The Inland Road

Posted Monday 03 Jul 2017

The Inland Road Lily & Tia KEY

We've been looking forward to this one: congratulations to Jackie van Beek for completing her first feature! Van Beek directed and wrote this philosophical enquiry with wonderfully complex female characters.

The Inland Road
2017, 80 minutes
Festivals: Berlin 2017, Seattle 2017, Giffoni (July 14-22) 2017
Director/Screenplay: Jackie van Beek

New Zealand audiences will probably know writer/director Jackie van Beek as Pauline from Funny Girls, rather than as an internationally award-winning short filmmaker. Van Beek's writing has a more poetic and serious bent, and in her first feature she turns her attention to home and family, focussing on mothering, daughters, and the after-effects of romantic and sexual encounters.

The cinematography by Giovanni C. Lorusso boasts the rugged farm landscapes of Central Otago, strikingly captured in natural light. These spacious landscapes contrast with hand-held close-ups of the superb naturalistic performances. Teenage Tia, on the run from a disrupted family situation, is played with subtle depth by newcomer Gloria Popata, alongside local farmer Will (David Elliot), his pregnant wife Donna (Chelsie Preston Crayford) and their six-year-old niece Lily (Georgia Spillane).

The dramaturgy resists conventional narrative choices to reach gentler yet resonant conclusions. It's particularly enjoyable to see female characters show such sensitivity, complexity and empathy. An anticipated and enjoyable debut feature. - Jo Randerson

Hollywood Reporter review:

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No Ordinary Sheila

Posted Monday 03 Jul 2017

No Ordinary Sheila small

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