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Six Screenwriters Selected For Inaugural Black List New Zealand Project

·7 min read

EXCLUSIVE: Six New Zealand screenwriters have been chosen to participate in the inaugural Black List New Zealand Project.

The project, stemming from a partnership between the Black List and the New Zealand Film Commission, is a professional development workshop and mentorship series. Bolstered by the presence of global screen industry executives, who will head up panels, mentor the writers and advise them on fine-tuning their scripts, its aim is to amplify the voices of underrepresented filmmakers, while promoting relationships between writers and producers, and creating international opportunities for New Zealand feature films.

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The six participating filmmakers will receive up to NZ$25,000 in development financing from the NZFC for completing the next draft of their scripts. The scripts they submitted to land a spot at the Black List New Zealand Project cover genres ranging from romance to comedy, crime and horror, and were selected from a pool of 179 for their unique perspectives.

Screenwriters chosen for the 2021 Lab include Anna Nuria Francino (Bara), Taratoa Stappard (Mārama), Shuchi Kothari (Navrati AKA Nine Nights), Finnius Teppett (I.O.U), Claire Barclay (Long Gone) and Yamin Tun (Hong Kong Story). Hollywood mentors guiding them through the lab include David Rabinowitz and Charlie Wachtel (BlacKkKlansman) and Kirsten “Kiwi” Smith (Legally Blonde, 10 Things I Hate About You).

“We have an extraordinary pool of filmmaking talent in New Zealand, and that has shone through in the calibre and diversity of the submissions,” said Black List New Zealand Project and New Zealand Film Commission CEO Annabelle Sheehan. “It’s great to see Māori and diverse filmmakers feature so strongly in the selection. Having the Black List founder Franklin Leonard and his team working with us to place our writers in front of some of the most significant screen executives in Hollywood is an extraordinary opportunity.”

“The talent the New Zealand Film Commission managed to gather as part of this submission process was remarkable both in aggregate and at its highest levels,” added The Black List’s founder and CEO, Franklin Leonard. “We’re incredibly excited by our first Lab cohort and what the next steps will be with their scripts.”

More information on the projects and screenwriters chosen for the 2021 Lab can be found below.

BARA

When her mother and sole witness to her existence ends up comatose, a mute recluse must brave the outside world to unlock her voice and save them both from a life unlived.

WRITER: ANNA NURIA FRANCINO

A graduate from Unitec with a Bachelor of Performing & Screen Arts, Acting major, Anna also worked in arts administration before going on to stage manage plays including Shane Bosher’s ANGELS IN AMERICA, and Toa Fraser’s PURE AND DEEP. She remains ever grateful for untold weeks spent investigating story and character. In 2012, Anna entered Auckland’s Short + Sweet Festival. The play she directed won Best Newcomer, Best Actress, and Best Overall Production. Anna has penned dialogue for New Zealand’s longest-running serial drama, SHORTLAND STREET, since 2015. She also works as a storyliner for the show. Her first (originally co-written) screenplay, BARA, won NZWG’s 2015 Best Unproduced Feature Film Script and was later awarded a NZWG Seed Grant. Thanks to consequent support from NZFC’s Early Development Fund, Anna took the reins as BARA’s sole writer, resulting in a massive reinvention that benefited from sessions with script consultants Emily Anderton and Stephen Cleary.

HONG KONG STORY

A Burmese family flung from their homeland to a new life in Hong Kong face statelessness in the run-up to 1997 – the British handover of the colony back to China. The family needs to find a new country to escape to, but they are torn apart by infidelity and mistrust.

WRITER: YAMIN TUN

Yamin Tun is the New Zealand film industry’s SPADA New Filmmaker of the Year 2016. She won Best Short at NZIFF 2016 for her first film WAIT, which also won the Jury Prize at Show Me Shorts.

Yamin is developing feature films as writer-director, including THE TEAK AND THE CLOTH, set in military conflict Myanmar, and HONG KONG STORY. She was invited by Sundance and Cannes mentor Gyula Gazdag to apply for the invitation-only Three Rivers Residency, the only New Zealand projects ever invited to apply for this residency. In 2016 Yamin was selected to a mentorship with Australian filmmaker Rolf de Heer and in 2013 completion bond specialists Film Finances Inc selected Yamin to attend the Telluride Film Festival – one of only four filmmakers from the world.

In 2021-2022 Yamin is premiering another short film, BLOOD AND GOLD, delayed in 2020 due to COVID.

