After premiering at NZIFF last year, Mark Hunt: The Fight of His Life is set to release in NZ cinemas on February 3. Directed by DEGANZ member Peter Brook Bell, this compelling documentary follows one of New Zealand’s sporting superstars, kickboxing and MMA fighter Mark Hunt, and his rags-to-riches story.

When making any documentary, trust between the subject and filmmaker is important. In an interview with Flicks, Peter explained that the biggest challenge of filming was building that trust between himself and Mark, so that he would open up on camera. Time that was well spent. Catch Mark Hunt: The Fight of His Life in theatres next month.


An exciting new film festival is coming to Auckland! Showcasing films featured at this year’s NZIFF, as well as international talent, In The Shade will commence early next year on January 19 and runs until February 1. Fiona Clark: Unafraid is part of the line-up.

DEGANZ member Lula Cucchiara directed the documentary, with Shailesh Prajapati as assistant editor. The film explores radical photographer Fiona Clark and her work, which captured the burgeoning gay liberation movement and vibrant queer scene in 1970’s New Zealand.

The festival will be exclusive to Academy Cinemas and the Hollywood in Avondale, and will include international films sourced from some of the world’s most prestigious film festivals, such as Sundance, Cannes and Toronto.

When speaking of the current state of Auckland’s cinema scene, In The Shade commented that “Auckland is currently in the throes of a big screen drought, the like never seen in our moviegoing lifetimes”. Therefore, quenching Aucklander’s “insatiable hunger for the very best cinema from around the world” is what the festival hopes to do.

Fiona Clark: Unafraid has recently enjoyed a run as part of NZIFF, and will no doubt be an exciting addition to the new In The Shade film festival as well. Other films announced as part of the programme can be found on the festival’s website, with more titles being added in the coming weeks.

Member director Michelle Savill (DEGANZ Incubator 2018) spoke about her film Millie Lies Low in a recent interview with RNZ. The film is playing at the New Zealand International Film Festival, and opened for a special preview season for the festival in Wellington.

Millie Lies Low tells the story of anxiety-ridden architecture grad Millie who misses her flight to a prestigious internship in New York. Faced with no money for another ticket and too ashamed to admit her blunder, Millie fakes being in New York through social media prowess while lying low in her hometown.

Michelle shared how her own experiences inspired the making of this film; “The idea came about when the last short film I made, Ellen is Leaving, was screening at a festival in France. I missed my flight, and my first thought was ‘I’m going to have to hide for three weeks and pretend I’m in France’.”

Michelle also drew from her own struggles with mental health to portray anxiety and panic attacks in the film; “I struggle with anxiety a lot, and depression off and on, so I’m always working from ‘write what you know’… so I guess that’s the fountain of creativity that I’m drawing from.”

Tickets to Millie Lies Low are available on the NZIFF website, and you can listen to the full interview on RNZ.

Congratulations to director Kath Akuhata-Brown (DEGANZ) for receiving the Vista Group Award for Best Short Film for Washday. Kath shares the award and cash prize of $7,500 with director Josephine Stewart-Te Whiu, who won for the film When We Were Kids.

Kath’s film Washday is the story of eight-year-old Hine who mourns for her mother. When her father is busy working, Hine devises a plan to relieve him of his sadness.

The jurors for this year were filmmakers Annie Collins (DEGANZ) and Gaysorn Thavat (DEGANZ), and Matthew Liebmann from Vista Group. The judges called both Akuhata-Brown and Stewart-Te Whiu’s films “very accomplished works of art”, which “demonstrated the best craft” and the “most fully realised storytelling”.

This year marks the tenth anniversary of New Zealand’s Best short film competition. See the full list of winners on NZIFF’s website.

Jan Oliver Lucks, DEGANZ member and director of the critically acclaimed documentary There Is No I in Threesome, has signed with ICM Partners, a Los Angeles based talent and literary agency with offices in New York, Washington D.C and London. Including representing clients in motion pictures, ICM also has clients in television, music, publishing, live performance and new media.

Having premiered on HBO Max earlier this year, There Is No I in Threesome, a film about an open relationship, is having its theatrical release at this year’s Whānau Mārama: New Zealand International Film Festival (NZIFF).

Jan Oliver has a new series in the pipeline, a road trip buddy comedy that follows him and his best friend, Wilbur, as they embark on a quest to discover healthy masculinity.