Last year, Wellington joined 246 cities in receiving the UNESCO City of Film status.
Youth, Māori, Pasifika and other diverse groups will soon have better access to opportunities in the film industry following the launch of Wellington UNESCO City of Film’s strategy today.
Last year, Wellington received the UNESCO City of Film status, joining 246 other cities, including Sydney, Rome, Galway, Bristol and Busan in South Korea, in becoming part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network, which recognises creativity as a strategic factor for sustainable urban development.
At The National Library on Monday, Wellington UNESCO City of Film launched its strategy, which aims to increase access to screen experiences and promote diverse voices, among young people, Māori and Pasifika storytellers.
By partnering with Mana whenua and other community groups, the first year of the strategy will ensure the groups are able to tell their own stories in their own words.
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Additionally, a new partnership with Wellington-based Māori screen companies will see them host workshops delivered by young Māori and Pasifika entrepreneurs to recent graduates.
The launch includes New Zealand’s first Māori virtual reality film, Whakakitenga.
Made by Porirua-based Wiremu Grace – who is of Ngāti Toa Rangatira, Atiawa ki Whakarongotai and Ngāti Porou descent – in collaboration with Victoria University, the film uses VR technology to immerse viewers in the sights and sounds of 1840s Te Ao Māori (the Māori world).
A show reel of screen action has been also curated to celebrate Wellington’s screen history, which had its first public airing at the launch.
It starts with New Zealand’s earliest surviving piece of film shot in 1900, showing Kiwi soldiers preparing to leave for the Boer War.
Viewers are then taken on a journey to modern classics, such as What we do in the Shadows.
The show reel soundtrack features the song High Heights, written and performed byWellington artist RIIKI.
WellingtonNZ Chief Executive John Allen said Wellington becoming a UNESCO City of Film provides a fresh focus and creates new opportunities.
“It’s about amplifying the great work already happening in the region as well as involving the wider community in the future growth and impact the sector has for Wellington.”
A collaboration with the New Zealand International Film Festival has created the Wellington UNESCO City of Film Award for the best short film in the Ngā Whanaunga series of Māori and Pasifika short films.
Wellington’s Oscar winning screenwriter Philippa Boyens has accepted the role as one of two Wellington UNESCO City of Film Ambassadors, for a four-year term.
Mayor Andy Foster is the other ambassador, a role which can be transferred to subsequent mayors, whenever they take office.
Foster said it is the start of a “fantastic journey for Wellington”.
“Having UNESCO City of Film status better equips us to elevate local stories, promote independent cinema and improve access for under-represented groups. It’s about how local visual storytellers connect us to our culture and our place in the world,” he said.