comedy film This Town (in association with South Pacific Pictures) staring Robyn Malcolm, Rima Te Wiata, and himself as the main character was both number one at the NZ theatrical box office for 21days straight and was critically acclaimed. World sales are being handled by The Film Sales Company.
This Town was developed at the prestigious Venice Biennale College – Cinema of which only 12 people are selected from a worldwide call each year.
David has just been commissioned to write his next feature film, has several TV shows in development and is has recently gone back to his roots and has started to Produce other peoples work.
He is a past board member of SPADA has his own BBQ sauce and has had several gallery shows for his lathed wooden bowls.
Hailing from Hutoia in the Far North of New Zealand, Hanelle is of Māori (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Tūwharetoa ki Kawerau and Ngāti Porou) and Lebanese lineage. In 2011 she graduated with a Bachelor of Performing Arts in Acting for Screen & Theatre from Unitec. Hanelle is an award-winning writer, producer and director who is gaining rapid recognition as a fresh and provocative voice. She is passionate about Māori and Polynesian stories, particularly those with strong female perspectives, socially challenging ideologies and distinctive next-generation voices.
She completed her Post-Graduate Diploma in Directing, Writing and Screen Production in 2013, and shortly after was cast as Tibs in Escalator-funded feature film Orphans and Kingdoms. Her most well-known work as a writer includes award-winning short film, The Promise Of Piha, Maori TV’s groundbreaking bilingual drama Ahikāroa, trailblazing web series Baby Mama’s Club (in which she also starred) and one hour TV spinoff Sis for Comedy Central. Hanelle is currently in funded development for a number of projects including Baby Mama’s Club (feature film) and Basic Training (TV drama series).
Cole Meyers is a writer, activist and educator. He is series writer and co-producer of Rūrangi, NZ’s first transgender drama series that was recently selected for the Berlinale Series Marketplace.
He works as a consultant on trans and gender diverse narratives and inclusion in film, television, web series and theatre, including at Shortland Street, where he is currently a dialogue script writer, and has previously worked as a storyliner.
Cole has been on the board of Same Same But Different LGBTQI Writers Festival, where he has been a speaker and curated events, and also on the board of Breaking Boundaries, where he has run workshops on writing, performance and art.
Cole is a regular speaker and interviewee on trans representation, and is passionately focused on supporting the authentic representation, creative opportunities and powerful potential of gender diverse people and people with disabilities in both the screen industry, and in society as a whole.
Games Designer and Producer
As a games designer and producer, Maru’s focus is on indigenous storytelling as culture-based games are hugely influential and are a powerful outlet for engagement and learning. Maru has published several games including Sparx to teach rangatahi how to manage depression, Takaro to teach rangatahi about coding concepts and Guardian Maia, interactive fiction that follows the journey of a Maori woman through a dystopian future.
Maru believes that Maori cultural identity is a unique strength in the future of NZ.
Emma is currently in production on the absurd comedy Nude Tuesday, a feature starring Jackie van Beek (The Breaker Upperers), Damon Herriman (Mindhunter, Judy & Punch) and Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords), as well as David Farrier’s (Dark Tourist, Tickled) latest feature documentary.
Recently, Slade produced Come to Daddy, an NZ/Irish/Canadian official co-production, which premiered at Tribeca 2019 and after premiering at numerous was released world-wide in 2020. The project won best director (Ant Timpson) and actor (Elijah Wood) at the Toronto After Dark Festival 2019.
In 2017, her young adult thriller The Changeover starring Timothy Spall (Mr Turner) and Melanie Lynskey (The Intervention), was in competition at the Alice Nella Citta, Venice Film Festival. Earlier that year, Slade produced Into the Rainbow, which was the first Chinese/NZ co-production, starring Willow Shields (Hunger Games) and the Brazilian/NZ feature Little Secret, which was nominated as Brazil’s Oscar entry for Best Foreign Film 2017.
