No Ordinary Sheila

Posted Monday 03 Jul 2017

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Pace is important in a wonderful character doco like this, which is why we're pleased WIFTer Abi King-Jones is the editor on No Ordinary Sheila - it will be a delightful watch for that and many other reasons!

No Ordinary Sheila
2017, 98 minutes, World Premiere
Director: Hugh Macdonald
Producer/screenplay: Christine Dann
Editor: Abi King-Jones

If you haven't already heard of Sheila Natusch, prepare to be inspired. The life story of this nonagenarian natural historian, illustrator and writer is a beautiful, truly Antipodean journey, made with love by her cousin and long-time Kiwi filmmaker, Hugh Macdonald.

Born in 1926 on Rakiura (Stewart Island) to the Traill family, Sheila's early childhood memories include a near-drowning at the hands of schoolmates - this and other life misfortunes she shrugs off casually. Growing up in the deep south led to an adventurous resilience which saw her climb multiple mountains, cycle from Picton to Bluff and write dozens of groundbreaking natural history books, including her magnum opus, Animals of New Zealand.

Featuring beautiful historic footage of the lower south in the 30s and 40s, this film also covers Natusch's friendship with Janet Frame and their unsuccessful foray into teaching. Viewers will love this radiant, defiant and unconventional life story which ranges from the southern wilds to the rugged coast of Owhiro Bay, where Sheila still lived until recently, without car, TV, lipstick or alcohol, planning to "get the last bit of fun out of life that there is." - Jo Randerson

Next Up...

Human Traces

Posted Monday 03 Jul 2017

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Producer Nadia Maxwell and actor Sophie Henderson have helped bring this knotty psychological thriller, set on an isolated subantarctic island, to the big screen.

Human Traces
2017, 87 minutes
Director/Screenplay: Nic Gorman
Producer: Nadia Maxwell
With: Sophie Henderson, Mark Mitchinson

The feature debut from Kiwi writer-director Nic Gorman deftly pairs loaded suspense with slippery character study. The drama takes place 750 kms south of New Zealand, where husband-and-wife scientist team Sarah (Sophie Henderson) and Glenn (Mark Mitchinson) have been posted to monitor the ecosystem of a remote island. When a mysterious stranger named Pete (Vinnie Bennett) arrives, paranoia and deception begin to disrupt the order.

Splitting his film into three chapters, each told from a different character's perspective, Gorman delights in disorienting his audience. Like Kurosawa's Rashomon, each new act is designed to reassemble the last: no sooner have you sided with one character than you find your allegiance complicated by the next point of view. Beyond expertly deploying spilled secrets, climactic confrontations and washed-up corpses to dramatic effect, Gorman understands the humanity within the genre beats. This gripping examination of human behaviour cleverly reminds us that everyone is only the hero of their own story.