DEGNZ Announces Incubator Participants


DEGNZ is thrilled to announce the selection of the Emerging Women Filmmakers Incubator participants for 2019.

Once again we have a stellar group of women directors who have shown considerable talent in their areas of endeavor. We look forward to welcoming them to the Incubator, which is designed to provide them with information, knowledge and networks so that they can advance their projects and professional skills, with the aim of seeing them go on to sustainable careers as directors.

This is the third year that DEGNZ has run the Incubator, made possible with the financial assistance of the New Zealand Film Commission and Vista Foundation.

The participants for 2019:


ANNA DUCKWORTH has a Bachelor of Communications Studies, Major in Video Production, Minor in Advertising from AUT University. She’s worked in film and television for almost a decade in both New York City and Auckland. Her focus early on was Producing, but she has recently moved her focus to writing and directing.

Anna wrote and directed three self-funded short films: Fomo (2011), Full Disclosure (2016) and Mum Jeans (2017), which screened at the 2018 New Zealand International Film Festival.

After working as a script advisor on not-safe-for-work feminist web series Psusy, Anna was invited to direct season 2, which went on to screen at New Orleans Film Festival, Seattle Webfest, DC Webfest, Melbourne Web Series Festival and won the Best Episodic Jury Prize at the 2018 LA Film Festival.

In 2018, Anna was granted production funding for two projects as writer/director. The first was an NZFC Fresh Short film Pain. The second was part of the TVNZ New Blood initiative, Butt Dial, a six-part web series.

Anna has twice won Best Director at 48Hours Competition, with her team being three time National Finalists.

Anna Duckworth

MARINA ALOFAGIA MCCARTNEY was born and raised in Manukau City, New Zealand. From a Geordie father, Samoan mother and Cook Islands step-mother, she is powerfully aware of her cultural heritage, how this affects the way we are viewed and how we view others.  After just over a decade in the fashion industry, as Miss New Zealand and one of the few fashion models of Pacific descent, she returned to the University of Auckland to study film and graduated with a MA (First Class Honours).

She is an award-winning filmmaker with films featuring in over 30 festivals, including Palm Springs ShortFest, NZ’s Best Short Film in the NZ International Film Festival, ImagiNATIVE, Hawai’i International Film Festival and the NZ Script Writer Awards.  Her latest film Vai, a portmanteau feature film made with another 8 Pacific female writer and directors, is currently doing the festival rounds, opening the NATIVe section at the 2019 Berlinale, SXSW and Māoriland with other festivals to follow.

Marina is an experienced teaching fellow, formally based at Pacific Studies, University of Auckland, and her academic areas of expertise are Pacific Studies, Pacific filmmaking, Pacific representation on screen and representations of the Pacific woman.  She is also a PhD candidate exploring Pacific filmmaking at AUT University, proud mother to her daughter, Alena Sevai, and is currently working on her feature film, The Return.

Marina McCartney

JESSICA SANDERSON is a director from a design and theatre background. Of Māori and Pākehā descent, the varied lives of her family influence the stories she tells – the majority of which are about the people of Aotearoa and the wider Pacific.

Jessica has a Bachelor of Performance Design, a joint degree from both Massey University and Toi Whakaari: New Zealand Drama School, which has influenced the strong visual and conceptual approach she applies to her projects. She has created music videos for some of Aotearoa’s most prolific artists, including; Aaradhna, Shapeshifter, Stan Walker, Tama Waipara, Ria Hall, Kora and more.

Jessica has recently finished her first short film Ways To See, funded by the New Zealand Film Commission and produced by her long-time collaborator Desray Armstrong (Sandy Lane Productions). She is currently directing an eight-part documentary television series called Moko produced by Velvestsone Media and is in script development for a feature film Wai.


CLAIRE VAN BEEK is a writer/director from Banks Peninsula, New Zealand. After graduating from Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School with a Bachelor in Performing Arts, Claire worked on TV commercials with Jake Scott (Alien, Welcome to the Rileys) and Garth Davis (Lion, Top of the Lake) as well as writing and acting for theatre. After becoming a “NZ Young Playwright of the Year” Claire moved into film.

Recently, Claire travelled to Portland to work with Debra Granik (Winter’s Bone) on Debra’s latest film Leave No Trace before returning to Aotearoa to shoot her NZFC Fresh Shorts funded film DANIEL, edited by Oscar winner John Gilbert (Lord of the Rings, Hacksaw Ridge).

Claire’s  focus is on female-centric, visually distinctive stories.  She is currently in preparation for her next films Black Camel (Fresh Short finalist), The Mill and The Milkman, and is in development for her first feature.

Claire van Beek

URSULA WILLIAMS gained a Bachelor of Communications (majoring in television directing) and Honours in Documentary Film at AUT University.

She went on to direct and produce  The King,  a short documentary film, as a part of her Master’s thesis (taking first-class honours). The King won the audience award at the NZIFF for best short and showcased at the Sydney Film Festival 2016. The same year, Ursula won the Inaugural Bright Sunday Emerging Pasifika Director Award with this film at the Wāiroa Maori Film Festival.

In 2017, Ursula produced and directed selected  Surreal Estate  for Loading Docs (2017), and for the WIRELESS Aupito – The High Chief, which picked up a bronze at the NZ Cinematographer Awards.

Ursula currently works for VICE New Zealand. Her most recent documentary  Deportees of Tonga: Gangster’s in Paradise, has so far been viewed by over five million people worldwide one month after release. The series Zealandia, which she also produced and directed, has been picked up by networks globally, and received more than 10 million views. Zealandia was nominated for an array of awards including  Best News Video, Best Feature Video, Best Editorial Feature  and  Best Team Video  at New Zealand’s 2019 Voyager Media Awards.

Ursula Williams

Last updated on 20 March 2020