Director, Writer, Producer, Honorary Life Member of WIFT NZ
Dame Gaylene Preston is one of New Zealand's most valued filmmakers, with a screen career spanning four decades. She has writer, director and producer credits covering feature films, documentaries and TV drama series. Many, including War Stories, Bread And Roses, Mr Wrong, and Home By Christmas, are classics of New Zealand cinema.
Dame Gaylene's films have been in official selection for Venice, Sundance, Toronto, London, Sydney, Melbourne and New Zealand film festivals, and have won awards in USA, Canada, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Switzerland, Russia, Australia and New Zealand.
She is The New Zealand Arts Foundation's inaugural Filmmaker Laureate (2001), an Officer of the NZ Order of Merit for services to filmmaking (2002) and the recipient of a WIFT NZ Lifetime achievement Award. In 2010 she received the inaugural lifetime achievement award for outstanding contribution to documentary from Documentary Edge, and she was the recipient of a SWANZ mentor award in 2012. She received the 2016 Women of Influence Award for Arts and Culture, the 2016 SPADA Industry Champion Award and the 2017 NZ Film Awards' Services to Cinema Award. In 2019 she become a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.
Her documentaries, recognised as taonga - national treasures, include Lovely Rita, Making Utu, Getting To Our Place, (co-directed with Anna Cottrell) Punitive Damage (as Co Producer) Tatarakihi - The Children of Parihaka (as Executive Producer), Earthquake, a documentary for TV3 on the devastating 1931 Hawkes Bay earthquakes, and her 2017 documentary My Year With Helen which follows former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark while she is campaigning for the role of UN Secretary-General.
Born in Greymouth, Dame Gaylene was educated in Hawkes Bay and studied painting at the Canterbury School Of Fine Arts, before moving to England, where her interest in filmmaking arose from her work as an art therapist.
Dame Gaylene has served on most industry boards including the New Zealand Film Commission, New Zealand on Air and she is currently a Governor of The New Zealand Arts Foundation. Gaylene Preston Productions, her owner-operated production company, was established in 1978.