Upcoming films include The Justice of Bunny King starring Essie Davis (The Babadook) and Thomasin McKenzie (Leave No Trace). Emma is a producer and the founder of production company Firefly Films.
Leanne Pooley is one of New Zealand’s most accomplished documentarians having worked around the world for over 25 years. Her films range in topic from the Topp Twins to The Pope, have screened in more than 100 countries and have won dozens of international awards including Best Documentary at TIFF. She directed NZ’s highest grossing documentary, the first New Zealand animated film to qualify for Oscar recognition, is an Officer of the NZ Order of Merit, an Arts Laureate and a member of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Ainsley Gardiner (Ngāti Awa, Te Whānau-a-Apanui, Ngāti Pikiao and Whakatōhea) produced Taika Waititi’s short films Two Cars, One Night and Tama Tu and went on to collaborate with him on his first two feature films, Eagle Vs Shark and Boy.
Her first short film as a writer/director, Mokopuna, had a successful festival life, winning gold at the Dreamspeaker Indigenous Film Festival. She was one of the nine wāhine māori filmmakers to write and direct for the acclaimed feature film Waru. In 2018 Ainsley was awarded the Mana Wāhine award at the Wairoa Festival and was also made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to film.
She is a recipient of The 2019 Merata Mita Fellowship, alongside Briar Grace-Smith and was the co-Director (with Briar) of the feature film Cousins to be released in 2021. This was adapted from the novel written by Patricia Grace.
Writer, Director, Playwright
Briar Grace-Smith is of Ngā Puhi descent and a writer of short fiction, stage plays and feature films. Her plays include Ngā Pou Wāhine, Purapurawhetū and When Sun and Moon Collide. She is an Arts Foundation Laureate and was recently made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to film, television and theatre. She has worked as a Development Executive for the New Zealand Film Commission and taught ‘Writing for Theatre’ at IIML (2015).
Her television credits include Fishskin Suit, Being Eve, Kaitangata Twitch and the Australian children’s television series, Grace Beside Me (2017). She was a director and co-writer of the short film, Nine of Hearts, and wrote and directed Charm for the feature project Waru (2017). She collaborated with Toi Whakaari, directing Krystal, a short film by Josephine Stewart-Te Whiu.
Briar is a Sundance alumni and the writer of the feature films The Strength of Water and Fresh Meat. She is a recipient of The 2019 Merata Mita Fellowship, alongside Ainsley Gardiner.
She was the writer and Co-Director (with Ainsley Gardiner) of the feature film Cousins to be released in 2021. This was adapted from the novel written by Patricia Grace.
Matthew J Saville
Matthew J Saville is a director, writer with a long list of credits, in both film and television. Including writing and directing prime time drama and creating successful children’s television show Kune’s Kitchen. His short films have screened at some of the most prestigious film festivals in the world. He is currently in post-production with his feature film Juniper which stars Academy Award nominee – Charlotte Rampling.
Linda has written and directed four short films and a range of promotional videos. Two of her shorts have screened at festivals in New Zealand and overseas. Her co-written feature film Second-Hand Wedding was a breakout success in New Zealand making it into the Top 10 New Zealand films at the box office. Her eye (and ear) for detail, visual style and elegance, and witty juxtaposition and emotional metaphor is evident in her writing and directing. She has published two collections of short stories and her writing has been broadcast and widely anthologised.
Her recent work focuses on female protagonists and New Zealand feature Poppy is one such story. Written and directed by Linda, produced by Robin Laing and Alex Cole-Baker and supported by NZFC’s 125 Fund set up in 2018 to celebrate 125 years of Women’s Suffrage, TVNZ, NZ On Air, IHC Foundation and private philanthropic funders,
Kay has produced and/or directed more than 20 documentaries, and a range of factual television series and children’s programmes in English and Te Reo Māori.
In late 2018 she joined RNZ to establish a commissioning department and now oversees a varied slate of productions which include documentaries, podcast series, investigative journalism projects, scripted comedy, and stories and songs for children.