Clare O'Leary is a politically-motivated, award-winning documentary filmmaker. Her documentaries, made in Australia and New Zealand, aim to  give a voice to those who are seldom heard.

I came back to New Zealand to make stories from a local context. Returning to NZ after several years away, gives you a fresh eye and creates its own internal culture-shock. Clare O'Leary

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Gordon Crook: A Life of Art

2010, Director, Additional Photography, Editor - Film

Wellington artist Gordon Crook was known for his bold, colourful prints and tapestries. In this documentary, director Clare O’Leary mixes Crook’s biography (from UK foster care to London Central School of Art lecturer, then decades in Wellington) and interviews with Crook, dealers, students and mates. In this excerpt Crook discusses his work, and collaborating with weaver Lesley Nicholls; and friend Edith Ryan recalls first seeing Crook’s massive Michael Fowler Centre banners. The documentary premiered at the 2010 NZ Film Festival. Crook died in August 2011, aged 89.

The Sound of a Painting

2008, Director - Short Film

Michael King, a Moment in Time

2007, Director - Television

A Moment in Time is an armchair interview with historian Michael King OBE filmed in 1991. King discusses his early influences, motivation, and distinctive publications. King died in a car accident with his wife Maria Jungowska in 2004, and his reflections in A Moment in Time are testament to the tragedy of that loss: "We've got to be able to trace our own footsteps and listen to our own voices or we'll cease to be New Zealanders, or being New Zealanders will cease to have any meaning."

QCareers

2005, Director

QTV - First Episode

2005, Director - Television

QTV is a children's series, designed to bring science alive and make it relevant and interesting to young viewers. Each episode of QTV covers a topic such as forensics, volcanoes, tsunamis, biodiversity, climate change, etc. Q is short for question - the show's tagline is "Question Everything".

New Media Women New Zealand

2001, Director, Camera - Short Film

This short film by Clare O'Leary interviews New Zealand women at the forefront of new media design and development around the turn of the millenium. Among those on screen are Emily Loughnan, who moved from televison to co-founding company Click Suite, musician Jordan Reyne, and academic and author Lalita Rajasingham. Many agree that new developments in technology mean increased opportunity for women. The documentary first screened on the BBC World, Life series, as part of the Women Broadcasting for Change network. 

A Class Act, Mervyn Thompson, His Life & Work

1997, Director - Television

In the theatre world of the 70s and 80s, playwright Mervyn Thompson was an outspoken figure. He wrote, directed, and acted in theatre that presented New Zealand working class history and experience. This doco features a rare interview with Thompson before he died in 1992, as well as footage from his last work Passing Through (1991). Thompson discusses his upbringing on the West Coast of the South Island, his approach to theatre, and alludes to some of the controversies that beset his career.

A Double Standard

1994, Director - Television

This documentary about the sex industry in New Zealand features frank but sympathetic interviews with sex workers (including the Prostitutes Collective) and their clients. Topics discussed include the sex workers' reasons for doing the job, physical and sexual safety, the impact of AIDS, the role of drink and drug abuse, and managing a relationship with a husband or boyfriend. The film screened on TV3 after arguments about censorship, which Costa Botes writes about here. A Double Standard makes a compelling case for the industry to be decriminalised. Law change occurred in 2003.