Born in Myanmar of mixed indigeneity, Yamin and her family escaped the military regime and have lived an itinerant life around Europe, Hong Kong and New Zealand.

I.O.U

On the run from debt collectors, an expectant mum seeks refuge at her family home in Bulls. But when she turns to fraud to escape her debts, she has more to worry about than bankruptcy.

WRITER: FINNIUS TEPPETT

Finnius Teppett is a writer/director based in Auckland. He has an MA in Creative Writing (Scriptwriting) from Victoria University’s IIML, and is an award-winning playwright. His play MY DAD’S BOY was workshopped in New York, and opened Fortune Theatre’s 2017 season. He co-writes political satire show WHITE MAN BEHIND A DESK.

His NZ Film Commission-funded short film, DEMOCRACY, premiered at the NZ International Film Festival/Whānau Mārama 2020, and was nominated for ‘Best Screenplay’ at Show Me Shorts 2020. He is the co-creator of THE CITIZEN’S HANDBOOK, a ten-part comedy-civics series funded by the RNZ/NZ On Air Innovation Fund, and he directed and co-wrote THE CITIZEN’S HANDBOOK ELECTION SPECIALS for RNZ. He was part of Script to Screen’s ‘FilmUp’ mentorship programme in 2020.

MĀRAMA

When a young, Māori woman is summoned from New Zealand to North Yorkshire, she uncovers the horrific truth of her colonial heritage and she must destroy the titled Englishman who has devastated her family.

WRITER: TARATOA STAPPARD

Taratoa Stappard is a writer/director. He was born in Hawera, Aotearoa. His father was English and his mother is Māori (Ngāti Toa, Ngāti Raukawa me Ngāti Tūwharetoa).

This year he will direct his script, TAUMANU (Reclaim) for TVNZ in New Zealand.

Taratoa’s first feature script, MĀRAMA, received BFI Early Development Funding and was selected for the imagineNATIVE 2020 Indigenous Screenwriting Intensive. He was chosen to participate with MĀRAMA on the TIFF 2021 Writers’ Studio.

Taratoa has directed six short films, screening in festivals including BFI London, Edinburgh, Encounters, Māoriland, Angers and Busan, as well as being broadcast on BBC2, BBC3, Film4 and Canal+.

LONG GONE

A pugnacious Māori runaway employs unorthodox methods to solve a cold case when she returns to a New Zealand town and discovers a man’s mysterious disappearance was pinned on her.

WRITER: CLAIRE BARCLAY

Claire Barclay (Ngāti Apa) started work in script development aged thirteen, when her father – director Barry Barclay – asked her to give notes on his script. She swore that when she grew up and wrote her own screenplay, she wouldn’t watch whomever was reading until they got to The End and immediately ask “so . . . whaddaya think?” She’s managed this so far . . . but acknowledges she must remain vigilant.

In Claire’s varied career in film and television, she’s worked as an assistant editor, commercials producer and agent, representing writers and directors. She was a ‘spare time, stolen hours’ writer until 2020, when selected for an NFTS (UK) screenwriting course. LONG GONE was Claire’s primary film school project and she’s been mentored during development by Emmy nominated New Zealand director Jessica Hobbs, supported by the NZFC Tuakana Teina scheme.

NAVRATRI AKA NINE NIGHTS

9 lovers, 9 secrets, 9 nights: it’s the song and dance of desire.

WRITER: SHUCHI KOTHARI

Shuchi Kothari is a New Zealand-Indian filmmaker and academic. Her writer and producer credits include features (FIRAAQ, APRON STRINGS) and shorts (SHIT ONE CARRIES, COFFEE & ALLAH, FLEETING BEAUTY) that have screened at over 100 international film festivals including Venice, Cannes, Toronto, BFI, Busan, and Telluride. She is also one of the creators, producers, and writers of the series A THOUSAND APOLOGIES, New Zealand’s first ever Asian prime time show on broadcast television.

She recently completed an hour-long documentary THREADS: SUSTAINING INDIAN’S TEXTILE TRADITIONS. Shuchi has mentored several acclaimed filmmakers/projects and served on juries of Film and Television awards, and national funding bodies.

In 2018 Shuchi co-founded the not-for-profit Pan-Asian Screen Collective to advocate for equitable representation of Asian screen practitioners on and behind the screens in Aotearoa New Zealand.

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