The movie version of Margaret Mahy's first novel for young adults is still set in Christchurch, but the time period is now post-quake. Teenager Laura Chant (newcomer Erana James) encounters a very strange man (Brit actor Timothy Spall, from Mr Turner) and a boy with a secret. The coming of age fantasy has been a longtime passion project for husband and wife team Stuart McKenzie and Miranda Harcourt, who have worked to keep their version as "dark and scary" as the Carnegie Award-winning original. The cast also includes Melanie Lynskey (Heavenly Creatures) and Lucy Lawless.
This morbidly funny short, made by students of Auckland's Media Design School, depicts the demise of 26 alphabetical and animated animals at the hands of nature’s greatest enemy — the human. Framed as a father possum (Phil Greeves) reading his children their favourite bedtime story, the alliterative animal deaths are undercut with cheerful giggling from the two young possums. The film won acclaim at festivals worldwide —screening at South by Southwest in 2016, and taking out Best Animated film in the Comic-Con Film Festival later that year.
Matasila Freshwater is a Wellington director with a background in animation, anthropology and design. She cut her creative teeth on a run of 48 Hour filmmaking competitions (including 2017 Best Animation winner The Real Rare Arctic Firefly). Her award-winning short Shmeat – the tale of a mad scientist who devises a new food source – was chosen for the 'New Zealand’s Best' section of the 2016 NZ International Film Festival. Freshwater is an Assistant Director at Wellington's Pūkeko Pictures (working on WotWots spin-off Kiddets); she is also one of eight directors behind Vai, a Pacific Island follow-up to feature Waru.
Emma Slade runs production company Firefly Films. Her producing credits include 1981 Springbok tour drama Rage and Margaret Mahy tale The Changeover. She was one of the producers of Ant Timpson's "deranged comic" thriller Come to Daddy, Chinese-Kiwi fantasy Into the Rainbow, and an associate producer on Brazilian/Kiwi drama Little Secret. In 2017 Slade was one of six founders of the Screen Women's Action Group (SWAG), which advocates against sexual harassment. The group was inspired by the #MeToo movement, after US producer Harvey Weinstein was accused of rampant sexual abuse.
Jessica Hobbs began directing short films in her 20s, during an eight year stint as an assistant director. After helming Cliff Curtis TV drama Overnight in 1995, she got her "big break" on Australia's Heartbreak High. Hobbs went on to build up an impressive — and award-winning — Australian resume, including hit show Love My Way, East Timor mini-series Answered by Fire, and the first two episodes of BAFTA-nominated ensemble drama The Slap. After relocating to England, she directed high profile mini-series Apple Tree Yard, based on the Louise Doughty bestseller about a married woman who has an affair.