Posted Tuesday 30 Aug 2016

All the recipients of this year's Gaylene Preston Directors' Awards are WIFT members!

Huge congratulations to Armagan Ballantyne, Alyx Duncan and Gillian Ashurst who will each receive $25,000 to further their commitment to feature filmmaking.

Thirty applications were received for the award which was targeted at female directors who have made one feature film or have equivalent experience in TV, web series, documentary or drama.

As well as submitting a CV, show reel, reference from an industry peer and one-page statement about how they would use the award, the applicants were invited to a day-long workshop in July. The majority of applicants attended the workshop which gave filmmakers the opportunity to discuss together, and with Gaylene, their experiences and frustrations in the film industry.

"I was really keen that the application process be valuable to all involved, and the workshop enhanced this for me.  A peer group have identified each other and hopefully this was of creative value to all the directors involved," says Preston.  "It was a great way for the NZFC to seriously engage with this group and the workshop kicked off the whole thing very positively.

The recipients of the award were decided by Preston, with input from fellow director, Alison Maclean. "I think you will agree that all these women have already demonstrated strong individual voices in dramatic feature filmmaking with first features that have put them on the international festival radar as ones to watch," says Preston.

Armagan Ballantyne's first feature, The Strength of Water, screened In Competition in the Berlin Film Festival's Generation section.  She will use the Gaylene Preston Directors Award to further develop two feature scripts she wants to direct.

Alyx Duncan's debut feature, The Red House won a number of awards and had a successful theatrical run at cinemas across New Zealand.  She followed this with animated short film, The Tide Keeper, which has garnered her even more awards and screened at festivals around the world.  She will use the Award to rent office space where she and her collaborators can develop the five feature projects Alyx is currently working on.

Gillian Ashurst's first film, Snakeskin, premiered at the New Zealand International Film Festival in 2001 and was nominated for eleven New Zealand Film Awards.  Gillian will use the Award to get one of two feature projects she is developing into production within twelve months.

"I would like to be sitting in seat F24 at the Embassy Cinema and see films from all three of these women in the next few years," says Preston.

"Worldwide, the film industry is focused on finding the next big thing and this award was pitched to women who may not be visible to the industry at large.  I think this process has shown that they are there and in significant numbers."

A new scholarship will be introduced in 2017 and will focus on an area of the industry where female participation is low.  Feedback from guilds and industry organisations will be taken into consideration when deciding on future scholarship positions.