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Wellington UNESCO City of Film celebrates six diverse storytellers

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Indian whalers, dawn raids, and Turkish grandmothers: the work of six emerging Wellington filmmakers will be celebrated and supported with the launch of Wellington UNESCO City of Film’s Diverse Voices project on 18 May 2022.

Diverse Voices: Making Screen Work Different is a new web series about diversity, innovation, sustainability and new perspectives in Wellington’s film industry, available at It spotlights six creatives disrupting the status quo with their approaches to changing the screen industry. They will each be awarded a $3000 grant towards their work by Wellington UNESCO City of Film, at a special function at Courtney Creative on 18 May, 5.30-7.30pm.

The six storytellers include Casey Zilbert, Laura Yilmaz, Kathleen Winter, Jade Jackson, Oriwa Hakaraia, and Aditya B. Parige. Their work spans an Indian whaler’s diaspora story, the impact of the dawn raids on a Porirua family, and a video game featuring undervalued domestic lives of Turkish grandmothers.

18-year-old filmaker Oriwa Hakaraia (Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Kapu) says it’s no secret that indigenous voices are vital to ensure the world keeps spinning, with the urgency for "new" stories and diverse voices growing every day.

"There are so many lessons to be learnt by listening to diverse voices," she says. "This is why we need more of us in the mainstream. "It’s about decolonising the screen industry to ensure that our people are seen and our voices are heard as a way of inspiring the following generations, to make sure they are raised in a world that reflects them."

Wellington UNESCO City of Film ambassador and Academy Award-winning writer/producer Philippa Boyens says shining a light on such diverse storytellers is essential.

"The work of these six young filmmakers illustrates the goldmine of filmmaking talent we have here within Aotearoa," she says. "Supporting their ability to tell their stories broadens, deepens, and enriches the creative imagination of us all."

The project is part of Wellington UNESCO City of Film’s strategy to work together with partners, developing programmes and opportunities that inspire the filmmakers and screen creatives of tomorrow.

In 2019, Wellington earned the prestigious title of UNESCO City of Film. It joined 245 other cities around the globe in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network, all of which are recognised for excellence in their fields for nurturing creativity and fostering international collaboration. Andy Foster, Mayor of Wellington and Wellington UNESCO City of Film Ambassador, says exposure through the global UNESCO Creative Cities Network is good for Wellington’s screen sector and the city.

"By promoting our local talent on the global stage we can secure investment in our local producers as well as attracting international productions due to our vibrant and diverse output."

The web series also features a filmed round table discussion on barriers faced by emerging filmmakers from ‘outside’ the system with a unique lens, and why it is time for the establishment to take risks on format and approaches to storytelling.

Diverse Voices is intended to become an annual event to help develop a growing cohort of local filmmakers and screen creatives.

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